100% Mohair (Angora Goat), Superkid and Kid Mohair
Classic and Luxe Mohair Blends
The word "mohair" was adopted into English before 1570 from the Arabic "mukhayar", a type of haircloth, literally "choice", and stated to mean "select choice", "silky goat-skin cloth" or "hair cloth". - Reference: Wikipedia. Angora goats are one of the oldest animals known to man. In 1853 mohair spinning began in England. Angora goats arrived in the USA around 1849. Now, their native lands are South Africa, Western Asia, Turkey, and neighbouring countries. Mohair should not be confused with the fur from the angora rabbit, which is called angora.
Mohair, a product of Angora goats, is a long, slick fiber that is difficult to spin because of its smoothness. For centuries, mohair has been regarded as one of the most luxurious and best quality fibres. The Angora goat’s fibre grow continuously and do not moult. "Mohair is characterised by excellent lustre, durability, elasticity, resilience, resistance to soiling, soil shedding, setting, strength, abrasion resistance, draping, moisture and perspiration absorption and release, insulation, comfort and pleasing handle, and by low flammability, felting and pilling. Its good insulation makes mohair fabrics light-weight and warm in winter and comfortably cool in summer, which is also a function of the fabric and garment construction." - Reference: Robert R. Franck "Silk, Mohair, Cashmere, and Otehr Luxury Fibers". The grades of mohair vary in different countries. In general, the best quality mohair is produced from the fleece of kid goats under six months old.
As it is known, mohair (as well as camel hair) is the world's strongest natural fiber - it is 2.5 times stronger than wool. It can be used in production of linings, pile fabrics, suitings, upholstery fabrics, braids, dress materials, hats, and sweaters. It is also a popular material to make teddy bears. Some mohairs have cottonwarp and mohair filling. This is called brilliantine (fake mohair).
Today, most North American mohair fiber comes from Texas, where the majority of Angora goats are raised. Mohair yarn is mostly produced in fine brushed and looped varieties. South Africa is the world's home of the mohair industry, where you can visit International mohair summits and have an opportunity to be invited to the International mohair trade shows, National flock & fleece competitions, National ram breeders championships, and other world-class entertainments. Mohair is also produced in Turkey, Argentina, Lesotho, Australia, and New Zealand.
100% Angora (Rabbit Hair) and Natural Blends, Lambgora
Angora fiber is specially bred rabbit's wool. The Angora rabbit is raised solely for its fine and soft hair. Because the angora rabbits have been specially bred (by the French nobility) for its long fur for many centuries, they would not survive for long in the wild. Their fur would get tangled in the underbrush, making them easy prey for predators.
It is considered that the first mention of angora yarn in print was given in 1833. It was described as "Rabbit's hair from the city of Ankara, Turkey". (But this mention could be rephrased and it actually might be related to the charming Turkish Angora goats or cats as well).
The angora fiber itself is very clean, because rabbits clean their own fur. Angora wool is ultra soft, fluffy, light-weight, and warm. It is 7 - 8 times warmer than sheep wool, because the angora rabbit's hair is all hollow that increases its insulating properties. Known fact: Angora knitwear was doctor-prescribed in Europe for the relief of pain, without drugs.
There are four types of angora rabbit hair: • English Angora is the silkiest of the Angoras. It does not have guard hairs. • French Angora is supposed to consist of 30% guard hair. There is not much difference in the actual spinning of the two fibers. However, French Angora blooms more due to the guard hairs. English Angora needs to be "abused" a little to achieve this bloom. • German (Giant) Angora was developed through selective breeding, resulting in a rabbit with very high fur yields. The German type is finer in diameter and produces a softer yarn. Its fur is strong enough for commercial processing. • Satin Angora is lighter weight than the other Angoras and for this reason it takes more of it to make an ounce.
