Aunt Cecilia’s Mohair: The Knit Goes On

CeceliaNoteSeveral years ago, a co-worker told me that her husband’s elderly Great Aunt Cecilia died. Such news does not often make it into my workplace. Cecilia’s  yarn and other related knitting what-nots were en route to Michigan. My co-worker once had knitting aspirations. But a busy work life and I assume motherhoodedness and many other interests deflected her from the sedentary craft of knitting. Then there was the matter of a certain boring yellow garter stitch scarf. Anyway. Would I like to have Cecilia’s  yarn? ” Yes.” All payment was refused.

And so I was gifted with Cecilia’s boxes of mohair. Mass quantities of 100% Italian kid mohair. The softest mohair on the planet, spun from young goats. My co-worker gave me so much mohair, all neatly packed in fifteen or so clean original cartons, that I went to Home Depot and purchased a special plastic caddy of drawers to store the balls in. There was pink, orange, dark green, light green, varigated green, black, hot pink, gold, aqua. Bon-bon complete with the original ballbands. Lady Myra, all tagged, as if they’d just been plucked from my local yarn shop. I would open the drawers and marvel at the permanence of things. Serious knitters  plan for what will happen to their stash when they die. Should it go to a Senior Center? A knitting relative? Their knitting guild? I immediately  felt a responsibility to do right by all that mohair. Then, in one of the crochet booklets that I received and looked at last because I don’t crochet, I found a carbon copy of this typed note.

Cecilia knew she was up to her eyeballs in mohair. She knew her stash enhancement had gotten out of hand. I figure she  stashed mass quantities of mohair in the 1960’s when “Italian Knits” were all the rage. They were oversized, bulky, warm, itchy sweaters.  But we all looked beautiful in them. Everyone wanted one. Mine was powder blue. By 1977 no one wanted mohair sweaters anymore. You had to wear long sleeve shirts under them and the little mohairs still managed to tickle your daylights out. By 1977, Cecilia might even have admitted to herself that knitting with mohair is not as much fun as knitting with yarn that behaves itself. With mohair, you knit in a cloud of fuzz. If you make a mistake, it’s almost impossible to rip back because all that clingy fuzz impedes progress and obscures the individual stitches. I bet Cecilia knew the mohair trick of putting your knitting in the freezer for a few hours because it’s easier to frog (“rippit, rippit”) when the yarn is very, very cold.

Somehow, knowing that Cecilia had already decided to sell her mohair to a stranger lessened my obligation to it. I made lots of scarfs, including for our office’s charity auction. I knitted clothes for bears donated to shelters.  I added it to felted bags. I made koala ear tufts out of it. I knitted a black shawl that made me look so goofy I had to give it away to the first person who said she  liked it. And yes, I gave some of the mohair to other knitters.

I have about 15 balls left in assorted colors. Mittens are the current mohair stash-busting project. These are knitted with two strands of Bon-Bon.

vintagemittens2I plan on leaving a few balls unknit.  When I kick my bucket, Cecilia’s yarn can find a new good home, mixed in with my stash.

bonbongreen bonbonorange

11 thoughts on “Aunt Cecilia’s Mohair: The Knit Goes On

  1. Wow, what a cool story! I’ll be Aunt Cecilia’s been watching you glorify her mohair with your donations etc. I too attempted to give in to the mohair rage of the early 70s. Unfortunately before I could finish the beautiful red mohair v-neck with cables at centre front and back and centred on the sleeves I ran out of the lovely red yarn. And then before I got around to buying more yarn, I GAINED weight. Duh! Did I say I was a procrastinating Gemini too? That unfinished sweater has travelled across Canada from coast to coast with me and I have never been small enough to wear it since. I should dig it out and make a pillow or purse out of it. LOL. Oh the memories. ps very lovely mittens.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Laurie. For my part, I have an assortment of FINISHED sweaters that don’t fit me anymore. Sigh. Oh the memories, indeed!

  3. I just Googled “bonbon italian mohair” and this site came up. I somehow have acquired the reputation for accepting yarn donations I’m not sure people even think I’ll really make something out of what they’ve given me. They just want to get rid of it, no questions asked, and I do have ways (besides actually knitting with it myself) to move it along. I do have a question about this yarn, which – like me – is no longer young. Can yarn get too old to be useful? Stored to poorly to be good to use. The Bonbon Italian Mohair given to me can be broken with a good yank. Any opinions on whether it’s worth using or passing on?

  4. @Alice…I just checked mine. With a good yank, yes it can be snapped. But it still knitted up quite nicely. These mittens were knitted with two strands, though. I think my Bon-Bon is from the middle-1960’s.

  5. @Karel…thanks. If you look around on my site for one of my knitted hats posting, you will see my glass head. (Hmm, that sounds odd). Anyway, it’s filled with vintage Bon-Bon mohair!

  6. I have some vintage bonbon which is a lovely baby pink. Does anyone have an idea about yardage in the 40 gram skein? Thanks.

  7. @Barbara…My balls also just say 40 grams and I couldn’t find anything on the net on yardage, even at a vintage yarn site. Classic Elite La Gran seems comparable and 50 grams of that fingering weight mohair is 106 yards. That’s 2 yards per gram so I wonder if it would be a safe estimate to figure there is about 80 yards per ball of BonBon. I did find that one of my BonBon balls was only 37 grams, though.

  8. Years ago, I was gifted with a lot of mohair yarn in 4 colors, plus a half-knitted sweater and knitting needles from a former student ( I teach jewelrymaking/silversmithing/stonesetting), so after sitting on my mohair stash, I tried to sell it. No luck. Finally last winter, I decided I need my own mohair blanket,so started knitting away. Alas,I had to buy even more vintage mohair yarn in order to keep oging on my 8 ft long, by 4 ft blanket, and still knitting away on a gold/white 6′ x 2′ section. I love mohair, so warm, so lightweight. Wool and mohair doesn’t bother me, and I love their warmth. Great story you told. Thanks for sharing it. I would have love some of your gold yarn since I’m still knitting away on my gold yarn strip.

  9. @Joy…mohair can be such a joy to knit with! Thank you for stopping by my blog and for sharing your mohair gift!

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