English Angora Rabbit Fiber & Yarn

When you think of 'Angora' rabbit fiber or yarn, what probably comes into mind is fiber that is from the French Angora breed of rabbit. I raised this breed in the 1980's, they are around 8-9# (an 'average' sized rabbit). The fiber is fine, when it is spun and knitted, it is 'fuzzy and spikey'. Presently, I raise English Angora rabbits. The fiber is very, very fine and soft and fuzzy rather than spikey. When I am spinning it, i'd describe it as the finest, softest fuzzy cotton-type fiber. The English Angoras have few guard hairs, so the colors are pastel in color. For example, i'd describe the color of black english angora as 'silvery', chocolate english angora reminds me of cafe au lait, and chocolate tort looks like the color of champagne.

Shedding and pilling My mother used to hate anything made with angora, she'd tell me that angora would shed like mad and would pill also. I believe that the shedding came from harvesting the angoras by shaving. I spin my angora from plucked or 'combed' fiber, and I use fiber that is 3-9" in lenght and shedding has never been a problem. I noticed pilling when I put my clothing in the washing machine, but no pills form when i've hand washed my items.

Allergies to angora

Some of my friends have told me that they are allergic to angora. I, too am very allergic to any animal with hair. I researched this a bit, and found that allergens are released when the hair shaft is cut or broken (as would be the case in rabbits that are shaven). Also, allergens can be found in the chemicals used in processing the yarn as well as allergens that are found in rabbit saliva....these seem to be the main causes of allergic reactions. I raise my rabbits organically and process the fiber and yarn with no chemicals or detergents and am careful to use only plucked or combed fibers....I have a pair of socks that is knit with my english angora and I have had no allergic reaction to it at all (no itching, scratching or redness!).

Availablility and expense of English Angora

Angora bought commercially is expensive, but it is very, very light in weight (1 ounce of angora fiber is equal to a 1 gallon ziploc bag STUFFED full). So, 1 ounce may seem expensive (about $10), but it goes a long, long way. When I knit my socks (I knit size 4-10, which is just a bit smaller than a womans size), I used about 2 ounces of angora yarn. They were knit using size 00 DP knitting needles. English Angora fiber is NOT available commercially and probably never will be, english angoras are smaller (5-7#) than the commercial angora breeds and they produce much less fiber than the commercial angoras. The fiber is very fine and they are difficult to keep as they need considerable grooming to prevent matting. Even few rabbit breeders will venture into English Angoras because of the amount of care they require. Personally, I know of 2 other breeders in the entire state of Michigan, and I know of only 1 other lady in this state who spins the fiber of this beauty (a wonderful lady named Misty).

Durability

My biggest beef with using angora yarn is that it is very delicate. I had made a baby weight 2-ply yarn, but found this is not very durable. My next batch of angora yarn will be a sport weight 3-ply yarn, and this should be more durable. English Angora yarn also has little elasticity and has no substance (it drapes). It would not work well for every item.

Back to the knitting page|Visit the Rabbitry home page
Hosting by WebRing.