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La fabrication d'un pull Mohair

mohair

Mohair wool is a natural, renewable resource that has many qualities.
Mohair is incredibly lustrous and absorbs dye extremely well to create fantastically radiant colours.
Thanks to its excellent insulating properties, mohair keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer because of its ability to release moisture.
Compared to other types of fibre, mohair fibres are long, which means you can create sweaters that are a little fluffy, feminine and soft – which I love!

mohair

Mohair is the name given to angora goat wool.
It originally comes from the highlands of Anatolia in the Ankara region of Turkey.
Angora goats are small, very hardy and well adapted to arid habitats. Their fleece is completely white and has long, silky, shiny strands of wool.
South Africa is currently the world’s biggest mohair producer (around 50% of global production), followed by the USA (Texas), Argentina and Turkey. Some breeders also operate in France.

mohair

In my quest for meaning, I scoured the entire MOHAIR sector in order to find local breeders that treat their animals well. I was lucky to meet some great people, especially Audrey and Mathieu, the owners of the farm ‘Mohair aux 4 vents’. I also went to trade fairs and discovered incredibly high quality fibres that, once knitted, guarantee that sweaters will have a really long life.
Here is my experience with two sources of mohair:

La France

Mohair aux 4 vents is a French farm near Sarlat run by Audrey and her brother Mathieu. The goats here are looked after and pampered all year long. Mathieu sheers the goats 2 to 3 times a year. I admire the work Audrey does to transform the mohair into yarn through an Italian washer and spinner. The fibres that come out of the Mohair aux 4 vents are extremely high quality, however the thread from Mathieu’s goats is so long that it is hard to machine knit, then wash and dry the sweaters. The Italian factory I work with has had to really persevere to find the right settings. We have managed to fine tune things in order to create a beautiful, very soft and timeless sweater (see: Margot) and I hope this is just the beginning!

trait multicolor

L'Afrique du Sud

There are around 800 farms in South Africa. Goats are reared outdoors. Most South African farmers sell their fleeces to 2 groups who sort them by quality and transform the mohair into rough strands. They then sell them to spinners across the world. When you buy a strand of South African mohair, it is possible to trace exactly where the fibres come from but you can’t build a close relationship with a particular farm because the washing and carding process is completed on an industrial scale and involves bringing together the wool from many different farms. The film produced by PETA shone a light on the unacceptable practices of some farmers and, although controversial, it did create some progress. This led me to find out more about the practices, standards and regulations of the South African mohair industry.

Bientôt une certification RMS pour le mohair sud africain

MSA Mohair South Africa

MSA Mohair South Africa is a South African organisation that is active in and committed to promoting and developing ethical, sustainable and accredited production. The organisation is working hard with the Textile Exchange so that it can create a responsible mohair standard. All its operations have already been audited, and the next stage is accreditation by a third party so that it can become a sustainable and ethical provider.

Textile Exchange

Textile Exchange is a global not-for-profit organisation that aims to reduce the negative impacts of the textile industry on water, soil, air, animal and human population resources. Textile Exchange has set up a series of accreditations for leather, cotton and wool (RWS Responsible Wool Standard). It is now working in partnership with MSA to create a new mohair certification: the RMS.

RMS Responsible Mohair Standard

RMS Responsible Mohair Standard This accreditation is being developed in collaboration with farmers, animal welfare experts, land conservation experts, brands and global retailers. The standard aims to provide a tool that enables the industry to identify best practices and create rules for land management and animal welfare. It should be up and running within the next few months, and South African breeders will be the first to receive accreditation as they have led the initiative through MSA.

mes choix

I have begun production using two sources.

Locally sourced and very beautiful mohair that needs a lot of adjustment during knitting.

And an extremely high quality South African mohair that is prepared by a high-quality Italian spinner to guarantee a durable end product.
The standards maintained by this South African company are promising, but I am still aware of how far supply has to travel from this South African source, which is why I intend to keep looking. It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to telling you more.

