Nepal has a wide variety of wool-bearing animals – its weather makes woollen products an integral part of everyday life. Today, high quality wool from sheep and the angora rabbit, as well as imported wool from New Zealand, are used to make sweaters, jackets, hats, caps, gloves, and mittens. Designs are based on both traditional Nepalese motifs, as well as on western motifs; the products are available in a wide range of colours.
The imported wool is first machine carded and then spun by hand. The traders and exporters of hand-knitted products give bulk orders to the entrepreneurs or thekedars (intermediaries) who in turn purchase wool from wool traders located mostly in Chhetrapati near Thamel. An individual thekedar distributes the knitting jobs to 20 to 30 home-based women workers and the finished knitted products are then collected from the women workers and supplied to the traders and exporters.
Angora wool farming and production of angora wool products is a relatively recent development in Nepal where the environment has proved to be conducive to successful breeding of the angora rabbit. As in any new venture, there have been innumerable technical problems, due mainly to spinning defects. However strenuous efforts are being made to overcome these problems. Efforts are being made to upgrade the spinning process by blending angora wool with other wool, like pashmina and sheep’s wool, and thereby ensure an upgradation in this project
Catering largely for the tourist and export trade, women – based at home – are employed in knitting work in areas like Thamel, Sankhu, Bhaktapur, Jorpati, Gokarna, Harisiddhi, Thimi, Lubhu, Chapagaon, Dallu, Swoyambhu, Kirtipur, and Banepa.