Ishkashim, is the capital of Ishkoshim District in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province (Pamir) in south-east Tajikistan. It lies on the Panj River, at a point where its direction turns sharply north. Ishkoshim lies opposite a town of the same name in Afghanistan, although the name of the Afghan town is normally transliterated Ishkashim following Persian practice.
A bridge opened in 2006 links the two towns. There are plans to reconstruct the 100-km highway connecting Ishkoshim to the provincial capital Khorugh, which has been damaged by snow avalanches
Pamirians are rightly proud of the fact that their support of woollen products has notably raised the price for raw wool and has led artisans to start producing their own yarn again. So how come that woollen yarn is now so difficult to find?
The better part of Pamiri artisans knows how to spin yarn themselves, but they do so in very small amounts and mainly from wool they get of their own sheep. Most artisans then use this wool to further produce hats or socks; they hardly ever deal with woollen yarn as a product. In contrast to synthetic yarns woollen yarn can therefore not be found on bazaars. In addition, the process of washing, carding and spinning raw wool is extremely time-consuming. Especially in summer during harvest, there is not enough time for spinning. Early fall therefore turned out to be the worst time to start looking for woollen yarn, as all stock from the previous year is running short whereas new yarn has not been spun yet. Finally, spinning yarn has proven to be unprofitable. An agile artisan can manage to produce 1kg of wool in 40 hours. With a price of 45 Somoni per kilogram of woollen yarn, this results in a monthly income of around 160 Somoni, whereas Pamirians are trying to ensure a monthly income of around 400 Somoni for their artisans. Dealing with wool is therefore only profitable if artisans process it to ready products with higher value. Besides the shortage of woollen yarn, another problem is the fluctuating quality. The thickness is greatly varying and some yarns are not properly twisted or tear easily. In most cases the wool has not been properly washed before spinning which means that pieces of plants and earth can still be found spun into the yarn.
The Pamir socks have a very unique character and pattern. The manufacturing technique is a special kind of crochet. The socks are very common in local everyday life as well as popular among tourists. In Dushanbe youths developed a style combining the Pamir socks with Converse shoes. Their popularity has already boosted the socks to the number one bestsellers in the De Pamiri shop.
Working with the socks or the crochet technique in general will give us the chance to revive traditional patterns, introduce new colour schemes and experiment with natural dyes. Our aim is to introduce a 100% Pamir socks, meaning that wool winning, yarning, dyeing and crocheting happen in the Pamirs and using only Pamiri material. The Pamir socks also seem easy to promote and are suitable for introducing web sales. Finally, considering the flood of products in the shop, it seems wiser to develop existing products rather than introducing completely new ones.