My Girlfriends brother did exactly the same thing. He put on 25lbs during her pregnancy. She has now lost it all and he's still a porker.
I have a RRL cashmere v-neck. Made in China. Worn it a few times now and while it feels incredibly soft and luxurious, there are small signs of it pilling - nothing huge though. I would have thought that the RRL made in Italy cashmere might be a little better in quality? It was a fantastic buy for the price though (from eBay).
Oh, and I caved in and bought the Oilcloth Hunting Jacket... so f-ing sweet. Has some awesome details like arm vents, chin/neck strap, detachable hood and embossed poppers.