One of today's hottest accessories is the pashmina shawl. Pashmina is usually made from wool culled from the underbelly of the capra hircus, a breed of goat that lives in the cold, freezing regions of the Himalayas. Pure pashmina are actually available, although many people find them too rough. To combat this complaint, manufacturers dealing with 100% pashmina use a softening process which gives the pashmina an almost silken quality. The processed pashmina then becomes referred to as the cashmere, although it is slightly different and it comes not from Tibet but from Kashmir.
Most pashmina available today is actually a blend of pure pashmina silk and wool, which adds to the pashmina's durability and strength. If a pashmina shawl happens to light it might not be able to sustain wear and tear. Pashmina blends are usually 80/20 pashmina to silk, with some even reaching 50/50. As a rule, the higher the content of wool, the more expensive the textile.
Wool is the warm, dense sheep coating, also oftentimes called a fleece. The hair of the sheep has many characteristics that make it suited for textile production. Humans realized this potential around 8000 BCE, when they first began domesticating sheep. Aside from pashmina, wool is used in a variety of other fabrics and textiles.
Highly flame resistant, wool is frequently found in mattresses, rugs and other common household items. It is also quite durable, and can even even stretch up to 50% of its original length when wet, and 30% when dry. Additionally, wool possesses excellent moisture wicking properties. This means wool can pull moisture into the core of the fiber so the wearer does not feel soggy or wet. Wool absorbs moisture away from the skin, which makes it versatile. People don wool clothing in a variety of situations without feeling the clammy sense of perspiration.
Manufacturers favor wool for textile production because it is flexible and can be dyed quite easily. Wool's springy fibers conform to shapes well when it is properly taken care of. Also, wool takes to felting, which is a process where fibers interlock into a tight mat very well. Felt is oftentimes used for a variety of purposes, such as insulation, for arts and crafts and simply as decorative accents.
Wool production starts with shearing the fleece off the sheep, which usually takes place just once a year. A skilled shearer can remove the entire fleece at once while keeping the fibers long. After shearing, the wool is thoroughly washed and cleaned to remove excess impurities. After washing, the wool is dyed and is ready for further processing.
Proper care for wool starts with simply following the directions on the label. Generally, wearers should give wool a rest between wearings so it can retain its shape. Wool should never be compressed or stored on hangers as doing this will stretch it. Cleaning it should be done by brushing or running a slightly damp cloth over it. Finally, wool should be treated flat at room temperature and not exposed directly to heat.
Source by Camilla Field