The Little Ones, Part 1: Rabbits

If you’ve ever gone to wool growers events (e.g., the annual Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon), you will meet people who raise Angora rabbits and from which we get angora fiber. (In an earlier post I explained that Angora goats give us cashmere. “Angora” simply comes from the word Ankara, a city in Turkey.)

EnglishAngoraRabbitThe American Rabbit Breeders Association recognizes four breeds: English, French, Giant, and Satin. There are other Angora Rabbit breeds, however, including German, Chinese, Swiss, and Finnish. (Click here to see a short video of angora bunny pics!)

FrenchAngoraTo the left is an English Angora and to the right is a French Angora (pic source).

Angora rabbits come in an array of colors, and its wool has micron count of 10 to 13. It has a short staple and can be little tricky to spin at first (at least it was for me) but lends itself to spinning in a very fine diameter. Many people like to wear angora as it is very soft and warm (6-8 times warmer than wool), but it felts very easily and sheds.

I like working with angora but, because it felts so easily, prefer it blended with wool. Blending with wool also reduces the shedding. Also, I have witnessed two people have a severe (i.e., both had swollen eyes and scarily labored breathing) anaphlactic reaction to angora I was wearing. (I never make baby clothes from yarn containing angora because of potential anaphlatic reaction.)

Angora rabbits “blow” (shed or throw) their fur a couple of times a year, at which time owners can easily pull out the fiber with a gentle tug. Some people shear their rabbits, but that fiber is not the best to spin due to the cut end. (The rabbit probably doesn’t enjoy the shearing either.) You can also gather fiber by regularly combing their fur. (I used to work with a woman who kept an angora as a pet – she was not a fiber person – and regularly gave me bags of angora fiber brushed regularly off her rabbit.)

A spinner can spin directly from the rabbit – something we witnessed many times at Black Sheep Gatherings. (Click here to witness a woman wheel spinning directly from the back of her rabbit.)

Hint for the first time angora spinner: Don’t wear black clothes. In fact, wear an apron as short angora fibers will float around and want to stick to you. The first time I spun angora (not off the back of a rabbit), I was wearing black slacks. Mistake. By the time I was finished, I looked like I had been holding a white cat in my lap.

Hint for the first time angora wearer: Don’t get sweaty and move around a lot. A client of a yarn store I worked at decades ago brought in her angora sweater to show us how it felted after a night of vigorous disco dancing!

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About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Fibers, Miscellany and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Little Ones, Part 1: Rabbits

  1. Oh! Someone brought fur from her rabbit to the spin in yesterday. It was so soft and dreamy!!

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  2. Bunnies generally tend to be cute, I blame Beatrix Potter. Fascinating all the ways humans have developed to remove the hair from one creature or another. 😉

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  3. And it’s not just Border Terriers that can be stripped … there’s a certain type of sheep too that can be “rooed”. (I wrote about it in a blog about different methods of shearing.) I think angora bunnies are so cute … when you get a moment, poke around pics on the internet. I guarantee you’ll be grinning. 🙂

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  4. Thank you! I am glad you enjoy reading the blog posts. I have fun writing them too.

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  5. Thank you for dropping by and reading it!

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  6. It is fun to watch spinners do that! And the bunnies don’t seem to care.

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  7. My daughter had two bunnies over the years (neither angora), and both were sweet. You have to watch them inside, though – they will chew anything.

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  8. Bunnies can be pretty neat. My daughter had a bunny (not an angora) when she was about 11 – she named him Fuzzy Krueger. 🙂 He was a doll and loved to chase our two cats up and down the stairs. I am sure he thought he was a cat.

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  9. If I’ve got my left and right the right way round for once, the English version looks more like shih tzu! Is that a similar technique to the way that a Border Terrier is ‘stripped’? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__2KdW8X5uA I wouldn’t like to knit with dog hair though, personally! Thanks for another fascinating post. 🙂

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  10. tgonzales says:

    Hi Karen!

    I love reading your blog and learning something new every time. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Hugs,
    Tamara

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  11. Northern Narratives says:

    Very interesting post.

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  12. writeknit says:

    I would never imagined spinning right from the bunny! Fascinating, some day I really need to learn to spin 🙂 Great post.

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  13. Interesting source of fibre. Those bunnies are soooo cute.

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  14. textileshed says:

    That video is something else – I cannot believe that bunny is so very placid!

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