Wool vs Cashmere – What is the difference?

If you’re looking at investing in new knitwear or scarves, it can be confusing to find both wool and cashmere without much explanation between them. How do you know which one is right for you, and is one really better than the other?

Cashmere wool is the wool from the cashmere goat and will come from Asia. Then what is more often referred to as ‘wool’ is usually the wool from a sheep. This includes wool from the Australian and New Zealand ‘merino’ sheep breed and British Wool which comes from a combination of over 50 native British sheep breeds (what Glencroft uses for most of its knitwear).

There are lots of different types of both wool and cashmere to choose from, and they all vary in quality, thickness and warmth.

Woman wearing purple cashmere scarf
A Glencroft cashmere scarf is one of our most luxurious products, made in Yorkshire

Choosing the warmest type of wool

If you’re wanting a new sweater, hat, scarf or gloves, then you will definitely want to know which is the warmest. After all, a scarf that can’t keep you warm in winter won’t be very helpful when it gets to December or January.

However, when faced with a wide range of choices it can be hard to know which one will help you beat the winter chill the best.

There are many types of wool to choose from, and we would recommend British Wool. It’s what many of the sweaters we sell at Glencroft are made from, and it’s one of the warmest wools you can find.

There are lots of other choices of wool that you can choose from, including merino, Lambswool and of course cashmere. Choosing the right material for you isn’t just down to how warm it is, but can also be decided by how soft it feels against your skin.

Man in wool cardigan
A warm British Wool cardigan

Which type of wool is the softest?

Like people, sheep can all be totally different. From breed to breed, and sometimes even within the same family, the fleeces can all be unique.
For sheep that live in harsher environments, their fleece will have evolved to keep them warm but this can mean it is coarser than others. Some of the coarsest wool from British sheep is actually too harsh for clothing and is in fact used for British Wool carpets instead!

Sheep that live in warmer climates such as Southern Europe or Australia can have finer and softer coats. One of the most common of these breeds is the Merino sheep known for being fine and very soft.

If you’re trying to determine which wool is the softest, you can also consider the micron width of the wool fibre. As a guide, the lower the micron means the finer the wool and the softer it feels.

Which wool is the itchiest?

Some people find wool itchy, due to the tight knit fibres of this material. However, it’s certainly down to personal preference and how sensitive your skin is.

Using the microns as a guide, anything sitting above 30 can be considered to be itchy by most people. However some people with particularly sensitive skin might find that anything above 20 microns is too much for their skin.

Wool such as British Wool can sit on the edge of being itchy, as it’s microns are typically 28-32 microns. Finer wool such as cashmere is usually 14-16 microns and considered softer and less itchy. Don’t forget, you can sometimes have wool mix blends that are softer due to having finer wool such as merino, angora or cashmere within them.

If you find that your skin is particularly sensitive then you might find it best to wear a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath your wool jumper. This should help protect your skin from any reaction or itching from the wool.

Read more about this here, how does British Wool feel?

How to choose between wool and cashmere

Whilst cashmere is often featured in many of the fashion magazines or the ‘what to buy’ features, it’s important to remember that there are other types of wool to choose from too.

Choosing between types of wool is a personal choice, and often comes down to what you personally find softest or equally what your budget can afford.

Some wools such as angora (from rabbits) or cashmere (from goats) can come with a hefty price tag, and that isn’t always affordable for everyone. If your purse doesn’t stretch that far, it doesn’t mean you have to be cold though!

Investing in a wool jumper made from another type such as British Wool can keep you warm whilst being a little bit kinder to your bank balance as well as being an extremely sustainable option as it won’t have travelled around the world to be processed.

We recommend you check the origin of the wool in the clothing you buy. For verified “British Wool” – with the crook mark tag – it will have come from the UK where we have some of the highest welfare standards. However with merino wool or cashmere it’s important to check the supply chain – there are often certain standards that can give you a good indication of responsible sourcing such as Woolmark or the Sustainable Fibre Alliance for cashmere.

Choosing a high quality wool jumpers from Glencroft Countrywear

If you’re looking to invest in your wardrobe and style, then choosing a wool jumper from Glencroft is a smart decision.

View our range of British Wool jumpers and our cashmere and lambswool scarves.


Wool vs Cashmere – What is the difference?