One Skein Scarf
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There is no such thing as a “Cashmere goat.” There are, however, many cashmere- bearing goats. Cashmere refers to the down undercoat that the ancestors of today’s cashmere-bearing goats developed to protect themselves from harsh winter conditions. In order to be classified as “cashmere,” the down fiber must be no more than 19 microns thick (a micron is one millionth of a meter). A crimp, or natural wave in the fiber, is also important. For high-quality cashmere, the crimp should be well-defined.
Cashmere is expensive because it takes a lot of work to produce. Feeding and keeping the goats is relatively easy. Harvesting the fiber, though, is more labor-intensive. The down must either be hand gathered from trees, brush, and fencing during molting season; combed or plucked loose; or in some cases, removed with the long wiry outer coat from the shorn fleece. No matter how it is harvested, there is always residual guard hair left in the fiber that has to be removed by hand or by a machine similar to a carder. It takes time and effort to get good fiber!
I like to know where my cashmere comes from. It may be produced from massive herds in China, gathered from the wild plains of Mongolia, grown by a friendly local fiber producer, or— in my case— combed from the animals mowing the grass in my backyard! Knowing where your yarn and fiber comes from adds to the enjoyment of using it. There is just as much artisanship in producing good yarn as there is in producing good cloth.
Structure: Atwater-Bronson lace
Finished Size: One scarf 41⁄4" × 54" plus 3⁄4" fringe at each end.
Yarns: Warp: 2-ply 100% cashmere (3,650 yd/lb, Jojoland, 400 yd/50 g skein), Natural Brown, 173 yd. Weft: 2-ply 100% cashmere, Natural Brown, 130 yd.
Warp Ends: 69.
Warp Length: 90" (2 1/2 yd) long (allows 20" for take-up and loom waste; loom waste includes fringe).
Setts: EPI: 12 PPI: 15
Width in the Reed: 53⁄4".
Take-up and Shinkage: 26% in width and 22% in length.
Originally Published: Handwoven May/June 2009.
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