What is mohair?
Classified as a speciality long hair fibre, mohair comes from the Angora goat, taking their name from the Turkish city, Ankara where they originated. From the 16th century, export of the goats was permitted, and gradually more and more countries started to produce mohair. Today, South Africa accounts for 60% of the world’s mohair production.
Mohair fibres have a relatively smooth surface; the outer layer having around half the number of scales found on fine sheep’s wool. This means that it is softer to the touch and is less likely to have that prickly feeling on the skin that sheep’s wool can have. Each mohair fibre ranges from around 25 to 45 microns in diameter, increasing as the goat grows older and can be categorised as either, kid, goatling or adult mohair. The finer hair from younger goats is often used for knitwear, as we do, for scarves and blankets whilst the thicker hair from older animals is more typically used for heavier fabrics and rugs.
Mohair is often the type of fibre used to make bouclé yarn. Bouclé yarns are fancy yarns made by wrapping an effect yarn of irregular semi-circular loops around a twisted central core. These loops protrude from the surface of the fabric in an all-over irregular manner to form a loop pile on the surface of the fabric.
Properties and qualities
Mohair has a high lustre and sheen (you might hear it referred to as the ‘diamond fibre’) and holds dye incredibly well resulting in vibrant colours. It is warm in winter and cool in summer due to its heat regulating properties – unlike sheep’s wool, mohair fibres don’t conduct heat and provide good insulation even when wet. The most durable of animal fibres, mohair can be shaped and twisted without causing any damage and doesn’t crease easily. It is also naturally flame-resistant.
How does it feel?
Mohair is an extremely soft fibre and is a great option for those with sensitive skin. It’s light and incredibly warm.
Mohair can usually be washed easily as it doesn’t felt or shrink like sheep’s wool – you’re unlikely to have the same shrinking disasters! To brush mohair, use a hard brush and brush in the direction of the fabric nap. For best results, refer to the care instructions, as some mohair products may require dry-cleaning.