BEST IELTS General Reading Test 416

BEST IELTS General Reading Test 416

IELTS General Reading Test

The Story of Cashmere

A. Cashmere is made from processing the hair of the goat Capra hircus that lives on the Tibetan highlands in the Himalayas and Mongolia. This animal produces particularly fine wool that is soft and warm, which protects it from the harshness of winters, when temperatures can go down to minus 40 degrees Celsius. Depending on the thread selection, a higher or lower quality cashmere is created. This usually ranges from thin (2-ply) to very thick (10 to 12-ply). Cashmere is much softer, warmer and more isothermal than sheep’s wool. People can also wear it directly against the skin, as it does not produce itching or rash, unlike wool.

B. It is said that, in the thirteenth century in Mongolian grottoes, Marco Polo discovered representations of wild goats, domesticated by man. It is therefore likely that some shepherds raised these goats, capable of providing particularly warm wool, a long time ago. Only in the nineteenth century did Europeans discover the precious wool that would later be known as cashmere.

IELTS General Reading Test

C. The name cashmere came about because the processing of the precious wool first developed in the Kashmir region of India and the name of this region thus became the generic name of the fabric. Since then things have changed, as Indian production, having failed to evolve, has been considerably marginalised. Despite this, the majority of travellers who go to India continue to buy very cheap ‘Pashmina’ as souvenirs. Most of these, however, are actually made of 100 per cent viscose and are cheaply produced for unwary tourists.

D. Cashmere growth on the goat is generally regarded as being triggered by the shortening daylight hours of late summer and autumn, although many people believe that other factors, such as temperature and even diet, have an influence on the production of the cashmere. The coat continues to grow until the end of the year just before the coldest weather and is removed in the early to late spring. Cashmere can be harvested in two ways, depending on whether the goats are still wild or domesticated.

IELTS General Reading Test

In the Himalayas, a completely artisanal and eco-friendly method is used: when the goat is hot, it rubs against rocks and shrubs to speed up the moulting, leaving behind many clumps of hair. The local mountain people then walk throughout the mountains to collect the fluff. The other way of gathering cashmere is for the domesticated goats and the wool is obtained by shearing. A goat produces only 100 grams of usable cashmere, so in order to make a pullover, the wool from at least 2 goats is needed, but can range up to 6 goats.

Once the wool has been gathered, it is scoured or washed to remove any dirt, dried and then de-haired, which separates the main coat from the cashmere hair. Usually, only about 20 per cent of what is gathered can be classed as true cashmere. This is then dyed, spun, knitted or woven. The breeding of the goats remains very traditional and makes a significant contribution to the sustenance of a traditional rural population.

IELTS General Reading Test

E. In traditional areas where people farm specifically for cashmere wool, some issues have arisen. As drivers of terrestrial ecosystems, humans have replaced large animals in most areas, and human influence not only exerts striking ecological pressures on biodiversity at local scales, but also has indirect effects in distant corners of the world. The multibillion-dollar cashmere industry creates economic motivations that link western fashion preferences for cashmere to land use in Central Asia.

The penchant for stylish and comfortable clothing encourages herders to increase livestock production, which affects the environment of over 6 endangered large mammals in the remote, arid ecosystems, where cashmere goats are farmed. The attraction of farming cashmere goats is the price of the end fabric. Part of the reason for the price is a simple matter of supply and demand: it can take up to four years for a goat to produce enough cashmere wool to make one sweater.

IELTS General Reading Test

The fact that it is so time-consuming to produce means its value is increased. But it’s not just this that makes cashmere such a pricey fabric. The fibres are longer, finer, sturdier and more isothermal than sheep wool, making it an ideal choice for clothes and blankets. Its melting softness adds to its appeal, with people willing to pay more for a garment that will offer them greater comfort.

F. In response to demand from the UK textile industry, a cashmere fibre producing industry is being established in Scotland by a small group of farmers. Scottish reared goats are producing Scottish cashmere to enhance the quality of the finest of Scottish knitwear and accessories. It all began in 1985 when, as a result of initial research in Scotland, several farmers recognised the benefits of integrating cashmere-producing goats into their existing farm management systems. Compared to world production, Scottish cashmere farmers are producing tiny amounts of fibre, but the next challenge is to build up the national herd to at least 10,000 goats, and to develop a sustainable industry in control of its own future.

IELTS General Reading Test

G. Goats are no strangers to the hill and upland farms of Scotland. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, farmed herds were common all over the country. Major changes in social structure and agriculture led to their decline and their potential remained forgotten until recently. The Scottish cashmere industry is now re-emerging and, improved by crossing the cashmere goat with the hardy Scottish feral to create a hardy and adaptable hybrid, it is going from strength to strength.

The text on the previous pages has 7 paragraphs A – G. Which paragraph contains the following information? Write your answers in boxes 1 – 7 on your answer sheet.

IELTS General Reading Test

1. Seasonal changes affect when the goats produce the cashmere hairs.

2. Scottish cashmere production does not currently pose a threat to traditional producing countries.

3. It has been claimed that the earliest evidence of cashmere goat farming is cave paintings.

4. The Scottish cashmere industry is currently becoming stronger.

5. The place where the name cashmere evolved is now not the best place to buy cashmere products.

6. People don’t usually get an adverse skin reaction to wearing cashmere.

7. The demand for cashmere has created some environmental problems where cashmere goats are farmed.

IELTS General Reading Test

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer of the text?

In boxes 8 – 13 on your answer sheet write:

YES – if the statement agrees with the writer’s views

NO – if the statement doesn’t agree with the writer’s views

NOT GIVEN – if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

IELTS General Reading Test

8. The word cashmere comes from the local name for the goat in India.

9. Some cashmere hair is harvested due to a process that the cashmere goat uses for dealing with overheating.

10. Around 20 per cent of harvested cashmere goat hair has to be discarded before turning it into fabric.

11. Some countries have introduced import taxes on cashmere fabrics.

12. Goat farming has always been a strong Scottish industry.

13. Today’s Scottish cashmere industry has exploited modern breeding techniques to improve its position in the market.

IELTS General Reading Test


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BEST IELTS General Reading Test 416

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IELTS General Reading Test

1. D

2. F

3. B

4. G

5. C

6. A

7. E

8. NO

9. YES

10. NO


12. NO

13. YES

IELTS General Reading Test

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