The term Pashmina is derived from the Persian word pashm means wool. Pashmina fiber is derived from the high altitude Caprahircus goats found in Ladakh and Nepal. Since these animals are especially adapted to the harsh, cold climate of the Himalayas, their wool is lighter, coarser and warmer than that of the goats in the lower altitudes. Pashmina refers to a finer and thinner cashmere fiber. One distinct difference is the fiber diameter. The test for quality is warmth and feel.
Although the fiber is obtained from the high altitude goats in Ladakh, the fabric is worn in the Kashmir valley. Pashmina is derived from the undercoat of Caprahircus goats. It is then hand spun, woven, dyed, embroidered and made into beautiful clothing, comprising of shawls, scarves and various other kinds of fabric.
How is Pashmina Made?
The spinning is done by hand from the wool collected during every spring season. The yarn is then spun on a spinning wheel, locally known as “chakra”. Prior to spinning, the raw material is elongated and cleaned to remove any kind of dirt or residue. It is soaked for a few days in a mixture of rice and water. It calls for extraordinary patience and is a treat to the eyes, if you watch the entire process.
Pashmina yarn is too delicate for power machines and is therefore totally hand woven on hand-looms. The quality of the fabric depends on how well it is woven. The better the weaving, the finer the fabric.
Pashmina yarn is dyed by hand. Each piece is handpicked and done individually. Dyeing this fabric takes a lot of effort. But the best part about it is, it is exceptionally absorbent and dyes deeply.
To produce the fiber, the goats must be reared carefully. Besides, the particular breed of goats is rare. Weaving on hand-looms is also a painstaking task. This results in pashmina being an expensive fabric. Often, the authenticity of the fabric is in doubt , with manufacturers blending silk in to make the process cost-efficient, thus gaining popularity among more people today.
Today, the pashmina is extremely popular in international markets. Wearing a pashmina is a status symbol, besides being a style statement.
Pashmina Salwars Care
Pashmina clothing requires special care because of its delicacy. Here are a few tips for its care:
1. Clean your bathtub thoroughly. Plug the drain.
2. Soak the pashmina fabric in lukewarm or cool water.
3. Squirt with a moderate amount of neutral detergent. Baby shampoo is okay.
4. Pat and squish the fabric to make sure the soap penetrates the entire piece.
5. Let it soak for 15 minutes.
6. Unplug the bathtub and let the water drain away.
7. Rinse the pashmina thoroughly.
8. Remove the pashmina from the bathtub, and fold it small enough to fit into a large zip-lock plastic bag.
9. Seal the bag and shake for a couple of minutes.
10. Remove the pashmina from the bag and lay it on a fresh, dry towel. Allow to blot for 15 minutes.
11. Hang unwrinkled on a rod. Allow to dry thoroughly.
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