Folklore has it that Brahma created wool himself along with kusa grass, which is used for worship. Therefore to ward off evil spirits, people tie amulets and charms with woollen threads or a black woollen thread.
Usually the use of wool and its craft of spinning and weaving is most common in regions which have a cold climate. For example practitioners of this craft are found in Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. One of the most prized wools in the world, is the pashmina wool. It is sourced from the under belly of the Himalayan pashmina goat, which grazes at a height of 14,000 feet.
In wool weaving process, wool is most often obtained from sheep. The raw wool from the sheep has to go through several processes before it is ready to be used as yarn for weaving. The fleece is first sorted by hand and the fine wool is separated from the coarse. Fibres of similar length are put together and the wool is then washed in soapy water to remove impurities like straw, thorns, and burrs which tend to bury themselves in the animal’s coat. Once clear of impurities, the wool is pulled apart to separate and loosen the entangled fibres. Traditionally this cleaning is carried out with two wooden combs: a lock of wool is placed on one comb and the entanglements are straightened by placing another comb on top and drawing the wool fibres between the two. After which the untwined wool is ready to be spun into yarn using a spindle.
One of the most popular woollen garment in India, is the shawl. Kashmir and Punjab are the leading centres for shawl production. Some fo the most well known shawls are the Jamawar and the Kani shawls. The Jamawar shawl ( jama means robe, and var means yardage) is found in Kashmir. The Kani shawl also found in Kashmir, has several shuttles or kanis where three or more weavers are needed for the weaving process. It also uses a needle made of cane/wood. In a shawl when the weaves are two-sided it is known as do-rookha. The number of colours in one shawl could be as many as 50 and therefore can be used as a very vibrant and warm garment to wear in cold and dark winters.