First, let's see why a downy shawl can be prickly.
Down hair is not prickly at all, it is very small and thin, yet exceptionally soft and warm.
Goat hair of other kind is prickly, though. The so-called guard hair.
Then why does it happen that some shawls are prickly, and some are not? This is due to the different raw materials that down thread is made from.
There are two concepts – combing and shearing of goats.
Combing is a time-consuming process that is done only manually. Fluffy down gets combed out of a goat with the help of special combs. With this method applied, the result is the raw material that contains only high-quality down hair (and no guard hair). This kind of down is very expensive.
Shearing. When down hair is shorn off a goat, a lot of guard hair gets into the raw material. Shearing down hair is a less labor-intensive process, often done with the help of special machines. As a result, the shorn-off down is of lower quality because it contains not only actual down but also guard hair. It costs much lower than the down that was combed out of a goat. Due to lower costs, it is, surely, more popular with knitters. Women often prefer to remove guard hairs by hand, rather than pay extra for combed-out down. This is very careful and very hard work, no doubt about that. Unfortunately, it happens that all guard hair cannot be picked out and part of it stays in the finished product.
Conclusion: it is guard hair that makes shawls prickly.
But don't get upset if you happen to purchase a prickly item.
Firstly, guard hairs are heavier than down and fall out of a ready item very quickly (provided you actively wear your shawl). Yes, you will have to be patient and put up with the prickliness for some time (as well as with the fact that guard hairs will stay on your clothes), but this process will end quickly enough.
Secondly, you can actually facilitate the fall of guard hairs out of your shawl. To do this, leave the downy product out in the frosty weather by securing it on a regular clothesline. In this case, snow will also favorably affect the "shedding" of guard hair. Don't forget to carefully clean the shawl from snow when you bring the item back into warm premises.
There is also a radical method that we do not recommend, yet we do admit its efficiency. The shawl can be taken to the dry-cleaner's; and when you get it back, you'll see that the entire guard hair is out, the product is covered with an excellent layer of fluff, it looks beautiful and feels very warm.
BUT this procedure breaks the downy thread structure; therefore, such shawl will serve you much less than the one that was subjected to natural wear and gradually got fluffy, losing excess guard hair with time.
So, the presence of guard hair is not very good, but all natural and eco-friendly products have their own peculiarities, and sometimes you can't avoid them by 100%. So if you're not too lucky and your shawl is prickly, there is no need to worry too much. Under regular wear, guard hair falls out of downy items quite quickly.