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  • May 08, 2023 3 min read

    What is cashmere yarn?

    Cashmere yarn is a luxurious and highly sought-after fiber among knitters. But what exactly is cashmere yarn, and why is it so special?

    Cashmere yarn comes from the soft and downy undercoat of the cashmere goat. This undercoat is finer and softer than the coarser outercoat of the goat, and it's this downy undercoat that is used to create cashmere

    The cashmere goat is primarily found in regions with cold climates, such as Mongolia, China, and parts of Central Asia. Their coats grow all year long to keep them warm during the cold winter months. Come spring, shepherds carefully comb the the goats, gathering the fibers from their soft thick undercoats.  The fibers are then sorted by hand to remove any coarse hairs or debris and to separate the longest and most desirable fibers from the shorter ones.  

    Why is cashmere yarn so good?

    One of the main reasons why cashmere yarn is so prized is its softness. The micron count of cashmere yarn typically ranges from 14 to 19 microns, with the finest quality cashmere yarn having a micron count of 14 or lower (for reference, superfine merino has a micron count of 18). The small diameter of the fibers means that cashmere yarn is incredibly soft and lightweight. This softness makes cashmere yarn perfect for creating garments and accessories that are comfortable and cozy to wear.

    Is cashmere yarn durable?

    Despite its softness, cashmere yarn is also surprisingly durable. When cared for properly, cashmere garments can last for many years.  Cashmere yarn is less prone to felting than other fibers. This is because cashmere fibers do not have the same type of scales that wool fibers do. As a result, cashmere is less likely to become matted or damaged when agitated in hot water. Because cashmere doesn't felt easily, your cashmere garments will stay looking beautiful for years to come.

    Are there different qualities of cashmere?

    Absolutely - just as with all fibers, there are different qualities available, and the quality can impact the durability of the finished garment.

    The quality of cashmere yarn is determined by a number of factors, including the length and diameter of the fibers.  Higher-quality cashmere fibers tend to be longer, finer, and more consistent in diameter, which helps improve the durability and performance of the finished product. Lower-quality cashmere fibers, on the other hand, are be shorter, coarser, and more prone to pilling, stretching, and shedding over time.

    Why is cashmere yarn so expensive? 

    Like all luxury goods, quality cashmere comes with a hefty price tag. Because the fibers are so fine, it takes a significant amount of cashmere fibers to create even a small amount of yarn. Most cashmere goats produce only about 4 ounces of cashmere fiber per year, so it takes several goats to produce enough fiber for just one sweater. Additionally, everything from the shepherding of the animals to the careful hand-combing, sorting and processing of the fibers also adds to the expense of producing the yarns.

    What is the best cashmere? 

    All quality cashmere fibers come from cashmere goats that live high in the mountains of Asia.  The quality of cashmere yarn has more to do with the spinning of the fiber into yarn.  The best quality cashmere yarn comes from Scotland and Italy.  I carry Clinton Hill Cashmere, which comes from Italy as well as Rowan Pure Cashmere which comes from Scotland. They are both lovely yarns, and you just have to knit with them to decide what you like best. 

    Is cashmere yarn worth the money?

    While most knitters will not use cashmere for every project, working with quality cashmere is an experience like no other. The finished garment is, of course, gorgeous to wear, but as all knitters know, it's about the process.  While it may be expensive, the investment in a high-quality cashmere yarn is well worth it if you're looking for an indulgent knitting experience and a finished garment you will love for a lifetime.

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