Increasing interest in fuzzy things

I’m not sure if it’s an offshoot of the ‘Crafty’ movement that’s been happening the past few years or driven by everyone staying home because of the virus, but there’s an increased demand for fuzzy bunnies. We raise English angora rabbits and harvest their wool to make yarn. Exquisitely crazy soft and fluffy yarn. Lately there’s been an increase in the number of folks interested in getting a bunny and making yarn for themselves.

There’s also a lot of folks asking for cotton seeds and cotton bolls from the Bleak Hall sea island white cotton that we have here in the garden. There’s only a few plants, but they are from USDA seeds so they should be a true variety. Joey on Maui swapped them for a bunny three or four years ago and the plants are still making cotton. It’s a particularly long staple and soft cotton, much easier to hand spin than most cottons.

Both angora wool and cotton lint (I think that’s what cotton fiber is called before it’s spun into yarn) are pretty easy fibers to start spinning with since they don’t need the same amount of preparation that sheep’s wool requires. Sheep’s wool usually has dirt and lanolin in it which usually is washed out before spinning. Bunny fluff, er, angora ‘wool’, is from bunnies who stay clean so it can be spun without prep. The cotton is really clean when it’s picked off the seeds, too.

The Waldorf school here in town just got their second angora from us and they now have two spinning wheels, so they will be doing increased teaching on making and using yarns. Hmm, I should see if they need cotton seeds, too.

Have you tried making yarn? It’s kinda dangerous to start, though, once you have made your own yarn and you’re able to make yarn for your own specific projects you’ll get spoiled. It’s quite difficult sometimes to find something that will work at a local yarn shop if you have a specific project in mind.

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I never tried to make yarn to keep, but I do remember brushing my grandparents’ Saint Bernard and using those huge handfuls of loose fur to spin a kind of crude yarn. If I had had a better set-up and more knowledge, I probably could have done quite a lot with it.

Dog hair is actually used to make yarn frequently enough that it has it’s own name. They call it ‘chien-gora’ since ‘chien’ is French for ‘dog’. Hmm, I think it’s actually for a male dog, and ‘chienne’ for a female. France has a lot of angoras, too, with their own breed of ‘French angora’. That’s one with non-fuzzy ears.

A drop spindle is easy enough to make next time you want to make chien-gora. It will produce yarn that doesn’t have much stretch to it, though. Good for shawls, scarves, things that drape. Not so good for socks or things that should cling. Also, with dog hair, when it gets wet, there’s, um, well, let’s call it “eau de chein” so using a nice smelling creme rinse on the scarf when washing it may be a good idea.