Introduction to wool

What is wool?

The general name given to fabrics obtained from animals such as sheep and encompasses textiles ranging from Cashmere to Mohair. Wool is obtained from sheep in every continent of the world, most notably Europe and Asia where the very unique climate has allowed said sheep to evolve and develop a very warm fabric.


What is wool cashmere wool cold winter

Photo by Dibya Jyoti Ghosh on Unsplash

How is quality determined?

Within textiles, quality is based on a number of factors. With wool, like other fabrics, a number of factors are used to determine quality:

- Diameter;

- Supply;

- Brand;

- Treatment;

- Sustainability.

Wool’s diameter plays a central role in determining the quality and therefore the price. This is manly because softer wool is easier to wear (think of cashmere) and softer wool is harder to obtain (due to a lot of coarse wool being ‘wasted’ to produce it). Coarser wool will usually have a longer diameter.

What is Cashmere?

Arguably one of the finest materials in the world, cashmere is a very expensive fabric that originates from the under layer of the cashmere goat. This means that each animal produces a minuscule amount of wool. This breed of sheep is found in places ranging from Canada to Mongolia. There are herds of these goats found in places such as Australia and Scotland although they originate in Central and Southern Asia.

What is the difference between cashmere and wool?

Tibet India sheep cashmere wool

Photo by Steven Lasry on Unsplash

As mentioned earlier, wool is a general term for fabrics that come from animals such as sheep. Cashmere is a type of wool found on a specific species of sheep that have their origins in Asia. An even rarer type of cashmere is known as ‘pashm’ found on a very specific sheep in Northern India/Tibet.