A major concern that is voiced by myself and others repeatedly in this industry is the confusion of what cashmere is; and who/what has set the definition of what CASHMERE is or is not. Since I started on this journey to produce cashmere to the present time I have not seen a change in WHAT cashmere is from those who have defined it. What we have seen is more clarity in the definition from research in the USA, and Australia. For example; crimp, also called style or curvature. (I will call it curvature as this is what the testing facilities call it.)
Curvature has always been a factor in the definition of cashmere, now we have available to us a simple test to measure the curvature of our fiber, and studies have been done that have shown the cutoff point between cashmere and cashgora. This is great news, and we should all use this resource to help evaluate our fleece. Along this same line is the studies of resistance to compression and how it affects the finale feel of the product. These are interesting studies that challenge some of our beliefs about curvature. Is more curvature always better?
Sadly all too often I see goats that are producing a wonderful amount of fuzz being bought and sold as cashmere, but to the trained eye upon inspecting the fuzz it is a cashgora type fleece. This is great spinning fiber, but it is not cashmere! We must all do more to educate ourselves to what cashmere is and is not. It is a major disservice to the industry when goats that are producing something other than cashmere are sold as cashmere producing goats. I would encourage you to formulate a farm plan, to test your harvested fleece, and at the very least send your fleece in to an association sponsored show where it can be evaluated by someone with experience with cashmere fiber.
Please do be wary of shows that do not have experienced cashmere judges. For those of you that are new in this cashmere adventure be smart, ask for test results. Have a farm plan, educate yourself before you purchase goats. Talk to two or three established producers. You will find that we are willing to educate and help. I hope you will find a wealth of information to consider and to learn from in this issue. Mickey Nielsen
The Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute (CCMI)
Background and History
The Cashmere & Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute (CCMI) is an international trade association representing the interests of producers and manufacturers of camel hair and cashmere fiber, yarn, fabric and garments throughout the world. Formed in 1984 as the Cashmere & Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute of America, the Institute changed its name in 1990 to better reflect the international character of its membership and activities. Today, the Institute is the leading authority on domestic and international issues concerning these luxury fibers and advises on labeling, international standards, supply and market trends.
The goal of the Institute is to promote and protect the image and integrity of camel hair and cashmere textile products. This is accomplished through:
• Government relations
• Product testing
• Media relations
• Industry relations
CCMI represents the interest of members at both national and international levels and works with appropriate government bodies whose activities affect the industry.
CCMI monitors the marketplace for mislabeled camel hair or cashmere garments and provides a free fiber content testing service for CCMI members,
manufacturers and retailers to determine if products are accurately labeled. This service is not available to consumers.
CCMI actively works with trade and consumer media to communicate to the business community and general public about trends and issues facing the camel hair and cashmere industry and its products.
CCMI provides a forum for industry leaders world-wide to meet and discuss important issues and to identify workable solutions for the common good of the industry.
CCMI's staff offers professional consulting services and advice on issues specific to the camel hair and cashmere industries including government relations, international standards, supply and market trends.
Definition of Cashmere
The Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute defines cashmere as:
• The fine (dehaired) undercoat fibers produced by a Cashmere goat (Capra hircus laniger).
• The fiber is generally non-medullated and has a mean maximum diameter of 19 microns. The co-efficient of variation around the mean shall not exceed 24%. There can be no more than 3% (by weight) of cashmere fibers over 30 microns. (Reference IWTO Test Method 8-89).
The U.S. Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939, as amended, (U.S.C. 15 Section 68b(a)(6)) defines cashmere as:
1. (A) the fine (dehaired) undercoat fibers produced by a cashmere goat (capra hircus laniger);
2. (B) the average diameter of the fiber of such wool product not exceeding 19 microns; and
3. (C) containing not more than 3 percent (by weight) of cashmere fibers with average diameters that exceed 30 microns. The average fiber diameter may be subject to a coefficient of variation around the mean that shall not exceed 24 percent.
Mislabeling - The Key Concern
• CCMI came into existence to combat the influx of garments being sold in the USA claiming to be genuine cashmere, but in reality, were not.
• The problem of mislabeled cashmere has and continues to tarnish the reputation of the product itself, as well as the companies who make and sell the garments.
• Demand for cashmere continues to grow world-wide. As a result, demand for raw material continues to rise and so does the price.
