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r ranson
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Inspired by this adventitious project, I've come to realize that lot of people seem to think that handmade clothing is frumpy, lumpy, bumpy, impractical, wears out quickly, difficult to maintain, and all sorts of qualities that don't fit into the modern lifestyle.

This doesn't have to be that way.

In fact I suspect that there are people here who can make quality clothing that fits well with the modern lifestyle.



Here's my challenge for you fibre artists out there.



The Challenge:
Show us your hand made clothing that is durable, practical and not-frumpy.

The Rules:
  • Must be made from natural fibres. This includes wool, linen, nettles, alpaca, and anything that can be found in nature or created without the help of a chemical laboratory (so bamboo, seacell, soy silk and the other simular rayons are out).
  • Must start from at least yarn stage, premade fabric is out. Bonus points if you start from raw materials like flaxseed for linen and grass for wool.
  • Must be easy-ish to care for. Something that will survive an accidental trip in the washing machine, but prefers to be hand washed.
  • Must be durable. Either by explaining how the construction makes it so, or by withstanding the test of time.
  • May be the work of more than one artisan. One spinner, one weaver, one sewer, or any combination thereupon. (One of them must be you - the person posting the project here - if you want to go for a prize. Otherwise, posting the work of others is okay, but no prizes for that)
  • May be knitted, felted, woven, crochet or any other method that creates a quality textile.
  • Needs to be a style that can work equally well on farm and in town.
  • There is no time limit on this - so if you want to start making something now to show for next year, go for it.
  • Anything else that occurs to me during the course of the challenge that encourages the use of natural materials to create classic, quality, hand made clothing.





  • The Prize: An all 'round feel good experience and the chance to prove that it is still possible to create practical hand made garments out of natural materials.

    If I'm really impressed, and I mean REALLY over the moon in total awe of something that people post here, I might send a skein of my high end, luxury handspun local material yarn out to the artizan who wowed me. An example of what I can produce (may not be what I send):



    Shetland wool, 2 ply, 425 yds, only 35g.

    But it has to be something beyond amazing to earn yarn like that. Also, to be considered for the prize, you must show your work. I'm not easy to impress by the way, but I suspect that someone here is up for the challenge.

    Entries will be judged on a purely subjective basis - aka, I like it enough, I give it a prize. You like an entry and feel it deserves a prize, feel free to offer your own prize.

    If anyone else wants to offer incentive in the form of a prize and/or friendly word, please do.


    Please, help me prove that 'homespun' doesn't mean lumpy bumpy easy to destroy clothing. Let's show the world that the crafts that kept humanity clothed for thousands of years is still alive and going strong.
     
    Judith Browning
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    This is a wonderful idea! I don't have any clothes left from my weaving days...sold them ....funny coincidence though, I just bought a spinning wheel today to spin up a couple fleeces......I haven't done any spinning in probably 30 years so it is almost like starting over.
    I'll think on anything I might have to help out with prizes....can't wait to see what gets posted here!
     
    Galadriel Freden
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    I like your idea and I hope lots of people step up for it!

    Personally, as an avid knitter and lover of animal fibers, I have come to the realization that most of the things I have knitted in the past are not long lasting: there are both moths and carpet beetles in my house, and nothing is safe from them. I love wearing wool, especially in winter when it gets so cold and wet here in Britain; I love knitting with wool too. And I can (and do) darn my hand knitted items, but even when darned, moth holes mar a garment. I really don't know how to protect my woolly clothes from these pesky bugs, other than individually pack into ziploc bags (even the big vacuum pack bags somehow admitted moths).

    My best solution is to have only a few woolly items, and wear them frequently; I imagine this was normal in the past: people would have only one or two outfits, and having them in constant use kept the moths from taking up residence. I have painfully accepted this and weeded down my woolly wardrobe, and have stopped knitting woollies for my immediate family too--but it hurts! I still knit, but have been making mainly gifts and non wool items.

    But for your viewing pleasure, here is a shawl I knit out of 100% alpaca yarn which I unravelled from a commericially knit skirt, bought in my local charity shop for about £3. I knit this in 2013, and I have worn it daily every October till April since then. The bugs have not yet found it, and it still looks the same as when I first knit it; I generally wash it about once a year, too.

