Cashmere or merino wool for warmth?
October 2, 2008 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Cashmere or merino wool - which will keep me warmer in my freezing cold office?

I'm a cold frog and need to buy a pashmina / wrap to keep me warm during the day while I'm at my arctic workplace. The trouble is I can't figure out whether I should buy cashmere or merino wool.

I'd like to think that a 4-ply cashmere wrap would do the trick, but my brain refuses to believe that it could possibly be warmer than a merino wool wrap. Lighter, yes, possibly softer and less bulky, but can cashmere really compete with merino wool for warmth??

I'd be very grateful for any advice you could give me! Thank you :)
posted by katala to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've found that both cashmere and alpaca tend to keep me warmer than merino or other wools. No scientific explanation to offer, but Googling "cashmere warmer than wool" backs this up.
posted by chez shoes at 6:45 AM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: Yea, I came in to say alpaca, actually, but cashmere works too. It is possible for it to be lighter and warmer at the same time due to the fibers. Cashmere and alpaca fibers are thinner than merino (usually, if we're talking high quality stuff) and so, there are more of them in the same type of yarn, and they can trap more air.

Plus, cashmere is cuddlier than merino, so it may be more fun for you to wear.
posted by cabingirl at 6:59 AM on October 2, 2008

Cashmere will be warmer... and lighter... and most likely softer.
posted by simplethings at 7:03 AM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: I'd say go with alpaca over cashmere-- I find it cheaper and softer than a lot of cashmere stuff.
It will definitely keep you warmer, too. It's one of the warmest fibres around. I love alpacas so I might be biased!
posted by indienial at 7:30 AM on October 2, 2008

Also, keep in mind that if possible you should keep your extremities warm, and that will help keep you warmer in general, i.e. I'm hoping you wear slacks, not dresses or skirts, and wear warm socks (like smartwool socks). You also should consider scarves of various kinds. And, cashmere, definitely, but also consider stuff made from microfleece, which is warm and light.
posted by gudrun at 7:42 AM on October 2, 2008

Definitely cashmere. I had a great Land's End cashmere cardigan that was my office sweater for almost three years in Boston. It was lightweight, cozy and chic! Good price too!
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 8:50 AM on October 2, 2008

My cashmere sweaters are much warmer than my merino wool ones. I'm constantly cold and I'm sometimes too warm in cashmere.
posted by Faithos at 9:42 AM on October 2, 2008

Cashmere over merino in a heartbeat.
posted by Stewriffic at 9:57 AM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: I'm another one who came to say alpaca over cashmere over merino.

Alpaca is one of the warmest (and softest!) fibers around. Plus, pretty!
posted by kumquatmay at 12:40 PM on October 2, 2008

Try to get a hold of something made of Musk Ox wool. It's pricey, but even softer and warmer than all of the above.
posted by matildaben at 1:29 PM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: I know from experience that cashmere is really warm, but doesn't leave you feeling overheated if your surroundings are's strange but true. Cashmere is really light and luxurious which definitely makes it better than wool, but the extra warmth makes the decision clear for me. I think I read somewhere that it's warmer than wool and there is some specific reason why but I cant' remember what it is. Also, cashmere resists moths which has been wonderful during my recent infestation.
posted by kenzi23 at 3:22 PM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: Alpaca, which is what I came to offer.

I'm a knitter and the explanation for this is that Alapaca is a hollow fiber and thus traps air better. Making it a fantastic insulator.

And alpaca is almost always going to be cheaper than cashmere. Plus, you can knit yourself an alpaca wrap. (I suggest blue sky alpaca brand Alpaca and Silk yarn, on a size 5 needle.)

Even if you're not going to knit yourself a wrap, I do hope that someone who finds this question will. I made one with that yarn and it's the wrap I pull out for every occasion.
posted by bilabial at 3:37 PM on October 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Can we just join forces and raise the freaking temp in our offices?

Is your deal that you walk/bike/bus to work and need to dress normal for that (re good wool socks not so great coming and going) and then are in a cube set at 68 degrees F for 8 hours?

If you have two wraps, take them both. And get a bottle of something like this to keep in your desk and freshen them up.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:12 PM on October 2, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you very much for all the helpful info, I really appreciate it :)!!

I have decided to go with alpaca after reading your responses. On that note could anyone please recommend a good place to buy an affordable (less than $150 ideally) alpaca shawl / pashmina?

So far I've found these places online but I'm not 100% sure what I should be looking for, what do you think? I'm having trouble telling what's dodgy and what's not...
posted by katala at 6:39 PM on October 3, 2008

Response by poster: Lesser Shrew - I totally agree! Yes I'm in that exact situation, I generally need to wear skirts, cotton shirts, and open-toed shoes to work to avoid collapsing of heatstroke while waiting for the bus (I live in Brisbane, Australia), but then I get into work and within an hour am freezing.
posted by katala at 6:43 PM on October 3, 2008

Fair Indigo is reputable. Their alpaca scarf (71 x 12) is $40 and their alpaca baby throw (69 x 53) is $140.

Eileen Fisher makes alpaca shawls--you can get Eileen Fisher at all the big women's department stores in the US (if that's where you are).
posted by crush-onastick at 10:42 AM on October 4, 2008

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