Discover the World’s Finest Wool – Angora Wool

A Guide to Angora Wool: Everything You Need To Know

A Guide to Angora Wool: Everything You Need To Know

The Finest And The Fluffiest –  Angora Wool is known for its silky texture and fluffiness, it is one of the most popular and oldest wools in the world. It is warm and soft to the touch and offers excellent comfort to the wearer.

What exactly is Angora Wool?

Angora wool is a luxurious, fluffy fabric that is harvested off the fur of the Angora rabbit. Its thin, fine diameter, has a halo-like effect around each strand, giving its end products a unique, shiny quality absent in other similar fabrics.

Angora is one of the finest luxury fibers out there, which explains why they’re so popular with knitters and wool spinners. The Angora wool is as luxurious and soft as the alpaca and cashmere materials. It is sometimes blended with other wool materials to give the material its signature halo and softness.

Angora fiber can be produced from 5 different Angora rabbit breeds. They include the French Angora, the English Angora, Satin Angora, and the Giant Angora. Angora is the third biggest natural fiber, after Wool and Mohair.  This fluffy rabbit, which used to be a popular pet amongst European royalty, is bred for its beautiful, soft wool.

Angora-Wool
Angora sweater

Why Is Angora Wool Considered To Be One Of The Finest Wools?

The angora wool is so finely textured that it is often compared to cashmere. Some people even prefer to buy angora wool over cashmere, because of the warmth and fluffiness that it offers.  The angora wool is commonly used to make scarfs, sweaters, suits, felt, and knitting yarn.

Angora Wool Qualities That Make It Popular Amongst Knitters And Fashion Enthusiasts:

  • Angora wool is popular because it has thin fibres and a unique fluffiness to it.
  • The angora wool is considered to be seven times warmer than the wool procured from sheep. The warmth and softness of the angora wool make its sweaters and scarfs perfect winter gifts.
  • Unlike other warm wools, the angora wool is not heavy. The angora fibre is hollow, which is why the wool is lightweight and comfortable.
  • It is believed that angora wool has therapeutic effects against rheumatism. For this reason, it is often worn by people suffering from arthritis.
  • Angora wool is naturally produced in many colors, including white, gray, brown, black, and tan. The color of the fibre will change depending on the breed of the angora rabbit.
Fine-Angora-Fibers

What are the unique Properties of Angora Wool

The Angora wool is silkier, finer, and softer than cashmere. It is one of the finest quality wool fabrics out there, and unlike other wool materials, it has no noticeable effect on people who are allergic to wool.

This soft, and silky hollow fiber is also classified as wool. With about 14-16 microns, the Angora wool is quite tiny and is probably the silkiest fiber around today. It is extremely soft to touch.

It is also very light, easy to dye, and water absorbent, thanks to its unique fiber type. The hollowness of the Angora fiber makes it extremely lightweight without sacrificing necessary warmth. Its hollow fiber is an added insulator, which means the Angora wool is warmer than the standard sheep wool.

Angora wool is also easy to felt, it is durable, has great heat retention level, is antistatic, and available in different colors, including grey, brown, black, and tan. The fact that the fibers are capable of being shorn multiple times, makes them more sustainable. It is also quite expensive, thanks to its laborious manufacturing process.1

 

The Angora Rabbit

How to shear an angora rabbit | Razzle Dazzle Rabbitry & Yarns

The Angora Rabbit is a cute, medium-sized rabbit, often with beautiful red eyes. From completely white to brown and black, the angora rabbit is found in many colors and many different regions.

They are a docile breed of rabbits and the most adorable pets. When you hold an angora rabbit in your hands, you will notice that their coat is warm, plush, light, and so very soft. These appealing features of the angora rabbit fur are the reason behind the popularity of angora rabbit raising and wool production as a commercial activity.

Why is the fur of the Angora Rabbit so valuable?

The angora rabbit’s fur is long and thick – it’s hair has a diameter of only 12-16 microns. Their hair growth is faster than that of many other rabbit breeds. The fur regrows within 3 to 4 months and is ready to be sheared again. To ensure that the fur is smooth and silky, regular grooming and hair matting prevention is essential.

The hair of the adult angora grows approximately 3 cm every month. By the time it is sheared, 12 to 16 ounces of wool can be procured after each angora rabbit’s shave. In most cases, the fur of the angora starts molting after four months. If carried out gently, the angora rabbit is not harmed by the shearing of its fur.

