We hope you not only enjoyed this series but also have broadened your knowledge of cashmere by reading them all. This last article, about the making of cashmere, is a fitting finale to complete the series.
The fine cashmere fibres are obtained from the cashmere goat’s soft and fluffy undercoat belly. Processed to make wool, they are sourced during Spring when they start to shed naturally. As the cashmere fibres are already shedding, a comb is all that’s needed to release them. It takes around 3 to 4 goats to obtain enough fibers. That number depends on the specific product as cashmere is usually hard to come by.
As the fibres are still raw at this point, they can be quite greasy and coarse. So, they have to undergo processing and washing in preparation for sorting and cleansing of impurities. Cashmere is usually sorted twice. Once to segregate the lower-grade cashmere, and a second time to separate them into different colours, and to identify any unfit fibres that went undetected in the initial sorting.
Afterwards, the cashmere fibres are hung out to dry naturally, then dyed in the colours required. Finally, they are hand-woven and spun into yarn. The yarns are used to create textiles which in turn are used in making pieces of clothing such as scarfs, shawls, sweaters, tops, and even jumpers. The cashmere may also go through a dehairing machine not only to naturally remove the coarse feel of the fibre, but also to reduce the cashmere fibers to a lower grade hair content to make it easier to weave or knit.
After the hand-weaving process, any damage and faults are detected and then repaired by hand. Depending on the desired result, the cashmere is then brushed to go through additional procedures that may include scouring, milling, and waterproofing, particularly in making cashmere scarfs. Once the cashmere has gone through these processes, it is then ready to be shipped to suppliers all over the world to be sold.
Next time you chance upon a piece of apparel made from genuine cashmere, run your bare fingers through it. Relish the softness, fine texture, and luxurious feel. Then you’ll know what we are talking about here.
Further readings on Cashmere
1. Cashmere Basics 101
2. What makes cashmere so expensive
3. Differences between cashmere and shahtoosh wool
4. How to take care of cashmere products
5. Why aren't all cashmere created equal
6. From cashmere fibre to cashmere fabric