It confuses some, but Mohair comes from the angora goat, pictured right, while angora comes from the angora rabbit, below. Mohair dyes beautifully and we often make the most of that by blending it with wool to produce some specialist yarns.
There are three broad qualities of mohair: kid, young adult and adult. Generally, the older the animal, the coarser the fibre, but older mohair is so hard wearing that it is ideal for floor rugs. Fibre from younger animals is excellent for socks.
Almost all mohair is white, but some is silver. Lustrous mohair fibre responds well to dyes and produces some intense and attractive colours. Unlike wool, mohair is uncrimped and smooth and therefore sometimes difficult to spin; kid mohair can be spun pure, but to get better results we usually add wool to young and adult fibre and recommend blending 10-15% of fine wool with the other grades. The finished yarns are fluffy compared to wool.
Goats are also bred for their milk, meat and skin. Very little organic mohair is produced in the UK. South Africa is the world's largest producer.
The British Angora Goat Society
Most UK producers are members of the British Angora Goat Society (BAGS) which has a marketing subsidiary, British Mohair Marketing, which collects, grades and markets the fibre. Some major producers work independently as do smaller ones who have their own craft operations.
Cashmere also comes from goats, but very little is produced in the UK; most of what there is comes from Devon and Scotland. The bulk of the remainder is imported from Mongolia.