Cashmere is not just Cashmere
Decades ago, Cashmere was hardly known. Only a few could afford this valuable product. Today cashmere is "in". The result: Many fashion producers want to ride on the "Cashmere Wave" and flood the market with offers. Unfortunately, the name Cashmere has no copyright. Even if the label claims 100% cashmere, it says nothing either about the quality of the raw material or the composition of the yarn. From the best yarns you cannot produce a cheap quality product. At first glance, however, the buyer cannot recognise this. At the latest after repeated wearing and washing, you notice the inferior quality. An expensive bad buy!backnext
Where does cashmere come from?
Beginning in the 16th Century, local hand weavers in India, in the Kashmir Mountains, wove shawls and scarves from the fuzz of its population of wild goats. Traders brought these along the legendary Silk Road to kings of Asian and Near-East Asian countries, who valued the precious products. The days of arduous transportation on the Silk Road are long gone, but still today, the downy cashmere is produced in foreign countries and shipped all over the world.
The cashmere goat, which is still a wild goat, now lives on the high plateaus of Tibet, Mongolia and northern China. In winter, there exists bitter cold, and the goats grow, under its long belly hair, a very fine down which is called "duvet". It is collected by shepherds and carefully combed. After removing the coarser hair and dirt, only a small part of the collected and combed hair remains. A goat produces only about 50 to 150 grams of fine downy hair. The harsher the environment and the colder the winter, the more fluff hairs they provide. The annual production of about 4 to 6 animals is used for a Barbara Lohmann sweater, and for a cardigan 10-15 animals or more are needed.backnext
Genuine Cashmere and its soul
Why a Cashmere product is so valuable depends on many factors. Apart from selecting the best yarn, a factor which determines the price of cashmere products is also the uniqueness and scarcity of the raw material, because only about 5% of annual fiber production accounts for wool, animal hair and silk. Cashmere goats ship yearly only about 5 500 tonnes worldwide. Just by this you can tell that not everything which is called cashmere is cashmere, because the quantity of cashmere knitwear on the market exceeds the theoretical amount.
Five high-quality conditions determine the value of cashmere yarn:
The length of the fiberThe fine undercoat of the cashmere goat is the raw material from which such a cashmere yarn is made.
The thinner and longer this undercoat is, the more valuable the resulting spun yarn. For a high quality product the best is a fiber length of 35 to 50 mm. The longer the individual threads are, the more expensive the raw material is. There are also cashmere products on the market where the fiber length is much shorter and often does not exceed10 mm.
The thinner the goat hair, the better
Only the finest undercoat of the goat, called Pashmina, is the real and pure Cashmere. The fineness of the hair
is measured in microns (the term for the fiber average). Only hairs with 14 to 16 microns are used as raw material for the best quality cashmere. These raw materials come, without exception, from goats in Mongolia and China. Low-quality yarns can contain fibers of up to 19 microns.backnext
The perfect yarn is always a twistBefore the end result of yarn is achieved, the valuable downy hair goes through a complicated and lengthy process and is cleaned of sand and wool grease. Every Italian spinning factory has its own family recipe that has been preserved for generations. Barbara Lohmann uses only thread which consists of two very even and thin filaments that are twisted into a yarn. This twisted thread, measured on 1 kg of yarn, a length of 28 000 m and contains only a proportion of thicker beard hairs of 0.05 to a maximum of 0,1%. But more commonly used is 2% of coarser hair. And many cashmere producers also use only 1-ply instead of the more expensive two-ply yarn.
The color of the goat hair
Most goats have medium to dark brown hair. Only very rarely the cashmere hair of the white goat is available - hence this rare color is also the most expensive. Barbara Lohmann uses this valuable white goat hair as a raw material for pastel and bold colors. Some yarn
manufacturers simply bleach the darker cashmere material in order to dye it for lighter and strong thread colors. This has an economic background, because the darker goat hair can be purchased up to 30% cheaper. This procedure, however, causes considerable deterioration, such as loss of elasticity, tensile strength and hand.
Pashmina first to fifth Grades
Pashmina is the general name in Asia for cashmere. The quality is distinguished in grades, from the 1st
quality grade to the 5th grade. Barbara Lohmann uses, without exception, first grade quality. If you buy a scarf with the quality label "100% Pashmina," it should be made of 100% pure cashmere. Unfortunately, since the name Pashmina is not protected, there are vendors who use it for inferior products. This has nothing to do with the precious original name. backnext
Coco Chanel as a pioneer
Only at the beginning of the last century in France, cashmere was used initially for underwear. In the 20's COCO CHANEL and JEAN PATOU showed the world how such inimitably beautiful cashmere knitwear could be done. Thus, the cashmere knitwear industry began at its highest level. This is how cashmere fibers’ triumph began. Italian spinning mills were especially distinguished for the purity, uniformity and fineness of the fiber they spun. It was the excellent water quality of these regions that made the difference and is still so today. backnext
From worsted cashmere to hand knitting
For her worsted cashmere knitwear Barbara Lohmann uses an even finer combed yarn. This yarn can be more than twice as fine as the best carded and rolled yarn, measured on 1 Kg of yarn eaching a length of 52.000 m to 80.000 m. The knitwear is so lightweight, and the individual stitches are so close together that they can only be seen with a magnifying glass. A chunky knit sweater or a hand-knitted jacket, however, can consist of more than 12 individual threads and reach a weight of 1000 grams or more.backnext
Lasting pleasure with Cashmere
Cashmere loves soft waterOf course, you can clean cashmere knitwear chemically, but you want to choose the treatment with water. Cashmere is a natural product and loves soft water. Wash in the machine if you like, and in any case in a laundry bag, using the wool program in not more than 20 degree water with a very rich, moisturizing liquid wool detergent. Make sure that this detergent if free of bleach or brighteners. The detergent should be used very sparingly, as this can lead to matting. A detergent which was specially developed for Barbara Lohmann for cashmere and fine wool is available in all Barbara Lohmann shops. Please dont leave the cashmere knitwear lying in water, since this will alter the biological building blocks of the fiber and damage could take place. Even the precious buttons of horn or mother of pearl, especially selected for our knitwear, cannot tolerate a long bath. Spin the cashmere knitwear in the
machine on a moderate setting. Then lay the spun knitwear on a terrycloth towel, bring it into form, and allow it to air-dry, away from sunlight and heating! If necessary, use a slight steam setting on an iron to press out the wrinkles, while avoiding any existing buttons.
Cashmere needs a break from time to time!
Treat your favorite pieces to a day of rest in the fresh air. After using the knitwear, place it, if you like, in the supplied plastic bag. That way you can be sure that no
moths or other unwanted guests appear. Caring for cashmere is not time consuming, and its worth it, so that you can enjoy using your high-quality knitwear for a long time!