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