Cashmere has been a traditional fashion must-have for those with deep pockets for many decades and continues to top wish lists today, thanks to its smooth, gentle warmth and hefty price tag.
Cashmere is the lightest natural wool and is both valuable and difficult to make. Cashmere wool, unlike any other natural fibre, gives the skin a special sense of naturalness and well-being.
What is cashmere?
In its most basic form, it is simply the fleece of a goat. To be more specific, it is the fleece from the goat's undercoat, which is closest to the skin. In addition, contrary to popular perception, the undercoat does not come from the goat's belly. The mid-side or back of the body is where this particular fibre is produced. Some people harvest from the neck, however, fibres from this location are of poor quality.
You cannot just use any goat to harvest cashmere fibre. The individual goats required for this luxurious fibre are Capra Hircus. The Capra Hircus, or Pashmina goat as they are commonly known, reside in the Himalayas of Tibet and Ladakh. cashmere goat produces two kinds of hair, the soft undercoat and the guard hairs; the softer hair is reserved for textiles, while the coarse guard hair is used for brushes and other non-apparel purposes.
Cashmere despite being a soft, thin, long-lasting and luxurious garment comes at a cost. cashmere goats are found at high altitudes where temperature drops to -40°C which leads to the formation of an incredibly thick warm coat over this species. these goats are able to produce only 200 grams of this rare fleece while other sheep can produce 3 kilos of wool each year.
The supply is highly limited due to the small amount of cashmere each goat produces, and the fibres may only be harvested once a year. Even after removing oil, filth, and larger hairs, the useful weight of the fibres drops to half, and cashmere still only accounts for 0.5 per cent of global wool output.
Processing pure cashmere requires a lot of time and effort once you obtain it. The fibres are first coloured and aerated to prevent them from clumping together. Because of its softness, cashmere must be handled with care throughout the entire process; any chemicals or over-processing will harm the fibres.
Cashmere is produced by several countries among which half of the total yield comes from china and the rest comes from Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India and Turkey.
Cashmere is expensive because it is really a special fibre .You may know or have heard a lot about it but there are still some facts you may be interested to know;
1. Cashmere is not exactly wool
The term "wool" has different connotations in the domain of natural textiles. It's not uncommon to hear cashmere referred to as cashmere wool, but not all wool is cashmere, so how do you tell the two apart?
The wool comes from sheep whereas cashmere comes from goats namely Capra hircus goats. Capra Hircus is a species of Capra that can be found in the Tibetan highlands, the Himalayas, and Mongolia. This animal produces exceptionally fine, silky, and warm fleece that protects it from the cold of winter (-40° C). The animal's hairs are collected by two methods. First the cashmere is normally removed by hand with the help of a comb when the goats are ready to moult in the spring. The second is the shearing method in which goats are shorn-off their fleece. his is done in the month of June or July before the time of moulting.
Compared to sheep's wool, cashmere is softer, warmer, and more isothermal. It can be worn on the skin directly (it does not produce itching, unlike wool). It's difficult to go back to ordinary wool after trying a great cashmere pullover for the first time because it's so unpleasant.
2. Kashmir, home to cashmere.
Cashmere gets its name from the old spelling of Kashmir, the Himalayan region which is the home of the cashmere goats.
The manufacture of wool scarves in Kashmir is mentioned in biblical references and Afghan historical sources, indicating that the process dates back to the 3rd century BC. 12 It has thus been established that people in Mongolia, Nepal, and Kashmir have used these tiny fibres for thousands of years.
Ali Hamdani (R.A) acquired some fine undercoat fibres from a cashmere goat and created socks, shawls, and caps, and thus began the production of wool under the name Cashmere. He gave the King of Kashmir socks and advised him to start manufacturing scarves out of the wool. cashmere is also known as Pashmina for its use in scarves that were first created in Kashmir. Srinagar, the capital of the North Indian provinces of Kashmir and Jammu, is where Pashmina got its start. It is presently claimed by India, Pakistan, and China in equal measure.
Pashmina is regarded as the world's best handicraft, transforming the extremely warm and delicate Cashmere threads into sumptuous accessories. The Changthangi Goat's fleece is known as Pashm, an Urdu word with origins in Farsi. This unusual goat can only be found 15000 feet above sea level in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, making Pashmina even rarer and coveted around the world. Pashmina's mystical charm and traditional grace have enchanted kings, royals, and people all over the world. Perhaps it was for this reason that we at Hanggul decided to show the world the exquisiteness and regal demeanour of this centuries-old craft.
