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If you go back a couple of decades hardly anyone in the west had heard of “Pashmina”. These days it has become a generic term for any large scarf, stole or shawl. In reality Pashmina is very fine wool which comes from the underside of the belly and neck of the Capra Hircus goat which is native to high altitudes in the Himalayan range, generally living above 4500 mts. Because the climate is so cold these animals have developed incredibly fine woollen undercoats to help keep them warm. It is usually about 12 – 14 microns thick and almost unbelievably soft to the touch. They are not sheared as a sheep would be but the yarn is either collected naturally as it malts of or is collected by gentle brushing. Each animal can yield 3 – 6 ounces of yarn twice a year. The yarn of fine pashmina is traditionally spun by hand and is used in an un-dyed form with its natural colour being cream through to a grey/brown. Traditionally in Himalayan communities men would were very long stoles and shawls made from the coarser “guard hairs” of the goat. These being the outer hairs that protect the soft fine hairs underneath.