MAKING OF CASHMERE SCARFS IN NEPAL
In the mountainous country of Nepal the delicate shawls are handspun and woven according to traditional techniques. For generations Nepalese craftsmen have known the art of manufacturing pashmina shawls.
Every spring, when the goats naturally shed their winter coat, Chyangra farmers collect the cashmere wool. The naturally soft wool is obtained from the downy undercoat of the goat’s neck and underbelly without harming the goat. Only the finest wool fibers measuring 16.5 microns and under (6 times finer than human hair) are qualified for the making of pashminas. In our pashmina collection wool fibers were used, varying between 15 microns for the 100% Cashmere Pashmina 1 Ply and 15,5 microns for the 70% Cashmere/30% Silk Pashmina. Byabasayik Krishi Sahakari, an agricultural cooperative, has recently started processing the wool collected from goats known as chyangra which dwell in the high hills in Mustang district for a regular supply of raw wool. The cooperative is first of its kind to formalise the supply chain. The cooperative has recently launched its pashmina wool processing plant which is expected to ensure the quality of Nepali pashmina products. The cooperative said that they had arranged with the local people of Mustang and other mountain regions for wool collection by providing them with the necessary equipment to carry out the preliminary processing in their locality.
The cashmere wool is spun by hand on a spinning wheel, locally known as ‘Charkha’. One Himalayan goat produces about 4 to 8 ounces of pashmina per year. The fiber collected every spring and is spun either by hand or mechanically. Due to the irregular supply of yarn, a pure handspun cashmere small or large blanket requires special ordering and our cashmere is supplemented from Mongolia until there is revival of this small industries in Nepal.
With great expertise and skill the pashminas are being woven on traditional handlooms. An exquisite art, passed down through generations. Besides pashminas of 100% cashmere, blends of cashmere and silk are being made to create better fibre-strength and a beautiful sheen. Our weaving is all done by hand on looms built specifically to meet our exacting standards. Our master weaver comes from a very long lineage of Mughal craftspeople. Our other weavers are young Nepali artisans who also do all the finishing on our shawls and blankets.
After the weaving process, the pashmina shawls are dyed. This is a manual process as well, in which the shawls are one by one being submerged in a dye bath. Various colored shades are created either by dying yarn itself and then weave or by the process of multi stage dying on the fabric creating desire shades. Similarly different colors shades on either sides of the fabric are also created. Each Symrik Scarf is individually hand-dyed by our master dyer who has over 40 years experience. We use Sandoz metal-free and azo-free dyes, the most eco-friendly available, and dye in a range of 170 colors.The fiber is exceptionally absorbent, and it dyes very easily and deeply.
Screen printing is basically a process of using mesh-based stencil to apply color in the blanket. It is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil to receive a desired image. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer color which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto the blanket. A fill blade or squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing or pumping ink through the mesh openings to wet the pashmina during the squeegee stroke. Screen printing is also a stencil method of print making in which a design is imposed on a screen of polyester or other fine mesh, with blank areas coated with an impermeable substance. Color is forced into the mesh openings by the fill blade or squeegee and onto the printing surface during the squeegee stroke. As the screen rebounds away from the substrate the ink remains on the substrate. It is also known as silk-screen, screen, serigraphy, and serigraph printing. One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicoloured image or design.
Each Symrik Piece is finished with every bit of attention to detail as our fabric, weaves, and dyes. Each strand of our hand-knotted twisted fringe and is hand-knotted takes a full day to complete for one item, and our hand-knotted base fringe gives each piece an equally masculine and feminine look.