The goat may be the most laughed-at animal, but people do not laugh at the cashmere goat, for it gives us the softest, most expensive wool in the world!
The cashmere goat, named for Kashmir, a region of India, lives in the Himalaya Mountains of Tibet, India, and China. People have tried to bring it to this country, but it has never done well here.
The cashmere goat is medium-sized, with twisted horns and a long silky coat that is either white, tan, or yellow. Since its wool is very sensitive to chemicals that are used in bleaching, the white wool is the most desired. The cashmere goat actually has two coats, the coarser outer coat, which isn’t worth much, and an under, or down, coat, called pashm. It is the pashm which is used to make pure cashmere.
Each goat produces only about three ounces of fleece. Cashmere goats are not sheared, like other goats and sheep. Instead, they are combed. In that way the under coat is separated from the outer coat.
It takes the fleece of 10 cashmere goats to make a shawl a yard and a half square. This shawl can be sold for as much as $2,000!