Peace Fleece Catalog Afghan Cashmere Yarn

 

Peace Fleece distributes luxurious cashmere yarn made by talented women spinners from Sheghnan village, Afghanistan. The women are part of a spinning group supported by a development project funded by IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and managed by AKF (The Aga Khan Foundation). You may remember back in 2013 Peace Fleece started selling mohair yarn spun by women spinners from Tajikistan. That project has been successful and the women now sell their Cashgora yarn (they switched from mohair) which we also have for sale here. Now the project is focusing on the Afghan women just over the border from Tajikistan. The project supports the women from this Afghan village in developing their own spinning business and in finding export markets for their yarn. 70% of your purchase will go directly back into the project to cover the following expenses, which in the interest of transparency we have listed below:

Fiber - from local Afghan cashmere farmers.

Yarn Production - Wages for spinners, washing, re-skeining and labeling.

Workshop Expenses - Coal/wood for heating, electricity, building maintainence.

Project Management and Communication - Phone, internet, accountant, translator.

Shipping - To Kabul, to the US and then to Maine.

 

100% Cashmere Yarn - Meet the Spinners

  Maliknoz  

Maliknoz is the leader of the spinning group and makes gorgeous, medium fine, even yarn.

Maliknoz is 35 years old. She was married when she was 12 to a 22 year old man. She has 5 sons and 1 daughter and is pregnant with her 7th child. This is an unplanned pregnancy – it is not easy for her family to take care of 6 children and Maliknoz has felt very sick during this pregnancy. Her husband has a small sewing shop at home and makes traditional Afghan clothing, but his earnings are not enough to keep his large family out of poverty. Maliknoz hopes that her children will have an easier life. She is illiterate, but all her children now go to school and do well which makes her very happy. Asked what she enjoys the most, Maliknoz mentioned her visits with her parents. They are her closest confidants and she can share everything with them. Maliknoz is a very talented spinner and also a good cook. She works very hard and her family respects her for that. She uses her earnings from spinning to buy clothing and school supplies for her children and also to help relatives and neighbors to pay for weddings – the most expensive event in the life of Afghan families. 

Click to purchase yarn by Maliknoz

       
  Arzongul  

Arzongul makes soft, light worsted weight yarn, beautiful for a finer scarf or a hat.

Arzongul is 41 years old, but does not know her exact date of birth. She has 9 children. She already has a daughter-in-law who helps her with household chores. She is very happy for her children because they are happier in their marriages than she is in hers. Her husband does not work and they don't have any stable source of income. They raise some crops on their land and earn money from occasional seasonal work. But Arzongul is talented and gets odd jobs around the village as do many of her children. She hopes all her children will find happiness. Arzongul enjoys helping to improve a kindergarten where her daughter works as a teacher. She also enjoys meeting new, interesting people and visiting new places. She is an experienced knitter and knows how to make traditional frames for drying fruits. She prefers doing everything slowly and accurately. She uses her earnings from spinning to buy clothing for her grandchildren and to pay for household expenses.

Click to purchase yarn by Arzongul

       
  Aslebegim  

Aslebegim is an excellent spinner.  She makes a very even, nicely spun light worsted weight yarn.

Aslebegim is 48 years old. She has six children: five sons and one daughter. She is considered very brave because when her parents married her to a man she did not love she left him. Now she is married for the second time. Her husband is a teacher but works far away and they rarely see each other. Two of her sons are in Kabul, but it has been hard for them to find work after finishing school. Aslebegim is sad about being separated from most of her family and she very much enjoys visits from her sons. She worries about them because the situation in Kabul is not stable. Her biggest joy was the wedding of her youngest son. She also loves to knit.  When she starts knitting she sits down with her back against the wall and her children say: "Mom is again starting to do her thing." Aslebegim is very thrifty and never wastes a penny. She used her income from spinning to repair her house and to buy scarves and fabrics for her son to give to his bride before their wedding.  

Click to purchase yarn by Aslebegim

       
  Jonamo  

Jonamo is one of the best spinners in the group. Her yarn is worsted weight, soft and even

Jonamo thinks she is around 40 years old. Her parents married her off when she was very young and her husband was 30 years older than her. She did not love him. They had 3 sons and 4 daughters and he died 3 years ago. Now she is a widow and has to support her family. Sometimes she gets help from her husband's brother. Her main concern is the wellbeing and health of her children and grandchildren. She would like to have a nice house with some amenities, and she hopes her children will be able to find work. Jonamo knows how to build a traditional outdoor oven for making bread. People invite her over to make such ovens for them. She is very resourceful and good in managing the household. She uses her income from spinning to buy food and clothing for her children and also to help pay for her relatives' wedding. 

