Saturday, November 10, 2007
As you may know, besides being known as the "Cashmere Connoisseur," I am also the founder and designer of Cashmere Creations- my website where you can design your own custom cashmere teddy bear from recycled cashmere fabrics!
Our teddy bears make fantastic gifts for new moms, children, or any other cashmere lover. We only use recycled cashmere and make each teddy bear by hand to your color specifications. Every bear is one-of-a-kind and will be a treasure for you (or someone you love) to own. We offer different sizes and will work with you to make that perfect holiday gift.
Here is an example of our smallest bears:
So, please stop by my site and take a look around! You might find something you just have to have...
Link to the site:
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Shameless Request: My daughter and I are finalists in the Rosetta Stone Go Places contest! You can vote once a day for our video until November 21st and be entered to win a Kindle Fire for each vote!! So check it out and help us win!!
My video entry!
And now for the article...
Well, since the weather has been a bit drizzly outside, I thought it might be nice to talk about wearing cashmere in the rain!!
Most important point: Cashmere is not harmed by water. It's what you do after it's wet that causes damage. For example, if you get completely soaked through, take off your sweater and hang it by the shoulders, it will stretch out of shape. If you wash your cashmere in cold water and rinse it in hot water, it will shrink. Just use your common sense and the tips I have for you and you should make it out OK.
Imagine a sweet little cashmere goat in the chilly climate of Inner Mongolia. Do you think that wonderful little miracle-material-making goat never saw a spot of rain? I doubt it. Obviously, they don't sit out in the rain if they have to- they'll go find shelter. Point being: if you wear your cashmere in the rain, it's not the first time it's been wet.
I think the main issue to think about here is whether or not you want to be wearing wet cashmere. You probably don't. Cashmere smells like wet dog (lol) and gets very heavy when wet. So, I wouldn't suggest letting yourself get soaked while only in a sweater. Just do your best to keep out of the rain! Use an umbrella if you have one. Or snuggle by a fire and drink some cocoa instead.
I have worn cashmere in the rain and have not had any problems. If you're worried about it shrinking, keep the sweater on until it dries. It can't get any smaller than you are while you're wearing it, right??
If you are soaked through, just wash your sweater as normal right away. Reshape it and let it dry away from direct sun or heat.
I hope this helps all of you in rainy climates. Please let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy the rain in your cashmere!!
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Sweater coats have been a staple in my cashmere wardrobe for a few years now. I cannot tell you how much use I get out of those things!! They are wonderful when you are wanting to snuggle up and read a book and are perfect for going out shopping in the middle of winter. I have even performed in one and was photographed wearing it! (I have a music degree, but I have this secret obsession with cashmere for some reason...)
When shopping for a sweater coat I have a few things for you to consider:
- Brand- This may seem judgmental, but brand, in this case, can make or break the purchase of a sweater coat. The best cashmere brands (Loro Piana, Malo, TSE, etc.) all use premium cashmere fibers. They are longer and thinner so they pill less. Cashmere sweater coats are often made from 8-12ply cashmere so the knitting is "wider". When each stitch has a larger surface area, the smaller fibers will pill up more easily than with a tighter-knit sweater. With a tight-knit sweater, the smaller fibers can be spread across 3 stitches. In a thick sweater coat, they might just barely spread over 1 stitch if at all.
- Knit Style- When looking for a thick and warm sweater coat, pay attention to the way the sweater was knit. When a sweater is knit with a cable pattern, they use more yarn. Therefore, you get a warmer sweater! A simple stockinette stitch (like you find on normal knit sweaters) will have less yarn per square inch. Also, a tighter knit will last longer. A sweater that is knit loosely may look neat, but you are asking for trouble with pilling and washing.
- Color- If you are going to spend upwards of $1000 or more on a new sweater coat of great quality, pick a color that is timeless. A pink sweater coat may be tempting, but in a year, it will be very dated. You are better off spending the "beaucoup bucks" on something classic that will last you 10 years.
