Sable from Chris Hamilton from the Virtual Stock Show 2021

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!

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Cinnamon from the Virtual Stock Show 2021

Cinnamon

  • 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

The National Angora Club is a non-profit making society which promotes the Angora rabbit and its welfare. Our members are spinners, exhibitors and companion animal owners. We sell the surplus wool of our rabbits to go towards the costs of keeping them. We keep our Angoras ethically, making it an expensive hobby. Vaccination alone can cost £70 per rabbit per year! 

We produce Angora wool ethically by shearing the rabbit every three months. This does not harm the rabbit in any way. Rabbits sit quietly on the owner’s knee to be sheared. Wool is sorted into best quality spinning wool (above 2.5 inch staple) and second quality felting wool (coarser wool from chest and tummy, and shorter lengths.) Spinning and felting wool in White and a variety of colours is available by mail order. We also sell wooden bottom whorl drop spindles at prices suitable for just having a go.

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Have you ever spent time observing rabbits in the wild, well here are a few images from some up on a local nature reserve. It is great to see some of the traits and characteristics observed with these Wild Rabbits still being visible within the English Angora rabbit from lying fully stretched out with legs behind, through to various half standing to standing poses as well as an alert pose to danger where they flatten their bodies to the ground.

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I sit upon the grooming stool
as quietly as I can
The big show is tomorrow
and I’ve got to beat that tan.
I’ve got to get “Best Fancy”
I’ll try my very best
To please my mistress ’cause I know
she’s getting quite obsessed
“You are the best”. She tells me,
“But we’ve got to get you clean,
Your tail and paws are spotless
Just like a fairy queen”.
I’m really not complaining
‘Cause I’m treated rather well,
Except the day before a show
When I’d like to scream and yell!
I’m upside down and inside out
This way round and that
Examining every nook and crevice
For a knot, or worse – a matt!
And all the while that Hoover
Blowing cold air on my bottom;
I expect it’s an Angora’s lot,
But it really feels quite rotten!
At least she’s satisfied I’m done
And I can have a rest,
`Alas! No greens for me tonight –
As you may have guessed.
Up tomorrow, crack of dawn
And groomed up to the nines,
Then in my carrying box I’m placed –
I recognise the signs.
And at the hall I’m groomed again –
Thats taking things too far!
But mistress says its needed
If I’m to become a star…
Whether I should win or lose
I don’t care a jot
But it matters to my mistress –
And she’s the only mum I’ve got!

Poem from 1993 year book by Yvonne Hobbs
Meet Nibs, a chocolate English Angora doe

This is Nibs now in 2021. She is an English Angora rabbit doe and she is as happy relaxing inside as she is outside on the grass lawn in her new home in Wales. In the first image she has been clipped whilst in the relaxed pose her wool length is starting to grow back. She is a pet rabbit and her clipped wool is used in as part of my wool products.

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Nibs’ first day with us

As all in our household continued to go out to work, we were far from bored during the lockdown of 2020, but we certainly thought more about our hopes and dreams for the future. It started as ‘moving to West Wales and taking on a smallholding’, including a pair of donkeys requested by our son, but reality and finances gradually reshaped the plan to what we could do here and now, in a suburban terraced house in Cardiff. Something that could begin to replace a wage with more satisfying income.

Grow mushrooms, tomatoes, salad leaves, and currently, winter onions and garlic. Done.

A few chickens in the garden. Maybe in a few years.

No room for sheep, but perhaps Angora Rabbits…

Our mental health was greatly improved through researching and learning about the commitment and rewards it would involve. Seeing the treatment of Angoras in China was very upsetting, so we would do this right or not at all. Though showing a rabbit seemed beyond us as novices, the chance to use natural fibre for crafting really appealed.

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I was thrilled to get the Wow factor in the virtual Products show and this actually confirms the reaction of people whenever I wear the poncho outside.  I’m asked “where did you get it” and when told I made it and the history of the making I’m asked “can you make me one?” Well this item was really a labour of love – and one I thoroughly enjoyed. If I hadn’t made this I don’t think I would ever have got into spinning Angora. It goes back to 1983 when I discovered and fell in love with the wonderful Angora rabbit, bought my first Angora and spinning wheel and started to teach myself to spin. The only fibre I had was Angora and over  time, about 5 years, I managed a sort of yarn. There was no internet then and I lived too far away from Angora members – except Ray  Whitcombe who I met up with at local rabbit shows. I collected all the 2ply  practice yarn which was not good spinning lumpy, too thick, too thin, over and under spun .

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A judges lot is not a happy one, it doesn’t matter what decision a judge makes someone will disagree with it. Usually very vocally! I received some very sage advice on the eve of my first judging engagement, when expressing nervousness to a long-time judge – “you don’t have to worry about the one that wins, its the one that comes second is dangerous”

A judge comes in for a lot of stick, but on the day he or she’s decision is final – no matter how much you the exhibitor may disagree with it! Having stood on both sides of the table, I can see the situation from both sides, but have learnt one indisputable fact – you cannot judge a rabbit properly unless you handle it.  This I would imagine is true of all breeds, but to an even greater degree with regard to the angora. Because there are so many different points to consider, not only on the rabbit itself, but the presentation and grooming carried out by the owner!

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Large litters are hard to avoid, and this Doe produced 9 baby angoras in a wide range of colours. One of the issues though is the size of each of the babies as they develop as the Doe cannot always provide sufficient nutrients in the first few weeks to help each one develop well. Therefore you can end up with a lot of under sized Angora rabbit babies. Sadly she lost one of the litter so now has eight but this has allowed the remaining ones to gain access to more food. If your Doe does produce a large litter it is vital that you provide additional supplements for her so she has sufficient resources and food to help feed the young. It is also important to make sure that the hutch space avoidable is sufficient to house a growing litter of so many babies so they have space to move about and not all sit together even though they for the most part all choose to sit on one another.

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