Of rabbits, cats and buffalo

Can you guess what these animals have in common? Right now, for me, they are ‘spinnable’ animals! And the rabbits are not Angoras, either. Our first rabbits were Angoras, about 22 years ago; and I did choose them for their wool.

They turned out to be higher-maintenance than I was prepared for at the time. When our older daughter decided to get into rabbits for 4-H, she chose Dutch, so that’s where the cage space went. Our younger daughter loved the lops, and had a few really nice Holland Lops. Then I fell for Mini Rex!

These rabbits are about as far away in coat structure as you can get from Angoras. Their fur is very short and velvety, and the ideal length is 5/8”. All rabbits molt on a regular basis, and that lovely, soft, short fur was just too much to resist… so I spin it occasionally, just for fun. I may be the only person in the world who spins Mini Rex fur! The only drawbacks for me are that I have lots of different colored rabbits (on purpose – I play with coat color genetics), and that you cannot get much darn fur from any one animal. As a guess, I’d say that the annual yield from one rabbit might produce – oh, maybe one yard of two-ply yarn!?!?! So spinning it is really more parlor trick than production.

The Mini Rex pictured above is my lovely Dawnita, my first Best In Show winner. I lost her recently, and miss her very much! She was a broken black otter.

First up in my spinning queue, after the current project, is some lovely white cat fur that a friend has been saving for me. I will probably blend it with wool so it will make a fluffy, usable yarn.

And now for the new, exciting stuff! Yesterday on my way home from work, I stopped at a bison ranch to pick up some bison (buffalo) shed underwool.

It is GORGEOUS. What I have is dark brown, very soft and light. I haven’t taken it out to sort through (I’m packing today for a week-long conference trip), but I know I’ll have some work ahead of me. It’s raw fiber, so of course there is a fair amount of guard hair and vegetable matter that will need to be separated out. And I’m not sure how much there is, so the eventual product is still up in the air. This is just what they picked up from last year’s shedding, and the rancher assures me that they will be on the lookout for any they can get this spring. The deal is that I will make an item to swap for the rest of the fiber. I’m thinking perhaps a lace scarf…

Both the Mini Rex and bison fibers are short-staple, and require a bit different handling than wool; if you’ve ever spun short-staple cotton, it’s pretty much the same; light tension, lots of twist, and holding a pouf of fiber in your hand to let it feed out between your fingertips. I’ll try to get a picture some time.

Again – like I need another project!!

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3 Responses to Of rabbits, cats and buffalo

  1. chrispy says:

    My husband keeps asking me if I could spin Mr. Bun’s (our mini Rex) fur because he is so soft. I laugh at him and tell him the fur is too long. Darn it now I have to eat my words, but I doubt I will do it since hubby has a bunny contact allergy.

  2. prairiespinner says:

    It sounds like you have an excellent ‘out’, so I guess I haven’t gotten you in TOO much trouble! It’s all about texture, isn’t it? (Well, and bunny personality, too!)

  3. Verla Unruh says:

    Sharon:

    I decided to check on you last night…and I love the idea of working buffalo hair into something!

    This morning at the hospital, a family member stopped to talk. She is also a spinner and weaver and she gave me her address. She said she would like to get in touch with you.

    Things are going pretty good at the Library. And I hope you have fun on your “business” trip.

    Verla

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