What’s Up With All the Mohair?

Angora Goat – The source of mohair yarn.
Photo copyright domesticanimalbreeds.com

Edit (12:07 PM, 11/20/19): It has come to my attention since I wrote this article that I have sorely neglected to mention a very important mohair source – small, local farms! I plan to correct this lapse in a future article.

Every so often trends pop up in the fiber arts community that cause questions. You might hear things like “what’s brioche?” “What does HOTH mean?” Or, in this case, “what’s up with all the mohair?”

That last one was me. Recently, a fairly popular designer named Andrea Mowry published a pair of socks that are knit with 1 strand of sock yarn and 1 strand of lace weight mohair/silk held together. Holding mohair with another strand of yarn has been a growing trend for a few years now; if you do a Ravelry search for mohair held double, there’s currently 34 pages of results, but only 9 of those patterns are socks. It’s safe to say that mohair socks are fairly unusual. However, with AM’s socks only having been published for 8 days, they already have the most projects of all the 9 patterns.


If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know that i’m very interested in the various bandwagons going around but I don’t hop on quickly – I like to check out the trends, see what people think, etc.

I did a little research on the various mohair yarns out there, as well as having a lovely Instagram Live chat (which sadly I managed to not download!) and I’m sharing my research and chat notes below. I hope these help!


Why hold mohair with anything?

This is an excellent question that comes up frequently. Why do people hold mohair with other yarn, what are the benefits of it? One benefit is that yarns with lots of open space in them (as opposed to being very dense) trap the air, which in turn adds a significant amount of warmth.

Secondly, as noted above, mohair is trendy. When something becomes trendy, designers tend to ask “what can I do with this?” So, when brioche was beginning to return to popularity, it was suddenly on socks, hats, shawls, gloves – anything you could slap the stitch on, designers did. I suspect mohair is the same right now: designers are adding it because they can, which leads to the second point.


What does mohair yarn cost?

This varies significantly depending on the source you purchase from. In general, and in the trendy sense we are typically seeing patterns that call for one strand of lace weight mohair/silk blend. Mohair and silk are both considered “luxury” fibers, and any time you see the word “luxury” attached to a product you can expect a fairly high price. Usually it means the fiber is less available, or requires more time/effort/care in the sourcing of it.

While there are tons of yarns with mohair in them, I want to focus on a few yarns I talked about during the Instagram live – a few low cost, a few medium cost, and a few higher cost. The list below is definitely not exhaustive, but hopefully it’ll give you a few helpful details. All prices are in US Dollars, as converted at the time of writing the post.

1. Drops Kid Silk ($4.92/25g ball)75% mohair, 25% silk. 218 yds/200m.
2. Knit Picks Aloft ($7.99/25g ball) – 72% super kid mohair, 28% silk. 260 yds/237m.
3. Valley Yarns Southampton – ($7.99/25g ball) – 72% kid mohair, 28% mulberry silk. 230 yds/210m.
*Note: WEBS (yarn.com) has a discount on many yarns on their site: 20% off a purchase of $60+ or 25% off a purchase of $120+ so if you utilize that this yarn would be $5.99-6.39/25g instead, making it the second most affordable option i’ve found.
4. Rowan Kidsilk Haze ($14.99/25g ball) – 70% kid mohair, 30% silk. 225 yds/205m.
*Note – this one is also eligible for the WEBS discount if purchased through them, making this yarn $11.24-11.99/25g instead.
5. Indie Dyed Mohair/Silk Blend – Here you’re going to find a wide range of options and prices. The mohair blend I dye is $29/50g hank – 459yds/420m. I’ve seen it as high as $32 and as low as $27.
6. Manos del Uruguay Cabrito ($19/25g ball) – 80% kid mohair, 20% polyamide. 230 yds/210m.


Lets talk about sock yarn

Since we’re talking specifically about knitting (or crocheting) socks, I think it’s helpful to have some sock yarn prices listed here too. Some of these i’ve tried, some I haven’t.


