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Mohair seems to come and go as a trend… For some it’s a love/hate relationship. For us, it’s love. Working with this fun and fuzzy fiber can be so rewarding. Here are some tips and favorite patterns for making mohair magic.
Yarn: 80% kid mohair, 15% polyamide, 5% wool. Hand wash gently in cool water, lay flat to dry, blocking recommended.
To keep your halo looking fresh, try brushing it gently after your piece is washed and blocked! (See more “how to” below.)
95 yards/25 gram ball (1,725 yards per pound) Made in Italy from South African mohair.
gauge: 4.25 sts to 1″ on US sz 8 needles for many projects (highly variable) sett: tabby 5–10 epi tabby
Just the right amount of fluff! This feather light yarn is made from the finest kid mohair fibre. Light and warm to wear, Jo Sharp Rare Comfort Kid Mohair is sturdy enough to be worked on its own and also combines nicely with other yarns in either knitting or weaving. Available in both solid and tonal shades. When purchasing variegated mohair shades, please be aware that your purchase may vary in color from the photographs shown on the website. This is because the process of applying a variety of different dye shades in varying quantities and in a random manner to a single batch of yarn tends to create a different effect with each new dye lot. A great choice for sweaters, accessories and home decor items.
Mohair can be a sticky situation… The right project, some simple techniques, proper care, and a little creative courage will reward you with beautiful mohair creations. Here are some solutions to common mohair challenges!
To make mohair easier to work with overall, and to give your mohair room to loft up, we recommend using patterns that favor a more “open” fabric, like the overall lace design of the Atmosphere Pullover, or which are knit on a larger needle, like the Ribbed Shrug.
Mixing your mohair with another yarn will also create a beautiful fabric that still features the halo and lightweight warmth, but “mutes” the effect a bit and creates an even, solid and well-balanced cloth that can be easier to work. Try the Blueberry Yoke sweater in mohair and Classic DK Wool, or the Amelia sweater in mohair and Mulberry Silk Georgette.
If you do want a little pattern, but don’t want it to get lost, try the Cable Poncho.
Challenge: When working with mohair one of the biggest challenges come from its “stickiness” and this can affect your tension (and patience) or cause too much friction as it passes through the reed in weaving.
Weavers will benefit from using mohair primarily in the weft rather than warp so that you eliminate the challenge of passing it through the heddles and reed and getting stuck or causing a lot of shedding to build up. If you’re game it can make a beautiful warp, just be sure it’s widely spaced and use a direct tie up so that shafts can be lifted separately.
It can help to use it interspersed in the warp with smoother warps perhaps only every 3rd or 4th warp, keeping those warps up or down for a few wefts so they’re not interlacing and passing next to other warps as frequently. Alternating this way will still give plenty of texture to your fabric but will cut down on the “sticking” factor.
Challenge: The fluffy halo can obscure the more delicate details of stitch patterns and texture can get lost in the fluff. It can be hard to see and correct mistakes as you go, and some more intricate stitch techniques just aren’t worth the effort.
Solution: Loosen up your gauge or sett and don’t bother with patterns that feature delicate textured stitches, like the Atmosphere Pullover or Ribbed Shrug. Instead, widen your sett, go up a needle size or two, and choose designs with big open eyelet stitches or bolder shapes.
Challenge: Finished pieces can become dense and the halo can get “matted” looking. The “core” or binder thread is generally very thin, but all that halo can make for a lot of material which can feel thick or messy in some designs and fabrics. The looser fibers of the halo can tend get matted or uneven looking with wear, or may tend to shed more than sleeker yarns.
Solution: Give it a brush! Part of the joy of mohair is the lovely ethereal halo. We recommend using a small bristle hairbrush, wire pet grooming brush, or small hand carders or flicker, and giving your finished pieces a quick, even brushing from time to time. Use short and gentle upward strokes to lift the fibers without catching the underlying fabric. Start at one corner and work your way evenly across the piece, brushing the fibers all in the same direction with a slight upward motion. Start with a minimal brushing, you can always do more later or give it a touch up any time the halo starts looking compressed or uneven.
If your mohair is shedding, give it a light brushing and then put the (completely dry) piece into the dryer with dryer balls on low or no heat. This will shake loose any fibers that aren’t attached, thereby removing the shedding material that may have come loose as you worked the piece.
