From the Mountain
From the Mountain Cashmere
A skein of this Afghan cashmere is not just a lovely thing to cuddle, or the yarn for the nicest cowl you'll ever own.
It is a thread of connection to a community of women in Afghanistan. Here is their story.
Through decades of struggle and war, cashmere goats and their caretakers have been a part of the Afghan countryside, and Afghan women have spun yarn.
For years the cashmere industry in Afghanistan went undeveloped. Goats served as food; their hides were exported, but their fiber was shorn and spun to be woven into carpets and tents for local and domestic use. There was no infrastructure in Afghanistan to clean and process the fiber for spinning commercially. But there were many goats, and some of the fiber was exported in its greasy form.
In 2007, a USAID venture called the Accelerating Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) teamed up with 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 Hotak to process and add value to the fiber in-country.
While working as a consultant for USAID in 2011, Susan Inglis, the founder of From The Mountain met Abdul Basir Hotak. Susan was contracted by the Sustainable Agriculture program (ASAP) to work with mr. Hotak to improve the cashmere supply chain in Afghanistan and to bring new economic opportunity to rural areas.
Hotak and From The Mountain have taken this beautiful fiber a step further with beautiful hand spun luxury yarn that supports livelihoods for independent Afghan women.
From the Mountain has a network of spinners in remote areas, managing a cottage industry that now supports over 100 women. After over a decade of conflict, many women have been left as heads of household, but with very few safe and socially acceptable ways to earn income.
There are 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. But spinning high-quality cashmere fiber into yarn for hand-knitters pays far better.
This provides 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.
From the Mountain Cashmere is available in 4 natural shades, the yarn is untreated and it is handspun using a drop spindle.