Wool and cashmere keep you warm and comfortable during cold days. But like many people, you probably wonder about their differences for many reasons, especially if you are looking for a cozy, soft, warm, comfortable fabric. If you do, it is more than ideal speculation, as their texture, durability, and production differences can affect how well each fabric functions.
Differences Between Wool and Cashmere
In a nutshell, these are the major differences between wool and cashmere:
- Cashmere is better at trapping heat without adding extra weight or heaviness to the fabrics than wool.
- The wool comes from sheep, while cashmere comes from a goat.
- Cashmere has three times the insulating properties as sheep’s wool.
- Cashmere is warmer and smoother than wool.
Wool vs. Cashmere: Production Processes
Wool and cashmere have similar production methods, but their material source has one significant difference.
Wool is the soft, curly, fine hair forming the coat of a sheep, goat, or a similar animal. A farmer or a good shearer carefully shears and prepares them for making yarn. Transforming wool from the fine coat on an animal to the luxurious fabric everybody desires could be a long and delicate process.
The first step is shearing the sheep. Farmers or professional shearers remove the hair from the sheep using an electric tool that looks like a razor to remove the sheep’s fleece or coat in one piece. Don’t be appalled, as this process doesn’t harm the sheep. On the contrary, shearing benefits the sheep by leaving them with a thin coat for the summer. This process of shearing their coat is important because, without that, their fleece will overgrow.
After shearing the fleece or wool, the farmers remove dirt and impurities using various products, including lanolin, which ironically comes from sheep. The wool then goes through carding, which involves pulling the wool through fine metal teeth. Carding helps smoothen and soften the wool more since wool is naturally curly. Fortunately, improvements in technology have enabled today’s manufacturers to carry out this process more quickly and effectively.
The process goes through spinning, where a wheel is used to spin two to five strands of wool together. The wool goes through weaving and knitting, although some people buy the yarn without knitting or weaving for handmade scarves or other products. Textile workers can conclude by dyeing the wool, which is quite easy as wool is very absorbent.
Cashmere, also known as cashmere wool, is derived from Kashmir, pashmina, and other breeds. These types of goats live mainly in China and Mongolia. They produce a double fleece consisting of a fine, soft undercoat of hair with a straighter and coarser outer coating of hair called the guard hair. Cashmere wool is collected during spring when the goats naturally shed their coat. The fiber obtained from cashmere goats is divided into different quality ranges based on color, thickness, and length.
Farmers shear fully-coated goats to obtain the fur for the production of cashmere. After shearing, they clean the furs to remove dirt and impurities, then comb and card them into straight lines and light fiber groups. These carded fibers are spun using a spinning machine to twist the fiber to make yarn, and it is then cleaned again and dyed.
The yarn, at this point, is woven into textile products and may be treated with flame retardant or other treatment as the final stage of the production. Textile manufacturers knit them into sweaters, gloves, jackets, trousers, and other items.
The Texture of Wool vs Cashmere
All fabrics have their unique feel, and wool and cashmere are no exception. Despite similar production methods, cashmere and wool have different textures, affecting their suitability.
Before wool passes through its production processes, it is often a bit oily, but after the production stage is complete, it becomes strong but soft to wear. It can also be a bit itchy at times, but it will keep you warm, and since it is often very lightweight, it will not weigh you down. In some cases, the wool is treated specially to remove the itchiness and make it easy to wash without shrinking; It also feels hairy and fuzzy.
Some say cashmere feels soft like a baby’s bottom, warm, feathery light, and is considered far less itchy to the skin than wool. A good cashmere fabric will pill a little, but its high quality will keep you warm against cold. In all, the texture of cashmere depends on the grade of the fabric. The different types of cashmere fabric are cashmere wool, pashmina wool, grade C cashmere, grade B cashmere, and Grade A cashmere.
Other Interesting Properties of Wool and Cashmere
Wool is lightweight, soft, and breathable. Another feature of wool is that it has tenacity, elasticity, resilience, and a high level of UV protection. It has low heat conductivity, which makes it ideal for cold weather. Wool is also naturally crimped. However, high temperature weakens its fiber and makes it lose color.
Wool can absorb up to 50 percent of its weight and bear up to 20 percent without getting drenched. It is also highly durable and does not have problems returning to its original shape after washing and hanging. Wool is highly elastic and has a high resistance to shrinkage. It is also biodegradable, renewable, stain-resistant, and odor resistant. All of which makes wool an interesting and luxurious fabric in your collection.
Cashmere has high breathability and moisture-wicking abilities; it has a very soft-silken finish and is wonderfully lightweight. The natural fiber is usually white, black, brown, or grey but textile workers often dye them into other colors. Cashmere products are also flame retardant, unsafe and non-allergic.
Which is Warmer Cashmere or Wool?
Cashmere and wool are both warm fabrics, but cashmere is considered to be warmer due to its insulating properties. Cashmere fibers are finer and lighter than wool fibers, but they are also stronger and retain more air, which provides better insulation.
However, the warmth of wool or cashmere depends on the thickness and weight of the fabric, as well as the weave and type of yarn used. Both wool and cashmere can be excellent choices for warmth, and the best option for you will depend on your personal needs.
Is Cashmere More Expensive than Wool?
Cashmere is generally more expensive than wool. This is because cashmere is a luxury fiber that comes from the undercoat of cashmere goats, and the production process is more time-consuming and labor-intensive than wool production. Moreover, cashmere goats only produce a limited amount of fibers each year, which contributes to the higher cost of cashmere.
The higher cost of cashmere is also due to its unique properties, such as its softness, lightness, and warmth, which make it a highly sought-after material for high-end clothing and accessories. However, prices can vary widely depending on the quality and source of the wool or cashmere, and the specific product being made.
Some Uses and Applications of Wool and Cashmere
There are many uses for wool and cashmere, making them very important.
Wool is used for making beds and bedding, quilts and blankets because it is a good regulator of body temperature, helping you to sleep more comfortably. It helps you to keep cool when it is hot and warm. It is also used to make clothes, hats, mufflers, cardigans, and socks because of its resilience, elasticity, and ability to return to its normal shape.
Due to their good insulator properties, they are used in making foam and fiberglass. Wool is also used for products ranging from upholstery to soft furnishings in homes, offices, hotels, and other places. Some people prefer wool for knitting, felting, and crocheting to make items like floor mats, table mats, and home items.
Cashmere products are used to make clothes, accessories, and household items. Sweaters, hats, socks, and other clothes are also made from cashmere. They are also woven into fabrics to make outer coats, jackets, pajamas, high-quality knitwear, and hosiery. Cashmere makes grain bags, ropes, blankets, tents, and curtains.
Care and maintenance
Since wool can shrink, pill, and become distorted, it is usually wise to treat it carefully.
- Minimize the frequency of washing wool clothes by wearing them carefully.
- Wash in the shortest, gentlest cycle.
- Never dry wool in a machine, but flat dry it because direct heat damages wool fabric. Minor wrinkles can disappear by hanging in the bathroom while you bathe.
- Since heat and water weaken wool, it is not advisable to use a normal washing machine.
Cashmere fabrics also need special care and maintenance.
- It is preferable to handwash cashmere fabric as machine washing stiffens it.
- Wash with cold water and preferably with baby shampoo or Woolite.
- Wash it gently and spread it on a flat surface or towel to air dry.
- Do not hang cashmere fibers, as this will make it stretch.
It is wise to remember that before you care for any fabric, read the care label that comes with that particular product.