Although handmade production is Craftscurator's passion, she also is fascinated with seeing a factory in operation. Especially when the entire process, from sorting and cleaning fibres to spinning and dyeing yarn to weaving or knitting an end product is taking place under one roof. Mongolian suppliers often have this so called 'vertical production process'. Craftscurator made a visit to factories in Mongolia, and saw how the precious cashmere, yak and camel fibres are worked into beautiful textiles for the European market.
Mongolian producers usually work in close collaboration with herders in the countryside. The bales of freshly combed cashmere goat hair, yak down and camel hair are delivered to the factories in Spring. The fibres are then sorted by type and colour. Since the hair is greasy at this point, it is scoured and excess hair is removed. The fibres come in beautiful natural shades, but some of the material is dyed. After that, the yarns are spun, and are used on weaving looms and knitting machines. Although most of this is done by machines, there is quite a lot of labour and expertise involved. The finishing touch is done by hand - making and cutting fringes, and then a thorough quality check. Mongolia is well known for its quality knitwear. Most garments are knitted into shape and then linked - not to waste any precious material.
Craftscurator is working with 11 textile companies in the wool and cashmere industry to develop new - and sustainable - product ranges. These products will not just stand out in the market, the exporters are also working on making these products more sustainable. Technical experts are looking into the production process in detail, to find out if any sustainability improvements can be made. Craftscurator is also encouraging the exporters to add handmade touches to their products - to be able to create a unique and amazing product. Two well-known textile designers have developed products with the Mongolian companies, with exciting results. The new collection of this 'Sustainable Design' project, initiated by CBI in collaboration with the University of Science and Technology of Ulaan Bataar, the Mongolian Textile Institute and the Mongolian Wool and Cashmere Association, will be launched in Europe early 2018.
Read more about Mongolia's precious raw materials in the article 'Discovering Mongolia - harsh land, softest fibers'
To know more about the Sustainable Design project in Mongolia, keep an eye on the Craftscurator newsletter (subscribe here) or contact Irene.