Cashmere is a natural fibre made from the downy undercoat of a Kashmiri goat which is found in the Ladakh region. Cashmere is often used for any type of soft wool, but real and authentic Cashmere comes from Ladakh only. When this exceptionally soft and warm wool is handwoven by the most skilled artisans of Kashmir, the outcome is an extraordinary Cashmere scarf, which has had ancient royalty swooned.
Which animal grows Cashmere?
Over 14000 feet above sea level in Ladakh, the Changthang region is home to an exotic and rare kind of goats. These are named after the place and are called Changthangi goats. It is these goats that grow a soft fleece as downfibre to survive the harsh temperature of -40 degrees. The fleece is exceptionally warm and is able to protect the goat and keep it alive in winters.
As soon as it is summer, the goat loses this hair naturally, and the rest of the wool is collected by herders. This fine wool is called Pashm. The word Pashm comes from the Persian language and means 'soft gold'. However, in the early 19th century, Cashmere wraps reached their zenith and Europeans discovered it too. It is them who named it Cashmere. Locally it was called Pashm
Features of Cashmere wool
Cashmere is the undercoat of the Ladakhi goat and its diameter is as small as just 12-16 microns. One goat yields just 150 grams of Cashmere. Hence it takes the wool of 3-4 goats to prepare one Cashmere wrap of length 200 cm and breadth 100 cm. For a smaller length scarf, the wool from two adult goats is required.
Cashmere wool is so gauzy and gossamer that sometimes it isn't even visible to the naked eye. It is more than 50 years of experience of its weavers which makes them the perfect community to deal with such delicate threads, without breaking or deteriorating the quality.
Processing of Cashmere Scarf
When Cashmere is combed off the body of Ladakhi goat, it is processed in Kashmir. That is because even though Ladakh is blessed with the existence of Cashmere goats, but the locals do not have the know-how to process the same. This is done in Kashmir.
Firstly, Cashmere is cleaned and sorted by women who make sure there are no foreign materials attached to the wool. After cleaning, a lump of pure Cashmere wool is left. This is handed over to spinners. Womenfolk of Kashmir are masters when it comes to spinning. The lump of wool is converted into the fine yarn over a wooden spinning wheel called 'Yinder'. The yarn is now ready for weaving. A traditional wooden handloom is where the yarn gets woven into luxury wraps and scarves.
Cashmere scarves are expensive. Plain wraps are less expensive than embroidered shawls or the ones with Kani weave where more manual labour is involved. Nowadays Cashmere has been blended into every contemporary pattern and design following the adoration of the young generation. Cashmere can be ombre dyed, printed, patterned, laced, studded, and woven into reversible patterns
Kashmiri Cashmere is better in quality than its counterparts which come from Mongolia, China, Iran. It is finer, warmer, and far better in quality than the other types.
Is Cashmere Vegan?
Veganism is a modern term that refers to the practice of staying away from the use of animal products. This includes consuming their meat, or wool. Such Cashmere is not Vegan, as it comes from a goat.
However, the acquisition of Cashmere does not constitute any animal cruelty and no living being is harmed in the process. Cashmere goats are domestic and do not need to be hunted or killed. And the wool is not shared off their body, it is gently combed off. Also, the wool is combed off in summers, when the wool itself makes the goat uncomfortable.
Hence if you wear Cashmere, you can still be vegan, since the goat is not harmed and grows the fleece naturally next winter
What is a Pure Cashmere Scarf?
When you want to invest in a Cashmere scarf, be sure you are picking a pure Cashmere. This is because if your Cashmere is not pure, it is not worth buying. Either invest in pure Cashmere or nothing at all. Here are some reasons why Cashmere should always be bought pure.
If your Cashmere scarf is pure, rest assured that you are going to get the most pleasant warmth that you would ever have experienced. Now you can get rid of those oversized jackets and fluffy warmers, and just put on a fine Cashmere scarf, enjoying the same warmth, plus the unmatched grace that it bestows over you.
Friend of a lifetime
Pure Cashmere stays for a lifetime. If your Cashmere scarf is pure, it will stay with you for a minimum of 20 years. It is said that the ancient Kashmir, a bride's mother would gift her own Cashmere shawl to her newlywed daughter, and it would look as fresh as new
Skin is one of the most sensitive parts of our body. If a wrap is rough, your skin attests it in a minute. But if you are wearing a pure Cashmere scarf, your skin will enjoy it to the fullest.
Ages with Grace
If taken proper care of, a Cashmere scarf will age in the most graceful fashion. It is believed that after every wash, Cashmere takes a more and more antique look and looks like a lost treasure even after 25 years of proper use.