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Knitting With Mohair

Sep 16, 2011

    
My tub of mohair. I had fun visiting with it again before I snapped the photo.
I have a tub of mohair, and most of it was given to me by people who "hate" mohair. Hate mohair? Does . . . not . . . compute . . .

I'll admit that it can sometimes be itchy around the neck, but that's a small price to pay for all of the glory that's mohair. I love it because it's soft, warm, fluffy, lustrous, beautiful, and did I mention warm? It can also be run with other fibers, which I do a lot. One of my favorite knitted jackets is a worsted wool run with a silk-blend mohair. It's so warm and wonderfully soft.

I love mohair when it's knit up at a large gauge, which makes it open and airy, but still warm because of the fuzziness that fills in the gaps left by using large needles.

Interweave Knits editor Eunny Jang did a segment on KDTV all about mohair. Here's some information about this misunderstood fiber.

—Mohair is the hair of the angora goat , and the younger the goat is, the finer the fiber is (so, "kid mohair" is very fine soft).
—Mohair has a wonderful halo, or fuzziness, when it's knit up.
—Mohair is lightweight but warm, and when knitted it has a beautiful drape.
—Mohair is difficult to knit evenly; Eunny suggests blunt tipped needles so that when you go into the stitch to knit it, you go into the center of the stitch and not into part of the mohair "cloud."

Here's Eunny to tell you more!



I agree with Eunny that mohair can be hard to rip out. But, I have to say I ripped out a whole sweater's worth and it is possible. A friend gave me an almost completely finished sweater because she decided that she didn't like the color. She said "If you want to rip it out, you can have it." A challenge was presented and achieved!

I did rip it out, and at some points I had to literally rip! It was through this process that I learned that mohair is so much stronger than it seems. When I was ripping out the sweater, there were many times I had to grip two pieces of yarn and tear the mohair fibers apart.

I found that as long as I held the yarn near the tangle, the mohair came apart without breaking. And it looks just fine to me! Before I use it again I'll skein it and steam it to take out the kinks, but I think it'll knit up again beautifully. (The yarn from the sweater is the purple mohair buclé in the photo above.)

You can learn much more about knitting with different fibers in Knitting Daily TV episode 603, which is now available as an individual download (along with all of series 600 KDTV, and more!) Plus, it's on sale as part of our StashBuster Sale!

Cheers,

P.S. The sweaters shown in the video are the Spring Twilight Pullover by Faina Goberstein from the Spring 2010 issue of Interweave Knits and the Grace Cowlneck by Pam Allen, from Interweave Knits Weekend, 2009.


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Comments

on Sep 20, 2014 3:33 PM

Hello, for those who find mohair itchy, try techknitter's advice and swish the garment in a basin of water with a tablespoon or two of hair conditioner.

techknitting.blogspot.ca/.../quicktip-softening-itchy-wool.html

nlcondit wrote
on Oct 28, 2011 1:54 PM

I have some lovely fine lace weight mohair that I bought from a local breeder in the New Forest in England.  Unlike mohair I have used in the past, it is actually easy to knit with and doesn't snarl.  I've only used it for trim and such so far but I am about to start a scarf for a friend.  Does anyone have an idea how much if at all it will relax when blocked?  Is it like alpaca in relaxing a lot?  It doesn't feel like it will relax at all.  

Carole Dion wrote
on Sep 27, 2011 7:11 AM

I've been raising angora goats for almost 11 years now.  If your mohair is itchy, look at the label.  I was surprised to see when I picked a ball of yarn once that it said mohair on the label but when you looked a little closer, it was made with 100% acrylic.  10 years ago, it was very difficult to find authentic mohair or alpaca fibers and the like.  That's why I started my business.  If on the label it says mohair, it is adult mohair (40 microns), not kid mohair (20 microns) or a mixture of yearling,and adult mohair.  Kid mohair is sheared from the young goatlings at 6 months and then 12 months of age.  They look like little clouds when you shear them. The micron count (the fiber density) is very low, looks as delicate as a baby's hair.  Kid hair becomes yearling hair then young adult, adult.   KId hair is light like a feather.  Imagine trying to get 100 lbs to the mill.  The fiber is lightweight and the babies are well... babies.  That is why kid mohair is so expensive.   In my experience, the females give the best mohair.  The older the goat gets, the thicker the mohair till it looks like should I say, Santa Claus mohair.  We call that kind of mohair, kemp (more itchy like).  Every category of mohair had it's use.  Sweaters, scarves, adult mohair can be used for the doll industry.  Did you know that the mohair you buy in stores are mostly imported from South Africa, England, Texas, or Australia?  Good quality breeding stock or genetics is the single most important factor determining quality.  If a breeder knows its business, she/he should have the most incredible mohair.

ladypiper47 wrote
on Sep 24, 2011 8:08 AM

I LOVE knitting with mohair.  I have  a drawer full of sweaters that I have knit in mohair and whenever I wear one they get looks of admiring looks.  Not because I am a great knitter (NOT) but because mohair is not that common.  I recently bought those plastic drawer units and pulled ALL my wool out from under beds, in cupboards (well you know......).  I discovered that most if it is mohair :).

