And From Goats We Get … ?

There are many different breeds of goats, and they have long given humans milk, meat and fiber. Most most of the goat fibers we use, however, come from one of four goats.

Angora goats give us mohair. While they originated in the Himalayas, they were named after the Angora region of Turkey. (“Mohair” comes from an Arabic word.) As anyone who’s ever worked with mohair knows, its luster is amazing and it picks up colors beautifully in dye baths. Its micron count varies depending on the age (kid, yearling or adult), ranging from 23 to 43. Its strength and long staple length (4-6 inches/10-15 cm) combine to allow fiber artists to put large spaces between the yarns which in turn allows lovely halos. As you can see from the picture (source), mohair goats have amazing curls (I always want to sink my fingers into their locks!) but the fiber has no crimp.

I do not recommend mohair to beginning fiber artists and crafters. Undoing knit, crocheted or woven fiber can be daunting, as it tends to grab hold to itself and other fibers. I’m not against challenge, of course, but I think the difficulty in undoing mistakes in a mohair project adds unnecessary frustration for the newer artists.

The undercoat of the Kashmir goat gives us cashmere. Their name comes from India’s Kashmir region. These goats are sensitive to cold and, particularly, to wet weather. Cashmere fiber is extremely soft, has no crimp and a staple length of about 2 inches (55 mm). Cashmere fiber must be under 19 microns and, by law (U.S. Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939), cannot contain more than 3% by weight of cashmere fibers with average diameters over 30 microns. (Pic source)

Not surprisingly, the quality of a particular cashmere comes not just from the health and diet of the goat. It is also affected by the climate in which the goat lives. The angora goat raised in cold climates (e.g., the Himalayas!), will produce a higher quality cashmere than if raised in warmer climates.

Adorable!Then there’s the Pygora goat, which is a cross between the Pygmy goat (which produces a short, difficult-to-spin down) and Angora goats (mohair). (Read the story of these goats! Pic source) Pygoras produce one of three different types of fibers:

  • Type A: 6+ inch staple, ringlets, usually has a silky guard hair, very fine, mohair-like, usually <;28 microns.
  • Type B: 3-6 inch staple, usually curly, has an obvious guard hair and second silky guard hair and should average <;24 microns.
  • Type C: 1-3 inch staple, a very fine fiber, usually <;18.5 microns, and can be acceptable as commercial cashmere, must show crimp and have good separation between a coarse guard hair and fleece.

Nigora goatLast, but not least, is the Nigora goat (a cross between a Nigerian Dwarf goat and an Angora goat). (Pic source) Its fleece produces multiple fiber types like the Pygora.

Are you now wondering where cashgora and pycazz come from?!


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Fibers, Miscellany and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to And From Goats We Get … ?

  1. Pingback: Stash buster. | gentlestitches

  2. You’re most welcome .. thanks for reading!


  3. Thanks for reading my blog … I am glad you find my posts informative – and fun.


  4. Is that a myth, or can a goat really eat a tin can?!


  5. Yes, and I keep telling Thor how useful they’d be … I’d get fiber and they’d keep the grass down!


  6. I think so too – though I’ve always thought the name sounds as though they were named by a math professor!


  7. I learn something new everyday too … wait until you read my next post. 🙂


  8. Oh yes … and I’ve seen dogs much larger so why does most neighborhood zoning laws zone out these guys?!


  9. My daughter once asked me (when she was about 8), what kind of animal was a “mo” … she was looking at a skein of mohair! 🙂


  10. We were looking at a house on a large lot, and I said, “Oh, could we get a goat?!”


  11. One of my joyful moments at fairs such as Black Sheep Gathering is the opportunity to pet these cuties!


  12. textileshed says:

    wow, thanks for this lovely post!


  13. A fascinating read. I love the softness of goats wool. My goodness, the next time I visit a yarn shop I will actually know what I am looking at thanks to your entertaining and informative posts! 🙂


  14. Pearl says:

    Well, clearly these are not the tin-can-eating billy goats from my neighborhood!


  15. Northern Narratives says:

    There is a woman in my area with pygora goats. They are so cute.


  16. tgonzales says:

    I just love all the information that you provide us. I always say that I learn something new every day and I just learned something new today. Thanks for sharing so much.



  17. Tracey says:

    Oh my goodness, that Angora goat! Adorable!


  18. Jenny says:

    I’m embarrassed to say that I never knew where cashmere came from. I had no idea it came from goats.


  19. Lisa says:

    Wow those goats are so cute!! Thanks for sharing about them! I love the Angora a nd the Kashmir!! Hugz and have a super day!


  20. reWOLLuzza says:

    I think I’ve never seen an Angora goat before – it look likes a huge, cuddly teddybear… I wanna hug it!


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