How do you spin angora fiber?

Mama PinkCopyright (c) 2008, Ask The Bellwether

Angora fiber, from the angora rabbit, is very fine and fly-away. It can come freshly plucked from the rabbit or shorn. Only English Angora is plucked, French and German angoras are shorn. The German angoras are bred for size and production and are typically white. Lovely natural colors abound in English and French, from soft caramels to blue-greys, as well as white.

I've found angora prepared three ways: raw fluff, combed commercial top, and in blends of commercial top with merino or lambswool.

Angora is very easy to felt, so if you choose to dye it in the fiber, be very careful not to shock the fibers with abrupt temperature changes or agitation.

Angora is a hollow-core fiber; this makes it very warm to wear. For this reason, you may find it useful to blend the angora with a soft wool, or to spin a blend rather than pure angora.

I add myself to the list of people who prefer it in blends. It was very tough for me to spin straight angora. Combed top was a little easier, because it’s a bit compact.

With raw/plucked angora, I tried it: fluffed up (eeek). Combed with mini combs (eek), and carded on my cotton cards into rolags … that seemed to work the best. Also it was the one time I found a double drive wheel did the trick; I’m usually a scotch tension nut, but the soft draw-in of the double drive really helped me get the twist in that the angora needed.

Angora wants a fair amount of twist, so on your wheel use a higher ratio/treadle faster and on your spindle, let more twist in before you stop to wind on.

Angora is very fly-away, even working with commercial top or a blend you may find it all over your clothes and up your nose (apologies for the visual!). Try spinning it on a humid day, or give the angora a very light spritz with a 1% oil/99% water spray, let it sit for at least an hour, then spin it. This is more effective with fluff than with carded/combed top -- so spritz the fluff, let it sit, then card or comb it.

In terms of finishing a skein of angora, it is very easy to slightly full the yarn, so decide if you want to do this or not. Typically angora skeins are whacked on the counter after washing and squeezing out the water, to help the halo "bloom" in the skein. But you needn't do this -- the halo will bloom as you knit or crochet the yarn just fine.

Whenever I'm approaching a new fiber, the first thing I look at is fiber length, the second is how much twist it needs to hang together, third is how much twist it needs to give me a particular 2-ply. Honestly, your spinning technique doesn't matter too much -- worsted, woolen, whatever; from the fold, long draw, blindfolded -- so if you have a method you like, start with that, and make adjustments to see if they make it easier for the fiber in your hands.


Related posts:
What Advice do you Have for Spinning Mohair? (Mohair is the fiber from the Angora Goat.)
Mohair: Curly, Smooth or Loopy?
How do you comb wool or mohair? (or angora, for that matter!)
How do you make a good looking 2-ply yarn?
How can I spin fine yarn?
What can you knit from 100% angora?
Where can I find cotton hand cards?
What sort of spindle would you spin angora on?
To drumcard, to handcard, or to comb?

Have you an angora spinning tip to share? please post it in the comments.


Holly said...

I'm so glad I found your blog tutorial on spinning angora. At a recent guild meeting we did our xmas exchange and I came home with about 12 oz of beautiful angora. And I've never spun it before! So your tips are really helpful.

Kelly said...

Thanks for sharing spin english angora rabbit.