Tag Archives: Crafts

Thinking of Buying a Pashmina Shawl? This may help you.

Scarf1The name Pashmina comes from Pashmineh, made from Persian pashm (“wool”). Pashima (Cashmere) wool comes from the soft under fur of Changthangi, or Pashmina goats, which are a special breed of goat indigenous to high Himalayan altitudes.

Pashminas come in all mixes and sizes ranging from small scarves to blanket sized wraps. Pashminas are often mixed with other materials that reinforce the delicate wool fibres, such as silk or bamboo. To be considered good quality, Pashmina shawls need to contain at least 70% Cashmere wool. But in the market, you’ll often see cheaper Pashminas that contain only 50% wool.

Here are a few tips for those seeking the perfect Pashima:

All Cashmere wool is hand spun, primarily in the regions of Kashmir and Nepal where such wool has been made for thousands of years. Every spring Changthangi goats shed their soft winter coats, and weavers work to painstakingly collect the wool shed from the goats. Each Pashmina requires the under fur of at least two goats. These goats will live at altitudes of 12,000 to 17,000 feet. It’s important to note that better quality fibre comes from goats that live in the higher altitudes, because their fur is much softer and dense and insulates better than the slightly coarser under fur found in goats from lower altitudes.

High quality Pashminas are always hand spun with weavers using different combinations of Cashmere with other fibres to produce Pashminas of graduated value. Each shawl is individually hand woven and hand dyed. Many Pashmina weavers choose to use patterned artistry to adorn their scarves, stoles and shawls, with everything from floral filigree to animal patterns, and even modern fashion trends like Burberry.

You may be asking yourself at this point “Why choose a more expensive shawl when you can buy one that’s cheaper, just simply with less wool?” Even though silk may seem like a hot commodity, there’s a reason Pashminas have been mentioned in history since the 3rd century B.C. If a Changthangi goat’s thin layer of insulating wool is fine enough to keep it warm at -20 Fahrenheit, how nice and comfy do think it’ll feel when turned into a beautifully hand-woven scarf just for you? Even though silk is often expensive, it’s a whole lot easier to commercially produce than the wool from a Changthangi goat.  So when you’re shopping around for that perfect Pashmina just for you, and find yourself indignant at the significantly higher price of a pure Cashmere blended one, just think of a common little silk worm in comparison to the extremely difficult to procure downy under fur of a high altitude Himalayan mountain

Pashminas have incredible insulation, making them practical and warm for all seasons. Their insulated properties also work well against summer moisture and humidity. It’s lightweight, with a large (2.9 by 6.7 feet) 100% Cashmere shawl weighing only 5.6 ounces!

DSC02066You also have a fantastic array of choices, with a plethora of patterns (floral, animal prints, Burberry, traditional) and compositions (100% Cashmere, Silk Blended and Bamboo Blended). There’s an almost 100% guarantee you’ll fall in love with a Pashmina as soon as you feel it’s soft and warm qualities. There is no other shawl that can fashionably complement anything from casual sweaters to formal gowns.



The History of Nepal

The history of Nepal has been influenced by its position in the Himalayas and its two neighbors, modern day India and China. This beautiful and diverse country has fascinated travelers and explorers for centuries.

Due to the arrival of disparate settler groups from outside through the ages, Nepal is now a multiethnic, multicultural, multi-religious, and multilingual country. The national and most spoken language of Nepal is Nepali.

Nepal experienced a struggle for democracy in the 20th century. During the 1990s and until 2008, the country was in civil strike. A peace treaty was signed in 2008 and elections were held in the same year. In a historical vote for the election of the constituent assembly, Nepalese parliament voted to oust the monarchy. In June 2008, Nepal was formally renamed the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal when it became a federal republic.

43085221_oNepal is primarily a Hindu country, with more than 80% of the population adhering to that faith. However, Buddhism (at about 11%) also exerts a lot of influence. The Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was born at Lumbini, in southern Nepal. In fact, many Nepalese people combine Hindu and Buddhist practices; many temples and shrines are shared between the two faiths, and some deities are worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists.

Smaller minority religions include Islam, with about 4%; the syncretic religion called Kirat Mundhum, which is a blend of animism, Buddhism, and Saivite Hinduism, at about 3.5%; and Christianity (0.5%).

Nepal is associated with the Himalayan Range including the world’s tallest mountain, Mt. Everest. Standing at 8,848 meters (29,028 feet) Everest is called Saragmatha or Chomolungma in Nepali and Tibetan.

Southern Nepal, however, is a tropical; monsoonal lowland, called the Tarai Plain. The lowest point is Kanchan Kalan, at just 70 meters (679 feet).

Most people live in the temperate hilly midlands of climate zones than those places. The southern Tarai Plain is tropical/subtropical, with hot summers and warm winters. Temperatures reach 40°C in April and May. Monsoon rains drench the region from June to September, with 75-150 cm (30-60 inches) of rain.

The central hill-lands, including the Kathmandu and Pokhara valleys, have a temperate climate, and are also influenced by the monsoons. In the north, the high Himalayas are extremely cold and increasingly dry as the altitude rises.

Despite its tourism and energy-production potential, Nepal remains one of the world’s poorest countries. The majority of commercial activity takes place at small, family-owned shops or in the stalls of sidewalk vendors. With the exception of locally grown fruits and vegetables, many products are imported from India and, to a lesser extent, China and the West. Jute, sugar, cigarettes, beer, matches, shoes, chemicals, cement, and bricks are produced locally. Carpet and garment manufacturing has increased significantly, providing foreign exchange.

