It’s easy to get excited about mohair, especially when you think about all of the qualities it has to offer, not the least of which is that wonderful luster!
But…spinning mohair is a bit intimidating, maybe you have even heard that it’s hard to spin! It’s not!
What are the key points you need to know to easily spin mohair yarn?
The most important thing to do when spinning mohair is to keep a light touch on the yarn. Set your wheel tension lower and pinch and jump your fingers rather than pinch and drag your fingers when you are spinning.
With a few tips you’ll be spinning wonderful mohair yarn in no time!
How To Blend Mohair For Handspinning gives you some ways to put mohair and wool together at home with tools you probably already have!
Use a light touch when spinning
The biggest tip I have for you is to use a light touch when spinning, meaning have your hands on the mohair as little as you can.
I’m figuring that you are used to spinning with wool, especially if you are coming from mostly spinning worsted style, it’s common to pinch and drag your fingers down the yarn as you make it.
I know that’s how I do it!
This pinch and drag makes all of the air leave the yarn, compressing it down, which is great for stitch definition but not so great for mohair.
If you are not sure about how handsy you are with your normal spinning, go spin a little, as normal, and just watch.
I think you ‘ll be surprised at how much you are smooshing and compacting the yarn, I sure was!
If you are an all start woolen spinner, this won’t be you! Woolen spinning is all about a light touch and you’ll be golden with mohair!
If you normally spin worsted, like me, I’m all about smooshing and smoothing, you’ll have to keep after yourself to be more hands off to keep the airiness in the mohair.
It’s doable, just keep your focus. I know how easy it is to just spin off into the sunset, it’s soothing, but for now with your mohair, focus on light and airy.
You may have heard that mohair is difficult to spin. Actually, the long staple length of mohair aids in the ease of spinning.https://ronanfibers.com/spinning-mohair/-mohair/
Don’t compress the yarn, pinch and jump
What you are looking for here with mohair is more of a pinch and jump with your fingers.
Keep your pinch just as long as needed when drafting then jump your fingers to the next spot, rather than sliding or dragging them. It’s like leapfrog.
You want to keep as much of the lightness of the yarn that you can, so don’t squeeze it out as you are spinning!
If your mohair yarn is too twine like when you are knitting it up, then you have either been pinching and dragging or you have over twisted.
Pinch and jump, instead.
If you have over twisted your mohair yarn:
- take another look at your tension, it’s probably too tight
- consider going with a lower ratio whorl to spin the bobbing more slowly as you treadle
Give yourself some grace and keep trying. You’ll get it! If you are driving yourself crazy, take a break and try again in a few days.
For some reason, taking a break then coming back to it helps me get something together in my mind and when I try again, I’m better. Give it a shot.
Ronan Country Fibers has a great article on spinning mohair and is one of the main articles I used to get started on my mohair spinning journey.
Mohair preparation changes yarn
The way that the mohair is prepared (carding or combing), will change the resulting yarn, even if you spin the fibers the same way.
I’m talking about the exact same mohair, from the same section of fleece that you have spun the same way, giving you different yarns depending upon the preparation of the fibers before spinning!
How To Prepare Mohair (Combing and carding) shows you how to get your mohair ready for spinning.
Card mohair for more body
Card your mohair for more body or fullness to your yarn.
I was really surprised at how much more substantial the carded mohair looked than the yarn made from the same mohair that was combed.
Carding is also the place to add wool to your yarn, if you want a bit less shine to overall, or to give you more fullness than working with mohair, alone.
Carding in wool makes spinning mohair easier
I also found that the blended mohair, 50% wool and 50% mohair, was super easy to spin yet kept the shine. Nice!
Pro tip: if you want a bit more body than mohair alone can provide, go with a shiny wool, like Blue Faced Leicester, which will blend with kid mohair wonderfully well and make spinning easier.
If you want more body yet a bit less shine, go with a longer stapled finer wool, like Polwarth, as your blending fiber.
You’ll get the fullness, more elasticity and keep some of the luster, too.
Comb mohair for more smoothness
If you are looking to emphasize the smoothness of your mohair, combing is the way to go!
Combing the mohair maximizes alignment of the fibers, so they all go in the same direction like a river, which gives you a smoother, more well defined yarn.
An added bonus is that combing will also drop out the shorter fibers and any debris that may still be in your mohair, nice!
There will be static in your mohair
Here is the challenge, mohair will build up static, no matter how you prepare it. The more you comb or card through the mohair, the more static you get.
For me, the least static was with the flick carded locks and the most static was with the combed locks.
I tried combing raw (unwashed locks) of mohair to see if that would cut the static.
It did, but you have to remember, you are working with a slightly tacky fiber and some of the volume of the yarn will wash out since it is grease, not fiber.
If you can’t handle working with raw mohair but want to cut the static, wash it like normal then lightly put on some oil before you start combing it out.
Get more of a halo
The halo that mohair is famous for will come out in the finished yarn, how much of a halo you get depends upon how you spun the yarn to begin with.
If you want more of a halo, go with a carded preparation, and, of course, keep your spinning light and airy.
If you want more halo still, consider thwacking the yarn after you have set it. Thwacking will make a yarn bloom, or poof out more than leaving it, as is.
Thwacking is when you take the yarn that you just set, so it’s still wet, and whap it against a counter top a few times.
Be sure to turn the yarn as you whap, so you get all of the sections evenly thwacked. This will give you the most poof that your yarn has to offer.
Be sure to do some test spinning before you get too crazy, here. You may find that the mohair has a wonderful halo without any extra work from you.
Keep wheel tension light
Another tip to happy spinning with mohair is to keep the wheel tension light. You want to gently pull the yarn onto the bobbin, not be fighting the wheel.
Start with small test spins
The final tip is to start with small test spins and see what yarns you like.
I find that I really don’t know what I have until I go through the whole process, from fiber preparation clear through to finished swatch.
Once I get to a finished piece, then I can say what I like and don’t like and make adjustments from there.
So often, when I’m spinning I think that the yarn is turning out a certain way, then when I’m knitting I’m surprised at what I’m getting.
This isn’t so much a gauge or twist thing, those you can see as you are spinning, and definitely when you are setting the yarn.
I’m talking about things that are harder to measure like:
- if I like the yarn
- does it work well for me
- do I need to use it in a different way
- what ideas do I get while working with it, like this yarn would be really great for… or really great with…or what if I…
The Joy Of Handspinning has a nice overview of Spinning Mohair, if you want to check it out. It’s a quick read, yet informative, as are all the articles I have read on the site.