Spotlight: House of JAKI

Value is placed on the mastery of skill and craftsmanship as it should be. Knowing that someone has taken the time to meticulously create a product  justifies the monetary value placed on it but that isn't the ultimate value. The value is the story behind the product, it's the labour and skill and in many cases it's about the people and communities that bring us such creativity. Hand crafted products offer quality and artistry. It allows for creativity to flourish. Every step, every stitch is a creative act.

 This is what I see when it comes to the craft of making authentic cashmere and pashmina shawls in the foothills of the Himalayas in Kashmir, India. House of JAKI has been working with a family who has been producing beautiful, intricately embroidered shawls for generations. Learning a bit more about the region and it's people and the process of how one of these scarfs or shawls are made humbled me and inspired me. It made me think about the dedication and resilience of generations it takes to keep a craft that has beeb around for thousands of years alive. To get a sense of the arduous process of making just one of this exquisite shawls let me describe a bit of what it entails.

The traditional methods used in Kashmir sets them apart from the sorting of raw material to the finishing of the final product.  Pashmina is a down fiber or undercoat from domestic goats that are native to India and through the mountainous region of Central Asia. The traditional methods of processing and making the shawls involve pre-spinning processes, spinning, weaving and finishing. Pre-spinning processes include harvesting the fibers which is usually done during the months of March to May when the goats begin to molt. It is done manually by combing and sorting the fibers in which the undercoat and the guard hair are separated.  This is usually done manually by women but is being replaced by machine. Then the fibers are combed to remove impurities and straightened to be ready for spinning. Then pounded powdered rice is added, left for a night or two then cleaned off. This is called gluing to add extra strength, moisture and softness to the fiber. Next comes the spinning process. Here the untwisted fibers are converted into yarn usually on a spinning wheel that requires quite a bit of skill. Once the spinning process is completed weaving can take place. Here the yarn can be dyed and then goes through the skillful and meticulous weaving process. The creative aspect comes in at the finishing stage where it can be dyed again or embroidered ,washed and stretched.

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From collection of the wool to meticulously making them into fibers that can woven together into a comforting and cozy fabric, and yet still more meticulously creating beautiful colors and intricate designs to bring it all together into a masterpiece, you can see how precious one shawl can be. One piece can take several months to make depending on the level of intricacy of the design. Not only do these artisans create these pieces of art, they do this as a means of survival. The quality and craftsmanship of this region in making cashmere or pashmina shawls can not be compared.  House of JAKI connects us to this craft and the pieces of art and offers us a chance to experience the beauty and warmth of an authentic cashmere scarf. Take a peek at some of the creative and colorful pieces at www.houseofjaki.com.

Creativity sometimes comes out of necessity but it does not diminish the quality and dedication of making something.  Many art forms passed down from generations display this combination of necessity and art working together in producing practical and aesthetically pleasing objects. The cashmere shawls are no exception to this. The shawl serves the purpose of keeping you warm while being a beautiful piece of art. If you get a chance to feel one of these shawls you will undoubltly feel the warmth and softness of the fabric. It is the touch of luxury.  The weather is changing, Autumn is approaching this is the perfect time to take a peek at www.houseofjakidesigns.com and find your piece of luxurious scarves and shawls.