|Angora Wool fiber Definition : Definitions for the Clothing & fabric Industry|
Angora wool or Angora fiber refers to the downy coat produced by the Angora rabbit. While their names are similar, Angora fiber is distinct from mohair, which comes from the Angora goat. Angora is known for its softness, low micron count (i.e. thin fibers), and what knitters refer to as a halo (fluffiness). It is also known for its silky texture.
Angora rabbits produce coats in a variety of colors, from white to black. Good quality angora fiber is around 12-16 microns in diameter, and can cost around 10 - 16 dollars per ounce. It felts very easily, even on the animal itself if the animal is not groomed frequently.
The fiber is normally blended with wool to give the yarn elasticity, as angora fiber is not naturally elastic. The blend decreases the softness and halo as well as the price of the finished object.
The Angora rabbit
There are four different ARBA recognized types of Angora rabbit: English, French, Satin and Giant. There are many other breeds, one of the more common being German. Each breed produces different quality and quantity of fiber, and has a different range of colors.
Angora fur is produced in Europe, Chile, China and the United States. Harvesting occurs up to four times a year (about every 4 months) and is collected by plucking, shearing, or collection of the molting fur.
Most breeds of Angora rabbits molt with their natural growth cycle about every four months. Many producers of the fiber pluck the fur of these breeds. Plucking is, in effect, pulling out the molted fur. Plucking ensures a minimum of guard hair, and the fur is not as matted when plucked as when it is collected from the rabbit's cage. However, plucking a rabbit is time consuming, so some producers shear the rabbit instead. While this results in slightly lower quality fleece as the guard hairs are included, it does take less time and results in more fleece. Also, not all breeds of angora molt, and if the rabbit does not naturally molt, it cannot be plucked. German angoras do not molt.
The rabbits must be groomed at least once or twice a week to prevent the fur from matting and felting. There is also a danger that a rabbit will ingest its own molted fur; unlike a cat, a rabbit cannot easily be rid of the build up.
Quality of Wool
The premium 1st quality wool is taken from the back and upper sides of the rabbit. This is usually the longest and cleanest fiber on the rabbit. There should not be hay or vegetable matter in the fiber. Second quality is from the neck and lower sides and may have some vegetable matter. Third quality is the buttocks and legs and any other areas that easily felt and are of shorter length. Fourth quality is totally unsalvageable and consists of the larger felted bits or stained fiber. Third and fourth quality are perfect for cutting up for the birds to use in lining their nests. With daily brushing felting of the fiber can be avoided, increasing the usable portion of fiber.
Angora wool in popular culture
The director, writer, and actor Edward D. Wood, Jr. was known to have a fetish for angora wool sweaters, referenced in his film "Glen or Glenda?". Also, in the film "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", directed by Ed Wood fan Tim Burton, there is a scene in Willy Wonka's factory where pink Angora sheep are being shorn. Wonka (here played by Johnny Depp) says "I'd rather not talk about this one", which is a reference to Depp's role as Wood in a previous Burton film.