A Crash Course On Cashmere

Being a passionate knitter, I’ve learned over the years that cashmere is the absolute best yarn to use if I want my handmade sweaters, hats, scarves and throws to keep me toasty warm.

Yes, it’s more expensive than fine merino wool yarn, but it beats wool, hands down, when it comes to keeping out the cold. Wearing two thick cashmere sweaters on a freezing, windy day is cozier than wearing a bulky wool coat, and far lighter weight. They also hug my neck, arms and torso better, to protect me against the frigid air. And, 100 percent fine cashmere feels super soft.

The majority of the world’s cashmere comes from the regions of Inner Mongolia and Mongolia in China, and is made from the downy undercoat grown by goats in extreme cold. Winter temperatures in the area can be -22 degrees Fahrenheit. After the goats moult in the spring, they are combed to remove their fine underhair, after which the combings are washed. The highest-quality cashmere is made from the whitest, longest and thinnest hair from a goat’s underfleece, while lower-quality cashmere may be the shorter, coarser, hair from the animal’s rear end, rather than its belly.


✭ Even less-expensive cashmere can feel lovely and a be a good barrier from the cold, but it’s likely to pill and sag, and be less dense when you hold it up to the light. It may even feel softer and silkier than the quality-yarn, because it’s been over processed in the factory, and therefore more likely to fall apart.

✭ If you’re shopping for cashmere clothing or accessories, it’s also wise to stretch the garment a little to see if it springs back into shape. If it doesn’t, it’s probably made with inferior cashmere.

✭ Check the content label, too. Lots of shops advertise a garment as being cashmere, but it’s actually made with only a tiny bit of cashmere mixed with other inferior yarns.

✭ Find out the number of plies in the garment: Two or more ply means two or more yarns have been twisted together before it’s made into the piece of clothing. Single ply isn’t as desirable.


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