Cosy, warm, lightweight and luxurious, cashmere is an incredible fibre that is used to make deliciously soft clothing.
What is cashmere?
Cashmere is a yarn spun from the fine fleece of the Cashmere (or Kashmir) goat, although sometimes other breeds are used. Cashmere goats are farmed in open grasslands in limited geographies. Our Mia Fratino cashmere garments that we stock in store come from Inner Mongolia, although China, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and other Central Asian Republics are the world’s largest producers of the fibre.
Cashmere goats produce a double fleece consisting of a fine, soft undercoat mingled with a longer, straight and coarse fleece. It is the soft undercoat that is used for making cashmere yarn and the coarser hair is also shorn and used for making brushes and interfacing.
The soft undercoat fleece is combed out and collected by hand during the spring moulting season, when hair falls out naturally. Once the undercoat fleece is collected, it is ‘de-haired’, a mechanical process that separates the fine hairs from the coarser ones. The fleece goes through a treatment process before being spun into yarn, similarly to how wool is spun.
Tell me more about cashmere fibre.
Cashmere fibre is incredibly soft and the fibre is spun so fine that it doesn’t itch like wool sometimes can.
Cashmere has a reputation for being an expensive fibre and this cost is due to many factors. Cashmere goats can only thive in specific geographies feeding on native grasslands, which limits the herd numbers and they only shed in the springtime, which limits fibre collection. Cashmere fleece is so fine that it takes 3 to 4 goats to produce enough yarn for one medium sized women’s sweater! This fleece must be sorted, combed, cleaned, spun and dyed before being knitted, which also impacts on the cost of the fibre.
Doesn’t cashmere pill?
Yes, pilling will occur with ALL 100% cashmere yarn. This isn’t a design flaw or the sign of an inferior yarn, it is the nature of such a short and fine natural fibre and in my opinion, a small price to pay for such a warm, soft and lightweight garment. Pilling can be easily removed with a de-pilling comb and we’ve found that after a garment’s ‘initial shed’ or first pilling stage, it settles down and won’t pill as profusely.
All cashmere garments that we sell come with a de-pilling comb and cashmere laundry liquid to help keep your cashmere pieces in excellent condition.