Handmade with love: Nepali takes grandma’s socks to the world



Every winter, Lorina Sthapit and her cousins would warm their feet in woollen socks freshly knitted by their grandmother.

As the brightly coloured pairs stacked up in her cupboard, the 32-year-old felt inspired to share the creations with the — co-founding a that not only sells such handmade products but also delves into the seldom-told lives of their mostly elderly female makers.

“Each product has a story and historical and cultural value. We want to keep the legacy and skills alive for the future,” Sthapit told AFP.

“They grew up at a when most things were handmade, not store-bought. So there is an amazing of skills and experiences among people of that generation.”

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Aji’s — which means grandmother — was founded in 2018 by Sthapit, her sister Irina and husband Pursarth Tuladhar, selling a variety of products including knitwear, blankets and jewellery.

Through podcasts and blogs, Sthapit and the makers’ grandchildren take listeners and readers on a nostalgic journey through the lives of elderly artisans.

The tales — from being married at just eight-years-old, battling to be given an education and raising five children as a single mother in the patriarchal society — shed light on Nepal’s rich social and cultural history, but also its strict gendered social order.

Born in Kathmandu in 1988, Sthapit found herself drawn to the Indian classical dance of Kathak — derived from the Sanskrit word kathaka, or storyteller.

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From just 18-years-old, she started to perform in national and international dance events.

The gender studies graduate then taught a course in women’s empowerment at Nepal’s first women’s college Padma Kanya Multiple Campus.

A decade-long career in international development followed, including working for Oxfam and the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development.

She worked around the world from Uganda to Uzbekistan, but felt she wanted to make a difference in her home country.

Undaunted by the male-dominated start-up world, Sthapit quit her NGO to work full-time in Aji’s.

She slowly cultivated loyal customers shared their love for the products with others, eventually drawing the attention of the wider public and international clients.

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Aji’s now has 30 elderly women and men working with them, using traditional Nepali techniques and materials. The crafts are sold at two stores in Kathmandu valley and on the online marketplace Etsy.

The company works closely with makers’ children or grandchildren, in an effort to help families develop closer bonds.

Sthapit herself lear

Read the full story on The Himalayan Times

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