A Brief History
Considered the eternal myth, shrouded by millenniums of legends, “the golden fleece” or “king’s mantle” always arouses an incomparable charm for those in search of taste and classic and refined style, and who like to wear the warmth and softness of a very valuable natural fibre of ancient origins. It is said that since the days of Julius Caesar, the Roman nobles wore beautiful shawls, soft and with original designs, made of cashmere and of Indian origin. These stoles were the symbol of very high social status because they were very rare and expensive. At the end of the thirteenth century, Marco Polo, on his return from his voyages to the East, described the fine fleeces from the goats and camels, used by Turkmen and by the Tartars.
The knowledge of these wonderful materials became more widespread in Europe, and particularly in France, following Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1792 Egyptian campaign, during which the French army found itself fighting against the army of the Turkish Mamluks. Turkish officials had had supplied to them in their kit a gorgeous triangular cashmere shawl beautifully designed, called a “boteh”. The fashion for these shawls became widespread in the mid-1800s in the palaces of Eugenia Bonaparte, wife of Napoleon III, and the court of Queen Victoria of England who, by means the East India Company, imported to Europe the precious shawls made of “pashmina” (“pash” means “wool”).
Count Camillo Benso di Cavour in Italy tried to raise the goat from which cashmere comes. However, this attempt failed miserably because in Italy the climatic and environmental conditions that favoured the animal in producing the precious fibre that defended him from the cold didn’t exist.
A few numbers
– 300 grams: is the amount of cashmere provided by a goat in a year.
– 6.5 km: is the length of thread needed to make a sweater.
– 3: the goats from which the fibre comes needed to produce a long cashmere cardigan
– 104 million: the goats that are bred all over the world; including 75 million in China, 14 million in Iran, 9 million in Mongolia and 9 million in the rest of the world.
Wool cashmere adds to the properties of wool an extreme lightness and softness thanks to its greater fineness (fibre width). Here’s an example to demonstrate: extra-fine merino wool has a fineness ranging from 15 to 19 microns while cashmere goes from 11 to 18 microns (1 micron = 0.001 millimetres).
Colours are white, the most in demand and the most valuable, light grey, light brown, dark brown and red. Significant is the fact that the annual shearing of 3 or 4 goats is necessary to collect sufficient cashmere to make a single sweater; This, combined with limited global production and the morphological characteristics unique to the fibre, makes it easy to understand its value when it reaches the market.
The characteristics of this fibre are unique and extraordinary: it is warm and soft, but at the same time light and strong, it lets your skin breathe, and is comfortable.
These are the reasons why so many of us love it!
Our sweaters are produced in finenesses of 3, 5, 7, 12, 18. The higher the number that expresses the fineness, the finer the yarn;
“2 ply” cashmere: a common mistake (even by some experts in the field), is to confuse the indication of the yarn “two threads”, that is the definition of “2 ply cashmere” with the technique of working of knitwear in which the threads of two bobbins are simply coupled. The cashmere yarn, to be called such, must be composed of two strands twisted into a single head (2/28000 title, i.e. two heads of 1/18000 twisted).
Furthermore, a “1 ply” yarn corresponds to a length of thread of 18,000 metres per kg. To produce instead a “2-ply” cashmere yarn, would need a length of 28,000 metres per kilogram.
How a cashmere garment is made
The first phase is knitting, that is, the weaving of the material which will form the sweater. This is followed by checking the knitted material. The check is carried out on lighted tables and at this stage material with anomalies are discarded.
Stitching and looping, the next step, is a processing technique rooted in the ability and experience of loopers, work done on these machines, by female hands, is absolutely unsurpassable by technology. At this stage the true composition of the garment begins. A finished garment, that is closed and sewn (looped) in its entirety, washed by neutral soap and fabric softener, called “fulling” eliminates fat and oil. Washing and fulling are two delicate processes because at this stage only the careful work of chemical experts with long experience in the field of cashmere gives that feeling of softness to the touch typical of the best cashmere.
This is followed by the garment check by the bright doll, after washing, to check that during the washing itself anomalies in the sweater have not occurred. Following the, the garment is sized and then steam pressed steam following a manual technique. Finally, with a steam iron, the garment is passed over again to give it the right look. Our sweater is now ready and, after being labelled and carefully checked, is packaged only if deemed appropriate by quality procedures according to the most stringent international standards.
This meticulous work is the result of an ancient tradition, which combines quality craftsmanship with the exclusivity of collections of Italian refinement.
Look at the label inside the garment: a cashmere garment should be washed by hand in water or specially washed in the washing machine.