*Note: I realize that listing brands like Cascade is controversial.
Please take a moment to think about the fact that being financially able to boycott a certain brand is a privilege that not everyone has. Some makers, including myself sometimes, need to choose the most locally available or financially friendly option, thus it is important to include these in a list of lower price options.
Yarns on this list are included because of availability, not as a statement of support for any company.


Snuggly Stripes Wool by Loops & Threads ($8.99/100g ball) – 75% wool, 25% nylon
*Note: This yarn appears to only be available online, and at Michael’s in Canada.
Paton’s Kroy ($5.99/50g ball) – 75% wool, 25% nylon
Knit Picks Stroll ($5.49/50g ball) – 75% fine superwash merino, 25% nylon
Valley Yarns Huntingdon ($5.49/50g hank) – 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon
*Note: this yarn is eligible for the WEBS discount noted above in the mohair list.
Knit Picks Felici ($6.99/50g ball) – 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon
Cascade Heritage Sock ( $11.00/100g hank) – 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon
Knit Picks Hawthorne ($13.99/100g hank) – 80% fine superwash highland wool, 20% nylon
*Note: this yarn is thick for sock yarn, and is more of a sport weight yarn.
Regia Pairfect ($17.50/100g ball) – 75% wool, 25% polyamide
*This yarn is eligible for the WEBS discount
Malabrigo Sock ($19.49/100g hank) – 100% superwash merino
Indie Dyed yarn – Again, ranges from about $20-35/100g depending on fiber content, dyer, dye technique, etc.


Whew! What a list, right?
Take a minute, go get some chocolate, coffee, whatever, and come back. I’ll wait!


Price per project

This is the portion i’ve been leading up to. The entire reason for listing a large range of yarns is so we can talk about the total cost per project. Using the prices listed above, and assuming a pattern requires more than 50g of sock yarn per pair, that means you’re buying in 100g quantites for socks, and larger quantites for shawls, cowls, sweaters, etc.
Mohair is laceweight, so you need roughly. 25g of mohair for every 50g of sock yarn.

Socks (no mohair): $8.99-$35
Socks (with mohair): $18.83-73.98
200g Shawl (no mohair): $17.98-70
200g Shawl (with mohair): $35.96-140
*Note: this is assuming the fingering weight yarn is one of the sock yarns listed above. There are many fingering weight yarns with luxury fibers like silk, yak, alpaca, angora, etc that would raise the price considerably.


Price to make garments

Pullover Sweater (I’m using the yardage/size information from Spector by Joji Locatelli because it’s long sleeved, has total yardage for sizes from 32-63″ (80-158 cm), and is a good representation of a sweater from a popular designer.

Information will be listed as follows:
Size (yarn amount required) = cost without mohair/cost with mohair
Lowest prices listed use the Sunggly Stripes Wool for fingering weight ($8.99/100g) and Knit Picks Aloft price for mohair (4.92/25g)
Highest prices listed use the high end of indie dyed yarn for fingering weight ($35/100g) and the Manos del Uruguay Cabrito for mohair ($19/25g)

32″ size (300g) = $26.97-105 / $56.49-$219
34″, 38.75″, 42.75″ sizes (400g) =$35.96-$140 / $75.32-$292
46.75″, 50.75″, 54.75 sizes (500g) = $44.95-$175 / $94.15-$365
57.5″, 63.25″ sizes (600g) = $53.94-$210/ $112.98-$438

*Note: Crochet sweaters require more yardage than knit ones purely by nature of the technique used, so for crocheters these are also low end prices.


Ruth, why are you telling me all this?


I’m giving you this information because knowledge is power.
When a trend comes along it’s good to have information no matter who you are:
maker, designer, or yarn dyer.


Makers: Please consider that designers and dyers *are* somewhat required to keep up with trends to make a living. Designers and dyers often collaborate together and depend on one another for mutual support. This is not a condemnation of designers and dyers collaborating together to create lovely, fuzzy patterns.

