Niele da Kine

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since Oct 15, 2015
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Recent posts by Niele da Kine

Many spinners prefer plucked angora fiber to shorn angora fiber since when plucking it is all long wool.  

To keep the short hairs out of the wool harvest when shearing, the buns are usually shorn when the second or third coat is just beginning to come in.  Then there's no short tips to be shorn off and mixed in with the longer wool.  You can part the coat and look down near the skin.  If it's a colored bun, it's easy to see when the new darker coat is starting to come in.

Not all angora breeds and not even all within a 'pluckable' breed are pluckable.  If they are from show lines, frequently they prefer the non-pluckable ones since they hold their coats longer and look better for a rabbit show.
1 year ago
The little 'Kircher' loom did finally get a bigger sibling:

It sat for a long time about eighty percent done.  I'd hoped to find little soldered circles for the heddle loops, but never did find any so used fishing swivels instead.  The fishing swivels actually work pretty well since if there's a problem when warping the loom the warp can be taken out of the heddle loop and moved.  Plus, fishing swivels were available in our little town and inexpensive as well.

The reed is made with welding wire and is a bit on the heavy side, next time I may use bamboo skewers.  It was made by taking a bit of hardwood that was about 1-1/2" x 1" by about 14" and the drill press and drilling a line of holes about 3/4th of the way through the wood on the 1-1/2" dimension.  Then the stick was cut lengthwise which resulted in two long sticks with matching holes and on one stick, the holes didn't go all the way through.  Wood sticks were attached at each end to make a long rectangle with legs, then the wires were put through the holes and a thin strip of wood was fastened on to keep the wires in the reed.  Glue could have been used instead, I suppose.

It's a loom made to use our Hula Bunny yarn, which is an angora/Merino/silk yarn and has quite a bit of 'halo' to it so nothing other than a plain weave is necessary.  Any fancy weaving would get lost in the halo.

Also, since it is a small loom, it's nice to be able to take it different places so it will fold flat for traveling.

The next loom will have a slightly taller main vertical uprights to create a slightly larger 'shed' (the area between the warps where the shuttle goes back and forth) and maybe be a tiny bit shorter in front so I don't have to reach as far back to move the heddles up and down.  It's sized for a relatively short person's reach, but if the verticals are taller, then the distance back needs to be slightly shorter.  I'd made that distance between the front of the loom and the upright verticals longer so the work wouldn't have to be advanced as often.  There's also a bit more room around the front and back rollers (whatever the name is for the rollers where the warp is rolled around to begin and the work is rolled around at the end) so three or four scarves can be warped on at the same time.  Each scarf is about six feet long, so the warp for the current three scarf project is about twenty feet long.

There's a bit more on the loom on the bunny's website: although I've not measured it and made a set of plans for it yet.  Maybe I should do that at some point, although I think the next loom will be a little bit better, but that's what happens with projects.  By the time you finish it, you now know how to make it better.

3 years ago
I just noticed this post.  Did you ever get your little loom set up and working?  One of the tricky parts to get it to work is using the flat bar that has all the ends of the warp tied to it.  That flat bar is then attached (by a string at each end of the flat bar) to the rollers at each end of the loom that have the cam gears on them.  

Feed the warp through the holes in the yellow reed, then through the little loops in the string heddles, then tie the end of each warp string to the flat bar that is tied to the rollers with the cams.  Once all the warp strings are tied to the flat bar, then roll them up until the ends are near the bar at the other end of the loom.  When rolling them, put long paper strips in there so the strings will lay nicely in layers instead of a mess.  Then tie the front end of the warp strings to the flat bar at the front of the loom and you can adjust the tension of the warp by using the cam gears on the roller bars.

I don't know all the proper 'loom speak', there's proper names for those parts, I'm sure.
3 years ago
I still have a '77 Kenmore which is a rugged machine that's sewn miles of fabric.  For awhile I was doing boat interiors and awnings with it and it handled that beautifully.  Then, at a yard sale, there was a Singer 401A in a beat up cabinet for $15.  I tried selling it at a little 'antique mall' that I'm part of for $50, but nobody was interested in it.  I'd later picked up a Singer Featherweight and decided not to keep it since it didn't have a zigzag stitch and while researching the Featherweight, I found out that the 401A is a solid metal direct drive machine so I took that out of the shop and tuned it up.  That's now become my 'go to' machine.

That's the 'as found' in the shop picture.  I'm glad it didn't sell.

