::: cashmere :::

The hair known as CASHMERE comes from goats bred mainly in Central Asia, with the finest qualities coming out of China, Mongolia, Tibet and the Himalayan mountain region of Kashmir in India. Iran, Afghanistan, Kurdistan and Australia also produce this fibre though fineness and quality greatly differ from place to place.

Kashmir, the northern most province of India is thought to be the origin of these goats but not all experts agree on this. However, in the times of the Great Mogul Empire the under hair from these goats was already known and used to produce the very fine shawls which are popular today and known as “Pashmina’s”.

The Cashmere Goat often lives at great altitudes and in temperatures, which vary greatly, so it developed a very special coat constructed of two coats in one. Firstly an outer coat (guard hair) which is extremely coarse and wiry and secondly an inner or undercoat (down or duvet) which is very soft and silky. This coat helps the goats to keep warm in the very cold and wet conditions that one often finds at heights of 1,000 to 6,000 meters.

Majority of the hair is White in colour but other shades range from a Dark Brown through Light Brown, Fawn and even Light Grey, the quality and fineness of which tends to vary with colour, area and conditions in which the goats were reared.

To obtain the very fine under hair (down or duvet) the coarse outer hair (guard hair) has to be separated, either by hand sorting, very slow and labour intensive, or by Machine Dehairing, faster and less intensive. The cost of this operation varies greatly from lot to lot, however, as the yield can be anything from 25% to 65% this adds greatly to the cost of the material.

Fineness of the down hair can vary from 6 to 25 microns, whilst the outer guard hair is normally 30 to 70 microns. The bulk of dehaired down hair from Chinese goats ranges from 14.5/15.5 microns, similar hair from Mongolian goats is 16.0/17.0 microns, whilst Iranian / Afghanistan goats is 17.0/20.0 microns. Length is generally quite short but again varies lot to lot and can be anything from 20mm to 50mm making it suitable for spinning on either Woollen or Worsted systems.

Cashmere is a very special, precious and expensive fibre, used to produce very fine, soft and warm garments, which are very comfortable to wear. It readily absorbs all manner of dyes and produces very deep and rich colours similar to Mohair or Wool.

Cashmere, another gift from nature and something very special.