Angora goats produce mohair, which is one of the most prized natural fibers. It is referred to as the “diamond fiber” for it’s strength and luster. It is extremely fine and soft, like alpaca, angora (rabbit) or cashmere.
Mohair originated in the mountains of Tibet. The Angora goat was introduced to Turkey in the sixteenth century, where the name “Angora” originated. They were farmed exclusively in the Turkish providence of Ankara until 1849 when the goat was given as a gift to a United States cotton farmer for his service helping Turkey cultivate cotton.
Today, the mohair industry is centered around South Africa, which is the largest farmer of Angora goats and exporter of mohair, along with Argentina, Turkey, and the U.S. state of Texas. To a lesser extent, Australia and New Zealand also produce and export mohair.
How is mohair harvested?
Angora goats are shorn twice a year. Think of it as them getting a hair cut. It doesn’t hurt and they feel much lighter and cooler afterward.
Angoras produce about an inch of mohair per month, so fleeces have an average of a 6 inch staple from base to tip if shorn every 6 months.
What can you make with mohair?
The diameter of the fiber increases with the age of the goat, and the thinner fibers from young goats are used more for clothing, like sweaters, while the thicker, coarser fibers are used for carpets, upholstery, drapery fabric, and outerwear.
Additional uses of mohair include:
- needle felting
- wet felting
- handspun yarn for crocheting and knitting
- doll hair wigs
- faux hides
How is mohair processed?
- Fleeces are skirted to remove soiled hair from the goat’s rear end and large pieces of vegetable matter (vm).
- Mohair is washed to remove dirt and grease.
- Mohair is carded, either by hand carders, a drum carder or by commercial machine to create batts. It can also be picked with a picker to open the locks first.
- Batts can be turned into roving using a diz.
- Batts or roving can be hand spun using a drop spindle or spinning wheel.
Why use mohair?
Mohair is a luxury fiber and adds strength, beauty and warmth to any item. Here is a list of some of it’s qualities:
- Shine – wonderful luster, with qualities similar to silk
- Strength – super durable and stronger than similar sized steel
- Dyes well – mohair loves color and absorbs dye extremely well
- Flame retardant – while not
- Moisture wicking – like most wool, mohair wicks moisture away
Where can you buy mohair?
Mohair can be easily purchased from private Angora breeders. You can locate colored angora breeder through the Colored Angora Breeder Association (CAGBA).
What is Angora fiber?
Angora fiber comes from Angora rabbits. Mohair comes from Angora goats. Both are strong, silky and soft.