On our website states what ply a cashmere sweater or pair of gloves is. But what exactly does this mean? As part of our series looking more deeply into cashmere, how it is made and what makes the difference in quality, we find the answer to this question.
If you are not experienced in yarn or trained in garment manufacture it is not so easy to spot the difference between low and high quality cashmere at the point of purchase. The first few washes normally give away the secrets, by which time it is too late. Look back at our first cashmere blog to discover the importance of fibre length. The colder the climate the warmer the fleece required by the goats to keep warm in winter which is why Mongolia and China are two of the best places for quality fibre. With the right care you cashmere should last a very long time.
Single ply, two ply, three ply. What ply should you buy?
Ply means the number of threads of yarn knitted together, so it follows that a single ply garment will be less durable than a two ply garment where two threads of yarn have been twisted together, giving a tighter knit and a softer and warmer garment. The majority of sweaters are two ply and can be worn all year round. Often customers new to cashmere comment on the thinness of the garment but this is just due to the fine yarn used, unlike lambswool which is much thicker and produces a much more chunky knit. Three ply is pure luxury and you can purchase three and even four ply sweaters but as you can imagine the amount of yarn required to knit these is enormous and as a result the price is outwith most of our budgets. Easier to manage with accessories and our Cable Knit Bed Socks are three ply and have that extraordinary softness whilst still being beautifully light despite their chunky knit.
The effect of colour
Something we are often asked by new staff as they pack your orders is why there is a variation in softness across the colours. So why is navy blue cashmere not as soft as white? Fibres come in three natural colours, brown, beige and white and therefore the lighter colour you buy, the less dye is required to create that colour. High quality manufacturers include a larger proportion of white fibres in even their darker coloured yarns to maintain the supersoft finish we love in cashmere, but you will still notice a slight difference between for example our white cashmere scarf and the navy blue cashmere scarf.
And there endeth today's cashmere lesson. More next week as we investigate just why cashmere is so much more special than lambswool and worth the extra spend if you can afford it.