PASHMINA is a term that is mostly misunderstood in the textile business. As I am a Kashmiri person, with my family for generations in the art and business, this misunderstanding bothers me personally. On my website I want to provide the core knowledge about our handicraft to all the people world-wide.
PASHMINA first of all is the name of the particular fleece yarn referring to both the material itself and the quality. This yarn is famous for its natural softness, all natural, no chemical additives. It is warmer than any sheep’s or goat’s wool and very light in weight. This makes pashmina the lightest, softest, and warmest fabric.
The problem comes when people sell scarves falsely as “pashmina” as if the word were a substitute for scarf from any kind of textile. These often feel very soft in the shop when they are selling it to you but once you get it home and wash it, no matter how carefully, the softness which is due to a chemical added to the surface, is removed and the scarf feels nothing like real pashmina. Remember, pashmina is a brand – one that means “luxurious.”
Let me tell you a little about the journey of PASHMINA from goat to loom and to your hands. The pet goats live very high in the Himalayan region of northern Kashmir called LADAKH. If you think that SRINAGAR (the capital of Kashmir) is high up at 5,400 feet (1,600 metres) then be amazed that the goats do not thrive at this “low” altitude! They need to be higher up! Ladakh is at 9,800 feet (3,000 metres). The pashmina fleece comes from either the neck or the belly of the goat because this spins into the finest and softest yarn. And it becomes softer with use. Hair from any other part is sold as cashmere yarn in the international markets. So far we’ve used the words “PASHMINA”, “Kashmir”, and “cashmere”. See how confusing it can get? Once the goats are combed for their fleece, the herders have to bring it down from their high villages to the spinners, weavers, and embroiderers in Srinagar, like my family.
The families who are making the shawls and scarves of pashmina yarn have lived mostly in Srinagar for generations over centuries. Because of the fineness of the fleece, it has to be hand-spun. For the same reason, scarves and shawls have to be hand-woven. The thread just isn’t strong enough to survive a machine. The way the cheaper, lower quality scarves get away with the low price is that they actually use no pashmina yarn in the fabric and it is therefore able to be machine produced.
Once the textile is woven, with many fine patterns right in the fabric, it is usually either sold “as is” or natural or dyed. After all this loving handiwork, often some sort of designs are embroidered onto the shawl or scarf. PASHMINA scarves are beautiful enough to wear plain but the embroidery, using generation-old patterns, make them extra special.
As you can probably imagine, my country is like any other and the younger generation is not likely to want to take up the “old ways” of so much hand-work. It takes a love of stillness and persistence plus years of practice to master the techniques. Because I am on the “business” end and not the “hands-on” end, I don’t get much time to practice weaving. My uncle will only let me thread the loom and I’m an adult of 30-plus years! In fact, family business of this kind pretty much skipped an entire generation in passing on the skills. Because of this, many of the family businesses have disappeared. My family has preserved and still make PASHMINA products that are completely hand-spun, hand-woven, and hand-embroidered.
Making PASHMINA products is one of the oldest art forms of Kashmir. We, as a nation, have been selling our luxury goods across India and then to the rest of the world. PASHMINA made in Kashmir have even become a part of the national dress of the country of Oman where the men tie them in a unique turban-style. The finest of these PASHMINA are worn by the successful businessmen, ministers of government, and the royal family in Oman. Pashmina have passed to the West as travelers discover these scarves. They are cherished by Westerners who appreciate the quality and have a taste or real, pure, and handmade things.
Now you can posses the same PASHMINA scarves without leaving your home country! Because I have such a emotional and personal attachment to this art, I am providing you with the genuine item, no short-cuts, no chemicals, no machines. Some of my designer PASHMINA even come with a guarantee that another one will never be made like it again (see the section KT Collection which are numbered so that you know your design is unique). Once you have any PASHMINA provided by me you will surely experience the difference from any other wool scarf.
Please, if anyone has a question regarding PASHMINA, please do not hesitate to ask via the contact form or the email address:
click here to watch Pashmina making