As any of you who follow us on any of the social media platforms know, we are a new, growing fiber farm. We have recently expanded our herd to include angora goat. One look at these adorable, curly locked creatures, and you can tell they are raised for their fiber. But, I often get asked what type of fiber they produce, most people believe that angora goats produce angora fiber. Their name however, is misleading and confusing. Angora fiber is actually produced by Angora rabbits. Angora goats produce Mohair, a silky, warm, moisture resilient, and flame resistant fiber. Mohair is most prized for it's strength and luster, and its resistance to wear and odors. Historically, Angoras have been raised to produce beautiful white mohair. It was only in the last 30 years that breeders started to breed for natural colors. Our angora twins grow a beautiful black mohair and are registered with the CAGBA; the Colored Angora Goat Breeder's Association. You can also find Angora goats in red, chocolate, silver, grey and gold.
Mohair is prized by hand spinners for it's shine and softness, and indie dyers because it accepts color beautifully. Mohair is judged by its crimp and twist and their micron count. As with many livestock fleeces, kid hair is the most prized, sometimes measuring at less than 21 microns, and ranging upwards to 40 microns for very coarse mohair. Mohair has more sheen, is stronger, smoother, and wears better than sheep's wool. It is not as thin as Alpaca fiber.
Mohair is sorted into grades, mohair classified as "kid" has a range of 20-27 microns, "second kid" is 29-30, "yearling" is 27-30, and 36 or over is considered "adult".
I know micron counts can be unhelpful to people who are unfamiliar or new to the fiber world, honestly it is still a little abstract to me. I can tell more by feeling the fleeces than I can by numbers. The goal is to produce adults that keep a fine fleece of less than 32 microns. Mohair should in grow wavy or curly with little or no coarse outer coat.
The way the fiber grows in can determine the fineness of the fleece. Ringlets are usually finer, flat locks, coarser. Many times fleece grows in neither completely flat or ringlets. These intermediate fleeces are called web locks. There are other factors that come into consideration, including luster, handle, length and density. This is more than most people will be interested in, unless they are spinners, fiber enthusiasts, or indie dyers.
Mohair is often blended with wool or other fibers, to make blankets, clothing and rugs. Combining mohair with wool helps the fiber hold its shape, add loft, and hold together when spun into yarn. It's an amazingly soft, warm and luxurious fiber and Angora goats are sweet, gentle, wonderful additions to any farm.
I'm not sure how our twins' fleece will measure micron-wise, but it feels soft to the touch, and is growing in ringlets. Nebula's locks are dark black, while Gamora's are lighter and almost silver in color. They have been shorn once, by the farm that we acquired them from, I am excited for their second shearing, and to see how their fiber spins up. Angora's fiber grow one inch a month, and are shorn twice a year, each time the fleeces can carry up to 6 inches staple length.
Next week, for our fiber series, I will cover alpaca fleece, how it compares to wool and even mohair, and some reasons why you might be interested in working with it for a future project.