Cashmere pashmina handweaving
6 steps of the Pashmina making process
- Pashmînah پشمينه comes from the Persan term pašm ‘wool’; or woolen material.
- It’s a very fine and warm wool from Himalaya’s goats – Tchang-ra “Capra hircus” .
1. The Harvest
Harvest is the first step of the making process.
In the arid mountains of Ladakh, during the summer months Changra goats — also called Capra Hircus — are herded to collect the pashm, the finest and superior cashmere quality used to create the finest shawls in the world.
One Changra goat will harvest roughly 120 grams of raw fibre. Of that, only 70 grams will be fine enough to be spun into pashmina yarn. The pashm fibre is combed on the goats underbellies and has to be at least five centimeters.
2. Sorting & washing
Among the whole harvest, it is necessary to sort between the raw and unrefined hair and the internal hair much softer and finer.
The finest cashmere finally sorted out is spread and combed then carefully to remove the last knots. In the process, impurities are removed by rubbing a fine rice powder through the wool.
The Pashm fiber is spun by hand to make the yarn finest as possible.
Women hand spin the yarn on a spinning wooden wheel locally known as Charkha. Hand-spinning requires immense patience, dexterity and dedication.This painstaking gesture and skills are passed down over generations from mother to daughter.
Real pashmina is hand woven as it yarn is too fragile and thin for the vibration caused by power looms. Pashmina yarn is previously straightened being soaked into boiled rice water before to be warped on the loom.
The weaving process is in it self an art and pashminas shawls are woven according to various armors, the most popular being the diamond twill weaving. In this stage pashmina keeps its natural brown or white color.
5. Dyeing & Printing
Dyeing is done by hand. The Master dyer will first elaborate the color with quality pigment and dye the pashmina using colored baths of hot water. Afterward, the shawl will be block printed . The design pattern will serve as a guide for the embroidery and needle works.
6. Embroidery & Lace inlay
Whether it is embellished with fagoting detail, needlepoint design or lace inlay embroidery, every shawl owns an ancestral know-how which makes it unique.
This textile art is a sumptuous craft which requires patience and dedication. Every embroidered shawl is an intricate masterpiece and the result of a long work going from a few days to several working months.