Friday , November 22nd 2019
    The Softest Yarns

Everything You Have Always Wanted to Know About Cashmere

Luxury, softness, and authenticity. Cashmere is the ultimate mark of refinement, as it has been for hundreds of years.  There are documents from as far back as 300 years B.C. that refer to it.  Yet it was not until the 15th century that a real cashmere industry developed. That was when Cashmere won acclaim by clothing all the famous people of the world, princes, and monarchs.  It is called the “thread of kings.”

Today, if real cashmere still retains this aura of quality, it is not only because it is rare, but also because of its production, which requires the same attention as in the past.

Origins and Manufacturing:

A cashmere goat

A cashmere goat

Initially, cashmere came from the region of Kashmir, a wild and hilly territory in the Himalayas between Pakistan and India. Now cashmere is produced in several regions of Central and South-West Asia, as well as in Spain and in Scotland.

Mongolia and Tibet still share the reputation of producing the finest cashmere in the world.  The altitude and the rigorous climate give the wool a very high quality, the fiber is longer and finer than others. It is here, that each spring, that the goatherds collect the fine fleece, a real down which protects the stomach of the goats during the winter months.

For your information to make a cashmere jumper one needs the equivalent of the fleece from four to six goats! This is what makes it so rare and precious.

Once it has been combed, the wool is then washed, and dyed before being mechanically spun.

100% Cashmere:

“100% pure cashmere”, 100% cashmere”, or pure cashmere” ?
The different designations under which cashmere is presented often lead to confusion.  In fact, the genuine cashmere comes exclusively under the label “100% pure cashmere” which guarantees that the article contains nothing but cashmere.

On the contrary, an article labeled “100% cashmere” or “pure cashmere” usually contains a very low percentage of cashmere wool mixed with other fibers.

After the designation of a true cashmere comes the problem of the way the garment is made,  single or double thread? Contrary to most opinions, there is no criterion of quality in this choice. It is simply a question of taste and what one personally prefers.  The double thread is simply heavier than the single thread, but in no way does it mean that it is better.  For the quality of a garment made of cashmere resides solely in the excellence of its fiber and the way in which it is woven.

Mongolian Cashmere is the Best Wool

Black cashmere goat

Black cashmere goat

Some say that pure Mongolian cashmere is the best. The quality and feel of pure Mongolian cashmere clothes will leave you longing for more. Owning a garment made of cashmere is a fashion treat to be fully treasured – one little goat has to work a full four years to produce enough cashmere wool to make just one sweater.

Woven Cashmere is known for its softness, warmth and long life. Pure cashmere clothes get softer with each wearing.  Maybe that’s why we call cashmere the Fibre of Kings. In addition to being soft and flexible, cashmere wool tests out as eight times warmer than sheep’s wool.  So nature created it to keep the Kashmiri goat warm in their Himalayan home.

The goats grow their Cashmere wool downy undercoat as soon as the summer starts to cool, and right into winter. The Cashmere is an undercoat.  The goat’s outer coat is made up of longer and rougher wool that protects the cashmere undercoat from the cold and wet.  The cashmere is harvested in Spring by shearing or gradually combing the hair to remove the down.

The Harsh Climate Makes Mongolian Cashmere The Best Wool

Cashmere goats have adapted well to the cold and rugged terrain in Mongolia.  The harsh mountainous climates lead to the highest quality wool.  Maybe that’s why goats grown in milder climates don’t have the downy coats that produce quality cashmere for garments.

As with most rare materials, the finer the cashmere, the more expensive it becomes. And Variations in the fineness of the cashmere depend on are a result of its origins.

Quality and fiber length also contribute to the price.  And strong, long fibers make stronger yarn that pill less. Plus the better quality fibers dye better and more evenly too, remaining soft even in dark colors. As with most fine fabrics, you get what you pay for.

Top quality, pure cashmere items have a soft, smooth and luxurious feeling. Check the quality of a sweater by pulling the sides of the sweater apart and then letting them go, and the sweater should snap back to its original shape. Loosely knit, limp fabric is the sign of a lower quality or cheaply made sweater. Don’t buy just for density/weight; a good sweater should feel hefty and substantial even if it is lightweight.