Selecting Mohair for Your Project
WHITE MOHAIR- pure bred white Angora Goats produce mohair that has been refined since biblical times and generally represents the premium in softness, curl, strength and consistency. High quality animals have virtually no kemp or medulated fibers that can be coarse and itchy. White mohair also takes dye beautifully and it is easy to get a consistent color from batch to batch.
COLORED MOHAIR - Breeding color into the Angora goat has been popular in recent years. The Colored Angora Goat Breeder's Association (CAGBA) was formed in 1999 to promote colored Angora goats and to establish standards to strive for in the breed. Developing color requires either breeding the few and rare naturally colored Angora goats to other, or to breed white Angora goats to other breeds to introduce color. The early cross-breeding helped with color but there was a sacrifice in mohair quality. There are now almost 5,000 colored Angora goats registered thus far. The quality of naturally colored mohair now available rivals the quality of white mohair. The naturally colored mohair is very desirable because of the variety of colors for hand spinners. Colors are silver, grey, charcoal, black, champagne, and shades of red, brown and chestnut. Patterned goats (pintos and stripes) allow a variety of colors in a single fleece.Quality colored mohair is still fairly rare. There are more than 300,000 white Angora goats recorded in the US compared to only 4,000+ colored Angora goats.Visit this site to learn more about naturally colored Angora Goats and to find a breeder near you.
While fineness is typically dependent upon the age of the goat, this is not a determination only of the goat’s age; it is a grading of the quality of the mohair. The information below is assuming the animal shears exactly the quality of mohair shown by their age. It is not unusual for a good quality Angora goat to shear yearling quality mohair as a 2-3 year old or an 5 year old goat to produce fine adult quality hair.
It is ALSO possible for a 2nd clip kid to produce yearling mohair or a yearling to have coarse fiber that would only quality as adult. So, it’s the quality of the mohair that is being graded; not the age of the goat producing the mohair.
Super kid under 23 microns
Kid 24-29 microns
Yearling 30-34 microns
Fine adult 35-39 microns
KID– Usually the 1st and 2nd shearing of an Angora goat, generally at 6 and 12 months.
PROS = It is the softest, finest, and, for colored Angora goats, will be the darkest colors. CONS = this fiber will be the most expensive as the kids don’t have a large amount of mohair (2-4 pounds) and this represents the finest mohair possible for the animal. Kid mohair also can be very wispy and flyaway making it a bit harder to manage and contain when spinning. It may not have the body desired for doll wigs or Santa beards.
YEARLING -This is generally the 3rd and 4th shearings.
PROS = this is the most popular mohair sold at Ronan Country Fibers. It still has the softness and fineness desired but has more of a “handle”. It can still be used next to the skin for scarves, hats, etc. but is easier to work with and much less expensive than kid. Colored yearling still has good color.
CONS = Not really any negatives except it isn’t kid!
FINE ADULT - This can be any shearing for an adult goat that still has fineness and softness. (2-3 years old)
PROS = This is an animal that breeders want to improve their herd! For those buying mohair, the seller may lump “yearling/fine adult” together and that is OK but if you pay the same, you should ask for the yearling or you may want to ask for samples.
CONS = There is a lot more adult out there than anything else. Since adult is generally less desirable, I suggest you know what you are getting.
ADULT - Adult mohair is coarser and straighter mohair from a mature goat; typically over 4 years old.
PROS = Adult mohair is still strong, beautiful and should retain luster throughout the life of the goat. It is perfect for doll hair, Santa beards and blankets; items that are not worn next to the skin. My favorite for adult mohair is in weaving rugs and making halters and leads. Adult mohair is very reasonably priced. Don’t shy away from adult mohair just because it is adult.
CONS = Mohair gets coarser as the animal ages. It would not be suitable for baby clothes or other items that go next to the skin. Adult buck also can be pretty smelly to wash if you get the spring shearing.
CONDITION OF YOUR MOHAIR
Mohair can be in good or poor condition. Poor condition can be caused by many things including:
1) Poor nutrition
2) Heavy worm or lice load
3) Severe environment - harsh weather
4) Feed or pasture contamination
5) Weak or sick animal. A weak or sick animal produces a weak fragile fiber that will break when used. Some believe that underfeeding an Angora goat produces a finer fiber. An undernourished goat will produce much LESS fiber and it will loose its strength and luster. If a lock of mohair breaks when tugged from both ends, do not use it.
Angora goats need adequate nutrition. They need a sticker and seed free environment to keep the fleeces free of contamination. It is best, however, to avoid coating your Angora goat. It will disturb the lock structure and goats can become entangled with equipment, brush or with each other while sparing.