From Neiman Marcus:Brown Sweater Coat $695
From Neiman Marcus Sale:Rust Sweater Coat $495
From Nordstrom Sale:White Todd and Duncan Sweater Coat $769
From Neiman Marcus:Loro Piana Navy Sweater Coat $2650
From Ralph Lauren:Brown Toggle Sweater Coat $1298
From Neiman Marcus - same as Ralph Lauren but in dark grey:Grey Toggle Sweater Coat $1298
From Kinross:Hand Knit Cable Coat (Boutiques only)
From Neiman Marcus (I own this in black and LOVE it!):Cable Coat $695
So, those are my picks for now! I have the last coat listed from Neiman Marcus (thought it was only for sale last season, but there it is again!), a Ralph Lauren coat, and a Kinross coat. They are so delicious! I must say that my two favorites from the list above are the brown sweater coat from Neiman Marcus and the Ralph Lauren toggle sweater coat. If I could afford the Loro Piana, I would buy that in a heart beat!! You should already know by now how I feel about their cashmere... nothing better!
Well, enjoy the hunt for the next staple in your wardrobe! If I find any others I love, I'll post them. If you know of any others, let me know!!
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
I chatted with Bernard, who was very helpful, despite the fact that he knew I wasn't going to buy anything! HA! I told him about my ridiculous collection and how I took care of everything. I just received my first piece of Loro Piana cashmere and I was very excited to tell him how much I loved it. I also told him of my cashmere stuffed animals and he said "Well, that's one I've never heard!" Maybe he doesn't get out much. Ralph Lauren has cashmere stuffed animals for crying out loud. Jay Strongwater and Banana Republic do, too.
Anyway, I was interested to see Loro Piana's new line of Baby Cashmere. It's basically, the finest cashmere you can physically get. It's just that: baby cashmere. It's the cashmere off of a baby/young cashmere goat that is even finer than the finest adult cashmere. The glory of this cashmere is that you only get it once in a goat's life. That's it. So, it's a very precious product. OH MY GOODNESS was it incredibly soft. The pieces were very pricey and I would be horrified to spill something on it or to find a blasted moth hole. Now, I take very good care of my cashmere, but I swear, I'd become a moth hunter with this one. I'd be neurotic.
They also had "Waterproof" cashmere. If you have ever spilled water on yourself (or even soda, sshhhhh) then you know that good cashmere is "waterproof" for a good 5 seconds. I've spilled soda and soaked it up before it could soak in. However, this new cashmere boasts that it is 100% waterproof. No soaking in whatsoever. So, I guess that's nice if it's raining. But, honestly, who would wear their Loro Piana cashmere in the rain? Not me. I'd go with one of my cheaper pieces for sure. Cashmere isn't harmed by water, but man, I still wouldn't do it. It feels wrong or something.
Also, Bernard showed me a purse made from Elephant leather. That's one I'VE never heard before. It was really neat to touch but was waaaaaaay out of my price range. Plus, I want their cashmere, not their purses, sheesh.
Their other newish venture is luxury cashmere goods for the home. They've done it for luxury private planes, etc. but now they offer it to exclusive Interior Designers. They make carpet. GAH! Carpet. As wonderful as that would feel... come on. Granted, if I could afford it, I would totally buy it and make my cashmere closet complete, but who comes up with this stuff? They once made a cashmere jump rope and now have cashmere roll-up board games... I should work for them. They need me. (I wish)
Last thing, I'm on the catalog mailing list! WOOOOHHOOOOO! I couldn't find evidence of a catalog online before I went and I'm so glad I asked about it. I will jump for joy when I get one. I had to fill out a customer card where they leave space for your credit card number. That way, you can walk in next time, say "I want one of everything" and leave. Bernard told me that people do it all the time. Some people have multiple cards for their multiple homes and say, "send it to the house in Paris, not the New York apartment please." Lifestyles of the rich and famous...
So, that was my trip. It was so fun! Someday I'll go in there and clear them out... some day.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
4) The fun part. PULL THAT THREAD!!! The seam will come undone and TAH-DAH! Two pieces successfuly taken apart with no mess!
Saturday, June 2, 2007
I sell cashmere stuffed animals at http://CashmereCreations.ETSY.com which are often given to children as new toys. I have had to create replacement animals because family pets have destroyed the stuffed animals. Dogs, for whatever reason, are drawn to cashmere and will EAT it!!
