Handmade Wool Shawls
Kathmandu is a hot spot for artisans and handcrafted goods like wool shawls. At least, this is what we discovered on our journey in 2019 to source ethical, responsible, authentic items from countries who remain deeply rooted in traditional values.
One of the simplest yet most stunning items we collected on our trip was a beautiful handmade shawl in Kathmandu. Everything about this shawl captivated us, from the vibrant, culturally rich patterns to the softness of the natural sheep’s wool and cotton blend. Every fibre was wound by hand, and every garment was woven by skilled female artisans who are on a mission to change their community, one shawl at a time.
A Brief History of the Shawl
A traditional garb dating back to 14th century India, the shawl continues to be a staple piece in fashion. This simple piece of clothing is worn by draping it across the shoulders (and sometimes over the head). With no arm holes, no belt or sash, and no sleeves, it offers a loose fit that can add warmth and comfort to any outfit.
The original shawl was made of goat’s wool. After the king of Kashmir received socks made of the same material as a gift, it was suggested that the city begin a shawl weaving industry using the wool. The wool shawl quickly became Kashmir’s most recognised and sought after textile. They often featured intricate designs, usually resembling pieces of nature like birds, leaves, or flowers.
Styles and production evolved over the years, making their way to surrounding countries like Tibet and Nepal and changing in size and materials.
About Local Women Handicrafts
Local Women Handicrafts is a co-op founded by Nasreen Sheikh as a way to empower women to be leaders in their own communities. It started as a small artisan shop in Kathmandu in 2008, when Nasreen was still a teenager. Having worked as a child laborer in a sweatshop for two years, she was determined to give women alternative ways to make a dignified living doing fulfilling work.
She began training women in the art of textile making, teaching them how to weave and create patterns for textiles that would eventually be sold in her shop. Today, her shop is a thriving fiberworks business creating opportunities for women to earn a living, hone their craft, and share the love of textile-making with the community (and the world at large).
We met Nasreen and the Local Women Handicrafts initiative in 2019 during our journey to Kathmandu. Nasreen is an activist for women and global human rights, and we knew immediately that we wanted to support her through our store. She and her team embody the Doti Sutra brand by keeping with tradition in the arts and pursuing progression in society.
Supporting Local Communities through eCommerce
One of our core values here at Doti Sutra is to support local artisans and the generations of technique and experience they’ve poured into their crafts. Through our travels around the world, we continue to appreciate the love and work that goes into making goods by hand. However, these arts simply cannot continue to thrive or be properly supported without a means to showcase them beyond a local stage.
That’s why we started Doti Sutra to begin with — to shed light on a world of one of a kind goods that go beyond the limitations of mass production. Since every item is made by hand, no two are quite alike. That’s why we often only have one of each item in our store. And in a way, every item is truly made just for you, the buyer!
Shop Our Collection of Handmade wool Shawls
The classic shawl continues to earn a place in today’s fashion industry. And in the current climate of fast fashion, sustainability fears, and the world’s growing plastics problem, buying an artisan shawl made of natural wool and cotton is one of the most ethical and responsible clothing decisions you’ll ever make.
Shop our collection of handmade shawls from Kathmandu artisans and contribute to the empowerment of women everywhere.