Changthang is the country of the nomads, located about 14600 metres above sea level east of Leh. The location is undeveloped, odd, and unusual. Until you reach Changthang summit, it appears like the city's noise and grit fade away. Extreme climate, high altitude, and remoteness may be contributing factors. Because these characteristics made Changthang unsuited for cultivation, local nomads began raising Changthangi goats. These conditions are ideal for goats. These goats produce Cashmere, which is the same Cashmere that is used to make Pashmina shawls in Kashmir
Kashmir began to build a pashmina scarf business in the 16th century. The multi-coloured motifs that adorn the scarves had to be weaved by hand, which took a long time (according to the principle of the twill carpet). This process took a long time to complete and required the assistance of multiple craftspeople. To bring more charm to finished cashmere shawls, people in Kashmir do different types of embroidery on cashmere shawls
Pashmina hand embroiderers come from generations of families who have learnt, taught, and passed on the craft. These experienced artisans have spent over a half-decade painstakingly manufacturing exotic Pashminas for a single shawl. In today's world, the most sophisticated items, with needlework visible on both sides, are unusual. The royal families wore these double-sided or "do-rukha" shawls. These were, in fact, the ones that were sent as gifts to foreign nobility and monarchs.
Cashmere shawls became extremely popular, and they began to be sent to the United Kingdom and France. From the beginning of the 18th century, complex coloured works of art were stitched with needles to save production time and costs.
Instead of the fact that Kashmir is home to cashmere, less than 1 per cent of world production of cashmere wool comes from Kashmir.
3. Cashmere is hypoallergenic
Cashmere fibre looks and feels a lot like sheep wool. However, because it lacks lanolin, it is hypoallergenic. This is one of the reasons why it is recommended for babies.
Wool was recognised as an allergy by doctors in the 1930s. Despite the fact that some specialists still believe wool is an improbable allergy, new data from Trusted Source has identified a specific component of lanolin that could be the source of many people's discomfort when wearing wool. They also discovered that wool allergy has become more widespread in the last decade than previously thought.
Symptoms of wool allergy
- Itchy skin and rashes (these are the most common symptoms)
- Irritated eyes
- Runny nose
Children and wool allergy
Babies are more susceptible to skin irritations because their skin is delicate with fewer barriers. Chemicals or fibres in their clothing and blankets may cause contact dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis is a type of dermatitis that occurs on the skin where it has come into contact with an irritating substance. It might be red, dry, cracked, or blistering in appearance.
Parents may be hesitant to use wool on their children because it has been reported to induce allergies.
Lanolin, a protective, waxy covering that covers every strand of sheep hair, is thought to be the source of wool allergy. Lanolin is a complex chemical with moisturising characteristics that are commonly used in cosmetics and ointments.
What exactly is lanolin? Lanolin is unique to sheep, although many mammals are thought to have their own version of protective wax on their hair strands. Wool allergy is caused by the lanolin found in sheep's wool
Lanolin allergy is a rare occurrence. Only 1.7 per cent of patients with a high risk of allergies reacted to lanolin, according to a 2001 study trusted Source of more than 24,000 adults with a high risk of allergies.
cashmere is lacking in lanolin, which is the cause behind the itchiness and discomfort caused by wool. Therefore it is nearly impossible that you will feel any irritation from a cashmere fabric.
4. Premium quality cashmere comes from baby cashmere
Baby cashmere is exceedingly rare and extremely soft. Its ultra-fine strands, collected from white goats as young as six months old, measure 13.5 microns in diameter—15 per cent finer than those extracted from adult goats. In comparison, a baby goat produces only 30 g of raw material for each child, whereas an adult goat can produce roughly 200 grams. The Capra hircus children live in the Alashan Mountains in Inner Mongolia's desert, where water and food are scarce. The Capra hircus juveniles' native habitat is harsh, with dry, blazing hot summers and cold winter blizzards, which they survive due to their insulation—the soft under fleece. The time window for harvesting the fibres is highly limited: they can only be collected once in a goat's lifetime before it turns one, and only in June, when baby goats shed their natural protective fleece.
Baby Cashmere is an ultra-fine fabric that is handcrafted with meticulous attention to detail. The raw material collected from young goats is spun into yarn and used to make cashmere textiles and clothing. The distinctive features of the raw materials are preserved in these Baby cashmere textiles. The gentle caress and touch of this pristine apparel will be felt by everyone who wears the beautiful garments made with Baby cashmere. So, whether you're looking for baby cashmere blankets, baby cashmere hats, baby cashmere onesies, or any other baby cashmere clothing, you can rest confident that you'll be entirely satisfied with the goods and that the baby cashmere outfits and items live up to their reputation.
Baby Cashmere is smoother and less ruffled. Baby cashmere is distinguished by its tapering fibre on one end. As a result, the wool and yarn are finer and have a higher level of softness.
Baby cashmere has a unique texture and tenderness that sets it apart from other cashmere textiles. As a result, the price of Baby cashmere products has increased significantly, yet these particularly soft fabrics are well worth the investment.
