Mohair is one of the most beautiful fibers used to make clothing. It comes from the Angora goat and is soft, warm, durable, and gives a beautiful sheen to sweaters, coats, dresses, socks, and winter wear. Mohair sweaters are highly sought after the world over as being both fashionable and an eminently practical piece of clothing. A mohair sweater is a must-have part of your wardrobe.
The History of Mohair
In Turkish, the word muyhyar means “the very best fleece,” and is the origin of the word mohair. This fleece is sheared from Angora goats, who thrive in the beautiful and rugged terrain of Turkey. The mohair taken from these goats was so valuable and sought after that the Sultan of Turkey placed a ban on the export of either the Angora goat or its wool.
In the early 1800s, however, Europeans began exporting the mohair fibers and Angora goats and raising these prized animals in other parts of the world. South Africa now accounts for 60% of the worldwide supply of mohair for sweaters and other clothing goods.
Types of Mohair
There are several different grades of mohair that depend on the age of the goat when it was sheared. The highest quality mohair sweaters and clothing come from young goats, or kids. This wool is amazingly soft and luxurious, not to mention warm. Mohair is much warmer, and much softer, than sheep wool. Those who find wool sweaters uncomfortable and itchy usually have no problem with mohair.
The second grade of mohair is from the goating, the teenage goat, if you will. This fiber is also very fine and is often used to make coats, socks, and other accessories.
Finally, the coarsest of the grades of mohair comes from an adult Angora goat. Often this mohair wool is mixed in with other types of fibers to give clothing a beautiful sheen, that sheen that only mohair can offer.
Mohair, A Practical Choice
That sweaters made of mohair are beautiful and at the very heights of fashion is a given. Mohair is one of the most prized natural fibers among clothing designers in the world. But sweaters from mohair are also an extremely practical wardrobe choice.
First of all, mohair sweaters are warm. The fibers that make up mohair are hollow and thus do not conduct heat away from or towards the body as wool does. Therefore, mohair retains body heat during cold weather but also shields you from the heat when it is hot outside, this being one reason it is popular in chilly countries as well as in desert places. Mohair also transfers moisture away from your body to evaporate in the air.
Mohair sweaters are extremely durable as well. In fact, a mohair fiber is stronger than steel at the same diameter. Mohair stands up to twisting, bending, and stretching remarkably well, much better than wool. The fiber in a mohair sweater are elastic and retain their shape even after rough handling. Mohair sweaters thus don’t droop or sag over time as wool sweaters can.
We’ve all had the unfortunate and frustrating experience of accidentally shrinking our favorite wool sweater. Mohair is much more shrink resistant than wool, given the nature of the mohair fibers. Mohair sweaters resist wrinkling and bunching too.
One of the most amazing things about mohair is its ability to take on dyes. Thus, mohair can be dyed to a huge number of colors, both bright and eye-catching and more subtle colors. In the same vein, it retains its color remarkably well, even after much use and many washings, keeping your mohair sweater beautiful for a lifetime. The natural colors of mohair are also exceedingly lovely, rich tans and browns and the colors of the natural world. That makes it a great pairing if you're wondering what to wear with skinny jeans or need something for a casual night on the town.
Mohair Sweater Care
Of course, like all fine clothing, you should treat your mohair sweater gently, despite its durability, for the longest life in your wardrobe. Mohair can be dry cleaned on occasion, and this is actually much less expensive procedure with mohair sweaters than with wool. It can also be machine washed in cold water on the gentle cycle. After washing, hang in a steamy bathroom to smooth wrinkles and let the sweater return to its proper shape. Store mohair with cedar chips or blocks to discourage moths.
A Lifetime of Fashion
By following a few simple care tips, a mohair sweater will accentuate your wardrobe for many, many years. You’ll stay warm and comfortable while looking fantastic. Mohair is a great choice for women, children, and men, and is available in a bounty of styles and colors. No wonder the Sultan of Turkey wanted to keep mohair for himself!
If you liked this article, check out some of my other articles:
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