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Design & Style

Fabric Guide: What Is Mohair?

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 4 min read

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Mohair is one of the most prized natural fibers. It is used to create everything from high-end sweaters and accessories to carpets and upholstery. Made from the coats of Angora goats, mohair is a soft, silk-like textile.

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What Is Mohair?

Mohair is a soft wool that comes from the hair of the Angora goat. Some call mohair the “diamond fiber,” as the wool is characterized by a distinct luster and sheen. When blended with other textiles, like alpaca or merino, mohair lends that luster to the fibers.

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. Mohair is more expensive than standard sheep’s wool because the production process is more involved, and as a result, it is considered a luxury fiber, similar to cashmere or Angora.

Where Does Mohair Come From?

Considered one of the oldest fiber textiles in existence, mohair originated in the mountains of Tibet, where the Angora goat originally lived. The Angora goat was introduced to Turkey in the sixteenth century, in the Turkish province of Ankara where the name “angora” comes from. Angora goats were farmed almost exclusively in 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.

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How Is Mohair Produced?

The shearing process on mohair farms takes place twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. The mohair production process then involves cleaning to the wool to get rid of any dirt, debris, and grease. From there, mohair producers spin the wool into yarn to knit or weave mohair fabric.

4 Uses for Mohair Fabric

Mohair has many diverse uses, from knitwear to home decor, and even doll-making.

  1. Knitting and crochet. Mohair is a gorgeous and luxurious knitting yarn, and many knitters often use a mohair blend yarn, as the luster and shine of mohair complements any garment or accessory. Since mohair is extremely fine hair, it is mixed with other fibers to create chunky and worsted (medium-weight) skeins, or lengths of yarn. Mohair yarn is often blended with silk yarn, wool yarn, and merino wool for added strength. Mohair is popular for knitting cold weather clothes, like sweaters, socks, hats, gloves, scarves because mohair has the same warm properties as wool, but it is lighter-weight with an attractive sheen and wears better.
  2. Home furnishings. Mohair is incorporated in several home items from upholstery fabric to carpets to drapery because it has a beautiful sheen and is a strong fiber.
  3. Fake fur. Mohair is often used to make more animal-friendly fur items, because the fluffy and soft nature of the fabric makes it able to mimic those qualities in animal furs. Keep in mind that faux fur made with mohair is not entirely fake, as mohair does come from an animal’s coat.
  4. Doll wigs. Since mohair is shiny and soft, like human hair, it is often used for high-end doll hair.

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What Are the Advantages of Using Mohair?

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Mohair is a popular fiber as it adds strength, warms, and luxury to any item.

  • Shiny. Mohair is extremely lustrous and shiny, with similar qualities to silk.
  • Strong and resilient. Like many natural wool fibers, mohair is very strong and durable. Fun fact: Mohair is stronger than similarly-sized steel.
  • Does not felt. Mohair does not have scales, which are basically cuticle cells that interlock to form felt. Mohair does not have this structure so cannot be felted.
  • Dyes well. Mohair fiber holds dye extremely well, so it is a great way to add color to a garment or home item.
  • Warm. Mohair is very warm while remaining light weight and is a great insulator.
  • Silk-like. Mohair inherently has a beautiful luster and shines when the light hits it. The mohair fiber itself is soft like silk, making any mohair feel very luxurious.
  • Good for sensitive skin. Mohair is good for people with sensitive skin, as the wool is not as itchy as standard sheep’s wool.
  • Doesn’t wrinkle. Mohair resists creasing because of the fiber structure.
  • Moisture-wicking. Like most wool, mohair is moisture wicking and naturally flame retardant.

What Is the Difference Between Mohair and Angora Wool?

The main difference between mohair and Angora is that Angora wool comes from the Angora rabbits, while mohair wool comes from Angora goats. Both are very strong and resilient with a silky and soft nature.

Fabric Care Guide: How Do You Care for Mohair?

All mohair items should be hand washed and laid flat to dry. Do not put mohair in the washing machine or the dryer, as it will damage the fibers.

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