Production - from wool to cloth
The numerous steps to the finished product
Collection: cashmere wool is a rare commodity
The raw material for cashmere wool is provided by cashmere goats, which are grown in the cold, dry, and high flatlands of China and Mongolia. Only the soft undercoat (duvet) is used, as the coarser outer coat (awn) of the goat is not suitable for fine fabrics. The production of wool takes place in the mountains during the summer, as the animals descend from the higher, colder regions. On the one hand, fleece - which can be collected- is lost by animals as these rub against bushes or rocks. On the other hand, the undercoat is combed out. Each animal yields approx. 120-130 grams per year. Now, since there are only an estimated 104 million cashmere goats, there can only be 8,000 tons per year on the market. This corresponds to approximately 0.014% of global fibre consumption.
Washing and sorting: visual inspection and classification
The hair is washed several times with rice starch prior to processing, which is considered an essential part of the process; it loses half its weight upon washing.
The dirt and top coat is manually removed from the collected hairs and an initial colour sorting is performed. The raw wool is brought to market for weavers to buy. Weavers will wash and sort the fibres by length, ranging between 40 and 90 cm, wherein the shortest fibres are the finest. Awn hairs are removed as far as possible, their residual percentage is usually between 0.2 and 2%.
Spinning: The fine hairs of the cashmere goat are spun into fine yarns.
From the carefully combed wool, spinners produce threads of the length of the piece to be woven.
Yarn spinning yields different qualities. The finest cashmere yarns are the so-called "two ply" yarns. This is only possible because only the very thinnest of threads are used. Differences arise from the subsequent use of the yarns as weft or warp, whereby the latter must be a little tighter.
Dyeing: The colour palette of cashmere products has been historically very broad.
The fine downy hair shows two colours, white and ash gray. The white hair can be dyed, so it achieves the highest prices. If the darker hair is discoloured, the thread loses a little bit of elasticity. Even though yarn dyeing can have a slight influence on the softness of the resulting fabrics, differences are usually minimal. Indian dyers can produce up to 64 true colours. The collared yarn is used to generate the pattern. Warp and weft yarn remain white for the base. The colours of cashmere products have always been known for their brilliance, a true example of excellent craftsmanship.
Weaving: Weaving is performed using handlooms and different weave types.
In Nepal, cashmere shawls are still weaved using hand looms. Until the 19th Century, two types of weaves were primarily used: twill weaving and tapestry weaving, which comes from carpet manufacturing. Today, further weave types are applied, for example, to attain a double-face look with exclusive fabrics. These are two-layer fabrics, which are woven both on their upper and lower sides. The weave type is also dependent on whether the cloth will be patterned or otherwise. On the other hand, the use of silk for the warp threads offers interesting possibilities to produce original, fancy cloth edges or fringes. Cloths with twisted fringes must undergo a complex drilling and knotting process after weaving.
Finally, cashmere cloths are cleaned, ironed and checked for errors, which are repaired by hand if required.
The goods are then packed and shipped via air to Germany, where our customs team awaits for them.
Source: Merck's goods encyclopedia, volume 21, 3rd Edition, Leipzig 1884, 526th Page