Production and techniques
Chyangra Pashmina fibers are so delicate that they are mostly spun by hand. It takes around fifteen days and the fibers of three goats to spin enough yarn to produce one shawl. The Chyangra Pashmina making process is meticulous and involves a number of labor-intensive steps.
With the coming of summer, the Chyangra goats shed their warm winter coats. Their underbellies are covered with two different types of wool: a fine soft, inner coat which is called ‘Chyangra Pashmina’ and a thick, coarse outer layer which is discarded. The fibers are collected by the local population, who comb it thoroughly to separate the fine Chyangra Pashmina from the thicker, less luxuriant wool.
The raw cashmere extracted by combing high mountain goat is hand processed and hand-spun into yarn. These yarns are woven into fabrics on handlooms. These locally procured and woven Nepal Pashmina fabrics have a unique handmade quality and are typically offered in natural hand dyed colors.
Locally produced or internationally sourced yarn is woven or knitted into a wide range of Chyangra Pashmina products using traditional and local variations of international production techniques, described in the following pages.
An artistic and a delicate process, it takes hours to produce a Chyangra Pashmina product.
The final step of the production process is finishing; each product is thoroughly checked, ironed and then packaged for the market or requirements of the professional buyer.
Handloom weaving is the oldest method of manufacturing lengths of fabric. A simple mechanical device (the handloom) requires the shuttle to be manually stroked creating the ‘weft’ in between the ‘warp’ threads. A wide range of weaves is possible: checks and stripes, herringbone, basket, ribs, twill and combinations can be made from the lightest to heaviest threads to create different fabric weights. Handloom weaving is highly flexible, enables weaving with more delicate fibers and creates fabrics of a distinctive and desirable character. This type of production maintains craft employment among local workers without the use of electrical power.
Nepalese Pashmina manufacturers also use power-loom weaving to supply large quantity orders. One supervisor can look after four loom operations, each of which turns at around five times the speed of a handloom. The benefit is higher productivity and a standardized quality of fabric, textures and patterns. Jacquard Weaving – This weaving technique is based on manipulation of warp threads to create more complex woven patterns and ornamentation, repeated throughout the fabric length and width. Jacquard patterns can be relatively subtle and are often reversible.
Dyeing technicians ensure the quality of dyeing of Pashmina fiber in terms of color matching and evenness of desired shade. They are able to create some extraordinary effects such as shaded colors, tie and dyed special effects, “shibori” (stitch dye effects), clamp dyeing and Ikats. Ikat weaving craft is traditionally practiced in regions of South East Asia and has recently adopted by Nepalese Pashmina manufacturers for cashmere fiber. Local manufacturers have been able to develop unique characteristics including an array of colors and hazy patterns. The technique involves preparation of warp and weft threads separately in tightly knotted bundles before dyeing. Exposed areas are colored while the inner core remains un-dyed. On weaving these locally dyed warp and weft threads add texture to the regular pattern of the fabric
In this surface ornamentation technique dye paste is extruded through a patterned nylon screen mesh, transferring the design onto the plain fabric. A large range of pattern designs is possible: regular stripes or more ornate variations of floral, tribal and even animal skin patterns. Printed fabrics are finished with steaming and soaping to enhance the brightness and fastness of colors.
Nepalese Pashmina manufacturers also produce knitted products and accessories made with hand guided knitting looms. A large range of carefully knitted products such as sweaters, cardigans, mufflers, scarves, caps, ponchos, socks, gloves, mittens, blankets, cushion covers and pillows are available. Such sets of accessories need to be carefully coordinated to meet the exacting standards of fashion attire and decoration. A skilled craft, the vast majority of knitting staff are women.