It's been cleaned, tuned and set into a different cabinet with more storage spaces.  The cabinet needed a lot of work, but it had been at a different yard sale for $10.

Singer Cabinet #47 as found at a yard sale.

Same cabinet with "Howard's Restore-A-Finish" wiped on it.

So far there's $35 into the machine and cabinet.  A lot of times folks don't value these old machines even though there's some amazing machine work in them.

Just to add icing to an already sweet deal, this was found at our local dump about a year later:

I'd just seen a sewing machine case in the metals bin, grabbed it and stuck it in the car to look at later since it was heavy (35#) so I knew there was a machine inside.  Imagine my surprise that it was a matching Singer 401A!  Perfect!  An 'at home' machine and a 'portable' machine.  At 35#, it has a small wheeled dolly to haul it around, but it sews so much better than new machines that it's worth the weight.

The machine at the dump hadn't been working since someone had installed a lever on the cam shaft incorrectly, but it was an easy fix.  

Try looking at your local thrift shops, estate sales or sales from where the kids are cleaning out their parents or auntie's house.  To many folks, they're just 'an old sewing machine' and not worth much.  

The only drawbacks to the Singer 401A is that it is a 'Slant-O-Matic' which means it's really easy to thread, but the feet aren't interchangeable with other Singers.  The bobbins are also just a touch bigger and thinner.

The 401A bobbins are the flatter ones with only four holes in them.  So, now I have to have separate bobbins and feet for the Kenmore (which uses Singer bobbins & feet) and the Singer 401A.  But, the 401A is worth it, it's a very willing machine and wants to get the job done, not fussy and persnickety like the cheap new machines.

There's a whole pile of mid-century mostly metal machines out there.  Find one with no electronics on it and as little plastic as possible.
3 years ago
Aloha Colter,

Since she's almost 6 years old, an angora bunny would probably not be a very good pet for your daughter.  Mostly due to the coat harvesting, it takes a fairly high level of dexterity to get the wool off the bunny in a usable condition.  When she is a bit older and if she's interested in making yarn, then some angoras would be a good thing.  Or, if you wanted to make the yarn, then you could harvest the wool and your daughter have a pet in the meantime.  Because of the coat, I don't think she'd be able to keep an angora by herself without help, though.

We have English angoras and they're quite profitable, but we've been breeding them for years for low maintenance coats.  A lot of the profit from them comes from being able to sell the finished yarn at retail rates instead of just the fiber.  We can also feed a lot of forage and that keeps costs down.  YMMV.

We've been breeding them for years for good temperaments and low maintenance coats.  The ones around here don't need daily grooming, they go for about six weeks with zero grooming after they're sheared.  Then they get minimal grooming until it's time to shear again.  They're not show bunnies, they're a fiber herd.  They're actually much better as a 'hands off' type of bunny since when they're picked up and held, they then want to groom the scent of human off themselves.  If they do that too much, they ingest too many hairs, it blocks up their stomach, they can't eat, it doesn't end well.  And it's always the beloved pets that this happens to.  But, even though the bunnies here are 'livestock', they're still very cuddly livestock and they still frequently get picked up and petted.

Perhaps instead of a fiber bunny, you could raise bunnies for the pet market.  Find out which rabbits sell for the most in your area and then get good bloodstock of that breed.  Keep pedigrees on them, a rabbit pedigree is just a record of it's ancestors, you don't have to register them with any organization like you have to do with dogs.  I use Kintracks, which is an inexpensive computer program which is really good for any kind of livestock record keeping.  

The smallest breeds and the dwarf breeds, such as Holland Lops and Netheland dwarfs, usually have smaller litters and the dwarfs have some problems with the dwarfing gene.  When calculating which breeds would be profitable to raise and sell as pets, add in average size of litter to the calculations.  Personally, I'd opt for a Rex or mini-Rex as a pet breed.  They're very plush yet don't have excessive coat care, they come in nice colors, the ones I've met have had lovely temperaments and it seems to me they'd be a great pet.  Not as expensive as a Holland Lop or Netherland Dwarf, but having larger litters may end up with more $$$ at the end of it all anyway.

Not sure how well a whippet will do with a rabbit, keeping them very separate is a good idea, IMHO.  Dogs kill more rabbits than anything else around here, but we don't have a lot of the predators that are on the mainland.