Designers: Please consider that your customers and test knitters/crocheters may not be able to make the financial commitment to your garment if mohair is included. As a designer, I understand the importance of checking that a pattern works as written.
*First Thought: Would you consider allowing testers to substitute a yarn that is the equivalent of your two yarns that are held together? I guarantee some of your customers will be doing this anyway, so it’s actually more thorough testing to allow testers to substitute a yarn that works for their budget and meets your requirements.
*Second thought- I hear overwhelmingly from makers that they’d like to *try* mohair, as opposed to jumping right in to a full garment, so they can find out if they like it before committing to a garment (or because a $400 sweater isn’t realistic for their budget).
Food for thought.

Dyers: Love you. You’re making lovely colors! I know you get lots of pressure to give quantity discounts so your yarns are more affordable. I have mixed feelings about the level of discount some are offering, because I know you need to stay in the black. If you discount too much there will be no profit. If you are unable to do give a discount, would you consider making alternate kits that don’t include mohair and offering both (in all sizes!)? This way you can support the designer you’re collaborating with AND have a more affordable option. That means you’ll gain customers you never would have had – more customers = more profit. It’s a win.


Wear & Care

To finish this up quickly, one last thought to consider is the wear and care of mohair.

Mohair is a non-superwash fiber that *can* felt. That means you will need to carefully handwash any item you make, including socks. While you can get away with the very rare washing of outerwear sweaters, shawls, and maybe even hats, you may begin to get some sideways glances if you never wash your socks.

Lastly, mohair is slippery. If you make mohair socks, please be careful (and don’t blame me if you slip! My official recommendation is to not wear mohair socks on slippery surfaces).


Good golly that was a lot of information!
I’m always here if you want to chat.

If you want to catch the next instagram live where I chat about topics like this one: follow me at @ruthbrasch

Renewal

It’s traditional when launching a new endeavor, such as a website or rebranding, to explain one’s goals or dreams.

In one sense, this post is no different; in others it is completely different. Instead of telling you I’m amping up my work, explaining how I’m pumped up for sooo many new things, I invite you to something else:

Join me as I slow down.

For years I’ve believed that I need to do it all – family, career, self-made hobby careers. I’ve overloaded myself to the point where my life is a scatter of post-it notes, all demanding to be given attention first; their neon scraps clamor for my time and energy.

I’ve bought into the lie that if I just push hard enough I’ll “succeed.” That I’ll have value because of tangible accomplishments that I can tally up and lay out before others. It’s taken me years to realize that’s what I’ve been chasing after – the approval of my peers and even, to some extent, my husband, though he never placed this demand on me.

It’s hard to look at yourself and realize you’re chasing the wind
– always grasping at what is just out of reach.

The truth is, I know where peace is. It’s not a mystery to me. Peace is found in surrender to Christ. It’s counter intuitive in some respects, and completely intuitive in others.

If you’re not a Christian and are still reading this, you’re probably a little angry right now – here’s another Christian preaching about peace and giving up on her business and dreams. It’s ok to be angry. I’ve been there.

I’m not giving up on dreams or goals, I’m realizing that where I am and what I’ve been pushing for isn’t where I’m supposed to be, and that I’ve been aiming at the wrong target this whole time.


But Ruth, this is a step backwards.
Ah, but is it?

There’s a Greek word used often in the New Testament: “Metanoia.” It literally means to change one’s mind in the sense that you turn away from what you should not be doing, and turn to what you should. Frequently, it is translated into English as “Repentance” – but not the sad kind, the good kind.

I’ve always been taught that when you drive a car, the sooner you realize you’re going the wrong direction and turn around, the sooner you will get to the place you’ve been trying to go all along. That’s Metanoia. The act of turning around from going the wrong way, and heading back in the right direction.

In my case, it’s significantly cutting back on the “business” work that I’ve been doing.


How did I get here?

I started with knitting and crochet just for fun as a kid.

It branched out into design when I was in college and has been an almost compulsive habit ever since.

