The Village Council
Your answers straight from the village experts
Hand-washing and dry cleaning are the most common ways to care for and clean shawls. Many of our alpaca shawls specifically indicate dry-cleaning or hand-washing with cold water. Because shawls are delicate, a garment bag is a good way to prevent damage. Avoid direct sunlight and high heat. As always, it is important to follow the care instructions specific to the fabric of your shawl.
The great thing about shawls is that they are versatile. One can find a shawl for every season. Warmth is often based on the tightness of the weave and the type of material used. Alpaca fiber is known for its thermal capacity and provides an optimal degree of warmth. Sheep wool also acts as an insulator, absorbing moisture and creating a feeling of coziness for the wearer. Shawls made of cashmere and pashmina are light and thin, yet still provide a high degree of warmth. In Mexico, shawls made from San Juan Chamula sheep keep one warm and comfortable.
Comfort is always a question of preference, but certain fabrics lend themselves to softness and warmth. Shawls from the Andes are made from super soft alpaca fibers, and provide wearers a high level of comfort. Similarly, in Thailand and Bali, silk shawls are always favorites. Depending on ones climate, particular shawls may be preferable. Central American shawls made from cotton and rayon keep wearers cool in warm climates, whereas bamboo and acrylic shawls are great for cold weather. During hot summers, Indian shawls made of modal, silk, and viscose are a perfect option, and merino wool and cashmere are ideal for winter. West Africa stands by the luxurious comfort of their 100% cotton shawls, and Mexico prioritizes comfort with their beautiful wool designs.
It depends on what you mean by handmade. We support artisans who work in the ancient traditions of their ancestors, crafting items by hand, with patience and love. But techniques vary among shawl makers. Embroidery, hand-painting, stitching, and sewing are often part of the process. Some artisans do use power looms when crafting their shawls, but even in those instances, there is no mega-factory or mass production line behind the garment. The beauty, creativity, and inspiration for each shawl comes from the artists own heart. Our product descriptions will always specify if an item is hand-woven, hand-knit, or otherwise.
The shawl comes to us full of history, culture, and heritage. Each region invests its shawls with different symbols, patterns, and designs. Some shawls, like those in West Africa and the Andes, feature linear and geometric shapes, clean lines and patterns that have been passed down through the centuries. In Bali, we find elaborate batik designs, a technique that makes use of alternating dye and wax to block color. In Central America, embroidered and woven shawls incorporate designs inspired by corn, butterflies, and birds. Floral patterns are very popular in Indian shawls, particularly in pashminas from Kashmir. Gujarati shawls often depict geometric shapes, and artisans increasingly incorporate contemporary designs through hand-painted fabric. Thailand also integrates floral patterning, often using the yok dok technique, a brocade style that leaves the fabric slightly raised. This emphasis on brocade is also evident in Mexican shawls, with lavish designs in the form of frets, flowers and geometric figures, all inspired by pre-Hispanic cultures.
Fibers, dyes, and fabrics come together in innovative, unique ways during the creation of a shawl. Different regions rely on resources that are readily available and have cultural significance. In West Africa, 100% cotton and rayon frequently make their appearances in shawls. In Bali and Thailand, soft silk lends a luxuriousness to the shawl. Central American artisans incorporate bamboo rayon, while India makes use of wool and silk. Mexico boasts an array of vibrant natural and cotton yarn dyes, and artisans from the Andes weave shawls out of soft alpaca fiber.
Throughout the world, the shawl is considered a venerated garment, made by hand from techniques passed down through generations. The methods for making traditional shawls vary as widely as the regions from which they come. But most employ some method of hand knitting or weaving on a loom. In the Andes, for example, crocheting and flat weaving on a treadle loom are common techniques. In Central America, backstrap and foot looms are popular with artisans. In Bali, one finds intricate sewing, in addition to weaving. And in India and Thailand, practices of hand-painting fabric, batik, and the use of natural dyes are intimately tied to the creation of shawls.
Featured Reviews on
Better than the picture!
I gave this to a friend for Christmas and she loves it! Its lightweight, warm and brighter than the picture shows. It is absolutely lovely, a great price and a greater mission. You cannot go wrong with this purchase.
Fabulous Colors, Soft and Warm
Fingerless gloves are super comfortable to wear all day in the wintertime. The alpaca yarns reflect the gorgeous suite of colors right out of the view from a mountain cabin! The photo captures the colors precisely. The alpaca is a tight knit and very warm even without a lining. These hand warmers are especially comfortable for anyone with stiff joints and the open fingers accommodate indoor activities, including using computers.
warm and stylish hat
Very light material but also quite warm. I love the colors and the quality. Because the material is so light it could easily be folded and kept in your pocket or a purse without taking up much space. Very packable. So nice I decided to purchase a scarf to match.
Alfredo Falcon Alpaca apparel and accessories
"When I was a small child, my parents began teaching me to knit. Like me, they learned them from their own parents. So we are a family devoted to the world of textile arts for generations."
"I come from a humble family of textile artisans and my first jobs were making sweaters that we sold later in a small store in Huaraz — an Andean city famous among tourists and mountain sportsmen. Everything went well until our town was hit by the earthquake of... read more
Reversible Variegated Brown and Black Alpaca Blend Scarf, "Marbled Beauty"$39.99
Andean artisan Waldo Berrios crafts a knit scarf with an intriguing variegated pattern. Streaks in a spice hue swirl against a black background, and since the accessory is reversible, the other side presents the same design, with a spice backdrop dappled with black veins. The versatile scarf features an alpaca, acrylic, and wool blend for softness and warmth.
100% Baby Alpaca Wrap Scarf in Steel Blue from Peru, "Steel Blue Gossamer"$39.95
The wavy texture of this wrap scarf makes it a fashionable companion. Designed by Alfredo Falcon, it is crafted of 100% baby alpaca wool and finished by hand in steel blue for a lightweight, charming accessory. Baby alpaca refers to the fine fleece from the season's first shearing.
100% Baby Alpaca Wrap Scarf in Petal Pink from Peru, "Petal Pink Gossamer"$39.95
The wavy texture of this scarf makes a fashionable companion in petal pink for a lightweight, feminine accessory. By Alfredo Falcon, the scarf is knitted of 100% baby alpaca wool and finished by hand. Baby alpaca refers to the fine fleece from the season's first shearing.