Find out more... about cashmere
Why does cashmere keep you so warm in the winter while being great to wear in summer too?
The structure of cashmere fibre means that it has great insulating properties. Tiny pockets of air are held in spaces between the fibres, which keeps in body heat and stops cold from getting in, and vice versa.
Cashmere’s lightness and softness also mean that it can envelop you in a cocoon of ‘cool warmth’ on summer evenings. Once tried, you’ll never want to go back to other fabrics!.
How is the best quality responsible cashmere produced?
Cashmere comes from goats (1) that live in areas where temperatures range widely, and where in winter, it is extremely cold. In spring, when the weather becomes milder and the animals are shedding their winter coats, herders harvest the cashmere. They gently comb the goats, collecting the soft and delicate underfleeces, separating them from the coarser guard hair, without causing the animals any harm.
Only around 150 grams a year, per goat, are yielded from this process. And this explains why cashmere is such a luxury raw material. The tiny amounts of superb fibre require patience, hard work, and a commitment to quality.
Having been graded and sorted, it is washed, dyed and spun, ready to be knitted or woven into a range of garments such as coats, jackets, jumpers, cardigans, and shawls, as well as accessories.
How should we care for cashmere?
Cashmere can last for decades. And care is easier than you think! Knitted cashmere garments can be washed, which is often much better than dry cleaning with aggressive chemicals. Good washing machines such as Miele have a special internal drum to avoid damaging woollen fibres. Referring to the care label on the individual garment, a 30°C wool cycle is usually the most suitable, using a washing liquid designed for delicates. Special cashmere soaps are also available. Importantly, the garment should be dried flat, to keep its shape, on a dry towel, and never tumble-dried.
Washing also helps to ward off moths. Cedar wood is a good natural way to protect cashmere when it is stored away - it comes in balls, cubes and round discs to fit onto hangers.
Cashmere to combat itches, scratches & prickles
People have many reasons for wearing cashmere: its beauty, its prestige, its featherlight weight, or its warming or cooling properties (see above). However, many individuals who are sensitive to other types of wool choose cashmere for its comfort. Some scientific studies have shown that the diameter of a fibre contributes to its ‘itchiness’. The fine threads of cashmere make it more comfortable for such people - who may not be able to wear other kinds of wool at all. For the same reasons, and for its breathability and capacity to avoid overheating, cashmere is often suggested for babies.
(1) Alongside cashmere from goats, in recent years there has been a niche movement in fashion towards another highly prestigious soft-as-a-whisper wool - that of the vicuña - a relative of the llama from the camelidae family.