Three in a row that are all about fiber! I know, I found it frustrating too. That is just how things popped up in alphabetical order. I promise the next 2 will not be fiber related.
On with the show:
Angora fiber comes from the Angora rabbit, a group of domestic rabbits bread for their long silky “wool.” Angoras come in several arbitrarily defined breeds, based on their physical appearance. The most common breeds in the US are the English, French, Giant, and Satin (the English – my favorite – are the smallest and look most like giant cotton balls).
Regardless of their breed, angoras produce a very fine, extremely light weight, and warm fiber. In fact, Angora fiber is only 10 microns in diameter, far finer than even cashmere. Like Alpaca, it is also 8 times warmer than sheep’s wool. It will even keep you warm when saturated with twice as much water as sheep’s wool can hold. As a result of its warmth and diameter, angora is often blended with other fibers like wool or silk to reduce the yarn’s density and increase its wear-ability.
Angora fiber can be harvested thru traditional shearing or clipping methods, but the fiber also sheds in tufts and can be painlessly plucked from the rabbit during grooming. The best part is that the plucked fiber is also considered the highest grade. This fiber can then be spun directly off the rabbit, and washed after it is spun.
Angora yarn is known for being extremely fuzzy and somewhat delicate. While this is often true, it is the result of using low quality, short fibers that have not been spun tightly enough. Since angora has little crimp and the individual fibers are smooth, angora must be spun rather tightly to get a structurally sound yarn. Correct twist, combined with higher quality, longer staple length fibers yield a strong, stable yarn.
I have been trying to find an excuse to get an English Angora for a while now, but using it’s fiber to enhance my stash is not a viable excuse so far. Here in Florida it is simply too hot to wear more than about 5% Angora fiber on even the coldest days. Even one bunny would produce more fiber than I need at my current knitting rate. Maybe if we move farther north……