After having angora bunnies for the last two years, now I know why Angora fiber and yarn is so costly. My adventures with Angora bunnies began a couple of winters ago when someone was looking to re-home some fluffy rabbits.
Being a spinner and knowing how expensive angora can be I thought, why not? So we drove two hours into the Maine wilderness and brought home three fluffy boy rabbits. I wasn’t ready to try dealing with baby bunnies so boys was just fine with me.
Angora bunnies come in various breeds. There are the Giant Angora, French, Satin, English and various colors. All bunnies are soft and have lovely fur.However, rabbits are not like sheep where you can shear them once a year, they have to be shorn every three or four months, depending on the breed and individual rabbit. Also they need to be combed to keep the fur from matting at least once a week. I brush my bunnies on Saturday or Sunday morning every single weekend, right after changing their poop trays, that’s the yuck part. I know that if I fail to do the combing I will lose a lot of fur to matting.
Being fur, this fiber takes a little bit of learning to figure out how to spin it. Sheep wool has a bit of springy and grippy texture to it, bunny fiber does not. It is extremely slippery, fine, and let’s not forget static cling will have you covered in rabbit fur before you know it. Alpaca can do this too but not as much as bunny due to the fineness of the fur. I recommend if you start spinning 100% angora then you should wear a mask. This fur is so fine you will either end up with some in your mouth or up your nose.
If all these exciting facts still leave you want to try spinning bunny fur you need to spin it with a high ratio and twist and if you are not an experienced spinner this could take some practice. I think the best strategy for angora bunny fur is to blend it with wool, this will give the yarn some springiness and memory, good things to have with yarn. It also makes it easier to spin. 100% angora is amazingly soft, very drapey, but has no memory so it can stretch out and not go back to the original intended size or shape. This might not be a big deal if you are making a cowl or scarf. Another thing about bunny fur is it is incredibly warm!! Ten times warmer than wool, not surprising since my rabbits live outside in the barn, their water bottles freeze twice a day but when you pet them they are warm and cozy in their fur. I think a knitted sweater would be too warm to wear inside, maybe only for outside activity.
The best bet is to blend the angora up to about 25% with wool and still get the amazing warmness of angora along with the other amazing properties of wool.
I love spinning blends and you get a fluffy halo around the yarn when you blend with angora. Surprisingly you don’t need that much angora fur to blend with some sheep wool, one ounce of angora with three ounces of wool blended and spun will make a beautiful and soft yarn. I will do a separate post on how to blend on the drum carder, angora can be a bit tricky but worth it! If you want to try some check out the shop, and some luxury will be on its way to you. Have any of you tried angora? What is your favorite way to spin it?