Every 90 days the German Angora rabbit needs to be clipped. They don’t lose their fleece naturally. Letting their hair grow too long is actually a health hazard. This time frame also coincides with the perfect fleece length for spinning. The average amount of fleece from a German Angora clipping is 10 – 16 oz. Comparatively, the little rabbits actually produce more fleece than my goats do over a year.
This was my 2nd time clipping Lily and much different than the first time when I sat outside with scissors and her jumping off my lap every 10 minutes or so. We’ve wizened up, and with the help of my husband we bring her inside where there are no distraction and trim her with a combination of scissors and electric clippers. It took just about an hour. At the same time, we clip her nails with little cat nail clippers and then she’s fully groomed!
After I got the rabbits I realized I could make my own yarn. There’s no need for a mill, because Angora rabbits’ fleece is soft and ready to spin right off the rabbit. With the goats, there is a guard hair layer that must be stripped out to leave just the soft fiber, so I will send their fleece to a mill for processing. At the CT Sheep and Wool festival in April I bought a drop spindle and various kinds of roving (merino wool, alpaca, baby llama blends).
I chose a drop spindle over a wheel for a couple reasons:
- It’s cheap to get into and see if you like it – cost me $14
- It’s ultra-portable – I’ve seen people walking around fairs while spinning yarn – maybe one day I’ll get there.
I was given a quick lesson when I purchased the spindle and I was off to a pretty good start. But I wanted to be sure I wasn’t learning any bad habits and had several open questions. After a 1 hour lesson at Madison Wool, I felt much more comfortable. I also supplemented my learning with the book “Respect the Spindle” by Abby Franquemont which I also recommend.
And here is my first ball of yarn. I ended up making two of these single ply yarns and then plying them together with my drop spindle to make a two ply yarn. From there I used a Niddy Noddy to turn my yarn into skeins.
My next adventure will be to learn about hand dying, I’m almost ready to try it out. I’m kind of nervous trying it out on these, I don’t want to potentially ruin all of my first time hard work. But I’ve gotten this far with learning as I go, so I’ll take the chance and report back!