Angora wool is the type of wool that is gotten from Angora rabbits. These are a breed of rabbits known for their thick, soft, fluffy and silky coats. There are several different types of Angora rabbits, but there are 4 breeds that are well recognized. These are French, English, Giant and Satin. Another relatively popular breed is the German Angora rabbit.
The English Angora rabbit is very popular despite being the smallest of the 4 major breeds. This is because it has more wool than guard hair. The French Angora rabbit on the other hand has a rather high percentage of guard hair. The Satin Angora rabbit, as the name suggests has a stain like coat and the wool from this breed is very easy to spin. The Giant Angora rabbit is the largest of the breeds and consequently produces the highest quantity of wool.
Some people may think that Angora wool is produced by Angora goats, and it is easy to see why. However, the wool produced by Angora goats is called mohair. The wool from the Angora rabbit is said to be many times warmer than the wool from sheep or goats.
Angora wool is harvested from the rabbits through a number of methods. The wool can be shorn, plucked or collected when the rabbits are molting. The Angora rabbits molt 3 times a year. Molting and plucking are quite similar as the wool cannot be plucked unless the rabbit is molting. Shearing is usually done for the breeds that do not molt such as the Giant and German Angora rabbits. Shearing may also be preferred by farmers who would like a higher yield from their rabbits. However, shearing results in lower quality wool as the wool is mixed with other hairs from the rabbit.
Angora rabbits are constantly groomed to prevent the fur from getting matted and tangled. The grooming is also done to remove any debris caught in the fur. Depending on how well groomed the rabbit is kept and the harvesting process, the Angora wool can be spun into yarn directly from the source, without any need for carding.
Pure Angora wool items are rare to find and mainly in small pieces. This is because the wool has very fine fibers which easily become unraveled. Angora is quite often blended with sheep wool, silk, cashmere or mohair, with the blends typically being made up of 30 to 50% angora. Blending is to make the fabric more elastic. This wool blends quite well with the other fibers.
Angora wool is quite often made to make garments such as baby clothes, sweaters, hats, winter underwear, sutings, felting and knitting yarn. Even though fabric made from this wool has a very luxurious feel, it is quite durable and can be hand washed. Unlike sheep’s wool, Angora wool does not irritate the skin.