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The Sustainable Making of Cashmere – From Goats to Shops

Cashmere, the coveted and luxurious coveted fabric, has been a symbol of elegance and sophistication for centuries. But have you ever wondered where the best exquisite cashmere comes from? The answer lies in the Himalayas, where the soft and fine fibers of Grade A Cashmere are produced by the Chyangra goats that graze in the high-altitude meadows.

In this blog, we will take you on a journey to discover the secrets of cashmere from the Himalayas and share with you the best of this exquisite fabric.

Why is the wool of Chyangra Goat so Special?

Cashmere goats from the Himalayas

Many people wonder why cashmere, which is just goat wool, carries such a high price tag and is considered ‘Fiber of Kings’. While it may seem like a luxury material from fluffy undercoats of mountain goats with no practical justification, there are valid reasons for its premium value.

Firstly, Chyangra cashmere is a rare type of wool that comes from the undercoat of cashmere goats, which are found in cold and mountainous regions of Nepal. These goats have a very fine and soft fiber that can be only harvested once a year, during molting season.

The constant grazing, nutritious diet, exposure to harsh weather, and breeding process add to the cost of maintaining a herd of cashmere goats. As a result, the supply of high-quality cashmere is limited, making it a scarce commodity.

Thirdly, the production process of cashmere is labor-intensive and requires skilled craftsmanship. After the fibers are gathered, they need to be separated from the coarser outer hairs and then sorted by their length, thickness, and color to ensure consistency.

Next, the fibers are washed and combed several times to remove any impurities and align them in the same direction. The resulting material is extremely soft, lightweight, and warm, but also delicate, requiring careful handling and special care.

Lastly, the demand for cashmere is driven by its exceptional qualities and associations with luxury and status. Cashmere goats have a genetic predisposition to produce a certain type of wool with a unique hollow fiber structure.

The hollow fibers enable them to trap air and create a natural insulation layer that can keep the body warm in extremely cold conditions. It is incredibly lightweight, making it comfortable to wear and practical for outdoor activities. 

The wool is also inherently moisture-wicking, which means it can help regulate body temperature and keep the skin dry. They also hold their shape well and tend to last longer than regular wool or synthetic materials. As such, cashmere is a desirable investment for those who appreciate quality, comfort, and style.

Wool Extraction Done for Chyangra Goat

Though Cashmere production seems like a commercial business on the surface, it is a part of the circular economy. In a way, people have converted waste into a luxury product. The reason is the hair of Cashmere goats must be sheared or cut down to keep these domesticated goats clean, free of infection, active, and healthy.

If cashmere goats are allowed to keep their wool long, it can become matted, dirty, and infected with parasites. Shearing them regularly helps to prevent these issues and keeps the animals healthy. On top of that, in warmer climates or seasons, the long wool of cashmere goats can cause them to overheat. Shearing the goats can help regulate their body temperature and prevent issues related to overheating.

Cashmere goats are often raised in areas with limited grazing resources. Their wool can become so thick that it impedes movement and limits their ability to graze effectively. Regular shearing is done so that the goats can move freely and forage normally.

From an extraction perspective, shearing goats for cashmere is to gather luxurious fiber in a clean and timely manner, helping to preserve its quality. Proper shearing techniques are a must to collect this beautiful cashmere in a humane and efficient manner while preserving its quality.

Shedding life cycle

The wool extraction from fine-haired cashmere goats starts is done when spring arrives….. Let’s start from the beginning.

Not all Cashmere goats are reared for wool production. As these are dual-purpose goats, many of them are used as Dairy goats. Through selective breeding, the best goats are selected to extract quality cashmere.

For goats for cashmere, males and females that have reached their sexual maturity are handpicked. These medium-sized goats reach sexual maturity in 4-8 months (males) and 7-10 months (females). The gestation period for this breed of goats is around 150 days. Once a baby cashmere is born, its care starts from day 1

Traditional Extraction Method

Steps OrderMethod NameMethod Purpose
1stHarvesting and MoultingExtract the Pashmina Wool
2ndManual DehairingSeparate downy undercoats from guard hair
3rdUpright CombingMake wool clean and pure
4thGlueingImprove the strength, moisture, and softness of raw cashmere fiber
5thSpinningConvert patty-shaped quality fiber into yarn
6thWeavingSew cashmere yarn into products (scarves, sweaters and hats)
7thDyeingColor products into desired shades

Traditional extraction has been conducted for centuries to collect wool from cashmere goats and convert them into yarn. All processes are done using manual tools by humans, especially women of the Himalayas.

Prespinning Process

The pre-spinning process involves harvesting cashmere goats, extracting the wool, separating luxurious fiber, cleaning and parallelizing them, making them soft – and durable, and giving them the shape of a patty.

