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Wool vs Cashmere: Which is Your Winter Fabric of the Year?

Wool and cashmere are luxurious natural fibers that are essential for staying warm during cold weather. However, it’s important not to mix them up, as they share similarities but also have distinct differences. Which one is the better choice for you: wool or cashmere? We invite you to read this article in its entirety and share your answer with us at the end!

What is Wool?

It is widely believed that wool refers to the fiber obtained from the hair of sheep. The understanding is partially correct, wool can be sourced from various animals, including sheep, camels, alpacas, and even Angora rabbits. In “What is Wool,” you can discover the different types of wool.

Wool has a rich history, treasured for its excellent insulation properties and durability. Wool fibers naturally possess curls and scales that provide warmth.

What is Cashmere?

Cashmere is a type of wool that specifically denotes the fine undercoat fibers obtained from Kashmir goats. It represents the softest and finest hair found on their bodies. Although the raw material is soft cashmere, it varies in quality. In this article on “ What is Cashmere,” you will gain a more comprehensive understanding.

Cashmere also boasts a long history of utilization and is highly prized for its exceptional warmth. However, its production is relatively scarce, rendering it a precious material akin to gold.

Wool vs Cashmere

Wool and cashmere are both types of animal fibers and share many similarities. Therefore we will compare the aspects that people are most concerned about to help you choose the best option.

Insulation

In cold conditions, the first consideration is the material’s ability to provide warmth. Wool and cashmere are popular choices for winter, but they have noticeable differences in terms of insulation. Cashmere offers superior warmth compared to wool due to its finer fibers. It is sourced from the soft undercoat of Kashmir goats, which helps them survive in extremely harsh climates. This highlights its excellent insulating properties.

Cashmere fibers are finer and lighter, providing warmth without adding weight. It is commonly used in the production of sweaters and base layers. They can be layered with other garments for added warmth.

Wool falls slightly short in this aspect, its coarser fibers are less suitable for direct contact with the skin. While wool helps retain warmth, it is less effective than cashmere fibers. Therefore, wool is better suited for making outerwear, such as jackets.

Comfort

Cashmere provides a higher level of comfort compared to wool due to its finer fibers. With its incredibly gentle and smooth texture, cashmere offers a luxurious surface and excellent skin-friendly properties. On the other hand, wool fibers are coarser, resulting in a relatively rougher feel and less skin-friendliness. 

In addition, cashmere surpasses wool in terms of moisture-wicking and breathability, delivering a comfortable, lightweight, and breathable experience. So it can keep your skin dry and comfortable.

From a microscopic perspective, wool fibers exhibit serrated protrusions on their sides, and the scales are pointed, contributing to the rough surface of the wool. In contrast, cashmere scales are round. This inherent structure gives it a smoother and more delicate surface, significantly enhancing comfort.

Cause Itchy

Based on feedback from most people, wearing wool is more prone to cause itching, and in severe cases, it can even result in redness on the skin. This is due to the coarse fibers of wool protruding from the fabric surface, leading to skin irritation. The intensity of this sensation can increase with larger fiber diameters.

Another potential cause of itching is lanolin, an oil secretion in wool. Lanolin is a common allergen for many people. In contrast, cashmere does not contain this substance, making it less likely to cause itchiness or discomfort. It is particularly suitable for individuals with sensitive skin.

Currently, there are unethical sellers in the market who may use untreated wool fibers to intentionally lower the price of wool. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise caution when making a purchase. Alternatively, you can consider buying wool-blend fabrics, such as silk wool blends. The inclusion of silk can impart a softer and smoother texture to the fabric, reducing the occurrence of itching.

Durability

Wool is typically more durable than cashmere. Wool fibers are thicker and stronger in comparison to cashmere fibers. Wool has inherent elasticity, enabling it to withstand daily stretching without losing its shape over time. Its remarkable tensile strength is well-known for its resistance to tearing and abrasion.

In contrast, cashmere, renowned for its softness and luxury, is more susceptible to pilling and wear due to its finer fibers. The delicate and fine nature of cashmere makes it more prone to pilling and damage, particularly with frequent friction and inadequate care.

