C.Col FSDC ( UK),CText FTI ( Manchester ), FRSC ( UK ),FAIC(USA) Business Head(Dyes)
SHREE PUSHKAR CHEMICALS & FERTILISERS LTD.
(301-302, Atlanta Center, Near Udyog Bhawan,
Sonawala Road, Goregaon (East )
Mumbai 400063. India
Like agriculture , textiles have been a fundamental part of human life since the dawn of civilization . Fragments of cotton articles dated from 5000 BC have been excavated in Mexico and Pakistan . According to Chinese tradition , the history of silk begins in the 27 th century BC . The oldest wool textile , found in Denmark , dates from 1500 BC , and the oldest wool carpet , from Siberia , from 500 BC . Fibres such as jute and coir have been cultivated since antiquity .
Natural fibres are greatly elongated substances produced by plants and animals that can be spun into filaments , thread or rope . Woven , knitted , matted or bonded , they form fabrics that are essential to society . Most people know natural fibres provide natural ventilation . That is why a cotton T – shirt feels so comfortable on a hot day – and why sweat –suits used for weight reduction are 100 % synthetic . Wool garments act as insulators against both cold and heat – Bedouins wear thin wool to keep themselves cool . Coconut fibres used in mattresses have natural resistance to fungus and mites . Hemp fibre has antibacterial properties , and studies show that linen is the most hygienic textile for hospital bed sheets .
Each year , farmers harvest around 35 million tones of natural fibres from a wide range of plants and animals – from sheep , rabbits , goats , camels and alpacas , from cotton bolls , abaca and sisal leaves and coconut husks , and from the stalks of jute , hemp , flax and ramie plants . Those fibres form fabrics , ropes and twines that have been fundamental to society since the dawn of civilization . Cotton dominates world fibre production , to other . speciality fibres such as cashmere which , though produced in far smaller quantities , have particular properties that place them in the luxury textiles market.
Cashmere wool , usually simply known as cashmere , is a fibre obtained from the Cashmere goat . The Cashmere goat is native to the Himalaya Mountain region of Kashmir ( then called Cashmere by the English) in India , Mongolia , and China . The word cashmere derives from an archaic spelling of Kashmir . Pashmina is a cashmere fibre produced in parts of northern India , Kashmir , Xin Jiang , Tibet , Mongolia and Pakistan . Cashmere is sometimes mistaken for Shahtoosh , an illegal fibre harvested from slaughtered Tibetan chiru antelopes . The chiru is on the endangered species list . Cashmere is also produced by a small goat raised in China, Nepal and New Zealand . In parts of China , northern India , Tibet , Iran and Afghanistan , the Tibetan cashmere goat is reared as a domestic animal .
The fibre is also known as pashm ( Persian word for Wool ) or pashmina ( Persian /Urdu word driven from Pashm) for its use in the handmade shawls of Kashmir . The woolen shawls find written mention between 3 rd century BC and the 11 th century AD . However , the founder of the cashmere wool industry is the traditionally held to be the 15 th century ruler of Kashmir , Zayn – ul – Abidin , who introduced weavers from Turkestan.
Production of cashmere fibre –
The fibre is combed from the goat during the molting season ; the amount of good fibre averages about 4 gms per yield . The short fibres , 1-3.5 inches are fine and very soft and longer fibre 2-5 inches are coarse and stiff . It has an outer coat of long coarse hair with an inner coat of down . This fine , soft down is the source of the fibre that is known all over the world as cashmere . The fleece of this goat has long ,straight , coarse outer hair of little value ; however the small quantity of underhair , or down is made into luxuriously soft woollike yarns with a characterstic highly napped finish .Cashmere is collected during the spring moulting season when the goats naturally shed their winter coat . In the Northern Hemisphere the goats moult over a period beginning as early as March and as late as May . This fine cashmere fibre is not sheared from the goat but is obtained by frequent combings during the shedding season . The downy cashmere fibre is combed from the goat’s fleece during spring , and in the process is separated as much as possible from the coarser hair . The imported cashmere was spread out on a large sieves and beaten with sticks to open the fibres and clear away the dirt . After opening the cashmere was washed and children removed the coarser hair . The down was then carded and combed using the same methods used for worsted spinning . It is estimated that on an average yearly production per goat is 150 gms .. The combined output from 30-40 goats provides enough fibre to make an overcoat . The hair usually is combed by hand from the animal during the molting season . In dehairing , the coarse hair is separated from the fine fibres ( 15-18 microns) . The downy fine fibres make up only a small part of the fleece , usually about one-half pound per goat . The fibre is solid , with no medulla and with fine scales .
