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What Makes the Best Cashmere?

Written by
ERIN SCOTTBERG
PHOTOGRAPHS BY
Shutterstock

There’s nothing like the feeling of baby-fine cashmere against bare skin. Beyond its soft and cozy qualities, a layer of cashmere adds comfort and warmth to your bed – or anywhere else in your home. The best cashmere is made from the soft, undercoat of Mongolian goats – it’s the fine, white hairs underneath their tougher outer coat that keep these creatures warm in the sub-zero winters of east-central Asia. When spring comes and the weather thaws, the goats naturally shed this layer, which is then collected, cleaned and spun into yarn. High quality cashmere comes from only the finest and longest hairs – almost solely from the belly and throat of the goat — which results in a fabric that’s warm and durable.

It takes about four years for a goat to shed enough hair for a single cashmere sweater, so, understandably, cashmere can run more expensive than other materials. However, some manufacturers try to get around higher costs by mixing the goat’s undercoat hairs with other materials, like some of the shorter or more coarse goat hairs, or — more scandalously — fleece from another animal, like a rabbit. But doing so puts the material’s quality at risk, making it prone to pilling and compromising cashmere’s signature lightweight warmth. Parachute uses only top-quality, hand-selected and hand-combed fibers from the bellies of Mongolian goats.

Superior cashmere improves with age and proper care. It becomes softer, “broken-in” and, unlike other knits, won’t pill much after the first cleaning. Two-ply yarn — meaning each piece of yarn is made of two strands twisted together — is recommended for warmth and durability, and you should look for a tight knit that will help the fabric keep its shape and strength. Test this by gently pulling at the fabric — does it quickly spring back to shape? If so, you’re good.

The magic of cashmere is that it’s not at all bulky. Think about your favorite cashmere scarf or sweater…It’s as warm as wool but much more comfortable. Parachute’s cashmere throws are the same. So whether you wrap yourself in one while lounging on the sofa or add a layer atop your bed, rest assured you’ve got the best.