    I wear it as a scarf/neckerchief, with the center of the triangle down my chest, and the two arms wrapped around my neck, with the ends either dangling artfully in front (town), or tucked under the front and tied together (farm*). Either way, it keeps me warm and stylish



    *aka suburban garden
     
    r ranson
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    Here's an example of some amazing mitts I saw lately: dutchymitts Hand-Knit Lined Wool Mittens Wool-Felt Fleece Lining . These are knit, then lined with felted wool.



    Classy yet durable. The mitts I saw had survived a rather brutal beating during a bicycle accident. They hadn't even been washed since the accident a week before, and they looked immaculate. The mud and road debris had dried and was easily brushed off. They were fairly light coloured mitts too, which is even more impressive.

    Natural fibres - check! Wool and Icelandic wool.
    So durable - check!
    Looks good in town - check!

    Would I wear them on the farm? I think probably. A bit warm for here, and I would love the dexterity that an extra finger brings. But if I lived somewhere that had a real winter, and that thing called snow, I think this would be my winter farm mitt.


    Any more examples of quality clothing item made from natural materials that fit well with both city living and homesteading lifestyle?
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    This is not yet for the challenge I have bigger plans, this is just a small sample of something I knitted. The wool is spun by Carla, of mixed origin (partly plant dyed). I knitted the mittens for Carla. It was an exchange trade, she spun more wool, of wich I made a hat for myself.
     
    Lori Ziemba
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    Oooo, a contest!
    I have lots of clothes that I made myself that I wear all the time. This is my favorite: It's knitted it from an alpaca/wool blend yarn in an offset gore, full circle poncho pattern. I've worn this in 15* weather over a cashmere sweater, wool skirt and silk slip, and not been at all cold. I made it years ago, use it every winter/spring, and I don't think I've ever washed it. Best of all, since it is a full circle, it can be used as an emergency blanket!

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    Alpaca/wool poncho
     
    Mary-Ellen Zands
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    These are a pair of moccasins I made for someone who ordered them from my market stall. From our sheep to your head. (Usually make hats). I love felting! I love spinning. I love fibre! The color for the butterfly and the thistle is koolaid used as dyes. Imagine there are people who drink the stuff! We no longer have the sheep,but we'll have their fleece probably till the day I die. Bags and bags of it. I used to follow the shearer and ask him to collect some unusual fleece for me. Which he was happy to do. I would always pay him for his troubles, because he would not get a good price for his ton of wool. Now I'm collecting wool from our highland cattle, which if I forget it in my pocket for too long it is felted by the time I remember it. I just have to come up with a project that can't be too itchy like long underwear (kidding). They used highland wool exclusively in Scotland in the old days so I should be able to too. Come to think of it those Scotsmen never wore underwear under those kilts did they?

    Silly me I forgot to mention that I grew the silk myself. That was for the adornments, the needle felting of the moccasins. Anyone out there as crazy as me?
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    Moccasins
     
    Lori Ziemba
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    This is an alpaca/wool vest I knitted in a diamond quilt pattern. I wear it all the time, and I've had it for years. I wash it in the machine, but let it air dry. It does have a zipper, so I don't know if that disqualifies it. I made a matching hat.
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    Alpaca/wool vest
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    Alpaca/wool hat
     
    Lori Ziemba
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    Here's a wool bolero I knit. I wear this over turtlenecks when I go out and want to look nice. Washes in the machine, air dry.
    20160501_113608.jpg
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    Wool bolero
     
    Lori Ziemba
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    My favorite hat. Wool. I hand wash this because I don't want the pompom to felt up. I've worn this for several years.
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    Wool hat
     
    Lori Ziemba
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    Another one of my hand knit ponchos, with matching tam. I think it's an alpaca/silk blend. Years old, frequently worn.
    20160501_113024.jpg
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    Alpaca/silk poncho
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    Matching tam
     
    Lori Ziemba
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    Here's a hand-knitted "boat hat" made of pure alpaca. The ear flaps protect your ears from wind, and there's a ping-pong ball in the pompom. If it falls overbaord, the hat will float!
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    Boat hat
     
    Lori Ziemba
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    And finally, my last alpaca/wool poncho. Knit in two rectangles sewn together. Years old, worn a lot, never washed. I have another poncho, but it has a synthetic trim on it that looks like fur.
    20160501_113448.jpg
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    Alpaca/wool poncho
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    Here's my entry to the contest... I'll call it 'body art', or a 'good-luck charm' rather than clothing... It's small, but that's in line with how much flax fiber I was able to make this spring from the wild flax that retted overwinter in the wildlands on the farm.

