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What is Cashmere?

Posted on June 06 2017

What is Cashmere?
First off, a warning; once you start wearing cashmere you will find it very, very hard to go back! It can become an addiction…

Although it holds a roaring reputation as the finest material for the cold months of the year, cashmere and its unique properties are often not fully understood by most people.

Let me explain all I can about the mystical fibre...
Cashmere is one of the rarest and most precious fibres in the world. It is soft to the touch, can be dyed to bright, clear colours and is warm to wear. This special fibre comes from the undercoat of cashmere goats, who live mainly in Mongolia and China, a region characterisedby wide temperature fluctuations between seasons.

Cashmere goats adapted to this harsh climate by developing a double fleece; an outer “guard” layer that protects the undercoat from water, and a super soft undercoat made of ultra fine hairs with strong insulating properties. This unique fleece means the animals keep warm in the winter but don’t get too hot in the summer.
The Process;
From Raw Fibre to Garment

There are in the region of 30 different processes involved in transforming raw fibre into our luxorious finished products.
Here are the processes our cashmere from Scotland undergoes;
The expert craftsman and women take pride in every thread, every twist, every yarn and every stitch, from raw fibre in the wool store to perfected garment on the shop floor.
From dying to blending, carding to spinning, warping to weaving, kniting to teaselling and cutting to folding - it all happens in the mills in the heart of Scotland.

The Journey start when the cashmere fibres are collected through a very labour intensive and difficult process and are then divided into different quality ranges, based on thickness, length and colour.
Authentic, high-quality cashmere is extremely expensive due the difficult product processes and scarcity. On average a cashmere goat generates only 150 grams of fibres per year and it takes 300 grams to make a jumper. It is estimated that in total only 6000 tonnes of cashmere are produced per year, a very small fraction compared to 1.3 million tonnes for normal wool.
Benefits of Cashmere
Different to wool, cashmere comes from hairs, and this is the main reason for its many of its unique properties:

Warmth - Its insulation capacity is 3 times higher than wool (up to 8 times for best cashmere), making it perfect for maintaining body temperature. The result is a yarn that keeps warm but not hot.

Softness – The diameter of cashmere fibres is very small, resulting in a very fine texture, the softest of all yarns.

No itchiness – For the same reason, the density of fibres is much higher than wool, and therefore the texture is not scratchy. This gives a great feeling when wearing cashmere directly on the skin or when touching a jumper.

Lightness – Given the strong insulating capacity, cashmere jumpers can be lighter than ones made of wool and still keep perfect body temperature.

Shape resilience - Quality cashmere does not shrink when washed correctly, and will retain shape better than wool over the years.
Durability – The best cashmere jumpers can last 10 years when the right care is given to the garment. It is not uncommon to hear of people wearing cashmere jumpers from their grandparents.
As with most luxury materials, cashmere has a few small downsides that you need to be aware of to better maintain the product.
Pilling – This happens when short fibres twist around themselves in areas of the jumper where there is more friction, creating small "bobbles". This phenomenon is inevitable due to the presence of shorter fibres and it afflicts expensive cashmere as well.

However, in the latter, it should stop after the first few washes, and it should be much less than in cheaper alternatives (where fibres are much shorter). Don’t worry, normal pilling is easy to remove with cashmere comb.

Care – Cashmere fibres are shorter and thinner than most other yarns, therefore you will need to follow the washing instruction to avoid ruining the garment.
So, Why Invest in Cashmere?
When you invest in a great piece of cashmere, you are stepping away from fast, throw away fashion and stepping up the longevity and luxury of your wardrobe, by adding items with several unique properties. These garments will keep their quality and shape longer than wool knitwear, therefore earning back your initial investment over the years, and giving you a lower cost per wear.

Some people might be fooled into buying some very affordable cashmere in the big chains, but once you look at what you are actually buying, it becomes clear that the money is not well spent. The product will look drastically different after a few washes.

The only problem with cashmere is that its luxury and softness is addictive. Once you try it, it will be difficult to go back to normal wool.


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