As the term would suggest, the name cashmere comes from an old spelling of Kashmir, the region in northern india where its production and trade originated.   Cashmere has been sourced in this region for hundreds of years and has a long and fascinating history.    It has always been sought after – premium quality cashmere can be up to eight times warmer than sheep’s wool despite its light weight.   It also feels wonderfully soft and luxurious against the skin and, once the rich jewel-like colours and exquisite embroidery are factored in, one can see why Kashmiri cashmere pashmina shawl wrap scarves are sought after by men and women around the world.

The Changtangi Plateau showing the Changtangi goats.

The Changtangi Plateau where the Changtangi goats graze.

However, anyone looking to buy cashmere will be aware that its price varies enormously.  This is obviously a reflection of the quality of the raw material, the finest of which traditionally comes from Kashmir, Mongolia and Nepal, together with the workmanship that goes into creating the exquisitely beautiful finished product.   With its premium grade raw material together with its long tradition in this specialist field, we at Scarf Room are very proud to present our exquisite new cashmere pashmina shawl wrap scarves all the way from Kashmir.

The journey of our beautiful cashmere pashmina shawl wrap scarves begins with the Kashmiri pashmina goat known as Changtangi.    Its name comes from the large plateau in the high altitudes of Ladakh where the goats are reared.   Here in Changtangi, the climate and environment are perfectly suited to the production of the cashmere fibres – during the extremely harsh winters, the temperatures can drop as low as -20c and the food supply becomes very scarce.   This encourages the goats to produce a finer hair under their fleece, principally the neck and underbelly, which offers them more insulation.    It is this soft and very fine hair on the goat’s body which is valuable and from which the highest quality cashmere is produced.

It is an extremely lengthy and costly production process.   Collecting the cashmere fibres is done by hand and involves combing out the hairs which make the insulating under-layer of the goat’s fleece.   This is done every spring by herders before the animals have had a chance to shed and moult.    The hair is then transported to Kashmir where the next stage of the production process can take place.  Any residual coarse top hair has to be separated from the more valuable underbelly hair and it is then combed through again to remove any other impurities.   Upon completion of the combing process, the remaining exquisitely soft fibre is known as Pham (fine pashmina).

The next stages of production are the spinning and weaving of the pham.   This is done following time-honoured, century-old methods which, although very refined, are both lengthy and labour-intensive.  Initially, the fibres are spun on a traditional spinning wheel to produce a yarn which is then washed with a traditional herbal soap called reetha.   It then is given time to dry in the sun and and, once fully dry, will need to be immersed in rice water starch for two days – this serves to strengthen the shawl and improve its longevity.   Another period of sun-drying takes place and it will then require two artisans to weave the yarn on a traditional wooden loom before being washed again, dyed and ironed.    The end product is a beautiful pashmina shawl wrap scarf that is extremely soft and supremely lightweight.

 

An image showing an artisan working on a traditional loom in the production of the cashmere pashmina.

A traditional loom.

An image which shows the traditional loom shuttles

Traditional loom shuttles

The pashmina shawl wrap scarf could now be worn as a plain, block-coloured scarf.   However, most are finished with embroidery.   This is done by hand and keeps true to the traditional designs associated with the area where they are made.   The names of the different patterns conjure up a sense of ancient history and mystique – neemdar, hashidar, boodid.    The needlework is very detailed and normally the work will undertaken by a family working together.   Indeed, it will take several days to complete one shawl.    In Kashmir, this exquisite needlework is known as Sozni Kaem.

An image showing the traditional embroidery used to decorate the cashmere pashmina shawls

Sozni Kaem, the traditional needlework used to decorate the cashmere pashmina shawls.

You can see from the photographs below what an exquisite item the finished product is.    The colours sing and the detailed embroidery makes every cashmere pashmina shawl wrap scarf feel and look very special.     We love our new cashmere pashmina shawl wrap scarves and believe that we have a premium product at a price which reflects their beauty and quality.   I will say no more.   Enjoy the photographs!   They speak for themselves.    

Ciao bellissime.    A presto!