Origin of Angora Rabbits

Angora wool is produced exclusively from the fine fur of Angora rabbits. These Angora rabbits are exclusive to China, with certain exceptions in the United States, Chile, and Europe. Though Ankara, Turkey, is widely believed to be the birthplace of the Angora rabbit, its origin is still a huge debate.

The Angora rabbit is believed to be one of the oldest living species of domesticated rabbits. These fluffy rabbits had already spread across Europe by the 18th century, and there are records showing that the Romans reared long-haired rabbits as far back as 100 BC.

Angora rabbits were highly sought after during the rule of Henry the 8th, hence the nickname “English Silk Hares.” Furthermore, French royalty kept Angora rabbits as pets as far back as the 1700s, which started to spread rapidly across European aristocracy.

At this time, these animals served primarily as pets, mostly for children who were entranced by their fluffy and voluminous coats. There was no record of Angora wool production on a large-scale until the 20th century when American entrepreneurs started producing sweaters, scarves, and other items from the Angora rabbit.

Different Breeds of the Angora Rabbit

Five angora breeds are commonly raised for their wool:

1.  French Angora: The french angora rabbit is one of the finest amongst the breed; they weigh around 3.5 to 4.5 kgs. Their undercoat is dense, and the texture of the fibre is absolute perfection. Their front legs and face are mostly hairless.

2.  English Angora: The English type is one of the smallest angora rabbits, weighing around 2 to 3.5 kgs. These rabbits are extremely cute and have hair on their eyes as well, which is why they are often raised as pets. Some English angora rabbits molt naturally.

3.  Satin Angora: A satin angora is around 3.0 to 4.5 kgs in weight. They are called satin angoras because of the sheen of their coat. Some satin angoras have true red and copper pigments in their coat. However, it has lesser hair than other types.

4.  Giant Angora: As the name suggests, the giant angora rabbits are big when compared to others. Their minimum weight is 5.4 kgs. They are only recognized in the ruby-eyed white color and look very similar to the German angora. Shaving giant angora can give you around 12 to 18 ounces of fur.

5.  German Angora: Another big angora breed is the German type, usually weighing somewhere between 2.5 to 5.5 kgs. They are bred in many colors, and the fur of the German Angoras does not molt.

Except for the German Angora, the other four breeds are recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association.
In total there are 11 different breeds of the angora rabbit, mainly depending upon the region where they are raised

How is Angora Wool produced?

Angora wool is produced during molting season, which happens three to four times yearly. It is harvested by shearing or plucking the rabbits. Careful and soft plucking is a better harvesting technique as it reduces the number of guard hairs retrieved, adding to the roughness of the coat. Furthermore, it prevents the matting of the furs during harvest; it is, however, quite time-consuming, which is why a lot of farmers prefer to engage in shearing.

Once collected, the fibers are carded, though they’re sometimes spun immediately depending on their quality. Angora fibers with lower grades are usually carded in an attempt to improve their quality. Next, the fabrics are spun on a spindle before they’re dyed, then woven or knitted into a fabric. The fineness of these fibers makes it quite difficult to spin them.

An average adult Angora rabbit produces about 1.5kg of wool yearly. In most cases, farmers are forced to carry out selective breeding to produce these silky, long furs. The rabbits with longer furs are bred together to produce longer furs. This is the best way to produce this soft, fluffy wool that has become a huge part of the fashion industry. The fur of the Angora rabbit can be used to produce sweaters, felts, and scarves.

The extremely long furs are best removed manually to help preserve the health of the rabbit. This is done once in three months by sheering or brushing the fur manually.  The upper and back sides of the Angora rabbit produces the best quality wool. The fiber harvested from these sides is usually the cleanest and longest.

The second finest quality fiber is harvested from the lower sides, and the neck of the Angora rabbit and could come with some vegetable matter. The third finest quality fiber is harvested from the legs, the buttocks, and any area that is short in length and easy to felt. The lowest quality fiber usually comprises of unsalvageable material. The usability of the fiber can, however, be improved by daily brushing, which prevents fiber felting.

China produces 90% of the world’s angora, with Chile coming a distant second. Like most animal fabrics, angora rabbits produce a soft downy under hair layer, which is protected by another layer known as ‘Guard’ hairs. The guard hairs are coarse and unusable, which is why angora fabrics are primarily made from the under hair.

