Where does cashmere come from? Facts on cashmere goats. Information on cashmere goats. What breed of goat is used for producing cashmere? What does a cashmere goat look like? What kind of animal produces cashmere? How to care for a cashmere sweater? Can I wash a cashmere sweater? How to clean cashmere.
Cashmere is a soft fiber that comes from the soft downy hairs of some goats. Let us learn more about the Cashmere producing goats and how to care for cashmere.
The term “cashmere” actually comes from the eastern Himalayan state of Kashmir, a cool region where goats were known to grow a more downy coat.
Cashmere goats are a type of goat rather than a specific breed, goats of many breed produce the soft fiber known as cashmere.
Goats have 2 kinds of hairs, longer primary guard hairs, and softer secondary hairs, or down. In the cashmere breeds there are more softer hairs, but they are not as densely packed as in the Angora goats which are a different breed (they produce mohair). There are over 60 breeds of goats that produce cashmere, including the myotonic (fainting) goats, but it tends to be most common in the dairy goat breeds. Some breeds, such as the Australian Cashmere goat, were bred specifically to produce cashmere.
Even the best cashmere producing goats may produce less than half a pound of cashmere (.2 kg) per year. Wethers produce more. The best producers are worth hundreds of dollars as production of cashmere is genetic.
The goats used for cashmere can be any color, but white is often preferred.
Cashmere hairs tend to grow from the time of the summer solstice to the time of the winter solstice and are shed afterward. It is best removed by combing the goats every second day, for about 2 weeks, starting just before the animal begins to shed. Shearing can also be done to remove the entire fleece at once. Combing is better it will remove fewer guard hairs, but is not practical on larger farms where many goats are kept. When they are sheared the guards must be removed in a process called “de-hairing”. Some guard hairs will remain in either case, but must not be more than 3 % of the final product, which is then spun into yarn or woven into fabrics.
Cashmere fibers must be under 19 microns in diameter, and is usually best on younger animals. Cashmere fibers are shorter than mohair and generally more valuable.
Cashmere fibers are mostly used in scarves, blankets, and sweaters, but is also used in hats, pants, shirts, and other garments.
The majority of cashmere is produced in China.
© photo source - Australian Cashmere goats.
How to Care for Cashmere
Cashmere products are either the result of cashmere fibers being spun into yarn, and knitted, or woven into fabric, cut, and sewn. Cashmere clothing is often labeled “Dry Clean Only”. You can hand wash cashmere by hand. Use only mild detergent, or a gentle baby shampoo. Remove the water gently by squishing, without wringing, and lay flat to dry. It will take a few days to dry.
Once dried your cashmere clothing should be folded for storage, not hung. Hanging will result in changing the shape of the shoulders in the case of sweaters, but scarves may be hung. Protect from moths.