Harvesting the goats 

The harvesting season starts in late summer or early spring depending on the climatic conditions. The pashmina goats start shedding their heavier fleeces naturally. Mid-March to Late May is the perfect season for Moulting these social animals. Every year a single cashmere yields about 200 grams of quality fibers.

While Moulting, the herders or extractors sometimes get kicked by the sharp hooves of cashmere goat breeds. The manual Moulting of an entire goat is a difficult task that is often carried out by skilled Moulters.

For this, the process starts with ‘Combing’, where the cashmere goats are combed manually to extract cashmere wool. It is the most gentle way to collect beautiful cashmere fibers.

Manual Dehairing

Now the next step is to sort these excessive guard hairs from the undercoats of cashmere goats. This process is called ‘Manual Dehairing’. The process is simply separating downy undercoats from guard hair.

The cashmere fibers are intermingled with the outer coat’s coarse hairs, so the dehairing removes these excessive guard hairs. The process is carried out by mainly women of the Himalayas. 

These days raw cashmere is dehaired using machines by many manufacturers. Though the process is efficient, it lacks the sensation of human refinement. All cashmere products of Colorful Cashmere are made from manually dehaired cashmere fibers. The separated guard hairs are used in rugs or hair canvas to manufacture tailored garments.

Upright Combing

After extraction of raw materials from fine-haired cashmere goats, the raw cashmere wool needs to be clean, and impurity-free, and tufts of fiber should be of the best quality. The dehaired cashmere hair is impaled on an upright comb 10 cm wide, set on the wooden stand, in a process called ‘Upright Combing’.

The tufts of fiber become smooth or parallel (of the same surface slope) and impurities like dust, cells, and food remains are eliminated. The process is repeated for ¾ time till soft fibers are clean enough for the spinning process. This process is not required if coarse hair and cashmere undercoat are separated using machine dehairing.


The next process is to improve the strength, moisture, and softness of raw cashmere fiber, and is called ‘Glueing’. In this process, the clean cashmere fibers are sprinkled with pounded rice powder.

The container size where raw cashmere is kept can vary but the rice powder should be evenly distributed and left for 1-3 days. After the given time, these specialty hair fiber is recombed to remove rice particles and give the shape of a patty.

Spinning Process

The process of spinning is to convert patty-shaped quality fiber into yarn. It is carried out using a traditional rotating wheel called ‘Chakra’. The tuft of fibers is held between the second and third fingers supported by the thumb. The spinner starts turning the Chakra with his/her right hand and lowers or raises fiber held hand in harmony or sync with the wheel.

The spun yarn is bound on a light straw made of wood or glass and further doubled into a reeler. This double yarn again is twisted or pilled on Chakra with the direction of rotation reversed. The final quality cashmere is now coiled in a wooden reeler for market distribution. 

Colorful Cashmere’s products are prepared using the same grade A cashmere fibers prepared using traditional handmade techniques. Often the fibers we use are of 14.0-16.0 microns in diameter which is of the best quality available in the market. The yarn fiber of 16.0-16.5 microns is good, 16.5-19.0 are average and above 19 are considered as low-quality cashmere.

Traditional Weaving

Before weaving, the coil of quality cashmere is separated for wrap or weft design, weighted, and dyed (if required). If the yarn is dyed, it is washed using luke warm clean water, and left to dry in the sun.

The opening of the dry coil is weaved using a large wooden stand called ‘Thuri’. ‘Thuri’ is a traditional handloom device where the yarn coil is mounted in a wooden spindle. 

Now, the weaving process starts. Cashmere products like cashmere scarves are wrap designs, where yarn is just twisted for thickness and strength.

Wool products like cashmere hats and sweaters are made using weft design, the technique where a blend of luxury fibers is passed sideways across other threads. Both designs can be weaved into a variety of sizes. 

The thickness of cashmere products is measured in gauze. Example: The 12 gauze cashmere means the product is relatively thicker or denser. Further various traditional processes are carried out for a durable finish non-reflective finish or shiny appearance based on the requirements of the market.

Based on weaving technique, the products are divided into two categories (I) Handwoven and (II) Handknitted. The common dissimilarities between them are:

Hand WovenHand Knitted
A meticulous weaving process, involving intricate patterns and skilled artisans results in a unique and artistic accessoryPrecision and attention to detail, with each stitch created by experienced knitters results in a cozy and comfortable accessory
More structured and textured feel due to the weaving technique (slightly rugged texture)Softer, plusher, and more delicate texture, making them comfortable to wear directly against the skin
Work well for both casual and formal occasionsIdeal for a wide range of casual and everyday outfits
More opportunities for customization in terms of patterns and colorsCustomization in terms of knitting patterns and stitch styles

Eco-friendly dyeing methods

Now the prepared products are dyed using ecofriendly natural colors. Natural dyes are derived from plant, animal, and mineral sources and are considered to be more eco-friendly than synthetic dyes. Natural dyes are biodegradable and do not contain harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. The depth of color is determined by the amount of dye used.

