Cashmere Yesterday and Today
It was during Roman times when cashmere gained its ‘luxurious’ reputation. Then later, the wife of Napoleon III, Empress Eugenie, helped popularized this type of wool in France with her well known ‘ring shawl’. This garment got its name because it wove through her wedding ring when worn.
In the 19th Century, the primary site of the manufacturing of cashmere moved to Scotland due to an advancement in technology. Joseph Dawson was the first to discover a mechanical way to separate the fine fibres in a goat’s fleece from the coarse ones.
In today’s day and age, cashmere production has returned to its origin: China. With improved methods and quality assurance, China has become the world’s major source of high quality cashmere garments.
However, despite various technologies available today, it is thought that the best knitwear is handmade. Fibres are gathered from combing goats in the spring when they shed their fine coat after the cold winter. These fleeces are then washed, dyed and spun. After this process, the wool is knitted into garments by hand.
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Each knitting frame is operated by hand until the finished product is produced. Due to the nature of cashmere, the person hand knitting this material must pay close attention to the work they are creating. Small factors can lead to a misshapen final product if not monitored closely and carefully such as yarn tension and garment shape.
Be it a or gloves, the consumer must choose what they prefer. The finished handmade product, generated from tedious traditional methods, is more expensive despite its remarkable resemblance to its manufactured rival. Whether a is made by machine or by hand, cashmere products continue to be prizes worn by their owners.