Thursday, 7 August 2014

In the Navy! Dark Blue pashminas are the new black!

Navy. A word to create a shiver down many-a spine.

To me, Navy was a shade synonymous with A-line knee length skirts... scratchy blazers, hockey on icy Wednesday afternoons in a box pleat back mini (freezing but actually quite flattering!) and summer days spent toiling over endless exams in a baking school hall.  It can take years to recover.

But after a gap of a couple of decades I suddenly find that I've accepted the Facebook friend request and Navy is creeping inexorably back into my life.

 At first it was a simple boat neck dress that was highly respectable office wear - worn occasionally for meetings but not actually loved. Then it was the navy and white Bloch ballet flats that matched that dress, and a matching lightweight shaded pashmina... I am a pashmina addict, after all.

 I was still in denial during a trip to Portobello market when I chose a bird print skater dress in the navy option, despite a choice of three colour ways... Well, it was the cost efficient. I already had the shoes and pashmina! Skinny jeans in the darkest blue followed, vest tops, camisole tops, water fall cardigans, a silk Ted Baker shift, sun glass frames and suddenly a trench coat. And the rest of my wardrobe fitted so well with the new pieces - I was hooked! Navy blue had all but ousted black from my wardrobe!

I now know why Navy has always been a classic, beloved of women who want a neutral dark shade that goes with every colour and has a huge selection within its own colour band. Navy aficionados can pick a navy shade for every season and look fresh and current.

And it seems that fashion is also starting to acknowledge this versatility. Gone are the days when navy could only be teamed with red and white for the nautical look. Now it is brought into our year-round wardrobes as Midnight, French, Dark or a navy in between. It is one of the neutral base colours for both day and evening wear;  a shade sympathetic to mix and match with greys, creams - even blacks -  and a perfect backdrop to pops of summer pastels or stronger autumn colours. We can be classic, contemporary, nautical, flirty, or colour-blocked. Join the Navy!

Top to bottom: Available from Pashminas Direct - Pashmina & Silk Large Shawl with Bugle Bead fringe- Navy,  100% Silk Organza with 100% Pashmina reverse panel 'Elegance'- Midnight Elegance, 100% Silk Chiffon Shawl with Silk border- White/Navy.

Courtesy of Mayfair Valley Pashmina: Summer 14 collection: 100% Silk Chiffon Shaded Large Shawl- Navy to Aqua* , 80% Pashmina & 20% Silk Shaded Lightweight Large Shawl- Midnight to paler*;  AW14/15 collection - Pashmina & Silk Summer Shaded Shawls- Midnight to Peacock, Midnight to Fuchsia**
* Fingers crossed, available soon on Pashminas Direct....
** See above. We hope! Yes, please!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Spotlight on Starlight Pashmina Shawls and pashmina cleaning tips!

Currently reduced on our Special Offer page are the Starlight Shawls and I thought that they deserved a post of their own. This is a style of shawl that has been a favourite over a number of years, particularly if you want  a bit of glamour without the weight of  a beaded fringe or more intricate and heavy embroidery, (such as we occasionally sell as clearance items from our designer sister site ).

So here are the facts!  The Starlights are classic 70% Pashmina Cashmere & 30% Silk Shawls (size 70 x 180cms) with a hint of sparkle provided by a faceted crystal bead.  Unless we know for sure, we assume that the beads used are generic hot glue crystals, not a named variety.  If they are a named variety, we say in the description!
The Starlight Shawls featured here have the generic hot glue crystals.

The crystals are hand applied with hot glue, in a regulated diamond formation over the length of the shawl. Sometimes they group the beads more closely at either end of the shawl, but it depends on the beader.
The crystals bond strongly to the cashmere fibres when the glue becomes cold, however I recommend to take a little care when cleaning.  Dry cleaning or Hand Wash with Care are the usual instructions and  I've hand-washed my Starlight shawl with cashmere detergent in warm water and not experienced any problems. In fact, I probably prefer to be 'hands on' with the cleaning, so I know how the shawl is reacting!

 Regarding ironing,  iron on the back with a protective cloth to cushion yourself over the crystal bumps. It's always best to start with a cloth; although you might find it's not necessary when you know what your shawl can take.
If you are bold, any stubborn creases out can be got out with a direct iron from the front - there's usually room between the stones - but watch like a hawk! And always start on a low heat... you can go higher if necessary and most creases come out on a low-medium heat. You can also slightly dampen the cloth if that's your preference - common sense applies!
 NOTE: Before writing this I tested the plum starlight shown here. It ironed fine without a cloth on the back and on the front. I used a dry iron, low-medium heat. The picture below was taken pre-ironing!!!!

A note of caution about ironing - and this applies to all cashmere shawls, beaded or not -  some dyes react worse than others to heat, so it is best to protect your pashminas with a cloth.  Over the years I have become wary about paler colours - particularly those that have yellow tones (off-whites, silvers, pale pinks (like here) pale lilacs and corals) - as these can react on a low-medium heat unless protected. 

Every pashmina is an individual, that's why we love them. Until you know how your pashmina reacts, treat it cautiously.  Some can take the rougher stuff!

Starlight Shawls PD060  - the colour numbers refer to our colour chart (previously blogged). One of each available!!!

Raspberry and Rose Pink
 Bitter Chocolate, Teal and Plum
 Raspberry 46
 Rose Pink 190
Bitter Chocolate 232
 Teal 395
 Plum 245

Friday, 7 February 2014

Pashmina Dye Chart

This is the dye chart that we order from. The  numbers after the colour names from my January and February blogs - Pashmina shawls Colour Crib Class of 2013 - can be found here eg Plum 245 Click on the pictures to get a close up view!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Pashmina Shawl Colour Crib Class of 2013! Beige, Brown, Grape and Plum!

