I’ve all but given up buying cashmere due to moth issues here at the Barnes division of TWR, which is a shame because there are lovely sweaters around to tempt me, such as these delicious ones (below) from cashmere expert Queene & Belle. It’s moth season currently, as anyone who is watching their pheromone moth traps fill up with fluffy-winged carcasses will know. I hope you are all being vigilant.
Angela Bell’s family have been in the cashmere business in Hawick, Scotland, for three generation, enough time to see cheap Chinese cashmere devastate the industry. It might be time to go all ‘artisan-food-like’ on our cashmere and ask the type of question we now frequently ask about the origins of what we eat, such as ‘where does the cashmere come from?’ and ‘who made it?’ if we are to keep an industry in Scotland. We had a chance to ask Angela (above) a few questions about cashmere and why Scottish is best, as well as seeking advice on the pesky moth problem….
Angela, we love your beautiful cashmere, but we’re worried about spending money on cashmere that might get eaten by moths! Please help us with understanding how to keep the pesky brutes away and please DON’T suggest lavender bags as we know our moths just laugh at natural remedies.
Moths are a huge problem for a lot of people and what I would suggest is treating your lovely cashmere sweater with a lot of care. Firstly don’t leave it lying around the house exposing it to the dreaded pests, wash it regularly, and after each use fold it up and keep it in a zip closure bag along with some cedar balls as an extra deterrent.
Also store it in a cool place, I live in an old farmhouse which is very chilly and never seem to have much of a problem with moths, I think they prefer the warmth of city life! Fortunately if the dreaded moths do have a feast on a Queene and Belle we offer a cashmere re-dressing service where a customer can send us their sweater or cardi and we will have it washed, spruced up and any small holes mended professionally in the factory where it was made, the cashmere really comes back with a new lease of life!
Where does your cashmere come from? We’ve heard that Mongolian is the best, but does that mean it wont pill?
Queene and Belle cashmere uses the very best cashmere from Todd & Duncan who are based in Kinross just north of Edinburgh, established in 1867. They are one of the oldest cashmere spinners in the world and source their yarn from inner Mongolia.
They are world renowned for supplying the best quality yarn, their cashmere fibre comes from the underbelly of the goat and is a long staple with the average length being 35mm. The fact that their cashmere is long staple means that there is less chance of pilling. Cheaper cashmere is made from shorter staple fibres and if the fibre is rubbed it will come out, gather together and form pilling balls.
As cashmere is such a delicate fibre it is really difficult to prevent it from pilling, no cashmere is immune but cheaper cashmere will tend to pill more quickly and never recover from it. I can only say that it’s worth reminding yourself when you wear cashmere to try not to let your bag rub against it, try not to sit against rough surfaces and if you want to really look after it don’t sit around the house letting it rub against furniture. Take it off, fold it, wash it regularly and replace it in a sealed bag. It should last you for years!
Tell us a bit about why you think we should invest in cashmere that’s been produced in Scotland. Your family has been in the business for a while, is that right?
I think investing in a piece of cashmere which has been lovingly made in Scotland, means you are not only buying the very best product which will last for many years, you are helping sustain a community of skilled workmen and women and a British industry which has been going for over 200 years.
My family has worked in the cashmere industry for generations, my grandfather was a hand intarsia knitter who used to demonstrate the art of his skill in department stores throughout the UK in the 60’s and 70’s. A Queene and Belle cashmere is worth the investment because it’s designed and made with a lot of consideration and love. Each piece is designed to work within a woman’s wardrobe as a piece of everyday luxury which is beautifully crafted using the best yarn and made by crafts people who have honed their skills over many years.
It’s not only a beautiful investment to wear it is an investment in helping sustain a British industry.
Queene & Belle cashmere is available from either the website or from Matches, The Hambledon Gallery and a few others. Madonna is a fan, ‘parently. Don’t let this put you off.
Thanks for this – I am currently living in terror as I bought a beautiful grey cashmere jumper at the weekend and now need to store it safely away from ninja moths until the Autumn (although I feel I could probably be wearing it today in this freezing spring weather…). Have just ordered large ziploc bags as my first line of defence…