About Pashmina and Cashmere
The word Cashmere has been derived from the word Kashmir. Kashmir is a region which is famous for producing nicely embroidered Pashmina shawls. Pashmina shawls produced from Kashmir are uniquely so soft, thin, light, fine and warm that it could take anyone by surprise by its sheer quality. Hence the term (Cashmere) applied by European and American to this unique product was referred primarily as a product of Kashmir. From European and American point of view, Cashmere is no different than Pashmina and is other name given to this wonderful product. But actually Cashmere is the name given to fine quality wool actually a classification of Count. Cashmere is extracted from the special goats found in Ladakh region of J&K state of India which live in less higher altitudes than Pashmina goats.
Pashmina fibre was not exclusively harvested and produced in Kashmir region. Originally the goats were widespread throughout all the high Himalayan range and the wool took over this name only because, Kashmir was the solo place where there were artisans and craftsmen capable of spinning and weaving this thin, soft and warm fibre. Pashmina is harvested from different subspecies of Goats that live in herds throughout the high altitudes of Ladakh. These goats are special breed of goat indigenous to such high altitudes of Ladakh and are known as Changthangi.
Within the wool classification, there are three types of wool available in Kashmir viz. Wool, Cashmere (Count) and Pashmina.
Wool is the fibre obtained from sheep, goat and certain other animals that live in plains. Wool is thicker than Cashmere. These goats are also available in Kashmir.
Cashmere is the fine quality wool obtained from special goat that lives in high altitudes of Ladakh. In Kashmir's local business terminology Cashmere wool is also termed as Count. Cashmere wool fibre is usually thicker than Pashmina. These goats are available in Ladakh only.
Pashmina is a very interesting classification and is considered as top Grade ‘A’ wool. This Persian word Pashmina designates softest, thinnest, finest and warmest wool produced from the special goat Changthangi. The goat is only available in Ladakh. One distinct difference between Pashmina and Cashmere is the fibre diameter. Pashmina fibres are more finer and thinner.
The scarce food and low temperatures found at high altitudes induce these goats to produce a very thin undercoat to protect them from the freezing wind gusts and to prevent heat escaping from their body. To survive the freezing environment at 14,000 feet altitude, Changthangi grows a unique, incredibly soft pashm (inner wool) six times finer than human hair. Because of the fact that it is only 10-16 microns in diameter, it cannot be spun by machines. So this natural fibre is hand-woven into products including shawls, scarves, wraps, throws, stoles etc. for export worldwide.
Shawls and stoles made of Pashmina are only hand spun, hand woven and hand embroidered in Kashmir. Shawls and stoles made of Cashmere or Count wool are machine made.
Kashmir pashmina has been famous for centuries due to its quality and products like plain Pashmina, woven Jamawars and embroidered pashmina. Pashmina from the Kashmir Valley is among the premium natural fibres available in the world.
It is important to note that the two main determinants of quality in Pashmina fibre are
Pashmina: 13 – 16 microns*
Cashmere: 15 – 19 microns*
Pashmina goats shed its inner wool every spring which is then collected by applying the comb. One goat sheds approximately 80-170g (3-6 ounces) of the fibre per year.
To produce it, Pashmina goat is brushed to extract the longest and most silky hairs from it. Then fibres are sorted out and cleaned by hand. These naturally fine hairs are then spun with hands and then weaved on a wooden spun following the ancestral tradition. Workers then tint the white cloth with natural colours with natural colouring agent. Embroidery is done once shawl is ready.
Difference between Pashmina wool and Cashmere wool
*Micron – one millionth of a metre
What are different grades of Pashmina?
Pashmina can be blended with silk at processing units so that it gets more strength to allow complex embroidery which otherwise is too light to sustain much tear. The pashmina blended with silk are woven with silk running the length of the weave, and Pashmina on the width of the weave.
Blends range from 80/20 Pashmina to Silk all the way to 50/50.
The content of pashmina with silk blends ranges from 60% to 80% pashmina with 40% to 20% silk. Pashmina Shawl-making in Kashmir is not a science but an art—a craft involving many hand processes. As such, the exact content of Pashmina and silk may vary slightly from shawl to shawl.
If you want to buy something which keeps you warm in winter and which is very soft then go for Genuine Pashmina or Cashmere.
How to wash Cashmere or Pashmina at home?
Pashmina product is a precious and delicate material. You should treat it carefully. If you take good care of it, it looks luxurious and magnificent. The best way to clean it is dry-cleaning only.
To wash cashmere/pashmina at home, gather the items near a water basin as well as some baby shampoo, a couple towels and a mesh drying rack.
How to Iron (remove wrinkles from) Cashmere or Pashmina at home?
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