A scarf by itself might not be enough to keep you from freezing to death in extreme temperatures. But a large scarf, known as a shawl, can serve multiple functions aside from keeping your neck warm like a scarf. It takes up little space in a glove compartment in your car. Keep one in your bugout bag, too.
Simple Survival Skills
I most often use my pashmina shawl in the way I’m wearing it at the top of this blog post. It’s not stylish, but it’s warmer than any baklava I’ve ever tried. The advantage to using a shawl over a baklava is the many other ways a shawl can be used. It’s not just a neck warmer.
Keep this item handy. I’ve used it in several different ways over the course of a few years. I’ve listed some surprising alternative ways to use it below. It’s definitely a good item to keep in a bugout bag and stored in the glove compartment of your vehicles.
Mine is large, about 80″ x 40″. It came from Afghanistan, but I’ve offered some alternatives below if you can’t find one this same size. Ones made of true pashmina this size are not easy to find. If you do come across one this size, please leave a comment below to let others know.
How to Use a Shawl to Stay Warm
This is kind of self-explanatory, because just keeping it around your neck will help tremendously. But for practical warmth while working on the homestead, I wear it a bit differently.
I’ll open it up and put it on top of my head, then fold it over toward the back to get it out of my eyes. Now it’s folded and draped over the top of my head. Throw one side over the opposite shoulder to the back, do the same with the other side. Now it’s over my head and wrapped around my neck.
Then I’ll put a hat on over it to hold it down. This really keeps my ears warm. If it’s windy, I’ll pull it some to shield my face or cover my mouth and nose. My coat goes on after this and it holds the shawl in place around my neck and adds extra warmth across my back if I’m good at keeping it spread out when I tossed each side over my shoulder.
Other Uses for a Shawl
For some of these other uses, you’ll have to not mind so much if it gets dirty. I have some shawls I keep for wearing when I go to town, and some I use for homestead work.
carry infant – tie it securely around your shoulders and use it to carry a baby or toddler
When all the grandkids were over this past spring, we decided to go hunt for morel mushrooms. The youngest walked just fine on the ground but getting up the hills among the rocks was hard for her. Since of course I had on one of my shawls, I quickly converted it into a sling-style tote and carried her on my hip.
sling – if you hurt your arm, use it like a sling
If you have one of the longer ones, like I do, you’ll have to tie the ends together and then loop it twice over your shoulder to make it short enough.
carry food- use it the same way as for carrying a child, but carry your wildcrafted or gathered food/herbs/mushrooms
carry firewood – this might tear it up if you’re not careful, but use the same technique for carrying the other items
wrap in to sleep – use it like a blanket
The pashmina is surprisingly warm for such thin fabric. Every time I wear one, I am amazed. I can’t vouch for what the synthetics are like. All of mine came from my husband. He bought them in Afghanistan while he was working there.
shock prevention – staying warm is important when injured. Keep in your car in case of accidents, too.
When someone is injured badly, if you keep them warm and calm, and focused on something besides their injury, it helps to prevent shock (if they’re not bleeding too badly). Not only is the pashmina warm, the story of where you found it, and how many ways it can be used is something you can use to help distract the patient.
Where to Buy
I got mine from my husband. He bought it for me while he was working in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mine measures about 80″ x 46″ and is large enough to be a topper for a twin sized bed. I couldn’t find any exactly like mine at Walmart or Amazon, but the nearest like it I’ve found are linked below.
Let me know if you find one somewhere else by leaving a comment.
If possible, it’s important to get true pashmina and not the synthetic.
The one listed from Walmart is pure wool, not the blend of wool/silk (if the listing shows up – it doesn’t seem to be working at the moment).
Pashmina is a goat wool and silk blend, traditional to the Afghan region. Synthetics may not provide the same warmth, and cashmere alone is too weak of a fiber. The silk gives it strength and insulative properties. I can’t say how well the pure wool will do for the alternative uses for a shawl, but for warmth it will work just fine.
Many of the Amazon listings say “pashmina” but when you read the details, it’s not actually pashmina but a synthetic blend.
Simple Survival Skills Series
Throughout this blogging year I’m going to try and remember some of the other things I learned during our first years here at Wild Ozark.
In 2005, I moved from a comfortable 2400 sq ft house in a suburban area between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Since that time, I’ve learned a lot of things that people leading urban lives rarely need to know. As a matter of daily life we probably employ more simple survival skills here at Wild Ozark than most people do in their lifetimes because of the rural location and our dependence on spring water rather than municipal or well.
For many years, living here was more like camping. Rob works to make improvements, but it’s still not an *ordinary* lifestyle.
A Way of Life
After 13 years out here in the hills, it’s become a way of life and I rarely take special notice of how we do the things we do until something in particular makes me pay attention.
Here at Wild Ozark, I use my shawls often. It is much easier to stay warm with one on my head. I’ve used it as a sling to carry things ranging from grandchildren to berries or mushrooms and kindling. I hope to hear your tales of use when you get one!
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.