Cashmere wool

Cashmere wool

Cashmere wool, usually simply known as cashmere, and sometimes known as Pashmina, is a fiber obtained from the Cashmere goat. The word "cashmere" derives from an archaic spelling of "Kashmir".

Cashmere wool is fine in texture, and it is also strong, light, and soft; when it is made into garments, they are extremely warm to wear, much warmer than the equivalent weight in sheep's wool.


The U.S. Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939, as amended, (U.S.C. 15 Section 68b(a)(6)) defines cashmere as the fine (dehaired) undercoat fibers produced by a cashmere goat ("Capra hircus laniger") with an average diameter of the fibers not exceeding 19 microns and containing not more than 3 percent (by weight) of cashmere fibers with average diameters that exceed 30 microns. The Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute have added the requirement that the coefficient of variation around the mean shall not exceed 24%. [ cite web
title = Definition of Cashmere
| publisher = Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute
accessdate = 2008-07-22

Cashmere is characterized by its soft fibers. It is noted as providing a natural light-weight insulation without bulk. Fibers are highly adaptable and are easily constructed into fine or thick yarns, and light to heavy-weight fabrics.

Natural colors

The original undyed or natural colors of cashmere wool are various shades of grey, brown and white.

Source of the fibre

Cashmere wool fiber for clothing and other textile articles is obtained from the Cashmere domestic goat. The goat ("Capra hircus laniger") is a mammal belonging to the subfamily Caprinae of the family Bovidae. The goats produce a double fleece consisting of the fine, soft undercoat or underdown of hair mingled with a straighter and much coarser outer coating of hair called guard hair. In order for the fine under down to be sold and processed further, it must first be de-haired. De-hairing is a mechanical process that separates the coarse hairs from the fine hair and after de-hairing the resulting "cashmere" is ready to be dyed and converted into yarn, fabrics and garments.


Cashmere is collected during the spring moulting season when the goats naturally shed their winter coat. In the Northern Hemisphere the goats moult over a period beginning as early as March and as late as May.

In some regions, the mixed mass of down and coarse hair is removed by hand with a coarse comb that pulls tufts of fiber from the animal as the comb is raked through the fleece. The collected fiber then has a higher yield of pure cashmere after the fiber has been washed and dehaired. The long, coarse guard hair is then typically clipped from the animal and is often used for brushes, interlinings and other non-apparel uses. Animals in Iran, Afghanistan, New Zealand and Australia are typically shorn of their fleece, resulting in a higher coarse hair content and lower pure cashmere yield. In America, the most popular method is combing. The process takes up to two weeks but, with a trained eye for when the fiber is releasing, sometimes it is possible to comb the fibers out in about a week.


China has become the largest producer of raw cashmere and their clip is estimated at 10,000 metric tons per year (hair in). Mongolia produces somewhat more than 3,000 tons (hair in), while India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and Central Asian Republics produce significant but lesser amounts. The annual world clip is estimated to be between 15,000 and 20,000 tons (hair in). "Pure cashmere", resulting from removing animal grease, dirt and coarse hairs from the fleece, is estimated at about 6,500 tons. It is estimated that on average yearly production per goat is 150 grams.

Pure cashmere can be dyed and spun into yarns and knit into jumpers, hats, gloves, socks and other clothing, or woven into fabrics then cut and assembled into garments such as outer coats, jackets, pants, pajamas, scarves, blankets and other items. Fabric and garment producers in Italy, Scotland, England and Japan have long been known as market leaders.

In the US, the town of Uxbridge was an incubator for the cashmere wool industry. It had the first power looms for woolens and the first manufacture of "satinets". Capron Mill had the first power looms, in 1820. It burned on July 21, 2007, in the spectacular Bernat Mill fire.

Types of fiber

*Raw — fiber that has not been processed and is essentially straight from the animal

*Processed — fiber that has been through the processes of de-hairing, washing, carding, and is ready either to spin or to knit/crochet/weave

*Virgin — new fiber which has been made into yarns, fabrics or garments for the first time

*Recycled — fibers reclaimed from scraps or fabrics that were previously woven or felted, and which may or may not have been previously used by the consumer.


The fiber is also known as "pashm" or "pashmina" for its use in the handmade shawls of Kashmir, which borders India and Pakistan. [Encyclopedia Britannica (2008). "cashmere".] The woolen shawls find written mention between 3rd century BC and the 11th century AD.Encyclopedia Britannica (2008). "kashmir shawl".] However, the founder of the cashmere wool industry is traditionally held to be the 15th century ruler of Kashmir, Zayn-ul-Abidin, who introduced weavers from Turkestan.

In the 18th and early 19thcentury Kashmir (then called Cashmere by the English), had a thriving industry producing shawls from goat down imported from Tibet and Tartary through Ladakh. The down trade was controlled by treaties signed as a result of previous warscite book
author = James Bell
title = A System of Geography Popular and Scientific or a Physical, Political and Statistical Account of the World and it's Various Divisions
publisher = A Fullarton and Co
year = 1829
page = 143
url =,M1
] . The shawls where introduced into Western Europe when the General in Chief of the French campaign in Egypt (1799-1802) sent one to Paris. The shawls arrival is said to have created an immediate sensation and plans were put in place to start manufacturing the product in Francecite book
author = George Ripley and Charles A Dana
title = The New American Cyclopedia Volume IV
publisher = D. Appleton
year = 1861
page = 514
url =,M1
] .

