I first got in contact with Sue Coyle of mohairhouse.com on Google+ of all places. We got chatting and I discovered that Sue was well acquainted with Blythe dolls and their needs when it comes to mohair for re-roots. Describing herself as “just a country girl”, Sue first got into mohair when she was restoring vintage troll dolls. After months of work devising her own process for turning raw unwashed wool into a finished, combed product she started selling her left over mohair in her online store on etsy. Sue cares for a pack of 21 angora goats that provide all of the mohair available in her store. Mohairhouse sells mohair in natural or vivid colours including Sue’s own original colour blends.
As I can’t be the only Blyther that is a mohair newbie, Sue has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about Blythe and mohair:
How did you get involved in farming angora goats?
First of all, thank you for wanting this interview, it’s a real pleasure!
I actually started selling my refurbished trolls in 2005.
As I started selling to more and more reborn artists, I found I needed more mohair. At the time I was buying it from other breeders. In October of 2007, I finally decided to buy a Registered colored buck and a Registered colored doe to breed so I would have a few goats and wouldn’t have to buy any more mohair. At that time the natural colored mohair was in high demand.
This is how I got into mohair. After I had my first kid (baby goat) I was hooked on these wonderful animals, working with their hair is also addictive! I had to have more of these goats! So the next year I found a few more. I bought a Registered brown doe (Reserve Champion), 1 white wether (castrated male), and a Registered white buck. At this time I was just getting into dying the mohair with human hair colors. But the brown one was a color that people were asking for.
So, I bred these and got more babies! What fun this is! A couple of years ago I bought a few more goats from a lady that lives only a couple of hours from me. She had a couple of white ones for sale and one that was a taupe color. When I went there she had a young buck on offer for a very affordable price also out of Grand Champion bloodlines. Again, I couldn’t resist! He is a beauty and the sweetest guy ever! So I have him and his brother and I am picking up another brother of his.
I kept buying and have been very selective in my breeding program to make sure I have all the colors and textures I need for my dolly people.
As a supplier of mohair to many Blythe customisers can you tell us a bit about your involvement with the Blythe community?
I first learned of the Blythe doll when I sold some white mohair to a gal from Australia. Unfortunately, I can’t remember her name. This was, I think, in 2007. She showed me the doll as I had never heard of or seen one. I was amazed at those big eyes! To be honest, I wasn’t too sure if I liked her or not. But the more I found, the more I liked her. I started looking and checking into these big eyes girls and found info about rooting. After her I got a few more people inquiring about my mohair and it just progressed very rapidly from there. So I had to start having the longer mohair for sale. The past few yrs. there has been a huge increase in business for the longer mohair for these girls. So the inquiries started rolling in and sales and that’s pretty much how I got involved in this community. The dolly community has some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life! I’ve made a few awesome friends along the way too. In the reborn baby world also.
When buying mohair for a Blythe re-root, does the wool come coloured already or do you have to dye it yourself?
The mohair comes in natural colors. White, brown, blonde, red, black, grey, silver. The base dark colors normally fade to the blondes and the silvers and grays.
It all can be dyed as well using human hair color or acid dyes. But, for best results, you should use protein fiber dyes. Protein fiber is a fiber that is grown on an animal. Some mohair takes dye better than others. I would have to write a book to explain.
I’ve noticed that mohair is listed by weight in ounces. Is there a guide to the number of ounces of wool that you require for a Blythe re-root?
Most people use 1.5 oz. – 2 oz. for a Blythe re-root. I do know a couple people that use only 1 oz. I know 1 person that uses 1.2 oz. She has it down pat! A lot of people buy extra just to make sure they have enough in case there’s some waste. I prepare mine so you don’t have much waste at all.
It really depends on how thick you want your hair on the scalp. For example: if you buy real curly mohair, you won’t need as much because the natural curls are going to help fill in. If you buy the finer straighter hair, you will need more because you don’t have the curls to help cover. TIP: I’ve learned from doll artists that you don’t have to root every hole. If you don’t, you will also use a little bit less mohair.