Here's my theory:
1) A dog will go up to the toy because is LOOKS like something they would be allowed to play with.
2) They start to bite/chew said toy.
3) The toy starts to smell like a "friend." (If you have ever washed cashmere by hand- it smells like wet dog!!!)
4) Dog thinks, "Hey! I know you! You smell like me!" and continues to destroy said toy.
Point of the story: If you value your cashmere toys and sweaters, keep them away from your canine family members! Moths are NOT the only enemies of your cashmere collection...
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Today's marketplace has seen an ever-increasing demand for cashmere products. In order to help meet demand, some manufacturers have been "padding" their cashmere percentages listed on the garment tags, while some others use the coarser, thicker, and shorter hairs from the Kashmir goats and call it "cashmere." Pretty much any hair from the Kashmir goat can be called "cashmere," but there are great differences in quality.
The finest cashmere is the thinnest (diameter) and longest of the fibers. Longer, thinner fibers make for a much stronger and softer yarn. When spun into yarn, the longer fibers are much less likely to become separated from the yarn and pill. Pilling is basically the smaller strands of cashmere separating from the knit and bundling together.
ALL cashmere will pill, but the best quality will pill considerably less and practically STOP pilling after the first few wears. It's like the sweater is getting its "pilling" out of its system.
Alright, things to look for in shopping for CASHMERE:
- The label- Even department stores can be duped into buying lesser-quality cashmere so ALWAYS check the tag. People like to claim "cashmere sweaters on sale" or whatever. Then, you look at the tag and it's 5% cashmere... By law, all cashmere sweaters are required to be labeled with the percentage of cashmere, country of origin, and the name of manufacturer.
- Price- If a "100% Cashmere" sweater is retailed less than $200, it is probably a lesser quality. On SALE for $200 is great!
- Feel- Cashmere will be extraordinarily soft and should not feel rough at all. Lower quality can feel slightly prickly or rough. Most people who are allergic to wool (like myself) can wear cashmere with NO problem. Sometimes it doesn't feel rough to your hand, but try it on. Your stomach is more sensitive than your fingers.
- Look- If a sweater looks too "poofy" or extra fuzzy, don't buy it. Poofy=pilling. Cashmere should be tightly knit and look smooth. Even when it looks smooth, cashmere should be soft, light, and feel like you are wearing air.
- Look- Is it shiny? Yes? Don't buy it. More often than not, it is a cashmere blend. Usually, silk.
- Seams- Look inside the sweater and see how the seams have been done. If the seams have been serged, walk away. Serged seams is when the shape of a sweater has been cookie-cut from a large piece of cashmere and then sewn together on the edges to hide the raw edges. Knit cashmere sweaters will be put together as individual sections that were knit individually.
- Stretch- Cashmere should give a BIT, like all knit fabrics. If you pull from side to side and your sweater stays stretched in that shape, it is poor quality. Cashmere should rebound directly and quickly into its original shape.
I hope this helps you in your search for the best cashmere! If I think of more things to consider, I will add it!
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Have you ever been in a thrift store or discount shop of some kind, found a really soft sweater with no tag, and wondered what fabric is is? I've been there many times and have found a simple test that will tell you whether or not it is acrylic.
Acrylic is a really good impersonator of cashmere- it is soft, fuzzy, and tends to look like cashmere at first glance. If there is no tag on an acrylic sweater, to the beginner, it can be hard to tell if it is or not.
What you do:
- Take your thumb on the outside of the sweater and your pointer finger on the inside of the sweater, press your fingers together with the sweater in between and wiggle your fingers back and forth.
- If the sweater "squiggles" around or feels slippery, it is ACRYLIC!!
- Cashmere does NOT squiggle or move around when you do this. It keeps its shape.
- This test will only tell you if the sweater is Acrylic or Not Acrylic. Cashmere blends pass this test, as do some other wools.
- Once you get used to identifying cashmere, you will be able to tell just by touching something and looking at how it catches the light.
- Point of this is that you look at a sweater that LOOKS like cashmere and want to know if it is an impostor.
- You should be able to tell angora and mohair from a mile away- it is WAY too fuzzy and out of control.