To avoid felting and matting, the rabbits must be groomed at least once or twice weekly.2

How to Harvest Wool From an Angora Rabbit | Sarah Cuthill

What is Angora? 🐰 | LionBrandYarn

Why is Angora Wool considered to be one of the Finest Wools?

The angora wool is so finely textured that it is often compared to cashmere. Some people even prefer to buy angora wool over cashmere because of the warmth and fluffiness that it offers. The angora wool is commonly used to make scarfs, sweaters, suits, felt, and knitting yarn.

Usage of Angora Wool

Angora wool suffered a slight decrease in demand in the 60s and 50s but is now back in demand like never before. You can use its fine fibers to produce beautiful clothing items like sweaters, scarves, and cardigans.

Angora wool is believed to possess a healing effect (for illnesses like rheumatism). It is also used to produce health underwear, including loin or back warmers. Its moisture-absorbing and warming effect also makes Angora wool the perfect material for bed linens and blankets.

Angora is one of the finest decorative textiles out there. This soft and beautiful fabric can be used to produce both knitwear and home décor. 

Knitwear: When it comes to knitwear fiber, there are few textile materials as good as the Angora wool. Besides being soft and fluffy, it also adds a luxurious, halo effect to your garment or accessory to give it that unique look.

Angora wool is the preferred wool for most knitters because of its beautiful fluffy halo effects. However, the wool’s lack of adequate elasticity means Angora is often mixed with fibers like sheep’s wool or alpaca to give the material bulk and added stretch.

Home décor: From blankets to throw pillows, Angora wool is the perfect fabric for your home décor. The Angora fiber is quite expensive, so it is typically incorporated with other fibers when used as a decorative item.

Angora Knitwear

Difference between Mohair and Angora Wool

The major difference between Angora and Mohair is the fact that Mohair is made from Angora goat, while Angora wool is made from Angora rabbit.
However, both fabrics are extremely resilient and strong, not to mention silky and soft. 

The Price of Angora Wool

The Angora wool does not have a universal price. However, when talking about price, it is essential to differentiate between the cost of a particular product made from Angora wool and the angora wool’s price, which is the raw material itself.

For example, pure Angora wool can go for as low as 25 $ per kg. However, you cannot use these prices to draw a valid conclusion about the cost of end products like caps, scarves, or sweaters.

Since this is often determined by an array of factors like the Angora wool content, the label, and the quality of said fiber, below is a list of clothing items with at least 40% Angora wool content to give us an idea of the cost of Angora wool:

  • The average price of an Angora wool pullover is about 150 $.
  • The average cost of an Angora wool scarf is about 30 $.
  • Angora wool health underwear is prized at approximately 50 $.

Angora Wool is Amongst The Most Luxurious Fibres

Good quality angora wool is sold for $10–16 per ounce in the US. It is more expensive than camel wool.

Angora fiber is often blended with wool to increase elasticity – this decreases the quality of the final product. Most commercial businesses blend wool with 30-50% of the angora wool to ensure that the product does not lose its silky texture or fluffiness. 

Luxurious-Angora-Wool-Sweater

Usage of Angora Wool

Angora wool suffered a slight decrease in demand in the 60s and 50s but is now back in demand like never before. You can use its fine fibers to produce beautiful clothing items like sweaters, scarves, and cardigans.

Angora wool is believed to possess a healing effect (for illnesses like rheumatism). It is also used to produce health underwear, including loin or back warmers. Its moisture-absorbing and warming effect also makes Angora wool the perfect material for bed linens and blankets.

Angora is one of the finest decorative textiles out there. This soft and beautiful fabric can be used to produce both knitwear and home décor. 

Knitwear: When it comes to knitwear fiber, there are few textile materials as good as the Angora wool. Besides being soft and fluffy, it also adds a luxurious, halo effect to your garment or accessory to give it that unique look.

Angora wool is the preferred wool for most knitters because of its beautiful fluffy halo effects. However, the wool’s lack of adequate elasticity means Angora is often mixed with fibers like sheep’s wool or alpaca to give the material bulk and added stretch.

Home décor: From blankets to throw pillows, Angora wool is the perfect fabric for your home décor. The Angora fiber is quite expensive, so it is typically incorporated with other fibers when used as a decorative item.