The first rule is never to wear a cashmere garment two days running, but let it rest at least one day, airing it for a few hours on a flat surface outdoors before wearing it again.
We recommend particular care for the use and conservation of this noble product, so that in time its wonderful features come to the fore: lightness, warmth, softness, strength.
It’s possible that a garment made of fine thread like cashmere can manifest a tendency to form balls of fuzz on its surface. This happens because shorter thread fibres, when rubbed during use, tend to fall off. The problem could be eliminated during the manufacturing process using more twisted threads, or resorting to special washing that inhibits the detachment of the fibres; both solutions would, however, result in a noticeable loss of smoothness and softness. However, it is preferable to have a garment that expresses all the naturalness of the fine thread of which it is composed. The appearance of pilling should not therefore be interpreted as an indication of low quality of the materials used, nor must constitute a cause for alarm, because it can be removed with proper maintenance:
Gently remove by hand or with suitable tools the peeling particles
Hand wash at a temperature not exceeding 30°C
Use specific detergents for wool in small quantities
Rinse well, spin and carefully spread the garment horizontally to dry
After the first few washes following these steps, the formation of pilling will stop in a natural way and the original softness of the thread will be maintained over time.
How to wash a cashmere garment at home
Let us remember that the cashmere fibre is a living thing, that is renewed by every wash and loves the water! Here is how to perform a proper hand wash frequently and safely:
– Put the sweater on a flat surface and, as we have said, remove the pilling;
– Prepare a bowl of water at room temperature in which dilute a few drops of neutral detergent
– Immerse one sweater at a time, that you previously turned inside out (will conserve better). If there are stains, gently pat the stain with a white cloth soaked in diluted detergent, never rub. Then, massage the whole sweater, pressing it gently, never wringing it out.
– Always rinse very well pressing gently. Remove excess water and dry the garment between two terry towels. Roll out and “air” the garment.
– Lay flat in the shade and away from heat sources.
– Never hang up a cashmere garment: it will irreversibly deform.
– If the cashmere garment has been properly washed and dried it does not require a major amount of ironing. If you really consider it necessary, give a simple blow of steam with the iron.
– Finally, leave the steamed garments to cool on a table before folding.
Short facts and questions
The male produces the greater amount of wool compared to the female.
In China and Mongolia the fleece is removed by hand by combing, while in Iran and Afghanistan the animals are shorn.
The best fleece is obtained between the 4th and 6th year of the animal’s life.
How can I remove creases from a cashmere sweater?
If unsightly creases persist, just give a simple blow of steam with the iron, at a distance of 5cm from the garment or, if necessary, iron the inside out sweater protected by a cotton cloth at minimum temperature.
Which detergent and/or fabric softener is used for washing?
The pure cashmere thread contains lanolin, a fatty substance that permeates and protects and waterproofs it. For this reason a garment becomes increasingly soft, wash after wash. You can use a specific and delicate liquid detergent for cashmere, such as Casheart Soap or possibly a few drops of neutral children’s shampoo.
Does a cashmere garment stretch or shrink after washing?
A pure cashmere sweater made of fine thread will remain the same for years if it is carefully cared for and maintained properly by following the instructions.
Why is it possible to buy cheap sweaters labelled “pure cashmere”?
Because the raw material used can be highly variable in quality, depending on the origin, colour, thread count, the fineness, the purity, the amount of impure fibre present, etc … At the end of the day, since there is no worldwide certification body on thread quality, less reputable manufacturers adulterate the purity of the thread by adding synthetic fibres, or even indicate on the label “pure cashmere” instead of viscose, angora or other.
Advice: a pure cashmere sweater of good quality cannot be inexpensive! Turn only to qualified manufacturers/retailers qualified!
Why should I spend so much for a cashmere sweater when I can get one in wool?
Cashmere is ten times lighter and warmer than sheep’s wool, because within its fibre is an air chamber that acts as an extremely hot thermal insulator to protect the goats from the rigid Mongolian Highland temperatures. The cashmere fibre has a high degree of moisture absorption, and as a result the insulating properties vary with the rate of relative humidity, both of the body and of the external environment. This allows the body to breathe perfectly maintaining a constant temperature.
How can you recognise high quality cashmere from low quality?
The quality of a fine thread sweater is related to the title, to the purity of the thread, the section of the fibre (between 14 and 18 microns) and the length of the fibre. In essence, the longer and thinner the raw material (fibre), the more fine and valuable will be the thread that it is obtained. The thread used should always be a two ply (i.e. two twisted threads) undercoat (duvet) with title 2/28000 from Mongolia.