In Alberta, two types of goat fibre are produced for cottage industry and commercial markets - mohair and cashmere. Both may be dyed and spun and are used for high quality yarn as well as cloth.
Mohair is the name given to the hair produced by the angora goat. Healthy, well-bred angora goats have lustrous, silky, white hair, which hangs over the entire body in wavy curls five to six inches in length. In Alberta, angoras are shorn twice a year, each clip yielding an average of five pounds, depending on age, size and sex. Young angoras produce the best quality mohair. As an animal grows older, the hair becomes coarser and straighter. Unlike wool, mohair is a hair and as such is much stronger than wool as well as being more lustrous, warmer and less inclined to shrink.
Cashmere is the fine down undercoat produced by all goat breeds except the angora. Most breeds do not have enough cashmere to be considered fibre goats, except for the Spanish goat, which is often referred to as Spanish/Cashmere. Cashmere has a dull finish and a specific crimp form. The fleece from cashmere producing goats will have two very distinct forms of fibre - the fine undercoat or cashmere and the coarse outer or guard hair. To avoid the tedious task of separating the two types of fibre from a shorn fleece, breeders often hand-comb their goats to obtain the cashmere. The best cashmere is sold with less than one quarter of one per cent coarse hair content.
Where can I buy it?
Alberta fibre products are sold in gift shops, through mail order, online, and at farmers markets and trade shows.