Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Changed My Mind

Few would disagree that angora (bunny “wool”) is among the softest fibers around. After touching angora, even cashmere can feel coarse. What’s not to love?

Well, as much as I admire the softness of angora, I have not really liked it as a fiber for spinning. Probably due to my first spinning experience with it.

When I lived in Nebraska, a fiber friend, Diann B., gave me some angora from one of her bunnies. Lovely grey fiber. Super super soft. I’d seen some of Diann’s spinning and crocheting of her fiber and admired it. I was looking forward to my first angora experience.

So, I spun some singles from the grey. At that time, I was working on a series of scarves from “energized” singles (they got published in Spin Off, Spring 2006
and again in Interweave Knit & Spin 2011), and I thought angora would be a great material for such a scarf. I mean! What could be more neck-worthy than angora?

I knitted up a swatch.

And I did not like the result. To me, it looked like a pelt. Or a dead rat. I couldn’t imagine wearing such a thing around my neck. So, I gave up on angora.

I continued to read about angora, admire its softness, hear about its warmth, respect those who raise the bunnies and love their fiber. But I had no interest in spinning it.

Moving ahead a few years. I designed and knitted a scarf & hat pair. And I used an Elsebeth Lavold yarn, “Angora” (60% angora, 20% wool, 20% polyamide). Here’s a picture of my friend Sylvia VM wearing the pair.

I sold the scarf very shortly after making the pair, but the hat has languished in my inventory for four years. I personally thought the hat was kinda cool and was surprised that it didn’t sell. This fall I decided it was time to remove it from my for-sale inventory. I thought about gifting it to someone, but since it had received so little sales interest I thought it might not be a welcome gift. So, I decided to use it myself, despite it being a bit too large for my pin head.

Epiphany! Although the hat is a little sloppy on my head, it is magnificently soft AND warm. Even in the most brisk December wind, this hat has kept my ears happy. And, I have received a surprising number of compliments on the hat since I started wearing it out and about.

So, I’ve changed my mind. I like angora, and I will spin some in 2012. And perhaps I’ll formalize the pattern for the scarf and hat.

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