Thursday, 15 September 2011

Processing raw mohair by hand

An angora goat and her kid
At the moment I am busy processing some mohair.  Mohair is the fibre which comes from the angora goat.  This can be confusing since there are angora rabbits and angora goats, the fibre from angora rabbits is referred to as angora whereas the fibre produced by angora goats is known as mohair.  

I saw the flock of goats shorn and I picked what I considered to be the best kid fleeces.  By kid I mean the goats were about a year old and this was their first shearing, they weren’t tiny kids but this will be the best fleece of their lives.  I need to produce about 800g of finished yarn for the owner of the goats.  This is a massive job.  I don’t know of any easy way of preparing mohair fibre.

The raw mohair

 First of all I washed the mohair with Unicorn Power Scour, it was very dirty and smelt terrible while wet!

Now the mohair is dry I am combing through one lock at a time with a pet brush.  The locks open up easily except at the butt end, the end where the fibre was shorn from the goat.  The underside of the fleeces are heavily matted and in places scurfy. 

I don’t know much about this scurf, I’ve heard various explanations, some people say it is hardened wax but I think it is dry skin, a kind of goat dandruff.  It doesn’t dissolve in water which I would expect it to if it was grease.  It is gritty in texture.  I have heard that dry skin is a breeding fault or a lack of oil in the diet, who knows.  All I know is I have my work cut out producing 800g of ready to spin mohair!  I must say, despite the scurf, the fibre is beautiful, soft and luminous.  I'll let you know how I get on.

Have you ever worked with raw mohair?  How did you prepare the fibre for spinning?  


  1. Sorry, no experience here. Best of luck, it doesn't sound easy!

  2. Wish you luck.
    Beautiful goat.

  3. I'd be really interested in a follow up on your mohair processing. I have some Angoras and the finished fibre is great when I've combed it, but there seems to be a lot of work needed to get it to that point. I use Unicorn too.

  4. Hi Joanna, I have combed all of the mohair but haven't started spinning, I will do an update soon. I really don't know of a quick way to process mohair, it has taken me many hours to comb the locks through. I think the only easy answer is send it to a mill! I'd be interested to hear more about your experiences.

  5. I'm working with 2 fleeces given to me by a friend who keeps his goats as weed-eaters. Two wages in hot water with liquid laundry soap o all I had on hand) made it clean enough to hand-comb but, yes, it's a messy, time-consuming process. Since it's my first foray into processing fleece I'm learning as I go. I think next year's fleeces wil go better but I was disappointed to discover the fiber gets coarser with age

  6. I'd be interested to hear how you get on Helen. Yes unfortunately the fibre does get coarser as the animal gets older, also the quality of the fleece will vary from animal to animal. I've come to the conclusion it's not worth wasting time on rough old fleece.

  7. yup, the tissue thin stuff is skin layer and when the goats are really pushing out the hair in a good spring that comes up. the knack is to clip them before or behing that layer! I usually miss.
    I wash the fleeces in a huge old stone sink with organic shampoo in very hot water 3 times. then rinse it 3 times in same. You don't need to be too gentle as it doesn't felt like wool.
    Don't add conditioner untill after you have dyed it, as the acid dyes takes up better with the natural fleece.
    Good luck, From Sllie Tyszko.
    see my webbie