Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Satin Angora

The satin angora produce a wool that is notably different than that of the English (EA) or French angora (FA). As the name implies their fur is more like satin or silk. Many satin angora have a sheen to their coat. Modern day satin angoras are easier to groom than EA, but they are comparable to the FA. Like the FA they do not have any ear tassels or facial furnishings. Additionally, due to their unique wool texture the satin angora retain more color in their coat as they mature than other breeds of angora. This can be appealing to fiber artists. Spinners should note that their fiber also naturally blooms. They produce from one-half to three-quarters of a pound of wool each year. Of the primary angora breeds, the satin angora produced the least about of wool.

French Angora

The French angora's fur has more guard hairs than the English angora (EA). As a result, products made from their wool may be irritating to some when worn up against the skin. The plus side to extra guard hairs that they prevent mats and make grooming considerably less cumbersome. The French angora produces approximately one-pound of wool each year. Their appearance is much different than the EA as they lack facial furnishings and ear tassels which does lead to an easier grooming process. On the show table, one thing that is unique to the French angora is that broken colors are accepted. For fiber artists it is important to understand, that their spun wool will naturally "bloom" as a result of the guard hairs. Thus projects with a large percentage of French angora wool will be quite fluffy.

Monday, May 12, 2014

English Angora

The smallest of the angora breeds and weighs about five to seven pounds. It has the fewest number of guard hairs which prevent matting and therefore require the most grooming. The come in a variety of colors, however it is not possible to find an English angora with a dark colored coat. Even the black color (genetically) will lighten into gray with maturity. Only the guard hairs of this breed will remain dark. They produce approximately one pound of wool each year. Their wool can be harvested by combing or plucking loose fur when they molt (or shed), or by shearing with pair of scissors or clippers. Some breeders have developed non-molting English angora which must be sheared. When spinning the wool of an English angora you can create both bloomed yarn and smooth yarn at your discretion.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Raising Rabbits

I have been raising English angora rabbits for almost two years now. I began this excursion in order to have a supply of fiber to spin into yarn. The English angora produce approximately, one pound of wool each year. Their fur is a renewable resource in that you can collect wool by shearing them or combing out their loose fur every three or four months throughout their lifetime. Per ounce, angora wool can be the most valuable fiber. The cost can rage from $6 to $8 dollars per ounce.

In the American Rabbit Breeder's Association there are four different breeds of angora accepted. These are the English angora (EA), French angora (FA), satin angora (SA), and Giant angora (GA). Additionally, there are other types of angora rabbits, such as the popular German angora, but these are not considered breeds according to ARBA. Often, this is due to similarities to existing breeds. Knowing the different breeds will allow you to select the type of rabbit who will suit your needs, even if you are not interested in the show table.

Throughout this week I will share with you characteristics of the EA, FA, SA, GA, and German Angora.