Cashmere? I never understood it.
I didn't get the hype and I certainly didn't get why it was so expensive.
I’ve lived in a warm climate all my life. In fact a large percentage of it in a very warm climate, where it was not unusual at all to have day after day over 45 degrees in the summer. Cashmere was not in my vocabulary let alone in my wardrobe. However, after moving to a more moderate climate I now find I really feel the cold. No, I’m sure it has nothing to with age, thank you.
I was talked into making some cashmere scarves. I now “get” cashmere. After test driving one of my scarves I bought cashmere jumpers. I can now get through winter without having to rug up & look like Michelin Man.
So, by now I knew it was unbelievably soft & warm & I love it.
I still wondered why is it so costly?
So, I did what everyone does – I googled it!
I knew the name came from Kashmir, the region where the goats come from and its production and trade originated – apparently as long ago as the Mongolian empire in the 13th century. I guess if you live in Mongolia, you notice the goats don’t feel the cold and you look into that!
High quality cashmere can be up to eight times warmer than sheep’s wool despite its light weight. Cashmere comes from the soft undercoat of the kashmir goat. It takes more than two goats to make a single jumper. The fibers from the undercoat are separated from a coarser protective top coat during the spring molting season - a labor intensive process that involves combing and sorting the hair by hand. This is why approximately 6,500 metric tons of pure cashmere are produced annually, as opposed to 2 million metric tons of sheep’s wool.
The texture, color, and length of the fibers all affect manufacturing and pricing. Naturally, whiter cashmere fibers require less dye, diminishing the damage that coloring causes to its natural softness. Quality also depends on the region in which the wool is collected. In Inner Mongolia, for instance, the winters are harsh and the goats have a more meager diet, which produces the finer hair seen in the highest quality garments. So quality varies greatly and comes down to the goat & the processing.
In a nutshell cashmere deserves its reputation.
It really is something rare & special.
I'm so glad I discovered cashmere.