Information

Q.   Pashmina History?

A.   The name comes from Pashmineh made from Persian pashm (wool). The wool comes from changthangi or Pashmina goat, which is a special breed of goat indigenous to high altitudes of the Himalayas in Northern India and Nepal.

The beautiful vale of Kashmir has always been famed for its craftsmanship. The weaving of tapestry shawls was first introduced into the valley from Turkistan by Zain - ul-Abdin, the ruler of Kashmir, in the 15th century. Today Kashmiri shawls are embroidered by professional men as it is a huge business. Lately, the American market has opened to Pashmina as Americans discovered its plush, soft texture. Fashion gurus now pronounce it as essential to the wardrobe as the ubiquitous little black dress.

Q.   What is Pashmina?

A.   Pashmina is the warmest and most luxurious of all the animals. The inner coat of the goats is combed from their underbelly and neck when they are moulting in the spring and is six times finer than human hair.

Q.   What is Shahtoosh?

A.   Pashmina is not to be confused with Shahtoosh, whose trade has been illegal since 1975. The Shahtoosh fibres come from the throat of the wild Tibetan antelope. In order to collect them, the antelope is shot and skinned and as a result it has been declared an endangered species. The importing of Shahtoosh into any of the western world countries is strictly prohibited. We will never sell such items.

Q.   What is a real Pashmina shawl?

A.   A real Pashmina shawl is made in Kashmir purely from the wool of the Himalayan mountain goat, and is not blended with additional makeweight fibres such as silk. It is the finest and lightest of all animal fibres. Many Pashmina shawls are so fine that they can be pulled through a wedding ring; hence the term "Ring Shawl".

Q.   Where does silk come from?

A.   Silk comes from the cocoons spun by the silkworms, which feed on the leaves of the mulberry tree. The cocoons are put into hot, soapy water to soften them and then carefully unwound. An average of 1,000 metres of silk filament comes from one cocoon. The short pieces of fine silk are spun together into a usable length and thickness of silk fibre.

Q.   How do you know that the items on this site are made from the finest Pashmina?

A.   Firstly, we regularly send our products for testing. Secondly, we have had the fibres actually measured. They are about 14.5 microns, which is very fine indeed. (1/6th of a human hair)

Q.   How come Pashmina Prices have such a wide range?

A.   The price of a Pashmina may range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars, depending upon the micron fineness and craftsmanship, rare fibre availability and time factor involved in its creation.

Q.   What is the difference between OUR shawls and cheaper fakes?

A.   We see many so-called "Pashmina" shawls and "silk" scarves that are heavy viscose or polyester fakes. Our shawls and scarves are made only from pure Pashmina yarn or silk thread. Many are individually crafted over many days, being hand-embroidered or hand-woven from hand-spun yarn. In the process, slight variations occur which add to their beauty and render them unique. The result is a high-quality, luxury shawl or scarf of vibrant colour – soft, warm and lightweight. Our Pashmina shawls are remarkably soft and light, considering how much warmth they provide. Our customers tell us how much they love their shawls, and we know you will receive many compliments when you wear them.

Q.   How to choose a Pashmina?

A.   When choosing a Pashmina it is important to check whether the piece is 100 percent Pashmina or if it has been blended with silk. We recommend either 100 percent or an 80/20 percent silk blend or a 70/30 percent silk blend. 1 ply is best for summers, with temperature 30 degree plus. We prefer/recommend a 2-ply Pashmina as it drapes well and it suitable for climate up to 2-3 degree. Choose a 4 ply Pashmina for below freezing temperatures. It is 4 times the weight of 1 ply.

Q.   How to test a Pashmina?

A.   Pashmina is wool. The first thing you can do is dampen it slightly and smell it. It will smell a little like a wet animal! (But not unpleasant) Wool always has that smell when wet.

But the ultimate test is to burn it. When wool burns, it smells like hair burning. And what is left is just ash, and comes off easily. If a fabric has synthetic in it, it has a slightly chemical smell. 