• The increased competition and demand for fiber has resulted in increased product contamination. Sheep wool is being blended with dehaired cashmere and the fibers are being sold as 100% cashmere. These stocks are being sold to Chinese sweater mills as well to Western buyers. As a result, more mislabeled garments are expected to be found in retail stores.
• Cashmere is a rare and expensive luxury fiber and there is a great incentive for unscrupulous manufacturers and vendors to cheat on the amount of the fibers in a garment.
Consumer Fraud: What Can You Do?
• Become familiar with the real thing. Watch out for so-called bargains and look for genuine quality behind the label.
• When shopping for cashmere or cashmere blend garments, check the loop labels and hang tags for cashmere percentage. Sometimes retailers use sleeve hang tags that read "Cashmere" or Cashmere blend", but the garments only have 10% or less cashmere. Without a statement of actual fiber percentages, this is a violation of the Wool Products Labeling Act, enforced by Federal Trade Commission, and it is deceptive advertising.
If you suspect consumer fraud, please contact the Federal Trade Commission, your State Attorney General's office of Consumer Fraud or your local Better Business Bureau.***
Cashmere Fibre Crimp, Crimp Form and Fibre Curvature
Bruce A. McGregor, Primary Industries Research Victoria
Bruce A. McGregor (2007) "Cashmere Fibre Crimp, Crimp Form And Fibre Curvature", International Journal of Sheep and Wool Science: Vol. 55: No. 1, Paper 8, pp. 106-129.
Raw cashmere samples collected from animals in China, Iran and Australia were measured for crimp frequency, crimp form, fibre curvature and other attributes. Eleven different forms of cashmere fibre crimp including straight cashmere fibres were observed. Different cashmere crimp forms appear related to different origins of cashmere. For some origins (China, Australia) the crimp form was primarily of uniplanar sinusoidal form, while for other origins (Iran) the crimp form was primarily three dimensional. Fibre curvature was highly correlated to visually measured cashmere fibre crimp frequency. Multiple regression analysis showed that cashmere fibre crimp frequency was best predicted by objective fibre curvature measurement. There were different relationships between mean fibre diameter (MFD) and fibre curvature for cashmere of different origins. As total fibre curvature (fibre curvature x fibre length) increased, cashmere fibre length (mm/(MFD x MFD)) increased. Objective fibre curvature measurement enabled the rapid measurement of a fundamental property of cashmere fibre, the fibre crimp frequency. The predominant form of fibre crimping for cashmere derived from a particular origin together with the low rate of fibre crimping would explain the low resistance to compression of cashmere and the differences in resistance to compression of cashmere between different countries. The crimp frequency versus fibre curvature relationship for cashmere was quite strong even though it covered a different range of values that have been observed in wool. The results are placed into context with a brief review of the accepted science of wool fibre crimping, processing and fabric handle. ***
Softness Attributes of Australian Cashmere
Bruce McGregor, Attwood
Updated: January 2007
Cashmere is a luxury fibre regarded as being softer and more comfortable than other apparel fibres.
Cashmere is rare. Total cashmere production represents less than 0.01% of the textile market.
Processed cashmere is expensive. Specialized skills and equipment are required for processing cashmere.
For such an expensive textile raw material, surprisingly little objective information has been published on measurable attributes of cashmere in the form used by spinners.
This article discusses new information about the softness and other quality attributes of Australian cashmere. Comparisons are made between Australian cashmere and cashmere from traditional sources of supply.
Objective quality attributes of cashmere
The major quality attributes of raw cashmere fleece include: fibre diameter, freedom from fine medullated fibres, fibre length, fibre colour and freedom from contamination (vegetable fault, man made fibres).
Each of these quality attributes affects the speed of processing, processing yield, yarn and fabric quality. Most of these attributes are, or can be, objectively measured. There is little published information about many of the objective properties of Australian cashmere compared to the properties of traditional cashmere.
In the textbook on Textile Fibres von Bergen (1954) states “From time immemorial cashmere has been regarded as one of nature’s choicest products for its softness affords the wearer an extravagance of comfort and its superb soft texture brings to the garment all that may be desired in real elegance and distinction”. This is still the view of cashmere.
Softness, as it relates to textiles, means that a product yields to pressure or is easily deformed. The “handle” of a textile product is frequently equated with the softness of the textile.
While cashmere is regarded as one of the softest textile fibres, until recently there has been no reliable objective information on the measurement of softness in cashmere.