Rabbits are kinda a solitary yet social kinda critter.  They don't mind other rabbits and can happily live in a herd, yet they like their own space and can be territorial.  If they have their own space and once it's scented like themselves, they are pretty much happy by themselves.  But, you'll need at least two if you're gonna breed rabbits.  We keep six bucks in one big hutch that is segmented into six spaces.  They can visit through the wire, but they can't attack each other.  Bucks can fight, even fight to the death.  A doe herd will usually do pretty well, although there is occasionally a diva bunny who wants to boss everybunny else around.  Also to watch out for is the shy doe who doesn't push her way in to the food dish when everyone is eating.  Make sure that the shy ones get enough to eat and you can usually keep the girls in communal space.  Since we have multiple communal spaces, when I'm changing the make up of a doe herd, I'll swap spaces so they're all in a 'new' space.  That seems to keep kerfluffles to a minimum.

Starting small is good.  Get a pair of 'pet' bunnies, let them have a litter and then sell the excess kits and see if it's going to work out.  If nothing else, your daughter has a pet and your rose bushes will be happy with the 'bunny berries'.
3 years ago
For young growing bunnies up to six to eight months old (depends on the size of the breed as to how long it takes them to get to adult size) we will usually let them eat as much as they want of both pellets and hay/forage.  Once they become adults, then their pellet intake is monitored although they have as much hay or forage as they want.

Usually you can tell if your rabbit is being properly fed by feeling his condition.  If you can easily feel the backbone, especially a bumpy backbone with hardly any flesh over the ribs, then he needs more food.  If the bunny has flesh on the backbone and over the ribs and isn't fat, then he's being fed enough.

For a breeding doe, we feed them as much as they want.  For a doe feeding a litter, as much as she wants with additional higher nutritional food such as high protein bunny pellets mixed with Black Oil Sunflower seeds, rolled oats or barley.  Maybe a bit of calf manna.
3 years ago
Bunny berries are the only fertilizer we use.  A layer several inches thick is spread over the top of the garden before planting or whenever a plant looks hungry.  It gets tossed around tree roots, along the hedges, where ever there's a plant.  More bunny berries on the garden produces more greenery which we can then give some to the buns to create more bunny berries.  Bunnies and gardens are really good for each other.  (as long as they're not actually IN the garden eating the veggies you want for dinner)
3 years ago
This is probably another 'it depends' type of answer.  If it's a house rabbit and used to people and artificial sounds, then radio or TV wouldn't bother it.  Some of them may even enjoy it, it all depends on the rabbit and situation.

We have outside bunnies in a hutch who are pretty happy without a radio.  They get interacted with several times a day and talked to while people are nearby, they don't like things to sneak up on them so talking to them while walking up to the hutch area is appreciated by the them, at least, as far as I can tell.  I would think constant or of long duration artificial sound wouldn't be appreciated by them.

I'd figure their alarm system is a thump with a hind foot and a lot of music has a pretty thump-like beat.  In rabbit speak that may mean a constant low level input of "danger-danger-danger-danger" which can't be restful.

3 years ago
There's a pedigree program called 'Kintracks' which is inexpensive and has a handy 'coefficient of inbreeding' tool.  From an animal's page, you can click on the inbreeding tool and match them up with an animal of another gender and it will give you the percentage of inbreeding along with details on which other animals they're related to.  It's a free download and you can test out the program with the addition of quite a few animals before you need to pay for it and it's not expensive (around $20 Australian) when you do.

I've been breeding angora rabbits since 2009 starting from eight individuals and have been able to keep the levels of inbreeding below 25%.  There's been the addition of several new animals over the years, but not very many.  Just lately, I've allowed the level of inbreeding to be a bit higher and it's been interesting to see some of the changes in the offspring.  Some of them are getting extra fuzzy and some are losing the fluff on their ears.  Another has showed up in a color that I haven't a clue what it is.  Looks like a very chocolatey dark sable, but that's an impossible color from a tort x REW cross.  Well, fortunately, there's the Kintracks database so maybe the color and genetics behind it can be figured out.

Keeping good records is important for any kind of animal breeding, whether it's tracking the level of inbreeding or fertility rates or production rates.  
3 years ago
That sounds like a great setup, Thomm!  It would be nice to try something like that around here, perhaps.  The bunnies do like grazing, although they only have a small corral made of zip stripped together refrigerator racks from our local dump.  They don't seem to try to get out even though they could probably easily jump over the short fence if they tried.

We end up doing a lot of 'cut & carry' to get forage to them, it would be a lot easier if they were able to go out and gather it on their own.  If they're in a grassy area, they'd probably keep their wool clean.
3 years ago