Kaross is a rural embroidery project in Limpopo’s peaceful Letsitele Valley that helps create jobs and uplift the local community by combining the area’s traditional arts and craft skills with modern marketing plans and design techniques to create a smorgasbord of home and fashion accessories.
Did you know?
The Kaross embroidery project also has an outlet in Parkhurst, Johannesburg
Local artist Irma van Rooyen founded the Kaross rural embroidery project 20 years ago with five women farm workers.
Sitting on a kaross (blanket), the women began to embroider images from their own culture with the aim of making modern artworks from traditional arts and craft skills.
Today Kaross employs nearly a thousand people from the Limpopo province’s Letsitele Valley and Giyani communities, giving a modern voice to traditional Tsonga culture.
Kaross creates high quality linen, tableware, art pieces, wall hangings and fashion accessories, each piece 100% handmade and proudly South African.
The images are bold and colourful, drawing on Tsonga mythology. They tell of the greatness of the elephant and the strength of the crocodile. They talk of the hare’s jokes, the flick of the fish, the flight of the bird; and of love, life and marriage.
You can visit the Kaross workshop and witness how the images are designed and embroidered. The project is housed in a double-volume barn set on a citrus farm in Letsitele. Spend time browsing through the shop and studio, and meet some of the people whose lives have changed as a result of the project.
Kaross is ‘rewriting Tsonga culture by exploring its heritage and reapplying it to modern, marketable products and artworks’, says founder Irma van Rooyen. The embroidery project is sustainable and has strengthened cultural awareness in the area.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Kaross Embroidery Project/Kaross Textiles
Tel: +27 (0)15 345 1458
How to get here
From Johannesburg take the N1 until the Tzaneen turn-off. From Tzaneen, take the R71 to Phalaborwa. Turn left onto the Giyani road after 15km and follow the signs to Kaross.
Best time to visit
The Letsitele Valley can be extremely hot in summer, so its best to visit in winter, spring or autumn. Winter is a great time because it’s citrus season.
Length of stay
Spend a morning or afternoon watching the artists and crafters at work.
What to pack
Plenty of sunscreen and a hat, no matter the season.
Where to stay
There are plenty of charming guesthouses, B&B’s and hotels in the Tzaneen area.
What to eat
The adjacent Kaross Cafe makes simple soul food and is a good spot for a lunch or coffee stop