Examples of eco-friendly color resources are leaves of the indigo plant for blue color, root of the madder plant for red hues, root of the turmeric plant for yellow-orange hues, seeds of the achiote tree for orange hues, leaves of the henna plant for orange-red hues, flowers of the weld plant for yellow hues, and bark of the logwood tree for blue and purple hues. Mixing these colors will provide other classic colors such as green colors, beige colors, gray colors, and many more. 

Superiority of Handmade over Machine-Made 

Handmade cashmere fibers are generally considered to be better than machine-made cashmere products for several reasons. Handmade cashmere is made from the finest cashmere fibers, which are carefully selected and combed by hand. Only the softest and strongest fibers are used, resulting in a higher quality product. 

Another reason is that handmade cashmere is more durable than machine-made cashmere because the fibers are not stretched or compressed during the manufacturing process. This helps to prevent pilling and the garment will maintain its shape and softness over time.

Handmade cashmere is more comfortable to wear than machine-made cashmere as the fibers are not twisted or compressed during the manufacturing process, a softer and more luxurious feel against the skin.

Handmade cashmere can be made into a wider range of styles and designs versatile compared to machine-made. Handmade cashmere can be woven into intricate patterns and textures that are not possible with machine-made cashmere.

If you look from an environmental welfare perspective, handmade cashmere is generally more environmentally friendly as it is made in smaller quantities and with less waste. This reduces the carbon footprint of the product and minimizes the impact on the environment.

But the best reason to prefer handmade cashmere products is a warm connection between cashmere goats – cashmere makers – buyers or users. In handmade techniques (no machine is used for any manufacturing process), the cashmere goats are well cared. Every process is carefully conducted so that none of these beautiful friendly goats are harmed.

The making process is done manually by hand. Every sensation, touch, distinctive pattern, and feel provides unique warmth to users. This is the biggest superiority of cashmere products. It’s not just an expensive material, it’s a process that makes this beautiful cashmere a luxurious fiber.

Sustainable manufacturing practice 

The fashion industry has been causing detrimental harm to the environment. And even more, if the raw material is from animals, such animals are treated like an object for extracting.

The good part of Cashmere product is that it takes care of both animal welfare and environmental sustainability. The wool extraction is carried out in the gentlest way – the perfect fabric for animal lovers. Before extraction, cashmere goats are well taken care of in terms of food, nutrition, and sheds.

As the Himalayas see a god in every living and nonliving creature, the love and care of these multipurpose goats are monumental. As it is animal-derived clothing, Colorful Cashmere sources products from farms that adhere to high animal welfare standards.

While converting cashmere into yarns further into all-natural garments, the manufacturer uses minimum resources in a sustainable manner so that it doesn’t hamper the environment and minimizes carbon footprint. S

ustainable farming practices are also taken into consideration implementing rotational cashmere goat grazing and avoiding overgrazing, which can help to prevent soil erosion and maintain the health of the animals. Besides these, the reprocessing of recycled cashmere can be a good step to produce new products reducing waste and resource usage.

Colorful Cashmere will always be providing key info in sustainable fashion education to help consumers make informed choices about the clothing they buy. This can include providing information about the environmental and social impacts of different clothing options, as well as tips on how to care for and maintain clothing to extend its lifespan.

Benefits to Communities

Not only does it benefit cashmere goats, manufacturers, and users, but cashmere products maintain a circular economy by chaining local communities’ well-being. 

The direct benefits include employment and income for local communities. Cashmere herders and artisans can earn good incomes in regions where jobs are limited. These monetary gains can lead to investment in community development works in building facilities like roads, schools, hospitals, and more cashmere industries.

The more industries lead to sustainable and responsible supply chains for fair and equitable cashmere production and sales. The trust between businesses often creates an opportunity to share knowledge with nomadic herders on animal husbandry, fiber processing, and product design.

The cashmere production is often deeply rooted in local cultures and traditions. By supporting cashmere businesses, local communities can help preserve these cultural practices and pass them down to future generations.

Compared to the other industries possible in the mountain regions, cashmere production is good for the pack animals that produce wool, the environment that makes the wool best, and the community that extracts/weaves the wool sustainably.


Cashmere from the Himalayas is a luxurious and exquisite fabric that combines style, warmth, and sustainability. Due to the high demand for cashmere which is more than the supply of cashmere wools, there are a lot of low-quality cashmere in the market. As most people fail to identify pure cashmere, it is always good to explore the trusted marketplace of the cashmere industry.

At Colorful Cashmere, we offer the finest cashmere products that are made from the finest fibers and come with detailed care instructions. We invite you to explore our collection and experience the luxury of cashmere. Thank you for reading, and we hope to see you again soon.