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Part II: Kyrgyzstan and Cashmere: How did it lead to June Cashmere?

In our previous blog post, we introduced Dr. Carol Kerven and Sabyr Toigonbaev and their vital work with native cashmere goats in Kyrgyzstan. We continue our story of their work then and today, and how it led to the founding of June Cashmere. If you missed Part I or want a refresher, find it here: Part I: Kyrgyzstan and Cashmere: How did it lead to June Cashmere? Sabyr assessing quality of cashmere. Photo by Carol Kerven. Carol and Sabyr organize a conference In 2012, Carol and Sabyr organized an international conference on high value animal fiber that took place in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. One of the goals of the conference was to make people aware of the quality of cashmere available...

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Cashmere and Caring for the land.

Southern Kyrgyzstan, photo: Erica Manning Historically, the vast majority of the world's cashmere has come from Mongolia and China. In recent decades, the rapidly increased production of this fiber has contributed to land overuse and land desertification in the region, the negative climate effects of which are felt even along the west coast of the United States. Native goats to Kyrgyzstan - referred to as 'jaidiri', meaning local goat; photo: June Cashmere Goats aren't innately bad to the land if managed properly; total animal numbers (including goats, sheep, cows, and any other animals being grazed) need to be kept in proportion to the size and topography of the area of land being grazed. Traditional grazing methods understood the importance of numbers in an animal...

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Field Notes: Collecting Cashmere for Yarn

Seeing tangible progress with the villages and shepherds in which we’ve invested so heavily is always encouraging. For example, we’ve been collecting cashmere in the Chong Alai valley since 2013, and have seen a huge shift in the process during the last 5 years. At first, the shepherds were not familiar with the process of combing goats rather than shearing. Much of the fiber was full of coarse guard hair instead of clean cashmere, and the mix of fiber quality from great to poor was more pronounced.   Since then, combing has become the standard means of collecting cashmere and the majority of people are bringing in very cleanly combed fiber. Overall, we are seeing a greater consistency in the...

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The Process of Collecting Cashmere Fiber

It is hard to believe that we are starting on our fifth cashmere collection season. The years are really beginning to blur together! I moved to Kyrgyzstan in late 2010 with my family and after a period of language learning, research, and social networking, we collected our first cashmere in the spring of 2013. At the time, people were shearing their goats and the fiber was being sold to middlemen, who in turn sold it to traders who sent it on to China. The price being paid to the shepherds was a flat rate based on weight, rather than quality. Our plan was to purchase combed fiber instead of sheared—this leaves the protective guard hair on the goat’s body while also...

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