Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Classification: Hair fibre
General Characteristics: Luxuriously soft, with high napability and loft; provides natural light-weight insulation without bulk. Cashmere is extremely warm (in order to serve its original purpose of protecting goats from cold mountain temperatures.) Fibres are highly adaptable and are easily constructed into fine or thick yarns, and light to heavy-weight fabrics. Appropriate for all climates. A high moisture content allows insulation properties to change with the relative humidity in the air.
Source: The Cashmere (Kashmir) or down goat. From the fine, soft undercoat or underlayer of hair. The straighter and coarser outer coat is called guard hair.
Geographic Origin: From the high plateaus of Asia. Significant supplier countries are: China, Mongolia and Tibet. Today, little is supplied by the Kashmir State of India, from which its name is derived. The cashmere products of this area first attracted the attention of Europeans in the early 1800's.
Gathering Process: The specialty animal hair fibres are collected during molting seasons when the animals naturally shed their hairs. Goats molt during a several-week period in spring. In China and Mongolia, the down is removed by hand with a coarse comb. The animals are sheared in Iran, Afghanistan, New Zealand and Australia.
Annual Yield: Up to half a kilo of fibre per goat, with an average 150 gram of underdown.
Types of fibre: 1) Virgin -- New fibre that has not been processed in any way, or has been made into yarns, fabrics or garments for the first time. 2) Recycled -- Fibres reclaimed from scraps or fabrics that were previously woven or felted and may or may not have been used by the consumer.
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