Click to purchase yarn by Jonamo

       
  Avalmo  

Avalmo makes very consistant light worsted yarn.

Avalmo is the oldest spinner. She does not know her date of birth. She was an orphan and her relatives married her to a widower who had one son and four daughters. Those children have all died, the son in the war with the Soviets. Avalmo and her husband have four daughters. This means that the women have to do everything around the house, including heavy work and house repairs. Also, in Afghanistan a son is the pride of the family and a woman who does not have a son feels inadequate as this is considered the end of the family bloodline. Avalmo's husband has beaten her and she is sad because she does not have parents or siblings to support her, but she has learnt to be resilient and patient. Her greatest joys are her daughters and grandchildren. She also enjoys visits from her son-in-law who is a very kind and generous person. He serves in the army and helps her family financially. Avalmo is always busy with different work around the house. She is especially good in working on their plot of land and taking care of fruit trees and crops. She uses her earnings from spinning to buy wool scarves for herself and her daughters, clothing and sweets for her grandchildren, and for household expenses.  

Click to purchase yarn by Avalmo

       
  Khurshedmo  

Khurshedmo is the most recent member of the group. Her yarn is very even and soft.

Khurshedmo is 37 years old and has five children. Her oldest daughter is in 11th grade. Her husband is a teacher and works very far in the Argo district of the Badakhshan province. Her husband is the only person who earns salary in their family. Khurshedmo’s brother-in-law and his wife also live with them and her husband helps to support them as well. Khurshedmo enjoys cooking for her family but she dislikes washing the dishes and cleaning the house. She does not have much free time but the little time she has she likes to spend with her children. She loves going outside with her children to visit relatives or neighbors. She also likes going to the workshop to spin – the time goes fast when the women spin and talk and she earns money for her family. It made her very happy when she succeeded in making nice yarn and heard that the American knitters appreciated her work. She spends her money to buy food such as salt, tea and oil and sometimes she buys clothing for her children. Her children are her greatest happiness and she enjoys her life with her family now that she has children. She was married when she was 13 and at that time she knew nothing about marriage and what it meant to be husband and wife. She did not meet her husband before the marriage and it was difficult for her to move to live with him and his family as they were complete strangers to her. She had her first child after nine years and that was one of the best things that happened in her life. After that she fell in love with her husband and her life because much more meaningful. Now she loves her husband and all her children. Her dream is to travel outside of Afghanistan and meet groups of other spinners and show off her spinning skills.

 Click to purchase yarn by Khurshedmo

 
Maliknoz  

Liba Brent, our friend and project coordinator, writes "Life for an Afghan woman is hard. Marriage is arranged by parents and relatives and the bride-to-be often has no say in the matter.  She is "given away" to her husband and his family and as a newcomer has the lowest status in the new family.  This means heavier work load and lesser voice than other women.  A couple of months ago a widow who works with us went to Kabul to try to get a pension after her husband died and she is still there trying to get through the red tape.  In the meanwhile there is none to help with the family crops.  There is also a complete lack of family planning - women want to have fewer children but don't have any way to prevent pregnancies.  Heroin addiction is a problem - this list goes on.  On the brighter side - things are changing, if slowly, because the children now go to schools (built mostly by the Aga Khan Foundation, a partner in the project).  But the Taliban is now very close and they have sent this community a letter saying they should stop sending the girls to school and cover the women. If they don't obey, the Taliban are ready to come and impose the rules themselves. "
"We believe in the need to strengthen women's rights by providing women with earning opportunities and developing linkages among women across cultures. The spinners live in some of the most isolated, traditional communities in the world.  They want to learn about the women who buy their yarn. We expect that some of you will be curious to learn about the woman who spun the yarn you knit with. The chances are that she has faced the challenge of poverty and the constraints of traditional, patriarchal culture that for many of us is difficult to imagine. Your purchase will make her life just a little easier and having her own money will make her just a little more powerful."

You can read more about the project by visiting www.cashmerepeople.com