Angora Knitwear

Angora Wool: The Choice Of The French Royalty

Angora rabbits were quite popular in France and were favored by the French royalty. They were bred and raised for their silk textured fiber and kept as beloved pets in the royal house. Until the 1960s, France was the leading producer of Angora wool. As the popularity grew, the rabbits were also raised in England for angora wool production.

Sustainability and Animal Welfare

Angora rabbits are raised primarily for their fur, which has raised several ethical and sustainability questions over the years. In 2013, some animal rights organizations released graphic images of Angora rabbits being subjected to cruel treatment during plucking. This cruel and harmful treatment has become a source of concern for a lot of retailers.

While rabbits can molt naturally and benefit hugely from having their hair gently removed, doing this on a large scale can be quite tricky. Though most small artisan farmers rear their bunnies in safe and cruelty-free environments, these products’ rarity is reflected in their high prices.

Furthermore, you can harvest the wool off the Angora rabbit through shearing, which is a more ethical production method. The process is quite time-consuming and often puts the animals at risk of cutting.

This is why plucking is the preferred method for large-scale commercial production of angora wool, and also longer hairs attract higher prices. This practice has provoked criticism from PETA and other animal rights organizations, who have complained about the distress and pain the animals are made to undergo during plucking.

Furthermore, most farmers keep commercial rabbits alone in cages to prevent them from fighting with other animals and to avoid dirtying their cherished coat.

Angora rabbits are raised primarily for their fur, which has raised several ethical and sustainability questions over the years. In 2013, some animal rights organizations released graphic images of Angora rabbits being subjected to cruel treatment during plucking. This cruel and harmful treatment has become a source of concern for a lot of retailers.

Angora

While rabbits can molt naturally and benefit hugely from having their hair gently removed, doing this on a large scale can be quite tricky. Though most small artisan farmers rear their bunnies in safe and cruelty-free environments, these products’ rarity is reflected in their high prices.

Furthermore, you can harvest the wool off the Angora rabbit through shearing, which is a more ethical production method. The process is quite time-consuming and often puts the animals at risk of cutting.

This is why plucking is the preferred method for large-scale commercial production of angora wool, and also longer hairs attract higher prices. This practice has provoked criticism from PETA and other animal rights organizations, who have complained about the distress and pain the animals are made to undergo during plucking.

Furthermore, most farmers keep commercial rabbits alone in cages to prevent them from fighting with other animals and to avoid dirtying their cherished coat.

China is the largest producer of angora. The fur is harvested off over 50 million Angora rabbits three to four times yearly. The volume of fur yielded from the rabbits reduces as they age – which means the rabbits are killed as soon as they become unproductive. There are no regulatory standards for angora production in china; neither do they have penalties for animal cruelty.

What to do about this?

However, something can still be done about this. There is a more humane way to gather angora. Most Angora rabbits molt once in four months, which means producers can wait for molting season to collect the hair when the rabbit sheds it off naturally. This is an ethical way to harvest angora, and it encourages sustainability.

The global supply chain is quite complex, which means that verifying the sustainability or otherwise of the finished product might be quite tricky.

Although some corporations are beginning to recognize this dilemma, some major brands (ASOS inclusive) often refrain from sourcing angora wool products until they’re satisfied with the production process.

You can ensure that your angora products meet ethical production standards by checking the clothing tags or buying only from producers that encourage sustainable cruelty-free production.

Such sustainable brands you can find on the Good On You App.

For these reasons we have decided to inform you about Angora wool in general, but we do not want to recommend products made of Angora wool, because the origin is often not 100% transparent! Therefore we would like to kindly ask you to buy only products made of Angora wool where you are sure about the origin and production process.

Angora Wool Certifications

Producers of Angora wool who can meet the necessary guidelines are issued with a Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certification by Textile Exchange, an independent organization.

This certification is only issued to producers who have been able to certify that their Angora wool is produced sustainably, ethically and that their production does not negatively impact the supply chain.

The Global Organic Textile Standard or OEKO-TEX certification can also be awarded to organically and ethically produced Angora wool. However, these certifications do not carry as much weight as the RWS certification because they don’t always take the animals’ welfare into account during their certification process, which is why RWS is the more reliable Angora wool certification.

fluffy-white-Angora-Wool

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  1. Genetics of the rabbit for wool production, Rochambeau, H. de ;  Thebault, R. G. (1990)
  2. Rabbit Production by James I McNitt, University Agricultural Research and Extension Centre, March 2013 | 9781780640129  

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