Cashmere scarves are the exceptionally warm, soft, and timelessly elegant winter wraps that are handcrafted to keep one warm and stylish in colder seasons. These scarves are made from a natural fibre, which is acquired from the undercoat of Ladakhi goat. Cashmere has some features which are rare to find and which makes it revered all over the world.
Here are some amazing qualities of a Cashmere scarf, for which it is cherished by every admirer of traditional art.
The Source - Where do Cashmere goats live
Cashmere scarves are made from Cashmere wool, which the Ladakhi goat grows to withstand a temperature of- 40 degrees. It is the exceptional warmth of this fibre that makes this possible. In addition to being warm in winters, it is believed that Cashmere keeps one cool in summer and spring because of its insulating properties.
Cashmere goats are found in China, Mongolia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and Ladakh. Ladakhi Changthangi goat produces the best quality and the finest Cashmere all over the world. In fact the world famous Pashmina shawls are made from Ladakhi Cashmere.
Cashmere scarves are Handmade
Cashmere scarves are totally handmade. The raw wool is spun on a wooden charkha or spinning wheel, which converts wool to long yarns. These yarns are then handwoven to the fabric. There is no intervention of machines and it is hard to believe that such a luxurious and intricate piece can be crafted with bare hands.
Finesse of these luxury scarves
Cashmere yarn is extremely fine. The diameter of a Cashmere yarn is 12-16 microns only. This quality makes Cashmere 8 times warmer than sheep’s wool.
It is a Family Affair
As many as 50 families and a few hundred individuals are associated with just one Pashmina scarf, which makes it more valued. In the past, one family used to accept one contract of shawl making, and the entire family would be associated with it. While womenfolk of the family would clean, sort, and spin the raw lump of Cashmere wool, men would weave, embroider, wash, iron it, thereby making it a product of this particular family.
Time and Labour
If a Cashmere scarf is embroidered, then it might take a few years to complete one piece. Such is the finesse and meticulousness of a Pashmina artisan. It is said that a total of 4-5 years are required to complete a fully embroidered shawl, and if an artisan working on a scarf passes away, it is not always possible to complete it
It takes the fibre from 2 goats to complete one Cashmere scarf. And since the goat is difficult to find and is extremely rare, the value of a scarf might seem exorbitant.
Worth of Cashmere Scarves
The worth of Cashmere depends upon a number of factors. Some of them are:
Ply indicates the density of fibre used. Single-ply Cashmere would mean that basic thread is used in its single form. Double-ply or two-ply would indicate that fibre is double twisted. Two-ply is more pricey
Yarn count is a number indicating the meters of yarn that can be spun per gram. The more yarn count, the thinner, the smoother, and more precious is the scarf.
Thickness of the fibre
How thick the fibre also determines the price of Cashmere scarves and wraps. The finer the fibre used, the more pricey the wrap becomes.
Weave patterns also determine the price of Pashmina scarves. The diamond weave is the most expensive type of weave in Cashmere. These are followed by twill weave and basket weave. Jacquard weave is also one major type that is usually worn at weddings or special occasions.
Prices of Cashmere scarves
A Cashmere scarf, on average, will be worth US$120 - 300 (dimension is 200 cm x 35 cm). It also depends on purity. This was the price of a 100% pure scarf and not an amalgam of silk or nylon. Unfortunately, many deceptive sellers have hiked prices but sell fake scarves. It is important to ask the seller for a certificate of authenticity. If he is not able to produce one, then he might be a fraud. Nevertheless, plain scarves will range from $120 to $150. If the scarf is patterned, printed, or laced, it will rise in price. Embroidered scarves might even be priced at $300.
Are Cashmere scarves worth it?
The regal status that Cashmere enjoys is always questioned by some curious consumers. Is Cashmere really worth all the prices and popularity that it enjoys all over the world? Well, we would say, it is worth even more!
The labour-intensive process that carries raw lumps from Ladakh to Kashmir is all manual and painstaking. The cleaning of raw wool is meticulous and a matter of utmost skill. Later spinning is done which is altogether a different story. The movement of hands of the woman who is spinning the yarn is a skill learnt from decades.
Weaving is again special to Kashmiri artisans who weave scarves and wraps on a traditional handloom, and not a power loom. The handloom is made of wood and takes a lot of manual effort to work and weave fabric. Hence Cashmere is worth every penny you spend on it. It is worth the time you spend to choose it, it is worth the effort you put to buy it, it is worth the fame it enjoys and the royal status which it acquired centuries ago when it was conceived, till now.