My first angora sweater died in a washing machine accident. R.I.P.
I always thought angora meant fur from a fluffy rabbit. (See photo). When I started to spin I found out that angora is also a kind of goat - from which we get mohair. And then I found out there are angora cats and angora hamsters...and I started to wonder if there is such a thing as an angora dog. Nope. I checked.
I did a little fiber snooping online and this is what I found out. Angora is an old way to spell Ankara, the modern capital of Turkey. The word comes from the Greek word ankylos which means "anchor" - Ankara is a very ancient harbor.
As for Angora goats, they are first mentioned around the time of Moses - way, way, way back! They take their name from the region of the world where the breed was developed. Later, fuzzy rabbits and cats got stuck with the same name.
Angora goats look like they have silky dreadlocks. Angora rabbits have soft, fine, fly-away fur which is either plucked or snipped. I spoke to the owner of the rabbit in the photo and she said some varieties shed their coats and must be plucked. Others, like the big white one, don't shed and have to be clipped. I bought some angora rabbit and mixed it with Cormo and made a worsted-weight 3-ply. I kept wondering why it wasn't as fuzzy as I expected - until after I knitted a hat with it.
The angora fibers "bloom" after knitting, creating that soft halo effect. Love it!
If you spin with rabbit angora, keep a can of Static Guard on hand. And if you buy rabbit angora, store it in airtight ziplock bags, especially if you live in a humid climate. Rabbit angora will felt on its own without any help if not kept carefully.