Cashmere and how to wash your cashmere garment
Watercolour paintings of Cashmere Goats by Lucy Erridge
You can see our own cashmere range designed by Lucy Erridge, knitwear designer, knitted in Ireland here https://lucyerridge.com/product-category/cashmere-collection/
Information about cashmere – Cashmere goats came originally from Kashmir. There are two layers of hair on the goat – an outer harsh layer – the guard layer – which protects the goat from the weather and the soft under layer which provides the warmth – they originally lived where temps reached -30 C in the Himalayas.
The guard hair is removed when sorting the fibres before spinning
Two methods of collection are shearing or combing.
The hair is like our own hair but 6 times finer – the dense fibres keep in the heat but are breathable
One goat will yield about 200 gms of fleece compared to a sheep yielding 3 kilos- so it can take up to 3 goats to provide enough wool for a sweater.
The hair is collected once a year.
Properties – warm, elastic (Garment keeps its shape) durable and softens over time – gets fluffier and more lustrous after washing
Care of cashmere garments – Always fold. Store in a cotton bag if you are prone to moths.
Pilling – this is where small balls of the hairs appear on the surface of the knit. It happens to most knits in a small way. These happen when the short hairs in the yarn come to the surface – all knits in natural fibres will do this but if it is a good quality it should be fairly limited. The degree to which it happens depends on two things – the quality of the materials and friction. If you wear a shoulder bag the rubbing if the strap may cause this too, so see where the pilling occurs. Some people use brushes and tools to remove the balls but I prefer to use cellotape – just take a short piece and press gently on the area, don’t rub, and lift – don’t press hard as you only want to lift off the little balls – not disturb the whole surface.
Washing – these look like a very long set of instructions but I am giving as much detail as possible – I find it is a very quick job once you have the tools to do it planned out. Cashmere is so light it’s easy to manipulate and your cashmere gets softer and more gorgeous when you wash it.
Best to wash by hand – the whole idea is to squeeze rather than rub or twist. Movement, warm water and detergent cause felting so you need to limit these three factors. Twisting stretches the garment and pulls it out of shape.
How often depends whether you wear the cashmere next to your skin or over a top.
Use a hand wash detergent or a hair shampoo – after all cashmere is a type of hair.
Fill a clean sink with luke warm water and add shampoo/detergent and mix.
Lower in the garment and let soak through for 5 mins, then squeeze the water in and out of the garment never wring or twist.
Pay attention to cuffs and areas that might be more stained but don’t rub.
When washed remove water and squeeze out excess but press on the garment don’t wring.
Fill sink with luke warm water as before and squeeze you can repeat this to remove all washing agent.
When the water has emptied from the sink push down on the garment and press against the side of the sink but still don’t wring. It has been described as the same as needing dough.
When you have removed as much water as you can, lay a towel on a flat surface. Lay out the garment in the shape it should be as if laying it out to fold it and roll the towel up from one edge so that the garment is rolled up inside the towel . Now squeeze again but don’t wring.
Unroll the towel. Take a second dry towel and spread out the garment and make sure it is in the correct shape paying attention to the front edges, the hems and cuffs. Lay over a dryer or similar and leave to dry. If the water gathers- say at the cuffs- you can fold up the towel to squeeze the excess away. Let the garment air dry – never use the dryer.
When it feels dry lift from the towel and give is a very gentle shake – you can put somewhere that it can completely dry off – say the airing cupboard – but keep it as flat as possible.
If it needs to be ironed use the steam iron only and lay flat making sure the edges are not stretched and steam from 5 cms away from surface, if you have a persistent crease you can use the steam iron through a cloth on the inside of the garment and on a cool temp put try to press as little as possible.