Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Hand spun Cashmere yarn from Afghanistan

Empower a woman and you empower a nation.
 Educate a woman and you educate a nation. 

At Scaapi we represent unique yarns that have been made with consideration for both man, animal and environment. We have always aimed to align ourselves with yarn suppliers that  serve the community they live in by empowering, educating and offering secure employment to women and men that struggle to make a living and have little or no education. 

In our quest to add more unique yarns that also serve the community we contacted Stella van Himbergen of Dutch Design in Development to help us source quality suppliers of beautiful yarns. When Stella informed me about Cashmere yarn from Afghanistan and the good work Mr.Hotak is doing, I wanted to form a part of this yarn and tell it's remarkable story. 

Afghanistan is home to 73 million cashmere producing goats.  In 2007 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that only 30% of the goats in Afghanistan were being harvested for fibre. 

The Sustainable Agriculture program (ASAP) teamed up with Mr. Abdul Basir Hotak, at the time a 15-year veteran of the Afghan cashmere industry. Together, they installed the country's first scouring and de-hairing equipment, allowing Mr. Hotak to process and add value to the fiber in-country.  ASAP provided herders with veterinary assistance to improve herd health as well as  training in how to harvest the cashmere through combing rather than shearing. These two steps helped to dramatically improved the quality of the raw fiber.  The higher quality fiber fetches a better price for the herders.  As a result of ASAP and follow up work by key players, the Afghan cashmere industry has transformed itself into a global provider of luxury cashmere fiber.

While working as a consultant for USAID in 2011, Susan Inglis, the founder of From The Mountain yarn,  was contracted by (ASAP) to work with Mr. Hotak to improve the cashmere supply chain in Afghanistan and to bring new economic opportunity to rural areas. Mr. Hotak had long seen the potential for developing Afghan cashmere, and he seized the opportunity to invest in building a supply of this premium fiber. He sourced a network of spinners in remote areas and is now managing a cottage industry that supports over 100 women.

Mr. Hotak and From The Mountain have taken this beautiful fiber a step further with beautiful hand spun yarn that supports livelihoods for Afghan women.  After decades of conflict, many of these women have been left as heads of households.  There are, however, very few jobs that are considered socially acceptable for women.  Many of the women have spun yarn for their own home use and wool for the carpet industry.  Spinning high-quality cashmere fiber into yarn for hand-knitters pays far better, providing a fair wage and an alternative to growing poppies for opium and heroin. The spinners are able to stay home with their children and provide for them at the same time.

We are proud to bring you From The Mountain DK and Sport weight yarn. Available in 4 natural undyed colours, Natural White, Gray, Light Brown and Dark Brown. Available for pre ordering on our B2B website to yarnstores in Europe. For American sales we refer you to From The Mountain. 

 Be sure to visit our  pattern page on our website, where lovely one skein patterns available for free download on Ravelry can be found. Pictured here below in From the Mountain DK cashmere the Frost Flowers Capelet by Mary Ann Gebhardt

We would like to give credit to From The Mountain for use of their website text to write this blog post. 

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