Challenge: The fluff is scratchy!
Solution: Use the right mohair for your project. If you plan to create a denser cloth for items like a pillow cover or throw blanket sett your mohair tighter and stay away from the more delicate mohair blends that incorporate silk and kid mohair. If you’re making a sweater or other accessories try the Jo Sharp Rare Comfort Kid Mohair Yarn mixed with something even softer, like the amelia stweater or keep your necklines wide so they will layer nicely over other clothes. For bulkier pieces like a cozy blanket, the Jo Sharp Rare Comfort, Victorian Boucle Yarn, or Victorian Brushed Mohair Yarn will give plenty of body and are extra warm on their own or combined with other yarns.
Mohair is considered a luxury fiber due to its unique characteristics and less widespread production. Mohair is the fleece of the the angora goat – angora fiber comes from angora rabbits! The name “angora” is derived from the Turkish city of Ankara, which is the region (Anatolia) where mohair production originated more than 3,000 years ago. Most commercial mohair production now occurs in South Africa, Turkey, and the United States, however there are many small-scale producers in the US and other countries as well.
Mohair goats produce a much higher volume of fiber than cashmere goats and are shorn twice a year. Their coats are quite curly (not crimpy) and the fiber itself is very shiny, strong, and lustrous. The unusually strong fibers make the coarser grades very well suited to materials that get a lot of wear, especially when blended with other fibers to add strength, for use in things like upholstery, outerwear or even rugs. With enough heat and agitation mohair will eventually felt, but because of the smoothness (smooth scales) and minimal crimp of the fiber it will felt less easily than wool. A typical staple length is 4 to 6 inches and the microns range from 22-27 for fine kid mohair to 30+ microns for later shearings.
Mohair is sometimes blended at around 10%-25% with wool or other fiber blends in more conventionally constructed yarns. For example, Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted and Bulky are singles that feature 15% mohair and 85% wool. Peace Fleece is a two-ply worsted featuring a full 25% mohair in the blend. The longer-staple mohair fibers give these yarns a little extra strength as well as loft and a very slight halo, however the overall appearance is not the super-fuzzy look of yarns that are majority mohair fiber.
What we usually think of as “mohair yarns” usually have a wool, silk, or nylon binder thread at their core. The mohair fiber is spun into and around that core and then brushed to create the big lofty halo we associate with mohair. The binder provides a strong base and is barely visible in your finished fabric. Mohair makes exceptionally warm pieces without being heavy or dense. All that fluff creates a layer of lightweight insulation that holds warm air close the way down or poly-fill would, but it’s all natural, renewable and won’t make you sneeze, plus it looks great!
Mohair comes in different grades, the most common differences being “kid” versus standard mohair. Kid mohair is the first clipping and the fibers are the softest and finest. For a more delicate sweater or accessory a softer kid mohair or blend is a better choice.
The clippings in following years, just as with wool, tend to become coarser. For big snuggly camp blankets or a pop of texture in otherwise smooth fabrics a standard mohair is a great option because it is very durable and has a lot of body and warmth.
A wide gauge range is often given for mohair because the same yarn can yield anywhere from a DK to a bulky gauge depending on how it is used. When weaving or knitting with mohair you can pack the halo down around the binder using a tighter gauge or sett, or keep the design very open and let the fluff fill in the spaces.
For a good example of using a tighter gauge for a great outerwear piece knitters might try the Wrap Jacket, below.
For super-local mohair your best bet is to check out your local fiber fairs or country fairs to see what can be found in your neck of the woods. These will usually be loose fiber in the form of curly mohair locks that you can experiment with spinning yourself or use as embellishment in felting. We offer Maine kid mohair fiber here: Kid Mohair Locks
Please note, the listed price is for a full pound of mohair locks, you can purchase all our loose fibers in as little as an ounce!
It’s back to school for the kids and the first hints of fall color are appearing in the leaves… Time to learn that wonderful fiber art skill you’ve been waiting for! We’ve just launched our fall class schedule and there’s something for everyone!
We’re delighted to share very special display of antique Latvian mittens. Forty-five pairs of hand knitted mittens featuring traditional Latvian designs, with samples representing all five historical regions are here at Halcyon Yarn for a limited time this winter.