1. Does ”angora” always come from a rabbit?
Yes, angora fiber and yarn are from angora rabbits. There are also angora goats, but they produce mohair (go figure).
2. Must you kill the rabbit, or does it hurt the rabbit to get its hair?
No! The hair can be removed in several ways: by clipping it off with scissors or shearers, by brushing it out, or by “plucking.” When the hair is ready to shed it pulls off readily and does not hurt the rabbit.
3. How much fiber do you get from one rabbit?
That depends a lot on the variety of angora, and the individual rabbit, but I generally get 2-4 ounces every time I harvest it, and I do that four times a year, making a total of 8-16 ounces a year. That is certainly enough for a hat each time I harvest, and even a sweater once a year!
4. How big are the rabbits?
My rabbits are about 6 – 8 pounds. Giants can be 10 pounds or more, Jersey Woolies are much smaller.
5. How many rabbits do you have?
The number is always changing as rabbits have babies and babies go to new homes. Currently I have 13 adult rabbits, 3 “teenagers,” and 12 babies.
6. How long do they live?
I would say 6-8 years is a good life span for an angora rabbit. They are susceptible to problems and diseases – for example wool block and pasteurella which can shorten their life span.
7. What color are they?
They have a wide range of colors: pure bright white, fawn or orange color, brown, gray and black. Most get lighter in color as they become adults, so a black baby will end up being a dark charcoal gray as an adult.
8. Where do they come from/ where do they live in the wild?
Angora rabbits were bred from domestic rabbits. One theory holds that they originated in Ankora, Turkey, thus the name. The long hair is actually due to a genetic mutation that causes the hair to grow for a longer time before it sheds. This mutation was selected for by people who wanted the long hair, and animals with this feature would not be able to survive in the wild. The hair would get terribly tangled and caught in branches, and it would probably cause bad wool block in the rabbit’s digestive system, so angora rabbits are not found naturally anywhere.
9. Do Angora Rabbits make good pets?
They make wonderful pets for fiber artists who want to make use of their lovely fiber! In fact, they are the perfect fiber animal for people who live in the city or suburbs since they take up little space. I do not recommend an angora rabbit as a pet for children, or even for an adult who just wants a pet rabbit, since they do need to be groomed frequently to prevent terribly matted hair, and care must be taken to prevent wool block. That said, anyone who is willing to take that care and put in the effort, will be rewarded with a beautiful, unusual, and often quite affectionate pet.
10. Do you ever sell your angora rabbits?
Yes, certainly, I sell babies and adults for $35 each. A registered angora rabbit from a show breeding stock will cost more.
11. What kind of angora rabbits do you have?
My rabbits are mostly a mix of Giant and French breeds.
12. What can angora yarn be used for?
Angora yarn is amazingly warm and soft. It can be made into fabulous hats, scarves, wrist warmers for example. It can also be used to line other knit items for added warmth. I like to add stripes of angora to projects to provide some special texture and interest.
13. Does it shed?
Angora yarn that is spun from plucked fibers sheds very little. Commercially produced angora yarn often sheds because when the fiber is clipped off the animal it includes short bits along with the long hair and those short bits are what sheds out.
14. Does it shrink/felt?
Yes, angora items will definitely shrink and felt if subjected to warmth, moisture and agitation. For this reason, I do not recommend pure angora for socks or for gloves and mittens (unless they are house socks – worn just to bed or around the house). It does make lovely lining for mittens.
15. How should it be washed and cared for?
Angora items should be washed in cold water with no agitation. Just soak them, squeeze the soapy water through a few times, rinse the same way and let them dry flat on a towel.
16. Is angora fiber hard to spin?
It can be tricky to spin at first, but once you get the hang of it, spinning angora is very easy! It is slippery, and the fibers do not “grab” as readily as wool, so it requires a lot of twist, and very little pull-in. One of the things I like best is that plucked angora can be spun right off the rabbit with no washing or carding. Now by that, I do not mean that I spin directly from the rabbit. It can be done, and you will often see that at fairs because it is such a novelty. I find it hard to get up any speed or be really consistent that way. Instead I pluck the rabbit, then I can take that plucked fiber and spin it immediately.
17. What does “prime plucked” mean?
Prime Plucked fiber has been carefully harvested from the rabbit by gently pulling it out when the hair is ready to shed. It is smooth, untangled and all the same length which makes it lovely and easy to spin.
18. Do you do your own dyeing?
Yes, I dye at all different stages of the process: raw wool, unspun angora, carded batts, or spun yarn. I love playing with color and I am experimenting with solar dyeing, as a way to eliminate the need for CO2 producing fossil fuels from yet another stage (all my carding and spinning are done under my own power!). I regularly use two main sources of natural dye – walnut for lovely rich browns, and lichen for eye-popping purples.
19. Where does the wool you use come from?
Most of the wool that I use (sometimes alone, more often in combination with angora) comes from local sheep. I either buy it directly from friends, or find it at one of the local fiber fairs in the area.
20. What is the difference between sheep’s wool and angora?
Angora from rabbits is softer silkier and much warmer (7 times warmer!) than wool. It also does not have the elasticity of wool, which is why I often combine the two.
21. What can I do with small skeins of yarn?
Here is a link to a blog entry (not mine!) that has lots of ideas. Check it out!