The Pashmina Making Process

An Authentic Handspun Cashmere Scarf Takes Many Days To Create. This Is Because Of The Intense Craftsmanship Of The Spinners, Weavers And Other Craftsmen. Each Scarf Is Created By Hand And It Is A Painstaking Process From Start To Finish. 

The Finest Pashmina Wool Has A Diameter Of 12.5 -14 Microns And An Average Fleece Fiber Length Of 2.5- 9 Cm. The Raw Wool Is White, Beige Or Dark Fawn In Its Natural State, With White Being The Rarest. The fibre has a special lustre due to its long, fine fibres, which are as thin as 12 microns. In comparison for a qualitative idea human hair is 200 microns and fine merino wool is 23 microns.

Step1 - Collecting

The Hair Is Gently Removed In The Spring When The Goats Moult, With A Special Comb To Ensure That The Fibre Length Is At Least 2 Inches.

 

Step 2 - Sifting

The Next Step Is To Sift Through The Rough, Outer Hair (Called Guard Hair) And Separate It From The Soft, Inner Hair. It Is Only This Inner Hair That Is Cashmere. The Cashmere Is Stretched Carefully. A Wide Comb, Mounted On A Foot Operated Wooden Stand Is Used To Rid The Wool Of Dirt And Dust. When The Raw Material Has Been Thoroughly Combed And Cleaned, It Is Placed In An Oval Wooden Trough.

 

Step 3 - Soaking

Rice Is Soaked In Water, Powdered And Sprinkled Over The Combed Wool. This Is Put Aside For Three To Four Days. This Makes The Raw Wool Whiter And Softer. Now It Is Ready For Spinning.

 

Step 4 - Spinning

Cashmere Is Hand Spun Because The Extremely Delicate Fibres Would Be Broken By A Modern Spinning Machine. The Spinning Wheel Is Made Of Wood And Is About Three Feet Long.

 

Step 5 - Twisting

After Spinning, The Fibres Are Called A Yarn. The Yarn Is Mounted On A Piece Of Straw. Three Or Four Such Mounted Straws Are Kept In An Earthen Bowl, Marking The Beginning Of The Second Phase, When It Is Turned And Twisted.

 

Step 6 - Weaving

The Weaver Sorts Out The Yarn In Terms Of Shade And Fineness. The Finer Yarns Will Be Used As Warp, And The Thicker Yarns As Weft.

The Yarn Is Then Soaked Put In A Home-Made Starch Which Consists Mainly Of Boiled Rice-Water. It Stays Like That For A Couple Of Days In A Copper Bowl Before Being Spread Out To Dry In The Sun.

Next, The Dried Yarn Is Untied And Mounted On A Wooden Spool. Four To Six Iron Rods About 4 Feet In Length Are Driven Into The Ground, At A Shaded Spot By Two People, Twisting In Opposite Directions.

 

Step 7 - Washing

After The Fabric Is Taken From The Loom It Is Immediately Washed In A Herbal Soap. Dyeing Is Then Carried Out By Hand On Each Individual Yarn Using Azo Free Dyes.

 

Step 8 - Clipping

After This, The Cloth Passes Over To Another Person For Clipping. This Is A Meticulous Job. The Cloth Is Mounted On Two Round Wooden Trunks, About Two Feet By Four Feet, And Stretched Taut. Tweezers Are Used To Remove Any Uneven Or Loose Threads. About Half A Yard Of Cloth Can Be Finished In A Day, By An Expert. The Cloth Is Brushed With A Special Natural Brush From A Maize Plant.

 

Step 9 - Final Washing

Now The Cloth Goes For A Final Washing By A Skilled Washerman, In Running Water With Natural Soap.? The Washed Cloth Is Then Finished On A Wooden Frame. The Cloth Is Rolled On The Frame, Kept For Few Days And Finally Ironed. Now It Is Ready For Sale!