Mohair makes great mitts for adults too.

Maryte B wrote
on Sep 18, 2011 7:38 AM

Thank you so much for this topic. I was the recipient of a gift of a box of mohair that appeared on my porch. "oh you knit, so we thought you would like this." But I am such a novice and a bit afraid of the yarn. No longer wary of mohair now after watching the wonderful video.

Thanks!

Mary

audreyscott wrote
on Sep 17, 2011 1:13 PM

I am so disappointed that my PBS station has dropped Knitting Daily as well as other needlework and hobby shows.  Hard economic times I guess.  

MaraH@3 wrote
on Sep 17, 2011 11:08 AM

I love the feel of Mohair as I am knitting, but I didn't enjoy the frustration of frogging.  

Then, I learned that if you pop you knit Mohair in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer, it unravels easily!  Why?  The cold shrinks the fibers.

helen@nll wrote
on Sep 17, 2011 11:04 AM

The trick to "Tinking" or "Frogging" Mohair is to put it in the freezer first!  

The cold relaxes the little mohair "hooks" that make it so tenacious once knit.

I know it sounds weird, but put the garment into a plastic bag, get out as much air as possible, seal it, and then let it get well chilled.

You may need to re-chill it, if it gets too warm, but is really does work!

Marg wrote
on Sep 17, 2011 6:44 AM

I am convinced that there has been a change in the way mohair is treated prior to being sold as a commercial yarn. In the 1980s mohair was my favourite yarn to knit with and wear but nowadays I break out in eczema if I try to knit with it. And I'm not the only person I know who has had this experience. So either we have all become a lot more sensitive to the yarn over the past 30 years or there is a fundamental difference in the dyes/chemicals used during processing nowadays. Does anyone have any information about this aspect?

siouxln wrote
on Sep 16, 2011 2:20 PM

I just started a sweater with bright red mohair that I bought on spec. The problem I had was finding a nice choice of pullover patterns to work with. I am a plus size and sweaters are my project this year. If you could publish more patterns for this yarn, that would be great.

shawlmaker wrote
on Sep 16, 2011 11:51 AM

I also have mohair that nobody wants, but am stuck for an idea. Two skeins of 78% mohair, 13% wool and 9% nylon, a georgeous mix of greens and blues with gold and some rose; 5 or 6 skeins of the same thing in mixed creams and tans, and a couple of skeins of dark browns. I've never knitted with mohair.

This stuff maked my stash itch. Any ideas? Kathleen maybe you could expand on this subject and show us some completed projects.

Cindy from Indy

Grace KarenK wrote
on Sep 16, 2011 11:13 AM

If you want to rip out any project knitted with mohair, leave it in the freezer inside a plastic bag for a few hours (if you have time to wait, leve it there overnight).

After a few hour, remove it from the freezer and go ahed with your ripping out.

Keep near you a tapestry needle our sa sewing needle if you find a grip. Rip it out slowly and at the end you will have your yarnsin perfect conditions.

I am a mohair yarn addict!

Grace from Brazil.

Sblack wrote
on Sep 16, 2011 11:01 AM

I am an admitted mohair junkie. I concur with the freezer tip. I recently had an "issue" with a lace top done in Rowan Kidsilk haze. (aka knitters crack).

Not only was this an expensive purchase but it was a souvenier buy carried home from a recent London Adventure. This could have been a heartbreak of catastrophic proportions.  Freezing the yarn overnight worked like a charm.

on Sep 16, 2011 10:58 AM

Kathleen,

I think you are my lost twin!  I too love mohair and delightedly take any mohair others want to give me.  In fact, my Mom used to own a yarn shop and when she closed the doors, I got all the left over mohair.  Yummy.

Also, I used to live in Spokane and love hearing about the old neighborhood.

Thanx for all you do for us out in Knitting Daily land!

Linda in Augusta, Maine now

on Sep 16, 2011 10:35 AM

Nope, sorry, still hate mohair --at least for anything that is going to be worn against my skin--even for hats! I am making a slip cover for a book in a yarn that is a mohair blend -that's not bad. ;-)

kathykonecki wrote
on Sep 16, 2011 10:13 AM

Regarding ripping out mohair, I have found that sticking the knitted piece in the freezer for about 1/2 hour makes it infinitely easier to rip out.

Kathy Konecki

Necessary Little Luxuries

JulieS@35 wrote
on Sep 16, 2011 10:11 AM

Kathleen if you put the tear out project in the freezer overnight or several hours itbis so much easier to tink