This is our final selection of shawl colours from 2013, although if I were to venture into the Large Shawls I'd find plenty more....

First the browns and beiges. These aren't fashion colours, but have a timeless appeal (particularly when layered together in an outfit) and we try to have a couple of sand/beige or camel colour choices  in stock at any one time.   Bitter Chocolate has always been one of our Classic shades and it's a useful colour to give richness to a  beige-based outfit or as an alternative if you want a darker shade but know that black is too draining on your complexion.  It can also look amazing against pistachio green, if you want to tone down this year's pastels.

Plum and Grape were our shawl purples at the end of 2013 - Plum going for the pink end of the spectrum and Grape for the smoky blue. (Royal Purple and Violet appeared in the largest size). Both of these shades slot well into this winter period, when the days getting lighter. They're less rich and opulent than royal purple- which can be a bit 'Christmassy' and seem more suitable daytime shades. Grape 332 falls into the tones of purple that are coming through on the catwalks for spring 14.

As ever, the numbers following the colour names refer to the dye chart that we use to order the shawls. I will re-blog the dye chart so it's current in the list of blogs and you can see how they relate in full size shawl form!

Blonde 109-LL, Camel 109, Bitter Chocolate 232, Black, Plum 245, Grape 332

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Pashmina Shawl Colour Crib Class of 2013! Greens!

Greens - you either love 'em or hate 'em! But over the last few seasons they've been featured in bold  block emeralds and dashes of elderflowers and limes, so it has been difficult to ignore them.

We've been promised soft pastels for spring 2014 and on the catwalks these have translated into powder pinks, misty lavender blues and pale pistachios and aqua greens (see below). The designers who haven't bought into this trend are using touches of green - often teamed with fuchsia pink or blue-based mauve - to give a touch of green to a multi print, or as a 'pop' colour on an accessory.

In the shops right now, greens  (in the post-sale season at least)  seem altogether stronger shades.
That yellowy green elderflower or kiwi shade - see below - highlights black and white combinations in Harvey Nicks main display in Knightsbridge. Block emerald greens line up with bright oranges and stark white in Joseph Westbourne Grove, for a fresh twist that looks forward to warmer weather. Hobbs Covent Garden are currently out on their own with an autumn colour palette of burnt oranges, camels, berry reds and moss greens (see below). This is a new display and maybe, cleverly, they aren't pushing their customers into spring colours before winter is through. I'll be interested to see what they offer for spring-proper.

Our green shawl stock of 2013 has colours for now, and later in the spring...

Greens: Kiwi 161, (Seagreen 393 un-labelled. Reference for colour only - Sold Out), Moss 173, Cambridge Aqua 91-L, Mid Aqua Green 101

Our final shawl colours are coming soon...

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Pashmina Shawl Colour Crib Class of 2013! Pinks and Blues!

Continuing the line-up of shawl colours that were in stock at the end of 2013, we have the perennially popular colours for pashminas - pinks and blues.

These are always a safe bet when buying a gift... you tend to know if someone is a blue or pink person, but not whether they are an orange or purple! And within these colour ranges we find that Pale Blue or Navy are at the top of the list as safe choices for blues; and Pale Pink still reigns supreme as the classic pink pashmina shade. While writing this blog, I actually had a call this morning from a regular customer needing a pale pink as a gift for a friend.

Despite this winter being heralded as 'all about mid-tone pinks,' we didn't find that pinks were any more popular than usual.  This could very well turn out to be the story of next winter - very often colours take a season or two to seep into the collective consciousness and become The Thing to wear. It could herald the return of Fuchsia to our shawl stock.... I do hope so!

Pinks: Rosewood 179, Candy 19, Pale 18LL, Rose 215, and also Palest Peach 79-L, Cream 55-LL

These colour numbers relate to the dye charts that can be found in earlier blogs and give an idea how the dye chart thread colours appear in a full size shawl version.

Blues: Sky 348-L, Pale 48-LL, Steel 63-L, Navy 54-D, Electric 222 (un-named) and also Pewter Grey 34

to be continued.....

Friday, 17 January 2014

Pashmina Shawl Colour Crib Class of 2013! Oranges and Reds!

As we bound forward in 2014 and our Home Page changes to a Valentine theme, I feel it's useful to immortalise the 'mug shots' that I did for the Class of 2013.

I basically took a photo of each colour available in the Pashmina and Silk Shawl (70 x 180cms) size, for a special Christmas offer.   In tandem with the dye charts that appear on this blog (and will appear again, to bring them up the blog list), this gives a good look at how the colours from the dye chart look in the finished shawl. And applies to many other scarves, stoles and shawls too.

As the dye charts are primarily produced as guides to embroidery silk, the colours naturally change slightly when cashmere comes into the equation.  This is even more apparent on pure cashmere. Colours that zing out on silk thread are far more muted when absorbed by cashmere.

Add to this the fact that our shawls are hand-dyed and the colours are mixed by eye by the dye-masters, each batch of dyeing is then unique to that moment.  Occasionally we order a standard colour and when we receive it we realise that we have to order again - the dye master has gone too dark or too pale to hit that classic shade. The benefit to the pashmina lover is that a new shade is then available and the choice of colours grows.....

Here are the Oranges:  Burnt Orange 403,  Bright Orange 62D (Unlabelled), Terracotta 402, Pale Coral 291

and the reds... Chilli 131,  Ruby 242, Bright Red 25 (Unlabelled) and Blush Red 130.

More colours to follow next week...