Since the late 1950s, tourism has increased rapidly; trekking, mountaineering, white-water rafting, and canoeing have drawn tourists from the West and other parts of Asia. The tourism industry has sparked the commercial production of crafts and souvenirs and created a number of service positions, such as trekking guides and porters. Tourism also has fueled the black market, where drugs are sold and foreign currency is exchanged.

Nepal is heavily dependent on trade from India and China. The large majority of imported goods pass through India. Transportation of goods is limited by the terrain. Although roads connect many major commercial centers, in much of the country goods are transported by porters and pack animals. The few roads are difficult to maintain and subject to landslides and flooding. Railroads in the southern flatlands connect many Terai cities to commercial centers in India but do not extend into the hills.

Visit my website, Carolee Specialties.com to see some of the crafts from Kathmandu, Nepal.

multiethnic, multicultural, multi-religious, and multilingual country. The national and most spoken language of Nepal is Nepali.

Nepal experienced a struggle for democracy in the 20th century. During the 1990s and until 2008, the country was in civil strike. A peace treaty was signed in 2008 and elections were held in the same year. In a historical vote for the election of the constituent assembly, Nepalese parliament voted to oust the monarchy. In June 2008, Nepal was formally renamed the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal when it became a federal republic.

How I Fell In Love With Nepal

I majored in Commercial Art, but ended up supporting myself working in the mortgage, finance business during most of my life. Fortunately my Grandfather urged me to minor in business administration and those courses provided me the skills.  My creative needs were delegated to home and school projects for my children.

However, once my home computer was hooked up onto the Internet, I created a Community Page and invited crafters and small business owners to join. Within a year those working with me urged me to represent them so I created a website and eventually opened a small gift shop in a local strip mall. Sadly, a couple of years ago the mall renovated and many of the original stores, including mine, were eliminated. But that is a story for another day.

43085196_oOne of the people I connected with on my community was a young man in Nepal, Prakash. I saw his note cards on the Internet and sent him a message admiring his work. He told me that he was taught Batik painting as a child by a European woman who was living in Nepal at the time. He sent me samples and they are not only beautiful but very special and extremely different from anything we have in the USA.

We developed the habit of talking frequently, very early in the morning, before I left the house for my full time day job, due to the time difference. He told me that his goal was to form a business that would enable him to provide his country people with much needed employment. I soon learned that the people in Nepal had many talents and truly wanted to work to support their needs. During the next few years, Prakash provided me with pashima, silk and cotton scarves and shawls, beaded jewelry, silver jewelry, silver and beaded trinket boxes, cotton and beaded handbags and he was always able to locate someone who could supply any product I suggested I wanted to sell.

After my store closed, personal and health issues caused me to take time off from work. I have not been in touch with Prakash as often as in the past. Needless to say I was very concerned for his welfare as well as the safety of his family and friends when learning of the earthquakes. I was able to get a message to Nepal on FaceBook and have been told by a friend that he is safe. Pictures such posted on Facebook explain how busy they are in Nepal.

Now that I am starting to feel better and feel strongly that we have to so what we can to help the people of Nepal put their lives in order I am starting to post some of the inventory I carefully packed and stored at my home when my store closed and will sell these products over the Internet and through networking with my friends. I hope that I can accumulate some cash to send to Nepal from the proceeds

I learned a lot about Nepal and the wonderful, creative and hard working people in that country. If you are interested in learning about Nepal Follow us for my article About Nepal.

January 28- Our Winter

WinterbirdIn rear of my apartment building the tenants created a lovely garden where we can sit and watch the birds and small critters feast on the food we provide them. No winter storm prevents these little guys from enjoying their meal and playing or bickering with each other. I love starting my day at my window, holding a mug of coffee and watching them frolick in the garden.

The East Coast was experiencing a rather mild winter until this week when everyone panicked over the prospects of the arrival of a huge storm. The panic was certainly not abated when the Mayor of New York City warned that we were about to experience a storm unlike any we ever experienced. The New York area got lucky once again because the storm ended up a normal winter snow storm. However, Long Island and the eastern portion of Massachusetts really got hit with heavy snow and strong winds.

SbiwnabAlthough everything was closed down, even roads and bridges, I, for one,  has to admire the people of Boston, news reports showed them walking the streets and romping in the snow as it piled up around them.

The past year as been a rough one for me, (and it appears the rest of the world).  Minor health problems forced me to take a break from working on the Internet or meeting with customers. What I hope with be the last and minor bout with surgery is scheduled for early March. I anticipate being back to my normal lifestyle shortly thereafter. Meanwhile I am enjoying spending more time with my friends and family, honing my skills and learning new ones.

Here is a quick  look at some of my favorite products—–

DSC01912 If you are interested in giving a unique present to the special gal in your life visit my store site at nd take a look at the small heart, cupid, flowers and butterfly soaps and containers of soap petals we  offer along with the Pashima and silk scarves and shawls in a variety of colors.

Flowers 004 If you want to make your present special ask us to wrap it for you and top the box with our special floral arrangements.

The floral arrangements are made with a variety of silk flowers and in many sizes. They can be used to top a present, as a wall hanging or low centerpiece. Just tell us the colors you prefer and we will do the rest

I promise to try and write again soon. I skipped my usual breakdown of favorite days of the month this time but will return to the usual format soon.

Remember our Veterans and do what you can to let them know we appreciate all they have given to us.

Till next time,—-Carolee