Mohair is a lustrous fibre from the hair of the Angora goat. It is notable for its high lustre and sheen and is often blended with other fibres to add to these characteristics. Mohair takes dye exceptionally well, is also warm and durable as well as being stretch, flame and crease resistant.
Mohair is often chosen for its great resilience and resistance to dirt and it is most commonly known for its use in suiting and knitwear. It is less commonly used in velvets, curtains and carpets, luxury furnishings, as well as upholstery for home, cars, boats and aircraft.
The long mohair fibre is particularly suitable for the production of worsted yarns for lightweight and tropical apparel fabrics. Summer garments in mohair regulate temperature and moisture absorption to deliver crease-resistance and comfort.
The shorter fibres from shearing are used to spin woollen yarns for the production of brushed and smooth fabrics like Loden pattern or for velvet used for coats, blankets etc.
Mohair increases in diameter with age of the goat. Young animal fibre will be used for fine cloths and knitwear, whilst the older animal fibre will be used in carpets, heavy fabrics and for hand-knitting.
The mohair goat is generally small; males weigh 40-45kg, they are generally about 55cm tall and 60cm long. Shearing generally happens every six months because the goat’s hair grows rapidly – 2cm per month in winter and 2.5cm in summer.
As mentioned above, fibre diameter increases with age:
|1st shearing||6 Months||Superfine Kids||<23 microns|
|Fine Kids||23-25 microns|
|2nd shearing||12 Months||Kids||25-27 microns|
|12 Months||Strong Kids||27-29.5 microns|
|3rd shearing||18 Months||Young Goats||29.5-32 microns|
|4th/5th shearing||24-30 Months||Fine Adult||32-34 microns|
|>30 Months||Adult||36-40 microns|
The name Angora goat comes from the name of Central Anatolia, formerly Angora, and now Ankara, where mohair goats originally from Central Asia were bred with white, shiny and silky hair.
Mohair is an Anglo-Saxon word derived from the ancient Arabic word “mukkhyar” which means wool/fur, selected/best. The derivation probably occurred when the white goats were specially selected out of the herd of mostly brown/black or piebald animals to create a totally white breed.
There are references to the Spanish King Charles V importing mohair goats from Turkey in the mid 1500s, whilst others were documented as being taken to Spain in 1765 and France in 1775. It seems that none of these herds grew massively or became established. However, some animals were sent from France to Australia, and others were sent from Turkey to South Africa and to the United States where they seemed to flourish. The goats are sensitive to the weather and thrive on semi-desert soils and climates.
Over time it has become usual to define the animal not as an Angora goat but as a Mohair goat, keeping Angora as a term of reference for the rabbit.
Mohair fibre in industrial quantities arrived in Britain in 1820 when Titus Salt became the first manufacturer of yarns and shiny mohair fabrics at his Yorkshire mill at Saltaire.
In the 1960s, the innovative production of loop brushed mohair yarn, for use in knitwear, socks, scarves and shawls sparked a demand that pushed prices and subsequently the production of mohair to very high levels.