The exhibition Angora has an impact on the general public quite unmatched by any other breed. A first class specimen, expertly groomed and presented, whether it takes top honours or not, will always steal the limelight, and many of our enthusiasts today owe their introduction to the Fancy to seeing one at a show. Breeders of other varieties airily dismiss the breed as one for people with time on their hands. This is not so. In the ranks of Angora enthusiasts we have folk from all walks of life, the majority of whom put in long and uncertain hours at work, have families and homes to look after, plus a job, but still find great relaxation and satisfaction in the grooming of an Angora. It is a breed which offers a challenge, calling for extreme patience, perseverance and tenacity of purpose from those who take it up. It can provide heartbreaking disappointments, yet the fruits of success seem doubly sweet when eventually attained. Success cannot be bought. The most wonderful champion can have its show career abruptly ended by one careless grooming by a novice, and though very occasionally the born groomer does appear, for most of us it means a long hard plod to the top until we have mastered the art of grooming. The show career of the English Angora is very brief, seldom lasting beyond the age of 7½ months, the exception being some coloureds, which can sometimes be shown for two or even three years if plucked when moulting. Once enslaved by the charms of the Angora, so many of us become devoted to the breed for life, whether successful or not.
This little baby Angora rabbit has damaged ears sadly and both ears have dropped or folded over as opposed to standing upright. It is not known what causes the damage, it could be by being sat on by the mother or one of the other baby bunnies or could be down to the high temperatures recently. It could also be a defect from birth but in this case the baby was born with both ears upright, then lopped one ear and now both. Gelatine supplements have been added to the water to see if this helps the ears to straighten as well as regular gentle massaging of the ears to see if this helps. All the other babies in the litter have good upright and straight ears.
The National Angora Club sells Angora rabbit wool which comes from their members Angora rabbits on a regular basis when they are ethically clipped every 3 months causing no harm to the rabbit in any way. So if you would like to buy some for either spinning or felting work contact Lesley by e-mail at email@example.com with your choice of type of Angora rabbit wool and colours and quantity required. Angora rabbit wool is available to buy mail order so contact Lesley to order yours for your next wool project and happy spinning or felting. More details on the pricing of the wool and colours below with a selection of photos of actual Angora rabbits to show the wool colours in situ.
Angora Spinning wool
This is the best quality spinning wool and sold in clippings from individual Angora rabbits ranging from 25 – 75g with a staple length over 2.5 inches. Each bag is priced individually at 60p per 5g. This is fine wool from back and flanks, 2.5 inch-3 inch staple. Wool is ethically sheared with scissors, with the rabbit sat on the owner’s knee and unrestrained. Wool is traceable to the breeder and name of the rabbit. Example prices include:
- £3.00 for 25g
- £4.80 for 40g
Angora Felting wool
This is second quality felting wool which is coarser and sold in clippings, 8 – 25g. Each bag is priced individually at 30p per 5g. This is coarser wool from the tummy and chest of the Angora rabbit. It is also shorter lengths and easier to felt with. Wool is ethically sheared and traceable as above. Example prices include:
- 15g for 90p
- 20g for £1.20
With such a large proportion of our members intending or already engaged in the making of angora knitwear, a little advice on the subject may prove useful. Some, indeed, are already well experienced hand spinners of sheeps wool and are exploring the possibilities of angora.
As with any handicraft, preparation is of premier importance. To make a first class garment it is essential to use raw angora matching in colour, texture and length (ideally 3” excluding tips], to produce a garment of even shade and fuss. Avoid using wool from the belly as this is much shorter and of a different texture and colour. The first coat that an angora produces is too soft to make a serviceable garment, in fact I prefer wool from a rabbit not less than eight months old. The outer growth of a show-coat has a limited use if plucked, the long wool being suitable only for such items as hats or head squares where there is very little friction, but it will have very little fluff. A clipped show coat is useless as will contain several growths of varying lengths. Do not attempt to spin anything less than two and half inches long, and all wool must be quite free from mats or the slightest webbing. Good yarn demands free flowing material.
I think it safe to say that most people when they think of spinning think of little woolly jumpers running round a field! In my case it was little woolly bunnies, because I decided to keep the rabbits for exhibition first and then discovered the craft of spinning. One rabbit actually takes up a very small corner in the shed and is far less trouble than a sheep! Off a good woolly you can get 12oz – 1lb of wool a year, which will provide you with at least one (if not two!) jumpers a year. The Angora rabbit is a lovely animal, generally very placid and good natured and keeping them can be very rewarding.
Two baby Chocolate English Angora rabbits with their mum out on the grass for the first time and happy to explore the cage.
If you like to get creative, here is something one of our talented National Angora Club members, Christine Hamilton made recently, a pair of baby booties out of Angora wool. Below are a selection of others she has also made.
I have been spending a bit more time recently observing my English Angora rabbits and some have some really funny traits and poses but all have great personalities. Most are really social and friendly, some more timid and quiet and then there is the one off occasionally who is moody or grouchy. Other traits can be anything from swaying, to chewing, standing on their hind legs or liking to sit underneath the hay. Even the positions they sit or lie in differ and some will lie down with their legs stretched fully out behind them in what I call the relaxed pose. If your English Angora Rabbit is showing any signs or traits you are unsure of though get in touch as it is probably something one of our members has seen before.
No colour is as difficult to assess at an early age as the Sable, a colour which is the subject of so many beginners seeking advice. The problem starts at birth. So often have I had a beginner on the phone, horrified because the eagerly awaited litter, both parents Sable, appear to be entirely of Smokes!
- Head, ears and feet a mixture of chocolate and cinnamon
- Wool to match head with depth of colour and banding essential
- White belly with or without pale cinnamon under-colour
- Eyes brown or glowing ruby red in subdued light