MTE Living: Silk Bedlinen, Cashmere and Fine Cotton.



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The History and manufacture of Cashmere Ireland

History of Cashmere

Cashmere wool is one of the most luxurious, softest and purist textiles in the world. It comes from speciality hair fibre of the Kashmir goat.
Cashmere production is found predominately in the high plateaus of Asia, with the most significant supplying countries being that of China, Mongolia and Tibet. Today, little is supplied by the Kashmir Province India, from which its name is derived. The cashmere products of this area first attracted the attention of Europeans in the early 1800s.

Different breeds of the goat and the environment (phenotype) in which they were raised; produce different fibre diameters, which results ultimately in the grading of the cashmere. Goats raised under less than optimum conditions can exhibit finer fibre than they would otherwise, as is the case in China, where they are underfed. This explains why the softest fibres come from the goat herds found at high altitudes on mountains, which normally aren’t abundantly vegetated. Goats exposed to a greater nutritional level of food, results in the production of a coarser guard hair, straighter, but still luxurious.

At MTE Living we only use the best and the finest materials we can acquire, all adding to the quality and durability of our products.



Cashmere Wool Production

Below I have outlined the primary steps to cashmere production

Collection:

The special animal hair fibres are collected during molting seasons when the animals naturally shed their hairs, this takes place in the spring time and lasts for a few weeks. In China and Mongolia, this down is removed by hand combing or shearing.

Sorting, Scouring:

After sorting, the fibre is washed to remove dirt, grease and any vegetable matter gathered in the collection process. Shearing will reduce the length of the fibre by approximately 1/4 inch. The longer fibres are found on the neck and mid area, while the shorter fibres are found on the belly. The midside fibre if the superior, as it’s finer, crimpier and shorter. All of the fibre sorting and removing of the guard hairs is carried out by professional sorters using the naked eye, all of which requires time and, critically, a trained eye.

Dehairing:

The scoured material is then dehaired. This step removes vegetable matter, dandruff and the coarse outer guard hair. At the end of this process, the cashmere is ready to be spun into yarns for weaving. The longer fibres are sent to the spinners for manufacture into fine, soft yarns and the shorter fibres are sent to be blended with silk or wool.
Martina Toner Egan - Silk bedlinen, Mongolian cashmere and Fine cotton. © MTE Living 2014  
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