Cashmere Scarf - Finished Object & Controversy

Here is a pic of my latest finished object. This is one of the cashmere scarf kits put out by Jade Sapphire Exotic Fibers and is 100% Mongolian Cashmere in the "Five O'Clock Shadow" colorway. My partner, Andy, loves wearing cashmere and has been - patiently - waiting for me to knit him something with it.

Neither he nor I really liked any of the "7 Manly Scarf Patterns" that come with the kit so I let him flip through the Harmony Stitch Guide books and he selected the Zig-Zag Moss Stitch pattern. It's subtle but nicely textured and he is very happy with the results.

I believe the kit contains approximately 300 yds and I used US Size 7 needles.

and then I watched television...

There is a new cable channel called "Planet Green" that is out to educate us all on how we can live our lives in ways that can reduce our carbon footprint and be more environmentally friendly. Bill Nye (The Science Guy) has a show called "Stuff Happens" and just as I was nearing completion of Andy's scarf... and had ordered a boat load more cashmere for his next scarf & glove combo and for a couple pair of cashmere socks... Bill Nye poops on the party. Apparently "Mongolian Cashmere" like the stuff I had just ordered from Jade Sapphire is not very friendly to the environment. The Chinese cashmere goat farmers are letting their herds get rather large in order to meet the global demand for cashmere. They graze their luxuriously soft fibered goats in the high grasslands alongside the Gobi Desert. Sadly, they do not replant the grass that the goats are pulling up roots and all. This is causing the Gobi Desert to increase in size at an alarming rate and causing major environmental problems... including dust storms as far away as Beijing.

I don't know if I am getting soft in my advancing age or what... but this made my stomach turn. Too late to cancel my order of cashmere now... but I will not order the "Mongolian Cashmere" again. I did check with my local fiber guru (who has a friend on the International Cashmere Board - I didn't even know there was such an organization) and I understand that the Cashmere from Classic Elite is produced in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. The other recommendation is to seek out small, local cashmere farms and support them. I have found one in Bremen, Maine called "Springtide Farm" and their fiber is AMAZING. Their web site is

Bill Nye advocates that fiber from Alpaca is every bit as soft as Cashmere, is much more environmentally friendly (alpaca only have teeth on the top and therefore cannot pull out the roots of the grass) and alpaca is much more cost effective, too!

Image icon Cashmere Scarf 1.jpg220 KB


Controversy or not, that is one beautifully knitted scarf and I hope that Andy wallows in the luxury every time he wears it.

Thor's picture

Andy finds the controversy rather a "non-issue" long as it is cashmere... it really doesn't matter to him whether or not poor little Chinese children are choking on dust storms in Beijing!! (or so he says...)

ManMadeKnits's picture

Oh, Andy... He's also opposed to sunshine and puppies, I bet.

"The only sin is mediocrity." --Martha Graham

Thor's picture

And he apparently has an aversion to unicorns and rainbows, too!

asgalbraith's picture

Thanks for sharing this about cashmere. It is important to me to know about such practices. I think I and many of us have been blind to the consequences of consumerism. It is not okay with me to be ignorant of where the things I buy and use come from and how they are made. I have decided it is time for me to be more informed so I can make better choices in the future, so that we (and that includes the plants and animals) have a future to look forward to.


Crafty Andy's picture

Visit Crafty Andy's Blog Thanks for sharing this. I agree, we as consumers sometimes forget wher things come from and how they get here. It is important that things get replenish for other generations to enjoy. Things are not the same as they were last century, we have to get behind conscious consumerism, we have the power as we have seen ton bring the world economy down if we do not spend money, let's bring back a healthy economy with a healthy environment!

YugiDean's picture

I wonder if there is a program to replant the highlands like there is to replant the rain forests? I tried to Google for that, but came up empty-handed. Then again, I wasn't really sure how to search for it. Maybe there should be a program/organization for it? Maybe the Cashmere Board could do it! :-)

"Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." --Richard Wright

MMario's picture

From the articles I've read it's a combination of circumstances;drought combined with the grazing - which evidently has been on the verge of OVERgrazing for generations but a slight drop in average rainfall tipped the area over into dustbowl creating conditions.

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

Thor's picture

From what I understand the Mongolian Cashmere producers have not been very enthusiastic to engage in dialog with the Int'l Cashmere Board.

scottly's picture

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I have been leery for years of buying anything from the third world. Everything from child labor to the situation that you talk about occurs unchecked and I am not keen to support it. Thankfully there are plenty of fibre companies in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Europe that I feel I can trust.

Your scarf is still delicious and I love that pattern.

It seems we are all growing more sensitive to these same issues. I was alarmed that Rowan is now selling some Chinese yarn. I am certainly not about to spend the $$$$$ they charge for what most assume (stupidly) is fine English yarn, for some inferior stuff that is most probably sweat shop/child labor or some such horror. Now I read the labels on EVERYTHING. I want to know what it is and where it is made.

stch's picture

Thank you for enlightening us all to this situation. It was one that I'd been unaware.
Thank you also for providing the website for SpringtideFarm. It will be interesting to read a review of the product from the Farm.
The scarf is gorgeous!!