This past weekend I travelled to Vancouver with my daughter. Always in my carry on bag is a cashmere travel wrap just in case it’s cold on the plane. Sure enough, the young man who sat beside me promptly turned on his air conditioning as soon as he sat down and kept it on for the whole flight!
Autumn is in the air, the fallen leaves are swirling about, and the temperatures are falling. It’s officially cashmere time…
Cashmere has been manufactured for thousands of years. China and Mongolia are the largest producers, however, many other Asian countries also raise cashmere goats.
We can thank these beautiful “cashmere” goats (shown left) for our favourite sweaters, hats and scarves. Cashmere fibre is stronger, softer, cozier and much warmer than wool without the scratchy irritation sometimes felt when wearing wool.
These goats produce a double coat…the soft undercoat is used for clothing, and the coarse outer coat is used for products other than clothing such as brushes etc. The cashmere fibres are obtained from the neck area of the coat. It is removed either by hand using a comb resulting in a higher yield of soft “down’ or shorn resulting in more coarse hair. Young goat fibres have a softer fibre known as “baby” cashmere.
Caring for cashmere…
- wash in cold water with a mild detergent
- let cashmere soak in a basin (sink) for five minutes
- rinse thoroughly in cold water
- gently remove cashmere from water by folding into a ball (don’t wring out as this will stretch the fibres)
- lay flat on a towel before rolling up to remove remaining moisture
- lay flat on a drying rack or on a dry towel on a flat surface
- cashmere can be washed in the washing machine in cold water on gentle cycle. It’s recommended to place the article in a mesh laundry bag. Once it has gone through the rinse and spin cycle, lay flat to dry. DO NOT put in the dryer.
- cashmere can also be professionally dry cleaned
- do not hang
- fold and keep on a shelf or in a drawer free of moisture
- before putting away during the warmer months, make sure cashmere has been washed (moths are attracted to human and perfume scents)
- keep deterrents such lavender or balls of cedar in the closet (storage area) to repel moths
***If you have noticed evidence of moths in your closet, Tish Jett, author of Living Forever Chic, recommends that you “put a clean wet garment in a plastic freezer bag and place in the freezer for at least seventy-two hours. Remove and lay flat to defrost and dry.” This should kill moths and moth eggs.
It’s almost impossible to avoid “pilling” on cashmere (no matter what price point), however, the unsightly “pills” can be removed with a cashmere comb or garment bristle brush (shown above). Cashmere loves water and the more you wash your garments, the less they should pile…
The demand for cashmere is on the rise worldwide…I’m not the only one who loves these luscious products.
While I was researching for this post, I came across some troubling information.
Raising these goats has caused some environmental concerns. Grasslands are disappearing (the goats pull plants out by the roots when they are feeding, and their sharp hooves cut through the ground). This is causing temperatures in some of these areas to rise up to 4 degrees F. Some herds have starved because of the loss of grazing grounds.
Most disturbing of all is the abuse some of these animals have had to endure. I started watching a video (I only lasted about 10 seconds into it) showing how aggressive people are raking through the neck area with large combs (with razor-sharp teeth) leaving the goats with deep cuts and bleeding. The poor animals are struggling, desperate to get away, obviously in pain. When the goats are no longer producing, they are just discarded…killed for feed.
It is my sincere hope that these are isolated incidents and that these beautiful animals spend their days mindlessly grazing away, totally unaware of how they are keeping us warm and enhancing our daily lives…