When it comes to buying winter shawls, there are endless types of wool, textiles, and materials to choose from. From scarves made from lambs wool to the ones made from camel’s hair, there’s a lot to choose from. If you want something luxurious, you can try a pure Pashmina product that comes with a hefty price tag. Have you ever wondered why some wools are more expensive than other kinds of wool? Well, wool refers to the natural fibres obtained from animals, not just from sheep. The softness and finesse and how the wool is harvested determine its cost. When you buy a shawl, you may have come across apparel tags like Alpaca and Cashmere, etc. Knowing these different types of wool can help you understand why one apparel is more expensive than the other
So, before you head to make your next purchase, here’s a break down of the different types of wool
Known for its luxurious feel and look, Cashmere is one of the extremely fine wool available. Cashmere wool is produced in a number of regions in the world. China and Mongolia are the largest producers of cashmere in the world and their production accounts for around 90% of the total Cashmere. While the rest of the world products only 10% of Cashmere. The least, yet finest Cashmere production comes from Ladakh. Even though the region produces just 0.75% of Cashmere, yet is it the finest, warmest, and the most smooth version of this luxury wool.
Cashmere from Mongolia and China has a diameter of 15-18 microns which makes it thicker as compared to Ladakhi Cashmere which is as fine as 12 microns. Being of the finest quality and limited in supply, the Ladakhi variant is the most expensive variety as far as Cashmere is concerned.
From the finest hair of Changthangi, a rare goat, found in Jammu and Kashmir, comes Ladakhi Cashmere. The goat sheds its thick and warm fleece during the spring. Despite being so lightweight, a Pashmina wrap is eight times warmer than shawls made of sheep’s wool. Cashmere wool is considered to be one of the finest natural fibers and pure Cashmere products get softer over the years. It is, therefore, no surprise that from the royal families of the yore to the celebrities of the day, everybody loves the warm embrace of a Pashmina shawl.
Made from the wool of a Merino sheep, Merino wool is known for having softer coats than others. Compared to sheep's wool, merino wool is finer and has less than 24 microns in diameter. As there’s only a small window to harvest Merino wool, it’s quite expensive. Though Merino wool is softer than conventional wool fleeces, a Merino product is a tad less expensive than a Cashmere
The Alpaca fleece is the natural fibre harvested from an alpaca, an animal found in South America. This type is ideal for making sweaters, coats, gloves, scarves, and other items. However, as it is not as soft as Cashmere or Merino, other wools are often blended with Alpaca fleece to improve the processing quality. The fleece range from 15-40 microns. The Alpaca fleece is also considered suitable for upholstery.
Just like Cashmere, Mohair wool is obtained from goat, however, from different kinds. While Cashmere is obtained from Changthangi goat, you get Mohair from Angora goat. Mohair wool has a silk-like texture and is a lustrous fibre. The wool, which is approximately 25–45 microns in diameter, is used in scarves, winter hats, suits, sweaters, coats, socks, and home furnishing.
The first shearing of a sheep when it is at around seven months of age is called lambswool. The fresh wool is smooth, strong and flexible and doesn’t need much processing. It’s ideal for blankets and bedding. Like all sheep's wool, lambswool is popularly used for good quality knitwear.
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Also read: Is it worth buying Cashmere?