Saturday, June 1, 2013

A cashmere sweater is one of the Top 10 items every woman should have in her wardrobe.


Let me explain what makes cashmere, such a versatile and classic item, that no woman should live without  Let's start from the beginning, with cashmere wool:

Cashmere wool - is the most luxurious wool in the world. It has always been popular among the people of the region of the Himalayas, but remained a sought after luxury by the foreign elites and royalties for centuries. This glorious wool has been prized for its warmth, lightness and durability for centuries.
In the late 1700's cashmere wool started to be mechanically processed in Europe, ever since then, cashmere wool has been converted into all kinds of textiles, and incorporated into High Fashion, as we now know it. 
Cashmere wool is soft, strong and light, it has a fine texture and provides excellent insulation. 

Where does it come from?

Cashmere wool is obtained from the mountain goat, the "Cashmere" goat, native of the Himalayas in Nepal, Pakistan and Northern India.
The "cashmere" (derived from an old spelling of the name "Kashmir" a region of the Himalayas) goats are able to survive with scarce vegetation and in extremely cold climates. These amazingly strong goats are blessed with the softest and strongest hair, thanks to which they can remain warm even during harsh weather conditions.

How is it processed?

Cashmere goats produce a double fleece, the first one consists of a fine, soft undercoat of thin hair which is mingled with the second "layer", a coarser and straighter outer coating of hair. For cashmere wool, only the fine underdown hair is used, therefore in order to be processed further, it must be de-haired. The mechanicial process of de-hairing, separates the coarse hairs from the fine hair and it is an arduous task. After the fibers have been de-haired, and only the soft thin undercoat remains, the "cashmere" is ready to be dyed, converted into yarn, and then into fabrics and garments. 

Why do people love Cashmere Wool?

  • Cashmere wool is silky in texture, soft, extremely light in weight, and keeps skin warm.  
  • Ideal for wearing it next to the skin as it is so delicate and soft to touch, that feels like it  is caressing your whole body.
  • Cashmere is great because although it is warm, it is a great insulator, meaning it is season-less and can be worn during Spring and Autumn, and even during a cool Summer night!.
  • You can dress it up or down. Pair it with denim for a casual look, or silk pants or full skirts,  for partying. I love this combination of cashmere sweaters and big, bold long full skirts!
  • The yarn is also so versatile that it can be knit into hats, scarves, throws, gloves, wraps, ponchos, it can be knit in all kinds of stitches and textures, to make all kinds of accessories. 

How to buy Cashmere? 

If you are at a store, check for the feel with your hands. If you are buying online, check that the products are 100% cashmere. You can also get beautiful cashmere-silk blends. And remember 100 % cashmere is always more expensive!
All the items you see featured on this post were made with 100 % cashmere, the Italian made leather gloves in full colors you see below have 100% cashmere lining inside. Click on any of the pictures if you would like more information on each item!
Because of it perfect combination of lightness and warmth, Cashmere wool has no competition.

And finally...

How do you care for Cashmere?

As with all things valuable, treat with care and respect! Because cashmere wool is so fine and soft, it has a tendency to shrink and misshapen.
  • Washing cashmere by hand turned inside out in lukewarm water. 
  • Put some squirts of wool shampoo or detergent in a wash basin, fill it with lukewarm or tepid water and let your cashmere sit for about one hour, don't wring it, just press it against the basin and lay it flat on a towel to dry. 
  • Check the labels, sometimes it says dry clean only, but it can be hand-washed as stated above.
  • Don't iron it, and don't use the dryer. You can use a steamer. 
  • And remember don't hang sweaters! They get bigger, distorted, and marked at the shoulders.

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