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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Passion for Pashmina

The older one gets, the more pashminas are needed in one's wardrobe!

The best pashmina shawls come from India and are woven from fine goat wool.  Hand-made pashmina products are finer, tighter, warmer and more luxurious than the machine made products.  Generally machine made items can be identified by the unnaturally straight edge and fringe base.  Good quality pashmina wool shawls are very light and very warm, with the highest quality being 100% pure pashmina wool (versus blends with silk).   The “ring shawl” is a full-sized 100% pure pashmina shawl that theoretically is fine enough to pass through a ring.  Pashminas are not the same as Shahtoosh, which is woven from endangered Tibetan Antelope wool, and which is illegal in most western countries.  Pashmina shawls are often hand spun, woven and embroidered in Kashmir, such as the shawls on sale at Cottage Industries Exposition in Mumbai.   Here one needs to haggle with Kashmir salesmen, who like to start their prices high and negotiate down.   The lavender embroidered pashmina below is a Cottage Industries Exposition store's hand embroidered item.  Alternatively, the very nice Calico Craft Center Shop in Ahmedabad has the wool shipped to their exclusive weavers and offers unique designs in their store at more reasonable prices.  The pashmina below with the paisley design (two sided) was woven uniquely for Calico Craft.

People often assume the paisley pattern (seen in the Ahmedabad pashmina) is from the British Isles.  But this is false.  From the excellent book Textile Arts of India, published by Chronicle Books, the kalga, or paisley motif pattern, evolved from 17th-century floral designs created in tapestry-woven Mughal textiles in India.  By the late 18th century the archetypal curved point had evolved.  It was imitations of these patterns in shawls woven in factories at Paisley, Scotland, that gave the design its name.

Some nice links:

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