Mohair is such a favorite of mine. Of course, I would love it since I have a fiber flock of angora goats with lots of mohair on the hoof, so to speak. According to Clara Parkes’ book, The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, “Goats with silken hair” were referenced in the 14th century BC, but the angora goats that we know of today were domesticated near Ankara, Turkey in the 13th century AD. She writes that the word “mohair” is a variation of the Arabic word mukhayar, which means “to choose”. Perhaps because the European buyers were always “choosing” it.
Mohair grows very quickly, approximately 1 inch per month. Therefore the goats need to be sheared every 6 months or so. The staple length is long compared to many wool staples. The fibers themselves are long and hairlike, with large flat scales. This means that the fibers become highly reflective and full of luster.
Because of these characteristics, mohair takes dye beautifully. As a dyer I can achieve clear, saturated color that is very shiny. Like wool, mohair puts itself out if it is set on fire. It is very warm and insulating as well. It is very strong so it is used for textiles that get a lot of wear, like upholstery.
Kid mohair is the softest mohair. As the animal ages, the fibers grow thicker and stronger. Mohair can be classified as kid for 2-3 shearings usually. In some very good breeding lines, kid mohair classification can go on many years.
I have also had 100% mohair made into yarns. A single ply that can be used for tapestry weaving although recently many knitters have been buying these mini skeins for doll clothes or to create gradient cowls or scarves.
A 2 ply that is sport weight that can be used for outerwear garments or nice strong warps for woolen blankets. I also love using 100% mohair roving with my new spinning students, since it is very easy to draft and makes a nice yarn for a beginner spinner.
During this month, I’ll be sharing what I know about mohair, its blends, fancy yarns and patterns in which mohair can shine. Have you used mohair in your knitting, crocheting, weaving or spinning? Please share in the comments.