Cashmere, like Champagne, carries the air of luxury in its name. But it has similarly been copied and adulterated and our trust in its good name eroded. A recent study found 9 out of 14 shops in the UK to be passing off blends and even 100% lambswool as pure cashmere.
Our cashmere is not only 100% pure, sourced direct from a trusted supplier in Mongolia, but it comes from sustainable herds that don’t destroy the land. The fibre is regularly tested to ensure that it is the finest 14.6 micron cashmere.
Why is cashmere extremely precious? Cashmere goats only produce a small amount of excess wool and only once a year in Spring. It takes 2 or 3 cashmere goats to grow enough wool for one scarf per year. This suits the Cosi ethos: qualtiy not quantity, less not more.
These goats thrive in cold winters, either at high altitudes or in the cold desert plains. This is because they have evolved to grow a secondary undercoat beneath their outer rough coat in Winter, this protects them against the extreme cold. It is this undercoat that is naturally shed every Spring and can be harvested by combing. Mongolian cashmere goats produce around 200g per year but after scouring, dehairing, carding and spinning this can be reduced by half.
The art of weaving cashmere is an ancient and highly skilled one. The master drafter, is responsible for creating the intricate weave designs, which requires the eagle eye of the expert to fully appreciate the fineness of the pattern. The bird seye uses the merest whisper of a 120 yarn count, so equally requires supreme weaving skill to avoid the yarn breaking.
Every step of the process requires the same precision and care – the hand-carding (one person can card only 10g a day), the winding of yarn into hanks, the twisting to make 2-ply yarn (if the twist is loose, the cashmere is prone to pill), the dyeing (not just to achieve the perfect shade of pink or orange, but to avoid overcooking the piece, which can open up the twist).
Workers skills shine through in the finished pieces for Cosi. Fostering a lineage of tradition produces products of great value.
It takes two days to set up a pedal handloom and then we weave on average 3/5 pieces a day. We have 4 weavers in the small family-run atelier in the Himalayas. So every piece is treated individually.
Cosi is truly following the slow paradigm with purity, quality and integrity as our watch words for every step of the process.