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...rabbits in the mountains....

The French angora rabbit is a middleweight one : 4.5 to 5 kg for an adult. 6 or 7 youngs are born, who will be weaned after 2 months. An angora rabbit can live about 7 years.

It must be white and distinguish itself by little tufts on the top of its ears, which appear when the bunny becomes an adult, at about 6 months.

The angora rabbit is extremely clean and behaves quite like a cat, licking its fur all day long. It washes its head and ears with special care for hours by putting saliva on its paws first.
The bottom of its paws is always soiled with grass and loose straw, but the rabbit is absolutely odourless.

Every 100 days, one has to pluck the rabbit, taking its hair away in small tufts by hand while the other hand holds back the skin. This operation is not painful for the rabbit, since it is equivalent to the natural phenomenon of hair shedding, as we see it with most dogs. The fur comes off quite easily; if it doesn't, your bunny's hair is not yet ready for plucking. Some breeders give their rabbits special medecines to favour an easy plucking, but I do not, because I insist on keeping my bunnies away from chemical products, except for indispensable vaccines.
Most angora rabbits enjoy being plucked, which tends to suggest that perhaps, this operation gradually inlaid itself in the genes of this species during centuries of breeding ! According to famous behaviourists, they would perceive plucking as a proof of respect coming from the human being, for in the rabbit society, the dominant are washed by the dominated !... :o)
The rabbit can be left naked (but for its head, paws and ears) or plucked "piecemeal" if the weather is cold. One week later, the fur has already grown again and the skin cannot be seen any more.
A few breeders use shaving instead of plucking, but it has been noticed that the fur is stronger and more beautiful after plucking than after shaving.

An adult can give about 200g of wool each 100 days, and the first plucking can take place at the age of 4 months.



Angora hair needs no treatment, for it's clean by itself, without suint, so I can spin it immediately. It is not subject to felting, but it should be protected against mites, using camphor for example. Being white, it can be dyed in every imaginable colour, after spinning and washing.



I spin the rabbit hair on a "Kromski" spinning wheel.

It takes at least an hour to produce a 25g ball of wool. My yarns are 100% angora with no sheep wool added.

First, I spin a 12,5g yarn, then a second one, and I ply the two yarns together to obtain a 2-plys solid wool. This yarn has to be washed with soft shampoo and dyed if need be. At the end, a knitting ball is made with a mechanical wool-winder.

French angora rabbit hair is in great demand because of its superior quality. Sad to say, most Angora hair found on the international wool market comes mainly from Asia nowadays : their rabbits have shorter fur, which is far from being as soft and strong as French rabbit fur. Besides, the hair is generally shaved and not plucked, which produce an even lesser quality.

Angora wool is known to be 9 times warmer than sheep wool. It's a perfect thermal regulator, especially because of its capacity to absorb water : even wet, an angora pullover never seems to be "soaked through ".

Contrary to some prejudices, angora wool is easy to maintain. Some yarns are treated to become washable in a washing machine, but mine have to be washed by hand in lukewarm water (30°C) and rinsed at the same temperature like any other wool in order to avoid felting. Clothes in angora wool have to be wrung without violence, then put to dry, preferably on a flat surface. To respect such simple rules will guarantee a great longevity to your 100% angora clothes.



Baby "Cachou",sleeping
on my knees...