This article provides new objective information on the softness of cashmere.
Softness is a different property to prickle discomfort. Prickle discomfort can be evaluated using easily obtained measurements of fibre diameter distribution. This topic is discussed elsewhere in relation to cashmere (McGregor 1997). As a general rule, prickle discomfort is not an issue with Australian cashmere. Prickle discomfort can be reduced by lowering of the spinning fineness and the coefficient of variation of mean fibre diameter in Australian cashmere in order to produce finer processing fibre that will provide more comfortable handling textiles.
Samples from more than 140 lots of commercially dehaired cashmere and cashmere tops were obtained from manufacturers in Europe, Iran, China, Australia and other countries. Fibre classed as Cashgora by cashmere marketing agencies in Australia, New Zealand and the USA has been grouped together. Core samples taken from bales of raw cashmere prepared for sale by the Australian Cashmere Marketing Corporation (ACMC) were obtained.
Cashmere samples from a range of nutrition experiments and from samples collected from goats in various Asian countries were also studied.
Mean fibre diameter (MFD) and diameter distribution (coefficient of variation (CV(D), % of fibres coarser than 30 µm and that of cashgora samples from 17.8 to 22.7 µm increased and the incidence of medullated fibres (hair fibres) increased.
In white dehaired cashmere the median values for the medullated fibre were: medullated fibre diameter 32.3
The mean fibre curvature of dehaired cashmere was 61 degrees/mm with a range from 44 to 80 degrees/mm (Figure 1). This compared to Merino wool that ranged from 70 to 140 degrees/mm.
After adjustment for dehairing processor effect, cashmere from new origins had significantly lower fibre curvature than cashmere from Iran, East and Western Asia (Figure 1).
Cashgora samples had the lowest mean fibre curvature of 36 degrees/mm with a range from 24 to 46 degrees/mm.
Following adjustment for the effect of dehairing processor there was no overlap in the range of fibre curvature between cashgora and cashmere (Figure 1).
Figure 1 Distribution of the mean fibre diameter (MFD), fibre curvature and resistance to compression (Rc)
attributes of dehaired cashmere from different origins and cashgora, after adjustment for processor effect.
See legend for origin.
Why would cashmere from Australia have a lower fibre curvature? In Australian goats, cashmere fibre curvature was dependent on nutrition. Better fed goats grew more cashmere that was longer and had lower fibre curvature compared with poorly fed goats that grew less cashmere that was shorter and had higher fibre curvature (Figure 2). In both Australian and Chinese cashmere, finer cashmere and shorter cashmere had higher fibre curvature than coarser cashmere.
Figure 2. The relationship between cashmere production
of Australian cashmere goats and cashmere fibre curvature. Data points are for different nutrition treatments.
The results indicate that during a growing season only a certain number of crimps are produced. Thus if goats are poorly fed, the cashmere will be finer and more crimped.
Resistance to compression
Resistance to compression is the force required to compress a mass of fibre to a given volume. Reducing resistance to compression results in softer handle. In Merino wools, typical values range from 8 to 13 kPa.
The resistance to compression of the dehaired cashmere overlapped substantially between origin of cashmere. Iranian cashmere showed the highest median value and the largest variation (Figure 1).
Cashmere from Australia and other new origins had the lowest resistance to compression values recorded for cashmere.
Cashgora had significantly higher resistance to compression compared to new origin cashmere.
Increasing fibre curvature was strongly correlated with increasing resistance to compression.
It is possible to differentiate the cashmere produced in different regions of the world on the basis of the fibre attributes of the cashmere (Figure 1). By plotting any two of mean fibre diameter, fibre curvature and resistance to compression, cashmere from different producing regions segregate into distinct groupings.
It was possible to segregate cashgora from cashmere even though the finest cashgora has a similar fibre diameter to that of Iranian cashmere, as cashgora had a fibre curvature of less than 45 deg./mm and cashmere had fibre curvatures greater than 45 deg./mm.
As lower resistance to compression is related to softness of handle, then cashmere from Australia and other new origins of production has softer handle than cashmere from traditional origins of production.
The length of dehaired cashmere from new origins was up to 20% longer than that of cashmere from traditional origins (Figure 3).
As the mean fibre diameter of dehaired cashmere increased there was a correlated increase in the length of dehaired cashmere.
This data indicates that dehaired cashmere from Australia is longer and finer than cashmere from the origins traditionally used for worsted processing.