Recently I tried to buy mohair for a re-root and when it arrived it was not what I expected. It was clumpy and very short. Clearly I had not bought the correct wool. What things should I be looking out for when buying mohair for re-rooting s to make sure I buy wool that I can use?
For a re-root, make sure you are buying hair that is combed completely clear through from top to bottom and has been completely washed clear through the locks. Of course, this may mean something different to other sellers. Also, make sure the sheared ends are lined up together, not upside down or mismatched. >>the cell structure on mohair is different from the top to the tips. If the sheared ends are mixed with the tips, it will felt together. Make sure the hair has been conditioned or it will be dry and may break off when combing. (This is a whole other subject)
Yes, mohair can be styled just like human hair. Be very careful using curling irons or flat irons. It will burn just like human hair and can felt very easily. Once it’s felted it’s pretty much ruined.
Conditioner actually relaxes the mohair. If you want it back to the original curls, just spray some water on the hair and scrunch it up and let dry naturally. NEVER blow dry mohair…it WILL frizz terribly.
Hair products: NEVER use heavy chemical products. I only use products that have natural oils in them. The dryer or courser the hair, the more you need. I am developing my own this summer specifically for mohair.
Does a mohair re-root require any aftercare?
Natural colored mohair: you can wash with hot water, but there’s no need to use real hot water. The natural yolk (grease) has already been washed out when processing. Use a shampoo with natural oils in it, same for conditioner. ALWAYS condition after washing. I welcome any questions about this for the different textures of mohair.
Dyed mohair: DO NOT use hot water, only temped (just a bit warmer than room temperature). No dyes are guaranteed not to run or fade…regardless of what anyone tells you. To help keep your dye set, use some white distilled vinegar in your shampoo and conditioner solution.
Store your doll out of direct sunlight to help keep the hair from fading or bleaching. Even the natural colored mohair can fade over time.
The most common terms for the grades of mohair are:
Kid: (first clip) the softest and finest strands
Yearling: (1-2 yrs. old) still very soft, fine
Adult: (young adult 2-5 yrs. old) still soft but strands are getting thicker
Adult (5 +): strands are thicker and some people like them thicker for easier handling. Adult can still be very soft and nice. The hair gets straighter as the goats ages (in most cases).
Microns: for show goats and mill production they go by what is called “microns” which is the measurement thickness of the strands of fiber.
Mohair: on the Angora goat only (often called the diamond fiber because of its shine)
Angora fiber: rabbits
Wool: sheep (many different kinds) much dryer and always more course than Angora mohair but some species have the same type of lock formation.
Yolk: natural grease on the mohair
Raw: right off the goat after shearing, not washed or processed at all
Skirting: removing any nasties or bad hair, short 2nd cuts after shearing
Bulk: not combed and often times not separated or sorted by size or texture
Mohair color mix (my own definition): mohair that has different shades or colors mixed in on the locks.
Bulk mix: different colors mixed in not combed or sorted
Blend (my own definition): locks with different colors or shades on the locks at random from top to bottom
Rainbow: different shades of solid colors from top to bottom
I have my own prices according to length, dying process, and how many colors for the order per oz. I allow up to 3 colors per oz for multi colors. A little more for the rainbows. The longer the mohair is the more time consuming it is to comb and process.
My prices for dyed range from $32.00 (shortest) per oz up to $50.00 per oz. (longest)
It also depends on if I need to use human hair dye or acid dyes (acid is the vinegar).
Some people charge the same for all lengths, but I know what time goes into it. Most people I sell to on a regular basis know how I process and will pay a little more knowing it will be what they want in the end and never have to worry.
Prices can also be reflected for supply and demand. For example: some natural colors are not common so they cost a little more.
Are you aware of any countries that don’t allow the import of mohair due to quarantine restrictions?
I am not aware of any countries not allowing mohair. Most people who buy I’m sure already know what can be imported.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with us Sue. I was very happy to hear that you had good experiences dealing with the Blythe community and know where I will be going next time I attempt to buy mohair.
Thank you Katie for asking for this interview and the dolly community for all of your support of my goats buddies….and me of course! Love you all and love working with you!