Country Smallholding

Q&A WITH AUTHOR AND ANGORA EXPERT LESLEY HORDON

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Q: How often does the Angora shed?

A: The Angora moults twice yearly.

Q: Apparently the wool can be plucked, combed or sheared. Which process do you use?

A: I shear as this is quicker and easier. Shearing results in good quality wool. Combing can produce tangled wool.

Q: How do you know when the time is right to harvest the wool?

A: I harvest three monthly when the wool is 3in long. I use a notebook to record the dates of the last clipping of all my rabbits, along with the date the next clipping is due.

Q: How do you store the wool?

A: I store each clipping in a freezer bag labelled with the colour and name of the rabbit. Good quality wool from the back and flanks is labelled for spinning, while courser chest and tummy wool is labelled for felting. Angora wool keeps for years if it is clean and dry, not compressed and kept free of moths. Dirty or matted wool goes on the compost heap.

Q: What is Angora wool suitable for and is there a demand for it?

A: Angora wool can be spun 100% either using a spindle or a spinning wheel. It can be blended with sheep/alpaca wool or silk in varying proportion­s. As little as 25% Angora will give an Angora 'haze'.

One ply Angora and one ply silk plied together is excellent for lace knitting scarves and shawls. Angora can also be used for wet felting and needle felting. Angora spun into yarn can be used for knitting and weaving. A 100% Angora jumper, though, would be very hot and so blends are recommende­d for sweaters and cardigans.

There is a small but steady demand for Angora wool from hand spinners. A few mills will also take Angora wool, but costs are high. Some require large quantities and some machinery can't handle 100% Angora. The 7kg minimum required by one mill was the harvest of more than 70 rabbits!

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