Cashmere - this term is associated with first-class, soft and expensive products. The valuable wool is obtained exclusively from the cashmere goat, which until its spread to other regions was only native to the high plateaus of the Himalayas. The term Cashmere goat does not refer to a specific breed, but to a phenotype of the domestic goat with about 20 different subtypes, all of which have a long fine undercoat. To withstand the harsh living conditions of the mountains, the goats have developed a unique coat over the centuries: In summer it protects them from dust and sun, in frosty winter it has an insulating effect. The warming layer of hair lies very close to the skin and is the noblest part of the coat: the cashmere.
What is Cashmere?
Cashmere production takes place only once a year during the change of coat in the transition from winter to summer. The goats are not shorn or shaved, but merely combed out. During this process, an initial selection takes place: The fine undercoat is separated from the coarser topcoat, the so-called awn hair. After combing several times, the fine underhair constitutes the valuable cashmere raw material.
In the next step, the raw material is pre-sorted according to colour, texture and length. The selection also takes place with regard to quality: The essential factors here are length and fineness. The longer the hairs, the finer the yarn that is spun later and thus the finer the end product. The fineness of the hairs is of great importance, because only raw material with a maximum diameter of 0.019 millimetres can be called cashmere. This is the only way to ensure the unique feel of cashmere and the high quality of this rare material worldwide. Some companies, such as FTC®, have stricter internal guidelines to guarantee an even higher quality. This rigid combing and selection process leaves approximately 300-400 grams of final FTC® raw material from the approximately 1.2 kilograms of combed hair per goat.
Origin and History of Cashmere
The valuable wool is obtained from the Cashmere goat.
Cashmere has been valued for centuries for its unique properties. However, many overlook the fact that this material is produced on farms in the middle of barren mountain landscapes. Entire regions, such as the north of Shaanxi province and Inner Mongolia, have specialised in the production of cashmere. Even today, nature and animals determine the rhythm of the people in these regions.
Experiencing cashmere in its original form is difficult nowadays because it requires long journeys. This great treasure can be found in the high plateaus of the Himalayas, in the province of Ladakh and in Tibet, in Mongolia, Inner Mongolia (China), as well as in the province of Shaanxi. The cashmere goats living there produce the extraordinary wool, this white gold, which is coveted all over the world under the term cashmere.
Properties and Quality characteristics of Cashmere
Noticeable softness &
pleasant wearing comfort
Cashmere is characterised by a pleasant wearing comfort and noticeable softness. However, before the raw material can be processed into such a showpiece product, it must be spun into thread.
Here there is often confusion for the consumer, as two- to twelve-thread qualities are offered. What are the differences here? This frequently asked question from the trade and on the part of the end consumer is often not answered correctly. Cashmere hairs are twisted into a yarn and are then initially single-threaded. By twisting two single-threaded yarns together, a two-threaded yarn is then created. If several two-threaded yarns are twisted together, the thread count is automatically multiplied. First it becomes four-threaded, then six-threaded up to the twelve-threaded yarn. But the original yarn always remains the same.
This, of course, does not change the quality of the hair - thus the quality of the fabric remains the same. The twisting of the yarns, however, increases the thickness and thus the weight of the product. The more yarns are used, the warmer and heavier the result. However, the cost of the fabric is also higher and the product is often more expensive. Very fine cashmere products are not necessarily cheaper, however, as thin and complicated yarns tear very easily during production and have a long production time.
Conclusion: Different yarn counts say nothing per se about the quality of a cashmere product. Rather, it is the raw material and the subsequent processing that make the difference between fine and inferior goods. Thick, multi-threaded knitted models require a higher cost of goods. Very thin cashmere models, on the other hand, are more delicate to work with.