Having recently used a delicious silk mohair blend for a shawl project I've heard from a lot of you that you "don't do mohair!" Maybe it's an old 80s fashion association stuck in your head, memories of itchy mohair sweaters or getting tangled up in a knitting or crochet project in the past, let's get you past it and see if we can't make you fall in love with Mohair.

What is Mohair?

Mohair is a fibre taken from Angora goats. The Angora Goat has been bred to have long curly locks and the goats are sheared once or twice a year like sheep. 

Advantages

  • Mohair yarn is strong and durable and holds it shape well.
  • It's the lightest but also the warmest of the animal fibre yarns. 
  • It has amazing sheen and a beautiful lofty halo
  • Moisture wicking and moisture resistant.
  • Not prone to felting
  • Elastic (by up to 30% without breaking)

Disadvantages

  • Tangles easily
  • Sheds
  • Can feel itchy

My top tips for working with Mohair:

Hand wind that ball!
If your mohair comes in a skein then you'll need to wind it into a ball. After many a fail over the years, I now always hand wind the ball (you can find a tutorial here) While swifts and winders make the job quicker, I find that the stickiness of the yarn means they fail too often and you end up in a tangle and lose all that time saving.
Go slow
And the same go slow advice holds out for while you are working. Because the yarn doesn't like being ripped back make sure you slow down enough to get the stitches right first time
Check for mistakes regularly
Keeping a count and visually checking for mistakes while you work means that you'll spot it before you have gone too far and have less to have to rip back.
If you do have to rip back
Pull very gently holding the yarn close the stitch and wiggle it slightly as you pull. Wind the yarn back up into the ball frequently to avoid the unravelled yarn getting tangled on itself.
Freeze it!
If you do have to rip out a large amount or you find you have a big tangle then you can try popping the project in a zip lock freezer bag and freezing it for an hour or two. Freezing the fibres closes the culticles so they don't catch on each other so much.
Look for blends or tighter spins
All of this tangling is because the classic mohair yarn is loosely spun around a core with the ends left free. Choosing a boucle spun mohair and/or one that is blended with another fibre can give you the benefits of mohair without the tangles.

Want to know more about Mohair?
A longer and fuller article is available in the Hub. Find out more about our member site here.

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