May 18, 2013
100% Angora (Rabbit Hair) and Natural Blends, Lambgora
Angora fiber is specially bred rabbit's wool. The Angora rabbit is raised solely for its fine and soft hair. Because the angora rabbits have been specially bred (by the French nobility) for its long fur for many centuries, they would not survive for long in the wild. Their fur would get tangled in the underbrush, making them easy prey for predators.
It is considered that the first mention of angora yarn in print was given in 1833. It was described as "Rabbit's hair from the city of Ankara, Turkey". (But this mention could be rephrased and it actually might be related to the charming Turkish Angora goats or cats as well).
The angora fiber itself is very clean, because rabbits clean their own fur. Angora wool is ultra soft, fluffy, light-weight, and warm. It is 7 - 8 times warmer than sheep wool, because the angora rabbit's hair is all hollow that increases its insulating properties. Known fact: Angora knitwear was doctor-prescribed in Europe for the relief of pain, without drugs.
There are four types of angora rabbit hair: • English Angora is the silkiest of the Angoras. It does not have guard hairs. • French Angora is supposed to consist of 30% guard hair. There is not much difference in the actual spinning of the two fibers. However, French Angora blooms more due to the guard hairs. English Angora needs to be "abused" a little to achieve this bloom. • German (Giant) Angora was developed through selective breeding, resulting in a rabbit with very high fur yields. The German type is finer in diameter and produces a softer yarn. Its fur is strong enough for commercial processing. • Satin Angora is lighter weight than the other Angoras and for this reason it takes more of it to make an ounce.
"China is the principal producer and in that country the rabbits are farmed on a highly intensive small-scale factory farm system by individual farmers. Substantial quantities are also produced in France and smaller quantities in Eastern Europe and South America. Coloured Angora rabbits are bred in India and their hair is used to produce artisanal fabrics." - Reference: Robert R. Franck "Silk, Mohair, Cashmere, and Other Luxury Fibers".
Raising angora rabbits for their hair is highly skilled work. Because the fibre is very fine and smooth, it is difficult to spin it. The fibre is usually blended with other fibres such as fine wools, often with a small proportion of nylon.
If it is 100% angora, it is usually woollen spun.
Quality also depends not only on where the wool is harvested from, but how clean it is and how free of matts.
• Premium, 1st Quality: Clean, free of felting, over 6 cm long. The premium quality angora wool is taken from the back and upper sides of the rabbit. This is usually the longest and cleanest fiber on the rabbit and is absolutely matt free and perfectly clean. There should not be any hay or vegetable matter in the rabbit fiber.
• 2nd Quality: Clean, free of felting, under 6 cm but over 3cm. Second quality comes from the neck and lower sides, and it may have some vegetable matter.
• 3rd Quality is the rear-end (or butt) and legs, and any other areas that easily matt. This fiber is of shorter length and may have some vegetable matter and small matts. Clean, felted, second cut.
• 4th Quality is totally unsalvageable and consists of the larger matts or stained fiber. All dirty, discoloured fibre.
Third and fourth quality are perfect for cutting up for the birds to use in lining their nests.
Reference: Spinning Angora, "Completely Angora" by Sharon Kilfoyle and Leslie Samson, Samson Publishing.
For more information please refer to:
• AngoraRabbit.com - All about angora rabbits.
• Tanger Song Farm - Angora Fiber, Spinning Angora.
• Angora Wool, Wikipedia.org
Commercial angora recently became another type of "angora" wool. It is made of 100% acrylic (invented in Germany). This type of "angora" is an amazing solution if you need an "angora" article for show-off, but some of these so called "angora" pieces, mostly sweaters and cardigans, are sold at the prices of natural, high cost, angora garments. Chiengora is similar in appearance to angora, fluffy and very soft. It is hand spun from dog hair (Newfoundlands, Chow Chows, Elkhounds, etc.)
Q: Is your angora fluffy and fuzzy?
A: We sell only premium, top-quality millspun angora yarns. If your preference is handspun varieties, a pretty good quality and exceptionally hand-dyed Angora from Malabrigo is available. Angora "blooms" depending on the breed of angora rabbits. There are four main breeds of angora rabbits: French, German, English, and Satin. French Angora blooms more due to the guard hairs. English Angora needs to be "abused" a little to achieve this bloom. German Angora was developed through selective breeding, resulting in a rabbit with very high fur yields. Its fur is strong enough even for commercial processing, but as you know, the most of recently produced commercial "angora" is made of 100% acrylic, which sheds much more in comparison with the premium naturally manufactured angora fiber.
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