 

Some links to find out more:

Mohair South Africa

Textile Exchange

Responsible Wool Standard

Film Mohair South Africa

Ferme Mohair aux 4 vents

 

filer

Before the wool is spun, the threads are washed, carded and combed. These three stages take the raw threads and turn them into a “disentangled” strand of mohair that is clean and made up of neat and even fibres.
Unlike synthetic fibres, mohair fibres come from living matter. So no batch is the same; they are susceptible to damp, fluctuations in temperature and even the wind! This makes them much more difficult to spin.
Spinning transforms the disentangled strand into a strip of a particular size and composition (it is possible to blend mohair with wool during this stage, for example).

 

This strip is then spun in different ways depending on the yard desired. For mohair, the strip is generally blended with a “compound” yarn: either a polyamide or very fine silk that is mixed with the mohair. The tensions are regulated so that the mohair yarn is longer than the “compound” yarn. So the mohair creates a little curl that is then held by a third compound thread. Finally, a machine scrapes the mohair curl to release the fluff. Some types of mohair are lefted unscraped so that the curl is visible. They are known as “curled yarns”.

teindre

Although dyes are highly regulated in Europe, particularly by REACH regulations, which prohibit the use of certain chemicals, the dye manufacturing remains a polluting procedure.

I haven’t been able to find a mohair yarn that uses vegetable dyes that can be industrially manufactured (most likely because mohair is highly sensitive to immersion in water, and to heat).

For now, the way to avoid this process is to create unbleached sweaters that aren’t dyed – but I didn’t want to do without colour.

Solutions will emerge going forward! In particular, I met with the team of a new business called Pili (https://fr.pili.bio/), which is developing a technology to manufacture dye pigments using bacteria that somehow feed and create colour. In future, these dye pigments can be used by an industrial dyer in just the same way as classic chemical dyes. So there’s no need to convert all the dyers!

creer

One shape, one knit, one colour. A knit stitch is a strange thing. I create my sweaters from a small piece of thread! I don’t have a system apart from the fact that the colour and material play a very important role in my thinking.
I love to imagine the girl who will wear my sweater, her style, her personality… then I think about all the possible ‘looks’ that would go with the sweater. I regularly pair up vintage pieces that are a little offbeat and my daughters and I can spend a whole afternoon creating new looks!

 

Assessing a thread’s quality and deciding on the type of knit that will best bring out its beauty is really important to me. I really focusing on pilling. Creating something isn’t just about finding a new aesthetic. It’s also about a responsibility to create pieces that are durable.

tricoter

Programmers in knitting mills set industrial machinery using the designs and settings given by the stylist. I generally provide a hand knitted prototype to show what the finished product should look like and, in the Italian factory I use, Marzia’s mother creates a pattern.
A series of panels emerge from the knitting machine: back, front and sleeves, which all need to be assembled. During knitting, it is important to correctly set the tension on the machines in order to create panels that are neither too tight or too loose.
After this, and in order to restore the shag that has been flattened as the wool has gone through the machine, the sweaters need to be washed using an adequate dose of the right softeners, and then dried. Care has to be taken because if they are washed for just a few seconds too long then the sweaters become felted! Every manufacturer has its own experience and way of doing things.

 

Hand knitting is, of course, a real craft and slower than machine knitting (at least 2-3 days for a very simple sweater) and there is always a variation depending on the who does the knitting. In terms of the product, hand knitting preserves the threads natural shag. There is no need to wash the sweater after knitting. In general, hand knitted sweaters are softer and have more volume. Finally, hand knitting saves on all the energy and water resources used by machine knitting.

monter

Assembling the various knitted panels calls for great dexterity and a lot of time. This process is highly manual.
Hand stitching a sweater is a skill that has virtually disappeared in France and Italy. It involves finishing a sweater’s neckline stitch by stitch, for example.
An experienced hand stitcher will spend around 15 minutes on a sweater, whereas it could take a novice an hour to complete the same amount of work. In all the factories that I’ve visited in France and Italy, hand stitchers are becoming more and more rare. It is extremely difficult to train new workers as the work is repetitive and difficult, particularly on the eyes.
How do you manage without hand stitching? French and Italian manufacturers replace hand stitching by using an overlock that looks like a seam made using the same yarn as the sweater.
Finally, once the sweater has been knitted, assembled, washed and dried, the manufacturer steam irons it to stabilise the final product.

joie de faire