Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sheep of the Week: Angora Goat

I know, it's a goat, not a sheep, but who's quibbling?  It's four-legged, it bleats and it produces some really fun fiber.

FUN FACT:  It's a BAND of goats, a FLOCK of sheep and a HERD of cattle.

The angora goat, funny enough, produces mohair fiber and should not be confused with the bunny of the same name.  It gets its name from Ankara, Turkey, from whence it came, and where it was so valued that the Turks actually put a picture of one of these characters on their money.  Now our own state of Texas is one of the top three largest mohair producers in the world, along with Turkey and South Africa.  Presumable, they like the Texan climate and food (grass, shrubs--sounds about right for a goat).  These mid-sized goats are a little picky about their environs and somewhat difficult to raise as they are more delicate and less prolific than their wool-producing cousins.

Their fiber is similar in size to course wool, but because each strand is smooth rather than scaled, it does not felt.  It is a strong fiber, lustrous, elastic and easily dyed in rich colors.  Some goats' coats grow in ringlets; some in flat locks.  The ringlets will be softer.

One of the things I love about mohair is it's tendency to produce floaty, cloud-like yarn.  You can blend it with wool to achieve this halo effect, but choose your mohair carefully.  Kid mohair, from the babies (aka kids) is the one you want for next to skin wear, otherwise you may find your beautiful garment itchy and unwearable.

Angora goats are mid-sized animals with big goat personalities.  Bucks can weigh up to 225 pounds, while does top out at 110.   Males and females both grow spiraling horns up to two feet long on the males, making them picturesque and maybe a little dangerous.  But look at that face! 

My dream flock would definitely include one of these handsome guys.  My dream flock just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

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