     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    Joseph, did you braid the flax into your own hair?
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    Okay, I'll show my hat too. Its partly knitted (not visible on the photo), partly crochet. All natural greyish brown (sheep) wool and a little plant dyed greenish brown. Spun for me by Carla, as I told before. B.t.w. we know eachother from the FB-group Permanet (NL), where we arranged this trade.
     
    Joseph Lofthouse
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    Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Joseph, did you braid the flax into your own hair?


    Yup. It's from a wild species that grows here. I'm growing a patch of domesticated fiber flax this summer. So here's hoping that it will be easier to work with. The patch I planted is only about 15 square feet, so it'll be large enough to make seed, but I don't expect much fiber this year either.
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    I started growing my first flax. It is nicely coming up now! It's supposed to be the real fiber flax (seeds from Northern France). They are only a few plants, but it's a start. I'll let it grow and bloom and make seeds, so I can have more flax next year. And still I can use the fibers of this flax this year, maybe in a way like you did, Joseph
     
    Valerie Dawnstar
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    The design and knitting are all mine. Most of the yarn -- 100% wool -- is commercially made, but I helped shear the sheep for the white and brown yarns which are the natural colors of the sheep.
    my-sweater.jpg
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    Morfydd St. Clair
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    It took me a second, but I love the sheep in the sweater!
     
    Niele da Kine
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    A couple of angora shawls from the bunnies in the backyard. I don't have them anymore, though, they were sold for rather a lot of money.

    They were started with bunny fluff:



    The bunny fluff is spun into yarn:





    Here's the edge of another shawl made with bunny fluff:



    They're insanely soft and folks love these shawls. Once they touch them, they don't want to let go.

    Some of the bunny fluff is made into scarves, too:



    Right now, I'm knitting my friend some socks from bunny fluff, but they're not done yet.


    On a more utilitarian level though, there's sheep's wool into rugs. This is Midnight, he's the sheep that's been sheared already, the dark colored one. He's mostly a Clun Forest and he has nice springy wool on him, very soft and lovely as a rug.



    Here's his fleece in a laundry basket:



    Spun up fat on the bulky flyer on an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel (possibly the most common spinning wheel on the planet and/or known universe)



    And spun into a rug. The black stripes are from Midnight, the white stripes are from his mom, Flannel, so this is a 'mother & son' rug:



     
    Erica Wisner
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    Galadriel Freden wrote:... there are both moths and carpet beetles in my house, and nothing is safe from them. I love wearing wool, especially in winter when it gets so cold and wet here in Britain; I love knitting with wool too. And I can (and do) darn my hand knitted items, but even when darned, moth holes mar a garment. I really don't know how to protect my woolly clothes from these pesky bugs, other than individually pack into ziploc bags (even the big vacuum pack bags somehow admitted moths).

    My best solution is to have only a few woolly items, and wear them frequently...


    *aka suburban garden


    Galadriel - your solution is a sensible one.
    I posted before reading other responses, so forgive if this is a repeat.

    For other options, you might check out the lichen-based dyes used for traditional tweeds. Some lichens are toxic to protein-eating animals, and the tweed dyes have been credited with moth protection.
    Here in the northwest USA, there is a venom-green lichen called "wolf moss" that grows at higher elevations (it's neon green/acid green like Nickelodeon slime, but not as slimy). It produces a lot of vulpinic acid, and was traditionally used to dye the Chilkat / Raven blankets.

    I believe there are other colors available in the Hebrides tweed dying ecosystems, including some soft purples and golden oranges. Most of these could be over-dyed with something more colorful (e.g. if you want a red hat, you could use a red commercial dye or a natural madder or cochineal, and then over-dye with the golden lichen dye for moth protection in a scarlet-red final shade.)

    These dyes were traditionally fixed with stale urine, but there's probably a lot of options for using ammonia (or perhaps even other alkaline solutions or mordants) that would not smell as bad while dying.

    Yours,
    Erica

     
    Erica Wisner
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    Here is a hat I wear everywhere, all winter. Don't know if it's frumpy, but it's stylish for me. I often wear it with turquoise or teal raincoats.

