Q: What is Cashmere?
A: The fine (dehaired) undercoat fibers produced by a Cashmere goat (Capra hircus laniger). The fiber is generally non-medullated and has a mean maximum diameter of 19 microns. The co-efficient of variation around the mean shall not exceed 24%. There can be no more than 3% (by weight) of cashmere fibers over 30 microns.
The U.S. Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939, as amended, (U.S.C. 15 Section 68b(a)(6)) defines cashere as:
- The fine (dehaired) undercoat fibers produced by a cashmere goat (capra hircus laniger);
- The average diameter of the fiber of such wool product not exceeding 19 microns.
- Containing not more than 3 percent (by weight) of cashmere fibers with average diameters that exceed 30 microns. The average fiber diameter may be subject to a coefficient of variation around the mean that shall not exceed 24 percent.
Q:Why do people love cashmere so much? What are its benefits?
A:Cashmere is luxurious and fashionable and is also a durable and practical investment. Cashmere travels well and doesn't wrinkle. It offers great insulation; is warm in the winter and cool in the spring. Cashmere is long lasting; it actually becomes softer with age and rarely pills after being worn and washed. It should last a lifetime.
Q:What should you look for when buying cashmere?
A:Buy from a long-term supplier you know whose garments have performed well. Compare it with a fine wool sweater, it should feel much better, your fingers can tell the difference. Rub the palm of your hand on the surface of the garment and see if fiber starts rolling into little balls. Stretch the garment body side to side and see if it snaps back into shape. If it does not, it may be low quality fiber or very loose tension when knitted which is another way for retailers to lower costs.
Q:What is the difference with pure cashmere blends and cashmere/silk blends and cashmere/cotton blends?
A:Silk blends very well with cashmere and gives garments more sheen and drape. Silk is a "harder" fiber when blended with cashmere on the woolen system so the silk and cashmere blended garments do not feel as soft as 100% cashmere. Silk is less expensive than cashmere so a like garment made from a silk cashmere should be cheaper than the 100% cashmere garment. Cashmere blended with cotton will produce a lower priced, cooler garment with some of the characteristics, luxury and softness of cashmere.
Q:What is the difference between and 2-ply and a 4-ply garment?
A:Two-ply yarn is better than single ply because the ply twist offsets the torque inherent in a single yarn. Sweater designers often use additional plies to add weight and color options, but the extra plies add no additional quality.
Q:Does the size of the yarn and of the stitches matter?
A:Loosely knit, limp fabric is the hallmark of a cheaply made sweater. Longer fiber makes stronger yarn that pills less.
Q: How do you care for a cashmere garment?
A:Keep the garment clean; a dirty garment will attract moths. Woven garments should be dry-cleaned.
Q:How should I store my cashmere garments?
A:Cashmere should be neatly folded on a shelf, not a hanger. It should be clean and in some sort of sealable garment bag with protection against moths. If they wrinkle, you are better off steaming than pressing to remove the wrinkles.
Q:What's the best way to clean my cashmere garment?
A:Hand wash knits with cold water, using a fine washable soap. Never wring or twist. Gently press excess water out with towels. Dry on a flat service on a fresh, dry towel until thoroughly air-dried. Woven garments should be dry-cleaned.
Q:Does skipping cleanings prolong the life of cashmere garments?
A:No, because a dirty garment is attractive to moths.
Q:How can you keep cashmere looking new? How can I avoid it getting fuzzy or developing pills?
A:Keep the garment clean. Avoid fuzzing and pilling by buying quality garments.
Q:Is there a safe way to remove pills on my cashmere sweater?
A:Purchase a pill comb to comb the pills and fuzz. Garments made from quality fiber do not need to be combed.
Q:What are some of the differences between high quality cashmere and low quality cashmere?
A:The most important factor in the quality of cashmere is the length and fineness of the fibers. Garments made with long and thin fibers pill less and maintain their shape better than cheaper lower quality cashmere and will get better with each wash. Fineness, length and color (natural white cashmere as opposed to natural colored cashmere) are the most important factors in the quality.
Q:How is cashmere fiber graded?
A:Cashmere fineness runs from about 14 microns to 19 microns. The lower the number the thinner the fiber and the softer it feels.