China has become the largest producer of raw cashmere (10,000 tons per year .) . Mongolia produces somewhat more than 3,000 tons while India , Pakistan , Iran , Afghanistan , Turkey and Central Asian Republics produce significant but lesser amounts.
Structure and properties –
Like other hair fibres , cashmere fibres are covered with epidermal scales . There are about 5-7 scales per 100 micron on average . They have serrated edges and project from the fibre causing an irregular surface . Cashmere is used in high –quality apparel and is an expensive fibre as the yearly production is very small . Fabrics made of cashmere are warm , comfortable and light in weight and have beautiful draping characteristics .It has very similar properties to those of wool but is more sensitive to chemicals . The microscope reveals that cashmere is a much finer fibre than mohair or any wool fibre obtained from sheep . The scales are less distinct and are farther apart ; the fibre appears to be made of sections placed within each other .
It is available in Gray , brown and white in colour . The coloured fibres are full of tiny granules of pigment . In cross-section , the fibre is circular or slightly oval ; the pigment granules can be seen clearly in the cortical layer . Wovens made out of cashmere are dry cleaned and knitted goods are hand washed . Cashmere wool fibres are extremely fine , averaging about 15 micron in diameter , which is considerably finer than the best merino wool . The coarser beard hairs which are mixed with the true wool fibres are thicker , averaging about 60 micron in diameter .
Cashmere is used 100% or blended with wool only . Blends with nylon or tri blends with wool and nylon in woven patterns is also found in textile industries. In Ludhiana nylon is blended with Cashmere and used in hosiery and some other knitted products. Trial is also taken to use Cashmere blended with acrylic fibre to get the desired properties .
Fabrics are warm , buttery in hand , and have beautiful draping characteristics . Cashmere is chemically similar to wool . It wets out with water much quicker than wool , and is more sensitive to the effect of chemicals , largely as a consequence of its greater fineness .
Cashmere is very easily damaged by alkalies such as washing soda . It will dissolve readily in solutions of caustic soda .
Pure cashmere can be dyed using acid dyes or metal complex dyes and spun into yarns and knits into jumpers .
Uses of cashmere fibre –
Cashmere is used in men ‘s and women’s coats , jackets and blazers , skirts , hosiery , sweaters , sports jackets , overcoats , gloves , scarves , mufflers , suits , loungewear , blankets caps and robes . It is desirable because it is soft , lighter in weight than wool , and quite warm ; however , because it is a soft , delicate fibre , fabrics produced from cashmere are not as durable as wool . Sometimes , cashmere is blended with less expensive sheep’s wool . When labels indicate a blend , no legal problem exists . However , this is a fraudulent practice when the label does not indicate that the product is a blend .
The world output of cashmere wool is very small , and production is a costly process . Inevitably , the fibre is expensive . Cashmere is so fine and soft , however , that it is regarded as one of the most desirable textile fibres of all . Cashmere fabrics are warm and comfortable , and have a beautiful drape . The fibre is used very largely for making high –quality clothes , shawls and hosiery , either alone or mixed with other fibres .Garments made entirely from cashmere are properly labeled ‘ Pure Cashmere ‘ / Sometimes , fabrics woven from fine botany wools are incorrectly described as ‘ cashmere ‘ . Cashmere wool is fine in texture , and it is also strong , light , and soft ; when it is made into garments , they are extremely warm to wear . Fabric and garment producers in Italy , Scotland , England and Japan have long been known as market leaders .
Cashgora is a new fibre resulting from the breeding of feral cashmere goats with Angora goats in New Zealand and Australia . Although the International Wool Textile Organisation has adopted cashgora as a generic fibre term , it is not recognized around the world . The fibre is coarser than cashmere and not as lustrous . It is used primarily in less expensive coatings and suits .
In India few of the Worsted units like Raymond , Jayashree ,Digjam use Cashmere fibre in blends used in worsted spinning . Other worsted units are taking few trials and they are planning to export cashmere fabrics to the US and European markets .