16 October 2015

Knitting with Mohair

great tips for knitting with mohair lace

I was very excited yesterday to hear Jo of Shinybees (podcast link) talk about mohair, its properties and the way
Quite unfairly the fibre still gets scorned by many knitters, and often wearers, carrying the memories of the ferociously fuzzy jumpers of the 1980s. The mohair type, quality, and production had all
moved on hugely since then. A quick internet search last night brought up a small number of local, British, mohair producers of both pure fibre and a number of mohair blends with an absolute superb quality yarn in a whole range of weights.

Jo talks about mohair for knits that clock a lot of wear because of their nature, like socks and mitts, which is not something I had considered in the past, but makes complete sense in so many ways. Mohair in a blend, being a very durable, lightweight, and doesn't felt, will quite obviously produce a 100% natural yarn with strength that wear really well. I'm eager to try out a couple of yarns that popped up in my feed yesterday to see how it works (and wears) in something that gets a lot of friction.

Do you knit with mohair? I'd love to hear your thoughts on working with it!

I've a couple of tips for you for knitting with mohair lace!

Mohair lace is usually very fine and soft. Knitted on larger needles it naturally produces a very airy and lacy fabric. The yarn has a halo which gives the knitted fabric the distinct, ethereal look that most people associate with mohair. The halo fills the ‘gap’ between stitches which is why mohair lace is often knitted on relatively large needles.

I recommend working mohair on wooden or unpolished metal needles as it can be a slippery fibre. Blunt needles will help maintain gauge as the core of the yarn is so fine, yet the halo will often determine the size of your stitches. If your fabric seems uneven, your gauge will usually correct itself after a wash and light blocking.

Mistakes and ripping out (the part that most mohair knitters fear greatly)!

Due to the nature of the yarn and its distinct halo, mohair can be very difficult to unravel. It is not impossible, however. If you have made a mistake and you need to undo your knitting, there are ways to make unravelling your work an easier task. 

  • Firstly, you should undo your knitting stitch by stitch. Keep a tapestry needle handy (or a pair of embroidery scissors) to help you separate the halo that will be sticking to itself – take extra care not to cut the core fibres! 
  • Secondly, it often helps to put your project into a freezer or a few hours as the cold will make the halo easier to handle. 
  • This one is more suitable for fibres heavier than lace, although I have ripped a few rows of lace in this way as well. If you do have to physically rip the yarn because the fibres have melded together, keep hold of your knitting in one hand securely closer to the edge (sort of bunching it all up together in a fist) and pull out each stitch gently. Remember that mohair is extremely strong and you are quite unlikely to actually tear it.
  • And lastly, place a lifeline in your knitting every few rows, especially when knitting with lace, to save yourself the headache later on.

Mohair lace patterns to try:

tracery, a gorgeous mohair lace shawl pattern

rivelin, a gorgeous mohair lace pattern

don't forget to pin for later!

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