Choose Cashmere Blankets in Lieu of Lullabies
One of the softest and most luxurious materials for blankets is cashmere. It feels silky and light and is a classic choice to dress up any bed. Although its end result is beautiful and glamorous, cashmere comes from plain-looking goats and camels. The name itself is taken from the Kashmir goat, whose fur or wool is used to make the material.
Cashmere is sourced from Mongolia, Tibet, China, India, Afghanistan and Iran. It is also exported from countries like New Zealand, Australia and Russia. The wool is harvested during molting season although manual shearing may be added to the process as well. In other parts of Asia, cashmere fiber is also known as pashmina or pashm.
The best cashmere is taken from the throat and underbelly of goats, where their wool is softer because the fibers are longer. The shorter fibers found in the legs and backs are coarser, heavier and less expensive. Cashmere is white, brown or gray in its natural state, but it absorbs dye easily and manufacturers can turn out blankets of the prettiest colors and designs.
Cashmere has first-rate draping qualities apart from its soft texture. The diameter of its fibers is finer than that of wool which makes it weaker than wool and mohair. It can be easily damaged by heat and strong alkalis. It can also absorb and retain moisture and is prone to wearing and bunching, although these qualities don’t exactly turn a buyer off.
Another reason why cashmere is a popular choice for blankets is that it can maintain temperature at a nice, comfortable level. It’s cool when the temperatures rise and warm when the temperatures are low. You don’t sweat nor experience a chill with a good quality cashmere blanket.
What to look for in a cashmere blanket
If you want the best cashmere blankets, most industry insiders and designers will suggest cashmere that came from Tibet or Mongolia. The softest wools are those with longer fibers and the cold, harsh climates of those places encourage the growth of longer wool. Another tip, cashmere blankets woven in Scotland also garner a lot of praise.
Other places that are great sources for cashmere blankets are France and England, which deliberately imitated the original process of making Kashmir shawls.
Look for purity. Cashmere is often woven with another material like sheep’s wool, for example. If you can get a hold of a blanket made of real, pure cashmere, compare it with another blanket that claims to be pure cashmere. The true cashmere blanket will feet softer and denser and the other blanket will feel slightly coarser.
However, if price is a consideration, it won’t hurt to choose a blanket that is not 100% cashmere. Just be sure to buy one that has a higher percentage of cashmere compared to the other material/s. For example, an 85% cashmere and 15% wool mix is good enough. Just don’t expect too much from a cashmere blanket with a 50-50 cashmere mix.
Don’t be carried away by the fluffiness. It’s easy to be fooled especially if the blanket appears soft and luxuriant, but look closely for a tight weave. If you’re spending a good amount of money for your cashmere blanket, then it might as well last long. Remember that washings will loosen the fibers a little bit. A tighter weave will ensure your blanket’s longevity.
Caring for your cashmere blanket
Cashmere comes from a natural material and no matter how good the craftsmanship, will fade with use over time. However, you can prolong its life and beauty by dry cleaning them. If your cashmere blanket is knitted, be prepared to handwash. Otherwise, just place them on the gentlest cycle in your washing machine, use very mild detergent and avoid bleach.