"China is the principal producer and in that country the rabbits are farmed on a highly intensive small-scale factory farm system by individual farmers. Substantial quantities are also produced in France and smaller quantities in Eastern Europe and South America. Coloured Angora rabbits are bred in India and their hair is used to produce artisanal fabrics." - Reference: Robert R. Franck "Silk, Mohair, Cashmere, and Other Luxury Fibers".
Raising angora rabbits for their hair is highly skilled work. Because the fibre is very fine and smooth, it is difficult to spin it. The fibre is usually blended with other fibres such as fine wools, often with a small proportion of nylon.
If it is 100% angora, it is usually woollen spun.
Quality also depends not only on where the wool is harvested from, but how clean it is and how free of matts.
• Premium, 1st Quality: Clean, free of felting, over 6 cm long. The premium quality angora wool is taken from the back and upper sides of the rabbit. This is usually the longest and cleanest fiber on the rabbit and is absolutely matt free and perfectly clean. There should not be any hay or vegetable matter in the rabbit fiber.
• 2nd Quality: Clean, free of felting, under 6 cm but over 3cm. Second quality comes from the neck and lower sides, and it may have some vegetable matter.
• 3rd Quality is the rear-end (or butt) and legs, and any other areas that easily matt. This fiber is of shorter length and may have some vegetable matter and small matts. Clean, felted, second cut.
• 4th Quality is totally unsalvageable and consists of the larger matts or stained fiber. All dirty, discoloured fibre.
Third and fourth quality are perfect for cutting up for the birds to use in lining their nests. - Reference: Spinning Angora, "Completely Angora" by Sharon Kilfoyle and Leslie Samson, Samson Publishing.
Commercial angora recently became another type of "angora" wool. It is made of 100% acrylic (invented in Germany). This type of "angora" is an amazing solution if you need an "angora" article for show-off, but some of these so called "angora" pieces, mostly sweaters and cardigans, are sold at the prices of natural, high cost, angora garments. Chiengora is similar in appearance to angora, fluffy and very soft. It is hand spun from dog hair (Newfoundlands, Chow Chows, Elkhounds, etc.)
100% Sheep Wool: Merino, Peruvian Highland, Norwegian, Lambswool, Superwash, Stretch, and Blends
There are two main types of wool yarn: worsted and woolen (woollen). They are determined by the type of wool used to spin them, the preparation of the wool, and the way the wool is spun. • Worsted yarns are spun from long fibers of similar length lying parallel to each other. Worsted yarns are smooth, firm, and strong, and have a characteristic sheen, especially when spun from a lustrous fleece. • Woolen yarns are spun from rolags. The wool fiber for woolens is usually shorter than one used for worsted preparation.
There are three main groups of wool: Fine Wools, Longwools, and Down Wools. The quality of wool is determined by the following factors: fiber fineness, length, scale structure, color, cleanliness, and freedom from damage. Long Wools are valued for their luster and strength, the Down Wools - for being bulky but without weight, having maximum elasticity and resilience. Fine Wools are the softest, with more elasticity and loft, and slightly lustrous.
The finest wool yarns are made from the fleece of the following sheep breeds:Merino, Rambouillet, Debouillet, then Cormo, Comeback, CVM (California Variegated Mutant), Dormer, Polwarth, Romeldale, Targhee, Zenith, Corriedale, Columbia, NZ Halfbred, and others. Each breed grows fleece with a characteristic crimp pattern - the natural waviness or curl of the wool fibers. - Reference: In Sheeps Clothing, N. and J. Fournier.
The most popular breed in the US is Cormo. This is an Australian sheep breed developed by crossing large-framed Merino rams with a British longwood breed. Cormo sheep have a fine, soft, heavy fleece, and are used for woollen and worsted fabrics, handknitting yarns, and felts.
Global wool production is approximately 1.3 million tones per annum, 60% of which goes into apparel. Australia, China and New Zealand are leading commercial producers of wool. Most Australian wool comes from the merino breed. Breeds such as Lincoln and Romney produce coarser fibres, and the wool of these sheep is usually used for making carpets.