Figure 3. Box plots of the fibre length of dehaired
cashmere from different origins and dehaired cashgora
showing the median, upper and lower quartiles with outliers.
Bundle tenacity and extension
The bundle strength of tops is rated as the third most important fibre property after mean fibre diameter and fibre length, in terms of its importance with respect to yarn strength and the speed of processing operations.
In the dehairing of cashmere, repeated mechanical action results in fibre breakage. As a consequence, most dehaired cashmere is only of sufficient length to be spun on the woollen system. Higher tenacity and more extensible fibres result in less fibre breakage and the potential use of the fibre in the worsted spinning system.
The data show that cashmere from Australia and cashgora have superior bundle tenacity and bundle extension (Figure 4) than cashmere from Iran, Western Asia and China.
Figure 4. Box plots of bundle extension of dehaired cashmere from different origins and dehaired cashgora (CG) showing the median, upper and lower quartiles and outliers (IR = Iran, WA = Western Asia, CH = China, CA = Central Asia, AU = Australia, US = United States of America).
The variation of lightness and yellowness of white cashmere was large and of commercial significance for dyers (Figure 5).
The range in lightness of white samples between origins was similar. The within origin range in lightness and yellowness of “white” commercial lots was of commercial significance.
Figure 5. Box plots of lightness and yellowness of dehaired white cashmere from different origins and dehaired white cashgora after adjustment for processor effect.
Commercial bales of Australian cashmere have relatively low levels of natural extraneous matter compared with traditional supplies from China. The composition of typical raw commercial main line Australian cashmere can be summarised as: guard hair 44.3%, cashmere 28.5%, moisture 17%, suint 4.2%, grease 3.0%, soil 2%, vegetable matter 0.9%, other impurities
Prediction of Cashmere Style Using Objective Fiber Measurements
C.J. Lupton, F. A. Pfeiffer, and A.R. Dooling
Notice from editor: this not the complete report (as I only have it in hard copy, can’t cut and paste). If you would like a hard copy please do ask and it will be mailed to you.
Cashmere style is an ill-defined but important characteristic of raw cashmere. Early attempts to define style invariably resulted in some objections from one segment of the industry or another. A definition of “good style” that has received some degree of acceptance in the U.S. is as follows: Cashmere of good style has irregular crimp of relatively small magnitude and high frequency that does not lie in two dimensions but rather changes directions at irregular intervals along the length of individual fibers. (Lupton,1991). Straight fibers or those containing bold (mohair-like) or two-dimensional crimp (like some fine wools) are considered to have poor style….
Cashmere style is considered to be important by processors for several reasons: first, it distinguishes cashmere from other fine fibers; secondly, it affects the efficiency of the dehairing process and other mechanical processes up to spinning; and thirdly, it affects the hand (feel) of the finished fabric. Since cashmere goats were introduced into the U.S. in 1989, assessment of cashmere style has also been influenced (to varying degrees) by amount of luster in the down fibers, fleece color, down yield, average fiber diameter, and length of guard hair and down fibers. Intensive training is required for developing the ability to consistently and accurately assess style. Regular practice using fleeces of established style score is necessary for the classer to retain the acquired skill. There has been a need to develop a method for objectively measuring cashmere style….
If the significant relationship between cashmere style score and fiber curvature holds true for cashmere classers, then we will have discovered a simple, objective, potentially inexpensive, and likely a more consistent way to estimate cashmere style score. The average fiber curvature (AFC) measurement should be inexpensive because it can be obtained concurrently with the down average fiber diameter (AFD) measurement using the optical fibre diameter analyser (OFDA) while incurring no extra cost. Such a measurement would be very useful to the many cashmere breeders who have not undergone the intensive training required to become a cashmere classer or who have undergone the training but failed to develop or maintain the necessary skill.***
Dr. Chris Lupton
Professor, Animal Fiber Research
Texas A & M University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, San Angelo
(325) 653-4576, Extension 234
Job Tasks: Research with Wool, Mohair, and Cashmere and other animal fibers.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR BEFORE YOU BUY
1. Crimp/style/curvature: Crimp defines cashmere
2. Length: Without length you have nothing.
3. Definition: Makes dehairing possible
4. Handle: I know it when I feel it (oh so soft)
5. Lack of Luster: Avoids angora infusion
6. Micron: Above qualities; the micron will follow.
7. Breeding: Buy what you see not pedigree