    The hat parts were made by two friends - one knitted and fulled the hat itself (Debbi Cornell) and the other made the felted flower with felted leaves and bangles (Leaha Passaro).
    The flower was originally a hair ornament, but I put it on the hat. and they have not been separated since.

    Adding a hair ornament to a hat is in the same category as sheep-to-shawl creation, so this is not really eligible as a contest submission unless Debbi or Leaha wants to put in a word in and show their work.
    Leaha raises her own sheep and does all the steps to finished felted product; she's a hard-core haberdasher who has recently been exploring less labor-intensive felted products.
    I believe Debbi used commercial yarn for the hat though I could be wrong (she's pretty crafty too).

    -Erica

    DSCN0268-Erica-Winter-Hat.JPG
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    Red hat
     
    Galadriel Freden
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    Erica Wisner wrote:

    For other options, you might check out the lichen-based dyes used for traditional tweeds.



    Thanks Erica; if I could go back to wool I would be so happy! Definitely something to investigate.

    BTW, cute hat
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    Niele, I love ytour 'bunny fluff'! Are those angora bunnies easy to keep? What do I have to think of if I want to have some of them?
     
    r ranson
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    These are beautiful creations! 

    Thanks everyone for participating so far.  I'll be sending the first prize out in about a month (or possibly two) when I send my Holiday presents out.  This means you still have time to enter to get a prize this year.

    It is still possible to get a prize later on (maybe even years from now) but you have to wow me!   Show us your handmade clothing that is durable, practical and not-frumpy for a chance to win some handspun yarn or other textile related goodie.

    Anyone else who is enjoying this thread, feel free to give prizes to your favourite contributor (even if it's just a slice of virtual PIE to show you love what they do).

     
    r ranson
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    The first (of I hope many) reward has gone out this week.  The winner is Inge Leonora-den Ouden for her lovely mitts.  Inge has really impressed me, not just with her knitting, but also for participating in her community and local permaculture projects.    She's also interested in her local fibershed and sharing the good word with others.

    Her reward is some handspun linen yarn from locally grown flax, a tiny bit of flax fibre I prepared and some seeds. 


    I did tell you that entries will be judged on a purely subjective basis - aka, I like it enough, I give it a prize. You like an entry and feel it deserves a prize, feel free to offer your own prize, even if it's just a slice of virtual PIE to show you care.


    I expect I'll be giving away more prizes as the spirit moves me.  Keep the entries coming.
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    prize of flax and linen
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    Thank you! Seeing the photo, I want to touch and feel it ... I can do after it arrives here by snail mail ... I'll let you know then.
     
    Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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    I got very exciting mail today! A large envelope with many stamps on it ... I knew in an instant: that's the flax and linen R Ranson promised! And yes, it was:

    Thank you!!!
     
    Lori Ziemba
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    Here's a hat I knitted from dog hair.  I carded and spun the wool myself, on a drop spindle.  It is amazingly soft and warm.
    20160806_153450.jpg
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    Dog hair hat.
     
    Carla Coleman
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    Lori Ziemba - I would really like to make one of those ear-covering, floating hats. Is it your own pattern or can you tell me where I could find the pattern? Thank you, very much.

    (This is the first time I have tried to post or respond to a post at Permies and I'm not at all sure I'm doing this correctly. Please forgive me if I end up in the wrong thread or something even more dire.)
     
    Lori Ziemba
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    Carla Coleman wrote:Lori Ziemba - I would really like to make one of those ear-covering, floating hats. Is it your own pattern or can you tell me where I could find the pattern? Thank you, very much.

    (This is the first time I have tried to post or respond to a post at Permies and I'm not at all sure I'm doing this correctly. Please forgive me if I end up in the wrong thread or something even more dire.)


    Hi Carla!
    Sorry it took me so long to answer.  I was looking thru all my mess...uh, I mean files, and couldn't find it.  Then I looked online and found it in 76 seconds---d'oh!  Here it is:

