What is cashmere?
A lot of people wear cashmere shalws. But what is cashmere? Cashmere is a luxury fiber that is obtained from cashmere goats. The word cashmere is an old spelling for Kashmir, the Region in the North of India and Pakistan.
Usually the fiber is said to be a kind of wool, but actually its softer and thinner than sheep’s wool. Some say it is hair, but that is also a misunderstanding because cashmere requires the removal of hair from the Cashmere. Cashmere is finer, stronger lighter, softer and approximately three times more insulating than sheep wool.
Why is cashmere so expensive?
The reason why cashmere is so expensive, is that one single goat doesn’t produce a whole lot of cashmere and one can only harvest the cashmere once a year. You can use approximately 6 ounces per goat but when processed it only leaves 4 or 5 ounces usable cashmere. 1 goat produces approximately 150 grams of cashmere a year. Imagine that it takes the cashmere of at least two or three goats a year to produce a Vandien travelwrap.
For cashmere only the undercoat is used. The thin fibers must be separated from the upper layer of hair in order to obtain the softest fibers of cashmere. This is a very intensive work process and costs a lot of time which also makes cashmere a more exclusive and higher price ranged product.
Methods of production
The harvesting starts in springtime. When the air gets warmed up, the goats loses some of its hairs. Mongolia is famous for its cashmere. It’s a huge country with an enormous desert (larger than Italy, France, Germany a Spain combined) and it is very low populated. Actually, the region is split in Mongolia and Inner Mongolia which is an autonomous region of China where they also produce a very good quality of cashmere nowadays. Their breeding remains traditional and makes a good contribution on the sustenance of a traditional rural population.
Cashmere can be spinned in one-, two or more ply. Look for (at least) two ply because two threads of yarn are twisted together to give a more resistant knit. They are more flexible and resilient. Single -ply cashmere will be less durable and might develop holes more easily. Two ply also means that the garment is knitted more tight and therefore being softer and warmer. So if someone asks you “What is cashmere” now you know the answer.