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To sheep or not to sheep

wensleydalesheep
Rare breed Wensleydale sheep - my favorite

I'm a knitafrolic - I love knitting, can't get enough of it. Have been knitting since I was a kid and even worked for a knitwear designer running her yarn store in Covent Garden for a while.

In all my years of knitting, and now crochet too, I've always believed in using high quality pure wools. They last better, they feel more real and have a whole host of lovely qualities, see the CFW site if you don't believe me.

It takes a lot of time to knit a jumper, even a small hat can take a good few hours, so why would I settle for inferior yarns? Naa, never. But, is buying pure wool animal friendly?

Two years ago I started investigating Ethical Fashion which to some means no animal content. I started looking into how animals were cared for in the industry and it can be a fairly harsh picture.

This has now led me to investigate all the yarns I buy. And if a company is mass-producing wool yarn for stupidly low prices I always think twice about buying. There's a reason they can do that and it normally means the animals are mass farmed, maybe in countries where the care of animals is questionable to say the least.

Angora yarn is a good example:

handspunangora
Handspun bunny friendly angora crochet scarf

Bunny friendly angora - is it possible?

Big in the news recently has been angora and the horrendous treatment of rabbits, mainly in China. Their fur is ripped off them, they're kept in tiny cages on their own (rabbits live in groups, they're not solitary animals), with the pain of being stripped of fur every few months. I was horrified! I have a whole stash of angora from the 80's. I'm hoping this was made well before this awful practice started.

I did some investigation into whether it was possible to buy ethical angora. And yes, it is. There are a number of people who keep their own rabbits, who look after them with care and love and who groom them gently as part of their daily routine so slowly collecting the angora over days of grooming without stripping the poor things bare (I've actually started collecting the fur from my long haired cats since finding this out, but that's another story!).

Quite often they're spinners too, I got a skein of beautiful handspun angora/wool yarn from a lady in the US who kept her own rabbits. In fact through her I learnt how to hand spin as well.

Interesting facts: rabbits live in groups called herds, did you know that in some parts of Canada these groups are called a "fluffle"? Love that! And a group of young rabbits is called a "kindle" is that where Amazon got the name?!! The Angora rabbit originally came from Ankara in Turkey - the same place as the Angora goat who actually gives us mohair, not angora as it's name suggests.

Irish Rose Louise-annesrabbit
 

This is Irish Rose Louise, the prize winning rabbit who kindly donated her groomed fur to be handspun into the gorgeous yarn I crocheted into the scarf above.

I love that I can trace this angora all the way back to this lovely girl, and know she's well looked after and loved.

My scarf will last me for years, so there would be plenty of groomed fur for everyone if angora was produced this way and used as part of the Slow Fashion movement.



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