Thursday, 12 January 2012

Mohair update

As you may remember, I have been working on some mohair. I started with raw fleece, I have washed the fleece, laboriously combed through each lock by hand and now, at last, I have started spinning. You can read more about the project in the post Processing Raw Mohair by Hand. 

The fleece is the goat’s first fleece and it has been growing for about a year. The fibres vary in length. The longest fibres are an incredible 13 inches (33cm) long, without straightening out the kinks. In comparison, I have some commercial mohair top in my stash, the fibres in this are more like 4 or 5 inches (10-12cm) long. Probably the goats used to produce the commercial fibre are shorn at least twice a year.

Here is a lock of the mohair, photographed on a standard A4 ring binder to give some idea of the length:

The fibre is lovely and soft and has a pearlescent glow. 

I have never spun such long fibre before.  I have always been told long fibres are easier to spin than short fibre.  However I am discovering extremely long fibre has its own challenges.  I need to do more predrafting than with shorter fibre. If I don’t predraft thoroughly I end up with thicker sections because at the wheel I can’t draft fast enough. When spinning fibres which are say 4 inches long the draft is less than 4 inches, otherwise the fibres will no longer overlap, but with these long locks the draft distance needed is nearly a foot long!  

I am using a single English Wool Comb to form roving from the locks, then I’m spinning from the roving. 
Roving wound into a nest

At first I spun some samples, experimenting with the different ratios on my wheel to get the thickness right. I settled on the middle whorl, which on my Ashford Traditional is a 12.5:1 ratio. I have completed the first skein, the yarn is 16 wraps per inch or 3 ply.

Here is the first skein:

Have you ever spun mohair or extremely long fibre of any sort? I’d love to hear how you got on.


  1. It is spinning up beautifully, and looks very soft. Do try the hand carders as I mentioned on Ravelry. You wont need to use Combs then, just the carders as you can roll it up longways instead of across the carders.

    If the fibres are too long - cut them in half. I've done that too, to make spinning easier. Too long and they can get tangled. Or you can use the 'long-draw' method of spinning. You can treadle more slowly so it allows you time to pull the fibres out. Being Mohair they will slide easily and quite fast if its well prepared.


  2. Thanks for the advice, Linda! I didn't think of using the hand carders then rolling the fibre the other way - what a good idea. Yes, the fibre is lovely and soft.