Trading in Commercial quantities of raw cashmere between Asia and Europe began with Valerie Audresset SA, Louviers, France claiming to be the first European company to commercially spin cashmere cite paper
author = Bruce Allan McGregor
title = Australian Cashmere Attributes and Processing
date = 2002
publisher = Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
page = 10
url =
] .The down was imported from Tibet through Kasan the capital of the Russian province Volga and was used in France to create imitation woven shawls, unlike the Kashmir shawls the French shawls had a different pattern on either side . The imported cashmere was spread out on large sieves and beaten with sticks to open the fibres and clear away the dirt. After opening the cashmere was washed and children removed the course hair. The down was then carded and combed using the same methods used for worsted spinning cite book
author = W. Newton
title = The London Journal of Arts and Sciences and Repertory of Arts And Sciences and Repertort of Patent Inventions
publisher = Sherwood,Gilbert,and Piper
year = 1836
page = 423
url =,M1
] .

In 1819 several Tibetan and Tartary cross goats where imported into France by Mr M. Jaubert under the auspices of the French government and at the expense of Mr Ternaux. Mr Edward Riley (nephew of Alexander Riley) saw the herd in 1828 and described it as a mixture of colors from brown to white, covered with course hair with an average of three ounces (84 grams) of down underneath the hair. Mr Riley also saw Mr M. Polonceau's herd, Mr Polonceau selected from the Ternaux herd and crossed his animals with a selected fine Angoras buck. In 1831 Mr Riley went back to France and purchased ten females in kid and two bucks from Mr Polonceau and sent them to Australia, at the time the average production of the Polonceau herd was 16 ounces (500 grams) of down.cite book
last = Gilroy
first = Clinton
title = The Art of Weaving, by Hand and by Power: With an Introductory Account of Its Rise and Progress...
publisher = George D. Baldwin
date = 1844
location = New York
pages = 270-271
url =
] .

By 1830 the weaving of cashmere shawls using yarn produced in France had become an important Scottish industry and the Scottish Board of Trustees for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufactures offered a 300 Pound Sterling reward to the first person who could spin cashmere in Scotland based on the French system. Captain Charles Stuart Cochrane collected the required information while in Paris and received a Scottish patent for the process in 1831. In the autumn of 1831 the patent was sold to Henry Houldsworth and sons of Glasgow. In 1832 Henry Houldsworth and sons commenced the manufacture of yarn and in 1833 received the rewardcite book
author = The Ministers of the respective parishes
title = The New Statistical account of Scotland Volume VI
publisher = William Blackwood & sons Edinburgh and London
year = 1854
page = 168
url =
] .

Dawson International claim to have invented the first commercial dehairing machine in 1890 and from 1906 they purchased cashmere from China, but were restricted to purchasing fiber from Beijing and Tianjing until 1978. In 1978 trade was liberalised and Dawson International began buying cashmere from many provinces.

See also

* Cashmere goat
* Cashmere fabrics


External links

* [ The Cashmere & Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute]
* [ The Australian Cashmere Growers Association]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cashmere — may refer to: * Kashmir, a territory between India and Pakistan ** Cashmere wool, wool from the Cashmere goat * Cashmere, New Zealand, a suburb of Christchurch, New Zealand * Cashmere, Queensland, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia * Cashmere,… …   Wikipedia

  • Cashmere goat — Cashmere is the fine soft downy winter undercoat found on many goats. This undercoat grows as the day length shortens and is associated with an outer coat of coarse hair, which is present all the year and is called Guard Hair. Most common goat… …   Wikipedia

  • Wool — is the fiber derived from the specialized skin cells, called follicles, [Australian Wool Corporation, Australian Wool Classing, Raw Wool Services, 1990] of animals in the Caprinae family, principally sheep, but the hair of certain species of… …   Wikipedia

  • cashmere — 1680s, shawl made of cashmere wool, from the old spelling of KASHMIR (Cf. Kashmir), Himalayan kingdom where wool was obtained from long haired goats. As a name for this kind of woolen fabric, favored for shawls, etc., it is attested from 1822 …   Etymology dictionary

  • Wool (disambiguation) — Wool is the fibre commonly produced from sheepWool (the fiber) refers to one of the following: *Alpaca wool, derived from fur of alpacas *Angora wool, derived from fur of rabbits *Cashmere wool, derived from fur of goats *Cotton wool, derived… …   Wikipedia

  • cashmere goat — noun Date: 1850 an Indian goat raised especially for its undercoat of fine soft wool that constitutes the cashmere wool of commerce …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Cashmere goat — noun Himalayan goat having a silky undercoat highly prized as cashmere wool • Syn: ↑Kashmir goat • Hypernyms: ↑domestic goat, ↑Capra hircus …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cashmere — Cash mere, n. 1. A rich stuff for shawls, scarfs, etc., originally made in Cashmere from the soft wool found beneath the hair of the goats of Cashmere, Tibet, and the Himalayas. Some cashmere, of fine quality, is richly embroidered for sale to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cashmere shawl — Cashmere Cash mere, n. 1. A rich stuff for shawls, scarfs, etc., originally made in Cashmere from the soft wool found beneath the hair of the goats of Cashmere, Tibet, and the Himalayas. Some cashmere, of fine quality, is richly embroidered for… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cashmere fabrics — Cashmere vs. PashminaCashmere and pashmina originate from the same source.Cashmere and pashmina are derived from the pashm goat or Capra Hircus as it is known in Latin.This goat makes its habitat in the high altitudes of the Himalayan mountain… …   Wikipedia