    http://knitting.livejournal.com/126580.html
     
    Sharon Kallis
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    I LOVE this thread! This is the stuff I happily lay awake thinking about at 3am- versus the other things that can keep me awake at night.
    I have been growing flax and processing it to linen for 4 years now as a community project- ( I wrote about the first year in my book Common Threads) we have small plots in various urban settings in Vancouver BC, and travel around doing processing demos-  crazy things like hooking up drums to the  spinning wheel to acknowledge the  tempo of the treadle, bringing in dancers, musicians etc to  celebrate the seasonal work rhythms and build  community around such events.
    this is my first shirt made with my own linen, I am now working on weaving using an inkle loom- and have been working on processing wild nettles as well for what I affectionately call my nettle shirt 2020 project.... I am strong believer in making ones own style and fashion statement- this shirt will never go out of style as far as I am concerned, I wear it to work in and then out for cocktails- It has gone into the washer many times, I have had  a couple of runs where my spinning was not fabulous-  but knowing the maker ( myself) means a fix is always easy and quick with a bit of linen. the dyes are marigold, woad, hollyhock, tansy and other bits I forget.
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    my hand grown linen, dyed with local plants, spun by me and knitted in a pattern I made up as I went along...
    2-20160804_152149.jpg
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    inkle loom linen, tansy, hollyhock, mahonia berries for dye
     
    Carla Coleman
    Posts: 9
    Location: NE Washington State
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    Thanks very much for the hat pattern, Lori!

    Carla
     
    Lori Ziemba
    Posts: 145
    Location: Northern California Mediterranean climate zone 10b
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    Carla Coleman wrote:Thanks very much for the hat pattern, Lori!

    Carla


    De nada!
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    r ranson
    master steward
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    Sharon, after I read your post here and saw you are an author, I ordered your book common threads.  Fantastic book!   I hope we can chat some time.  I'm trying to find a way to move the local flax to linen movement forward, your book has given me so many ideas.  If not the flax group, then maybe something bigger.  Let's chat.

    Love the shirt and weaving.  Thanks for joining in the conversation.
     
    John Noles
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    Location: Berea, United States
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    If I had not  left my ewes in Kentucky I would be knitting right now on a contracted project for Christmas an not be using 100 0/0 acrylic yarn for the project.
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    Niele da Kine
    Posts: 49
    Location: Zone 11B Moku Nui Hawaii
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    Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Niele, I love ytour 'bunny fluff'! Are those angora bunnies easy to keep? What do I have to think of if I want to have some of them?


    Aloha Inge,

    If you like, you can have your bunny live in the house, they can be litter trained.  They are friendly little critters.

    Angora bunnies kept as fiber providers aren't any near as much work as the ones kept to be a show bunny.  All the bunnies here get a hair cut three times a year so most of their time is spent growing more hair instead of getting their hair tangled up. 

    They get a hair cut with snips, scissors, clippers or plucked.  Not all breeds of angora will molt so they can be plucked, but ours molt and when it's ready, their hair can just be pulled off in small amounts.  The fiber is stored in a jar until it's spun, there's no prep necessary before spinning it although some people like to card it. 

    For about two months after a hair cut, they're pretty much like a normal rabbit as far as hair is concerned.  For the final two months before their next hair cut, sometimes they will get some mats behind their ears or under their chin.  Those can be trimmed off since we don't worry about uneven coat length for show purposes.  The last month before a clipping, they'll get combed out if they've got any mats but about the time the coat starts getting unruly, it's all cut off and the whole process starts over.

    We feed ours a lot of forage and we grow things for them to eat although they also get some commercial pellets as well.  Depending on where you are, there's probably something for the bunnies to eat that you can grow.  Ask the people you get the bunnies from if they're used to eating pellets or forage.  If they haven't been eating much fresh foods, start them in on forage in small amounts.

    There are a variety of angoras, too, so you'll have choices of which breed of angora to have.  Just like sheep, each breed has a different quality of wool as well as how much they produce.  We have the English because their fiber is the softest although they don't produce as much per bunny as some of the other breeds.  However, they're small enough that we can just have more bunnies to make up for it.   
     
    r ranson
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    I wouldn't mind giving away some prizes again soon.  We just need a few more entries. 
     
    Travis Johnson
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    The skills, creativity and enthusiasm on this forum truly amazes me. What beautiful clothing all of you have made, not to mention being beautiful yourselves.

    R. Ranson: If I was to give some of my wool away to someone in Maine (just on account of shipping it would be expensive) would you consider giving them extra points? I would love to contribute to your lofty endeavor, but have no skills in which to convert sheep wool to clothing, but sure would help someone else.

    Feel free to say no, it just seems like a waste to have so much wool go to waste on my end, and others wanting wool and lacking it upon there so they can get extra points.
     
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