5. Cashmere is microscopic
Cashmere is a significantly finer fibre than mohair or any wool fibre obtained from sheep, as per the microscope. The scales are fewer and farther apart, and the fibre appears to be made up of pieces that are nested within each other.
Cashmere comes in three colours: grey, brown, and white. The pigment granules in the coloured fibres are quite small. The fibre is circular or slightly oval in cross-section, with pigment granules visible in the cortical layer. Cashmere wovens are dry cleaned, while knitted items are hand washed. Cashmere wool fibres are very tiny, averaging about 15 microns in diameter, far finer than the finest merino wool. The coarser beard hairs that are combined with real wool fibres are thicker, having a diameter of roughly 60 microns.
Cashmere fibre has a crimp that is uneven, scarce, but deep. It is made up of squama and cortex but lacks the medulla. Its scales have a density of 60-70 pieces per millimeter, and the cross-section of the fibre is nearly spherical. The rate of fineness unevenness is as low as 20%, and the typical fibre length is 35 to 45mm. Cashmere has superior strength, extension, length, and hygroscopicity to wool, and it combines the benefits of being fine, light, soft, silky, and warm.
Cashmere is as fine as 14 to 19 microns. A micron is one-millionth of a meter which means each fibre is very very fine. when compared, it is 1/10 of a human hair which is 17 to 181 microns in diameter.
6. Cashmere suitable for every season
A natural, soft, and resilient textile with many uses is cashmere. Although it is typically worn in the chilly winter months, cashmere also works well as a light and breathable summer fabric that can help dress up or bring down any attire.
One feature that distinguishes cashmere wool is its remarkable heat insulation. Cashmere traps the body's heat and prevents it from escaping. Cashmere fibres are distinguished by a unique air chamber within each individual fibre, despite their extreme fineness. These air pockets prevent heat from escaping through the fabric and into the environment. As a result, the cashmere fabric ensures that the warmth is stored, making it an ideal companion for the cold season. Cashmere wool insulates three times as much heat as regular wool, despite its fine fibre.
This methodology, on the other hand, can be used in both directions. The air chambers serve to keep heat from the outside from reaching the inside thanks to their insulating characteristics. The so-called evaporative cooling enhances this cooling property even more. Cashmere is a fabric that absorbs moisture. The fabric binds the moisture produced by the skin, momentarily stores it in the fibre and then wicks it out to the outside.
This is where another significant quality of natural fibre comes into play, which makes it so unique. Cashmere has the ability to absorb up to a third of its dry weight in water. When it is really hot, the temporarily held liquid simply evaporates, resulting in the previously mentioned evaporative cooling. Cashmere may nevertheless be incredibly comfortable on the skin in warm temperatures because of this little tricked-out game of physics. Cashmere and silk mixes are also wonderful companions for pleasant summer evenings.
Thus if you wish to wear this high-quality wool during the summer, look for lightweight designs or lightweight cashmere that is designed for summer wear. These garments are usually thinner and lighter, and they will help you stay cool in hot weather.
7. Cashmere fibre is long-lasting
Cashmere is one of the most durable fibres available. Garments manufactured with this paper-thin yarn, according to connoisseurs, can last up to 30 years if given proper care. If you follow some guidelines, your cashmere will keep you warm for years to come.
Natural-fibre knits can pill–or develop fuzz balls–in areas where contact occurs, such as under the arms, around the inner of the thighs, or where you carry your handbag. Pilling is particularly common when cashmere is fresh new; keep yours fuzz-free using a razor blade, lint tape, or a specific equipment like the Gleener.
Don't wash often
You can wear your cashmere more than once before it needs to be cleaned if your day was free of stains, spills, and sweat. Laundering is recommended after wearing it three times, however, if you're wearing it over a base layer or airing it out after each use, you can go longer (tip: try a special freshening spray if needed)..
Don't follow labels
Many cashmere goods are marked "Dry Clean Only" since the yarn is so fragile. Cashmere, on the other hand, is derived from goats. Goats' fur is like human hair which becomes fluffier and more glossy after washing. Dry cleaning*, on the other hand, will eventually damage and break down the fibres.
On the other hand, washing is good for cashmere clothing. Two things to keep in mind while washing cashmere: any type of heat will shrink it faster than you can say "crop top," so make sure the water is cool. Cashmere is sensitive to normal detergent; instead, use two teaspoons of organic baby shampoo or a biodegradable wool wash.
Time is the best fabric softener. instead of using fast fabric softeners that damage delicate fibres of cashmere let the time act naturally.
"A cashmere knit is like a book. It is something to save and go back to time after time. It is the feeling of an embrace." –Brunello Cucinelli