Care and Maintenance

When it comes to caring for and maintaining the two materials, wool is generally easier to handle compared to cashmere. Wool naturally contains lanolin, which provides a certain level of stain resistance. This natural protective barrier makes wool more resistant to dirt and stains. The inherent elasticity of wool allows it to withstand stretching, enhancing its durability and enabling it to endure frequent washing and wear. 

Delicate cashmere requires more careful attention to maintain its shape and texture. Cashmere fibers are finer and more susceptible to staining, necessitating cautious treatment to prevent stains. Additionally, cashmere is prone to wear and pilling, requiring gentle care.

While wool can be machine-washed, it is advisable to choose dry cleaning or hand washing whenever possible. On the contrary, cashmere should not be machine-washed. When washing both wool and cashmere, it is crucial to avoid using hot water, bleach, or harsh chemicals to prevent damage. 

Furthermore, drying them flat is recommended to preserve their original shape. Please note that cashmere should not be tumble-dried as it can lead to shrinking and deformation. 

Affordability

Wool is more affordable than cashmere. Firstly, in terms of raw materials, wool has a wider range of sources. Various breeds of sheep, alpacas, camels, and other animals can provide materials for wool production. On the other hand, the source of cashmere is relatively limited and harder to obtain, leading to increased costs due to the limited supply.

Regarding production, the process for wool is relatively simple. After being sheared from animals, it undergoes sorting, clearing, and spinning into yarn for further processing. However, cashmere requires the undercoat of goats, which involves a significant amount of manual labor for sorting. This labor-intensive process contributes to higher production costs.

Cashmere fibers are finer and therefore require careful handling during processing. The luxurious and soft qualities of cashmere also contribute to its continuously increasing price.

In comparison, wool is a more cost-effective material. However, this does not mean that the quality of wool is inferior. Wool fibers are more easily obtained, thicker, and more robust, making them easier to process and resulting in lower costs. Nonetheless, the price of wool can still vary depending on factors such as the type, quality, origin, and brand. It is important to consider these factors when making a purchase.

Fashion Versatility

Wool outshines cashmere when it comes to fashion versatility. It provides a broader array of textures, catering to different preferences for softness, smoothness, thickness, or a more rugged feel. Wool can meet your expectations, regardless of the desired texture, enabling diverse fashion pursuits. It can also be knitted into various patterns, such as herringbone or bold motifs, enhancing the visual appeal of your designs or outfits. 

Wool serves as a multifunctional fashion canvas, as it can be dyed in a range of colors to complement different fashion trends and personal styles. While cashmere also offers color options, its naturally soft and muted tones are more popular. This may limit its versatility for those seeking greater variety. The distinctive and luxurious texture of cashmere is often associated with classic and elegant styles, further constraining its fashion creativity.

Merino Wool vs Cashmere

Merino wool is renowned for its softness and loftiness, providing excellent warmth and breathability. It is one of the most abundant and representative high-quality wools worldwide. However, despite its merits, there are distinctions between Merino wool and cashmere.

While Merino wool fiber is finer, softer, and more elastic compared to regular wool, cashmere fibers are even finer and softer. Consequently, cashmere delivers seven times more warmth than Merino wool, while maintaining a lighter and more supple feel.

Merino wool excels in durability and cost-effectiveness. Its inherent elasticity not only helps it retain its shape after stretching but also enhances its strength and longevity. With its higher production volume and greater accessibility, Merino wool strikes a favorable balance between top-notch quality and cost.

What is Your Preference? Wool or Cashmere?

Both wool and cashmere are exceptional materials that provide warmth and comfort. After reading this blog, have you made your decision? Are you inclined towards the durable and cost-effective wool, or do you prefer the lightweight, soft, and incredibly warm cashmere? 

Share your choice and requirements with us. Sinosilk can offer you customized wool scarves or even silk cashmere scarves that are even softer and more comfortable. If you’re interested in exploring other fabrics, we also have a wide selection available. Don’t hesitate any longer, come and let us know your answer now!

More Resources:

What is the Most Breathable Fabric – Source: Sinosilk 

How Big Is a Yard of Fabric – Source: Sinosilk

GSM in Fabric – Source: Sinosilk

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