- How To Make A Pashmina -
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An authentic hand spun 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.
Cashmere goats are found only at very high altitudes. Cashmere is the very fine, downy, undercoat grown by these animals to save them from very low winter temperature.
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.
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.
The yarn is then mounted it on the loom, a frame made of old unpolished wood.
Now starts the weaver’s job. The weaver uses four to eight paddles, depending on the type of weave. A shuttle is thrown from left to right during the weaving process. The thread often snaps because the yarn is so very delicate.
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!