Practice makes perfect! Test yourself the next time you are in a store. Feel a sweater before looking at the tag and decide if it is Acrylic or not. This will help you feel confident in identifying something without a tag.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Alright, if you buy TSE at retail prices, it's a decent investment. You will be spending hundreds on a wardrobe basic and much more for trendy, elaborated pieces. TSE, which is pronounced "say" has made a name for itself with its cashmere, but also makes luxurious blends and garments in other fabrics. Of course, I love their cashmere. TSE cashmere is sold in many department stores and boutiques. Saks Fifth Avenue has a great selection online at: www.Saks.com
For detailed information on TSE's production methods, history, and FAQ's, visit: www.TSECashmere.com
At their website, you can view their collection and look up retailers in your state. What they will not tell you on their website is that they have an OUTLET (yes, outlet!!) in Cabazon, CA at the Desert Hill Premium Outlets. I have visited their outlet and it is wonderful. Their prices are anywhere from 15%-70% off. They are always busy in there so expect a line.
They sell their traditional TSE line, but they also have a lower-end, more affordable line called TSESay. So it's, "say say"! Very cute! Today, I will be reviewing the brand as a whole instead of garment by garment. I will do that another time as I have many of their pieces.
TSE Cashmere Brand
Overall Value- Superior A
By superior, I mean that if you take care of your TSE cashmere pieces, they WILL last a lifetime. I would suggest buying their more classic designs as they will likely not go out of style. Some of their more trendy designs are beautiful, but are very pricey for one season's use. They will pill less than other brands because they use the best quality cashmere in their manufacturing.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
My video entry!
Now back to the show...
Alright, here is some information about how to clean and care for your cashmere collection. *****SUPER IMPORTANT: The following applies to KNIT fabrics, not WOVEN fabrics found in many suits and blankets.*****
- Wait for your deodorant to dry before putting on your sweater. This will help keep the deodorant from building up on the inside of the sweater. It's a giant PIA (pain in the you-know-what) to remove.
- Do not wear perfume. It can stain your sweater and attract moths (boo!).
- Do not wear the same sweater more than once in a four/five day period.
- Try to keep your sweater away from rough items: purses, jewelry, etc. These items can cause pilling, a snag, or even a hole! (gasp!)
- I do not recommend dry-cleaning your cashmere sweaters unless you need specific stain removal treatments.
- Wash your sweaters in your PRE-CLEANED sink or a large Tupperware bin. (Please don't wash your cashmere after you have just washed dishes. Come on now...)
- Be cautious with bulky, large pieces. They become extremely heavy when they are filled with water.
- Do not hold up a wet piece of cashmere by the shoulders, this will stretch your sweater. Keep your sweater in a lump when you go to pick it up when wet, fully supported by your hands. Think: BLOB. Let it be a blob.
- Wash you cashmere in cold water. NEVER use hot water, it will cause your sweaters to shrink.
- Use hair shampoo (after all, cashmere is goat hair...) or a mild detergent made for fine fabrics. Personally, I use Cashmere Wash from the Laundress. J Crew now sells it!
- Agitate the water and detergent before you put the sweater in. You want it to be as evenly distributed as possible.
- Press and squish the soapy water through your sweater. Do not wring, twist, or rub. SQUISH!!
- Drain the sink and rinse with the same temperature of water that you used for washing. A sudden change in temperature will cause your cashmere to shrink. So if you used warm-ish water to wash, use warm-ish water to rinse.
- After rinsing, squish and squeeze as much water as you can out of your sweater. DO NOT wring or twist. I keep my sweaters in a ball and press it in between my hands. Kind of like checking a basketball for air pressure... How else can I describe this... SQUISH the BLOB.
- Lay out your semi-wet sweater onto a towel and roll it up. Press out as much water as you can with the towel.
- Remove the sweater and lay it out on a fresh towel or drying rack, making sure to put the sweater back into its original shape. It will dry however you place it, believe me. (Tip: if you want to shrink or stretch a sweater, now is the time to do it- see my other post about this).
- Keep your sweaters away from heat sources and windows.
- Air Dry.
- TAH DAH!
