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Cashmere and Caring for the land.

Southern Kyrgyzstan, photo: Erica Manning Historically, the vast majority of the world's cashmere has come from Mongolia and China. In recent decades, the rapidly increased production of this fiber has contributed to land overuse and land desertification in the region, the negative climate effects of which are felt even along the west coast of the United States. Native goats to Kyrgyzstan - referred to as 'jaidiri', meaning local goat; photo: June Cashmere Goats aren't innately bad to the land if managed properly; total animal numbers (including goats, sheep, cows, and any other animals being grazed) need to be kept in proportion to the size and topography of the area of land being grazed. Traditional grazing methods understood the importance of numbers in an animal...

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Springing with kids!

Spring. The time of renewal, hope, and . . . birth! Of kids!     We purchase cashmere fiber from shepherds in the Chong Alai region of southern Kyrgyzstan. In this high mountain region, goats give birth once a year – preferably in spring, when there is more food for grazing and time for the kids to grow before going to jailoo – the high mountain pastures where shepherds live in yurts and graze their animals until fall. If all goes well, birthing takes about an hour. If there are twins, the babies are small and birthing is easier. If the kids are large, the mother may have difficulty and shepherds may have to help the birthing process by pulling...

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A consequence of the war on Ukraine: Economic strife in Kyrgyzstan

  Southern Kyrgyzstan (photo: Erica Manning)   Kyrgyzstan is experiencing immediate economic effects from Russian's invasion of Ukraine, a consequence of a world-wide response to economically isolate Russia.    Whenever we talk about the founding of June Cashmere, we recount the history that led to Kyrgyzstan's need for economic development. Like Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan was once part of the Soviet Union. It was part of a thriving textile-producing region in which shepherds belonged to cooperatives that directly sold their fiber to spinning mills with thousands of employees. The mills in turn had a vast market in the Soviet Union to which they could sell their goods.   Archival photo of textile mill in Kyrgyzstan, mid-20th Century   Also like Ukraine, when...

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Find joy in making.

Find joy in making, I like to say, because I truly want us to find joy in creating, in using our hands and minds to produce something uniquely made. I especially want us to find joy in making with this special cashmere yarn, bringing honor to the final step of the yarn's voyage from shepherds' hands to our own. Recently, however, I'm reminded that knitting (and making) can offer the mind, body, and spirit a multitude of benefits beyond joy. Research and anecdotal evidence from knitters tell us that knitting reduces depression and anxiety (lowers blood pressure, relaxes us, helps us to cope with difficult situations); helps slow the onset of dementia and distracts us from chronic pain (can even...

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Learning a new skill can be frustrating.

Learning a new skill can be frustrating. Recently, a knitter casting on the Lostine hat was trying to master the tubular cast-on. Expressing her frustration on Instagram, I reached out to her for moral support and links to tutorials. She was so close to making it work, but the truth is, figuring out a knitting technique on your own can be hard.   The Lostine Hat and Wrap patterns by Shellie Anderson start with a waste-yarn, tubular cast-on. You can see in the photo how beautifully the cast-on allows the ribbing to flow from the edge. For the hat, this cast-on method doesn't impede the necessary stretch of the rim like other cast-ons might.   Conquering a new technique is...

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