What is Pashmina?
Pashmina refers to the material/textile produced using the fine hair from the undercoat of the ‘changthangi’ goat, which is indigenous to the Himalayan mountain ranges. These goats are typically found in regions of Kashmir, Tibet, Nepal and other nearby surroundings.
Today, Pashmina is used to describe anything that is in the form of a scarf or a stole, but this is highly misleading since only those scarves made from the hair of the ‘changthangi’ goat can be termed as Pashmina.
Whats so special about Pashmina?
Since the goats that produce the wool live in extreme cold temperatures, the cold withstanding properties of Pashmina are superior. The material is thin, light and extremely warm.
The ‘changthangi’ goat’s hair is extremely soft and silky to the touch, making the scarves/stoles made from this material highly exquisite. The shawls are so rich to touch that in history there have been many instances where royal gifts in the Kashmir valley included Pashmina Shawls.
Pashmina will also last you a lifetime if it is taken proper care of. Traditionally these shawls are handed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom.
What is the difference between Pashmina and Cashmere?
The word Cashmere is nothing but a modification of the word Kashmir. As Pashmina became famous globally it was referred to as Kashmir wool, which later was pronounced as Cashmere. Although the word originates from material produced in Kashmir, today Cashmere refers to textiles produced from goat hair available in regions of Scotland, Australia, New Zealand etc.
Both Pashmina and Cashmere are very similar to touch and feel, technically the difference is in the diameter of the fibre, Pashmina fibres are thinner than Cashmere when seen under the microscope, which helps make thinner and light weight scarves/stoles.
What should I know consider before buying Pashmina products?
Check if the material that you buy is Pashmina (i.e. wool from ‘changthangi’ goat) and not other material. Scarves that claim to be Pashmina/Cashmere in many of the high street stores are either Viscose or just plain wool.
Check the product description/material contents for the percentage of Pashmina in the product. Pashmina is extremely expensive to manufacture and hence many companies only use 10-20% Pashmina in their products. This will not give you the soft and silky touch that you desire from Pashmina and will also start to deteriorate quicker.
Check if the material is hand spun and hand woven. The quality of hand-spun-hand-woven Pashmina is far superior than machine spun scarves. Don’t just take our word for it, read the research paper released by the Indian Journal of Fibre and Textile Research in September 2012. (http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/14691/1/IJFTR%2037%283%29%20224-230.pdf). My Soul Creations only works with weavers from India who work with purely with hand looms using hand spun yarn.
Check for the quality of Pashmina. Due to the modern demands, there are different qualities of Pashmina available.
-100% Pashmina is the purest form. This is either available as ‘Loose Weave’ or ‘Tight Weave’. Loose weave pashmina scarves are softer to the feel, but these cannot be used for any embroidery work. This is done with ‘Tight Weave’ pashmina.
- Silk blended pashmina is a modern variation, where some percentage of Silk is added to the pashmina to add lustre to the material. You will find the blends of 70% Pashmina and 30% Silk on our website. Sometimes variations of 80/20 and 50/50 are also available.
What are the differences in the embroidery work on the Pashmina?
There are mainly two types of embroidery done in the Kashmir region:
-Sozni Embroidery pashminas are those which have very fine needle embroidery work done on ‘Tight Weave’ pashmina.
-Ari Embroidery shawls are those which have hook embroidery done. The silk threads used for this work are thicker and hence the base material for this type of shawl is made from Kashmir wool as the gentle Pashmina material cannot hold the weight of the embroidery.
Do all scarves/stoles have fringes on them?
Fringes have 2 purposes, the first is to ensure that the fibres at the ends of the scarf do not start slipping out and the second is to make the scarf look a bit more stylish.
The fibres on a pure Pashmina scarf do not run and hence there is no necessity for fringes. Also the hand loom process for these do not allow for fringes to be built in.
Silk blend scarves on the other hand will have fringes as the silk material used has a tendency to run at the ends and hence they are fringed at the ends.
There are many retailers and online stores selling Pashmina at extremely cheap rates. How do they do it?
The word Pashmina today has been polluted and any and the word Pashmina is used as a replacement for Shawls/Scarves/Stoles.
These scarves are generally made from viscose/acrylic which is a synthetic material and is mass produced in factories. In some cases merino wool is mixed with pashmina to reduce the cost and claimed to be 100% Pashmina while others are made from normal wool and are not real Pashmina.
Finally there are some retailers that sell Pashmina made from the waste material of the Pashmina making process, which is obviously cheaper. We do not stock these as they do not have the desired softness and longevity.
On our website you will find scarves/stoles made either from Pashmina, Kashmir wool or Silk. We only showcase and promote hand made products and natural textiles, and these are all procured based on our fair price policies with our suppliers in the Indian Sub-continent.
Truth be said, the touch and feel of real pashmina cannot be replicated and once you have felt it you could slowly identify the difference between the fake yourself.
How do you know if Pashmina products displayed on my-soul.co.uk are pure Pashmina?
My Soul Creations Ltd. works with on the ground weavers; we liaise direct with the producers of this fine fabric. Our philosophy is that of fair trade and we give our suppliers fair prices for the products that we procure. We do not stop just there, we ensure that the weavers source the raw material from sustainable sources
We get the products tested to ensure that the finished product is pure Pashmina and you can request a copy of our testing certificate at any time.
Finally the ultimate proof is for you to actually test the product. Once you buy a Pashmina from us you can compare with what’s available in the market. Do keep track of my-soul.co.uk, we will soon be putting up photographs of our visit to the weavers shops in India.
If you have any more questions regarding our products or anything in general regarding Pashmina, you can write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.