26 May 2017

Cashmere comes from goats

 

The quality of the cashmere fleece is determined by three factors: its length, its diameter, and the degree of crimping.  Any goat can grow cashmere, but those we call “cashmere goats” have been selectively bred to produce it in significant amounts.

Cashmere fiber is crimped (rather than wavy), soft, and lacking luster. By industry standards it must be at least 1-1/4′ long with an average diameter less than 19 microns. A micron is one-millionth of a meter (a meter is about a yard), so each fiber is very, very fine. For comparison, a human hair can range from 17 to 181microns in diameter. The crimpiness of the fiber gives it “loft” and enables garments made of cashmere to provide warmth without weight.

“So how many goats does it take to get enough cashmere to make a sweater?”

Most of the hair on a cashmere goat is guard hair. The downy undercoat is the cashmere.
Either of two methods are used to harvest the cashmere fleece – shearing or combing. Sheared fleece contains considerably more guard hair than combed fleece. No matter which method is used, the harvested fleece must be dehaired in order to remove the guard hair.

The average cashmere yield from one goat amounts to about four ounces annually, but there is a wide range of variation in yield. Fiber length and fineness, and the amount of fleece coverage on the goat’s body, as well as the overall size of the goat, determine yield.

Véronique Vieljeux Written by Véronique Vieljeux Posted on