Another branch of this fiber arts pursuit is yarn dyeing. For years I watched others create start up businesses in their kitchens; dyeing beautiful yarns and soaring to internet fiber arts popularity overnight. I knew it was something I could do well, and have spent quite a lot of time, money, stress, and tears, and hours of sleeplessness over trying to replicate the “success” of others. I’ve failed.

I’ve. Failed.

I’m ok with that failure.
It means that I tried, and also that I’m being honest enough to stop when I realize i’m not pursuing what I should be, and also that the business side of things is just not working.

Failure isn’t negative by necessity, but often we deem it so.


Recently, in attempting to assess why my dyeing business isn’t exploding with “success” as others’ are, I’ve come to a few conclusions:

  1. Success in the indie yarn dyeing industry takes more hours of my life than i’m willing to devote. In order to do well, you must give 3,000% of your time and energy. Many do that very well, and I admire their dedication and hard work, but it’s not something I can give right now.
  2. I’ve been focusing on the “now” instead of the “later.” By which I mean I’ve been focusing on individual batches of yarn, current projects, and short term “success” rather than where I will be in 1, 2, 5, or 10 years if I keep following this trajectory. So many dyers and designers are burning themselves out just to try to keep up in this fast paced industry, and if that’s what success looks like, I don’t want it.
  3. My heart is not in the business end of dyeing. I want to create art, to give it to people who appreciate it, and watch their faces light up.

My realization has been that I would rather spend time with my kids than be traveling to do yarn shows. If I push super hard, succeed in becoming a popular dyer, work with renowned designers and artists, and make a profitable career, that will mean i’ve worked through my children’s childhood. You don’t get the little years back – or any years for that matter.


I know for some that’s not an option, and that to even have the choice to stop us a luxury. For many years, I haven’t had the option to think about whether I want to push this hard trying to help keep our heads above water financially. Now I do. And by the way, keeping on putting money into an unprofitable business doesn’t help my family anyway.


This isn’t defeat.

Motherhood isn’t defeat.
Motherhood isn’t a punishment.
Motherhood isn’t what happens to women who don’t have enough drive.
Motherhood isn’t failure or second best.

We live in a culture that pushes children to the side,
But Christ teaches that their lives are precious.

So i’m choosing my family.

I’m going to be faithful to the needs of my family, and with God’s help be the best stay at home mom I can be – to raise and teach my kids before they’re grown and I’ve missed the chance.


TL;DR

Will I still design patterns? Yes.

Will I allow it to consume me? No.

Will I still dye yarn? Absolutely!

Will it be on the scale and intensity that it is now? No.

Other questions? check out the FAQ page, or send me an email.


What will you find on this website?

  • A consolidated hub of all my doings. Right now that consists of mostly fiber arts – knitting, crocheting, spinning, dyeing yarn, etc.
  • Yarn will stay where it is right now.
  • Designs will stay on Ravelry, with some coming over here as well (primarily the free ones, but possibly others as well).
  • I’m hoping to get back to reading. I used to read more than anything else, and I haven’t read a physical book in years. So, you may see book reviews or notes about what i’m currently reading. This will potentially include Bible study thoughts, or reviews of Christian faith based books.
    • I’ve kept my faith separate from my design and dyeing work for a long time, but holding it back is eating away at me. I know lots of people don’t like Christ, or don’t want to hear about Him. Those posts will be clearly labeled (as will the fiber arts ones), but they’ll be here. To what extent, I’m not sure. I’m not trying to become a Christian lifestyle blogger or Bible study writer.

I don’t expect that everyone who started reading this page will finish it.

I’m sure that to some of you this is a huge disappointment.

Please rest assured that this is a choice I’m making freely, and that even just typing out this page of explanation has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.


For dyers and designers I currently have contracts/
verbal agreements in place with:
I will be honoring those contracts. If I have agreed to create a design, or have sent you yarn support for you to design with, I will not change what we’ve agreed upon. If, after reading this, you feel you need to change what we’ve agreed upon, please email me with questions, concerns, or thoughts. I’m happy to chat!