- If you don't feel comfortable removing stains yourself, take your sweater to a dry cleaner.
- Treat stains IMMEDIATELY with cold water and a stain remover. I use Zout and I love it.
- After your stain remover has penetrated, wash your sweater as normal. Do NOT rub or give much special attention to the stained areas. You'll rub a hole. (I know from experience, lol)
- I do not suggest this because I do not want to be responsible for mistakes, BUT: a relative of mine got a beauty oil on her cashmere sweater when a container opened in her suitcase while traveling. As far as she was concerned, the sweater was ruined so she let me fiddle with it. I used a wool carpet stain remover and it worked! I placed a towel inside the sweater, under the stain, and applied the remover. I let the remover soak into the sweater, then pressed it out with another towel. I did this over and over, pressing out the stain to the towel underneath. After it looked OK, I washed it as normal and it was as good as new.
- Clean your sweaters before you store them. Moths are attracted to natural fibers, especially when they are dirty or stained. Ever notice how they never go for your faux-wanna-be-cashmere-acrylic sweaters?
- When you store your pieces, fold them around a piece of tissue paper to help prevent wrinkles. Honestly, I never do this. Lol. I use a steamer when I have a pesky wrinkle.
- Do not store your sweaters in plastic. I suggest using sweater bags that are breathable, but keep critters out.
- DO NOT HANG YOUR SWEATERS, period. Seriously. Take my word for this, people.
- Use a sweater shaver to remove pilling. Do not press hard or you will shave a hole into your sweater. (I also know this from experience... See why I made this blog?)
- You may iron your sweaters on low, while inside out to remove wrinkles. Or steam!! That's what I do.
Ask questions if you need help!
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Over the years, Neiman Marcus has put out some beautiful cashmere sweaters from their Exclusives collection. I was disappointed this year but that hasn't stopped me from loving their stuff. Their Exclusives are made in a variety of places, but still have top-of-the-line quality. These pieces aren't as expensive as your Eskandar, Loro Piano, and Brunello Cuccinelli pieces, but are just as nice. This grey sweater rivals my hand-knit, pink Brunello Cuccinelli piece any day.
This NM sweater has become one of my favorites, so I have had to take care of it. This sweater wears extremely well. It does not pill nearly as bad as one would expect of such a thick knit sweater. This sweater is at least 10-ply and is as thick as it sounds. It is my perfect, lay around the house sweater. I've used it for traveling and for staying warm in 26-degree weather. It is lightweight, but warm. It is very comfortable, but can be tricky if you are moving around a lot, as it has no closure. This piece retailed at around the $400-$500 range. The style of this piece is GREAT. It is not trendy, but classic in style. It is hand knit, which gives it a one-of-a-kind feel. This has been and will be one of my favorites for a long time.
Neiman Marcus Exclusives Grey Cardigan:
Brand's Overall Value: Excellent B+/A-
To see some of their pieces that are now ON SALE!! go to: www.neimanmarcus.com and look in their sale section. If you search on the home page, it won't bring the good ones up! SO, go to the sales and values section, then search with the keyword "cashmere."
Quality: Evaluates construction, quality of materials, and lifespan.
Style: Trendy gets less points because you are less likely to wear it long-term. We want you to have some pieces that will last you a lifetime.
Comfort: Wearability and maneuverability while in it.
$1,000+ 0 Points
Less than $100 10
Brand's Overall Value: Does not apply to any specific sweater. This is my opinion of the brand as a whole.
Keep in mind: Just because a sweater is cheap, doesn't mean it is quality... A piece of cashmere that is over $1,000 may get no points for price because it is plain expensive, but it doesn't mean that it's not worth it.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I am going to give my opinions on every cashmere brand I am familiar with. I'm talking about hundreds here so we have a lot to get through! I will also show you how to take apart a sweater to salvage the yarn or to create something else out of it. I will give you my opinions on quality, the cashmere market, how to clean and store your collection, and current events related to cashmere production. You will find a bit of everything here.
I would love to answer any questions you may have! If I don't know the answer, I will find out for you so we can learn together!
To see some of my current creations, please visit: www.CashmereCreations.ETSY.com