One of the charming characteristics of Angora yarn is its tendency to “bloom.” No sooner is one's yarn finished than the fine, smooth fibers begin unspin and work their way out of the yarn. In the process, they create a soft fluff about the yarn known as “halo.” However, this also means that the fibers work their way out of the yarn completely and shed all over the place!
The more loosely spun the yarn is, as in this close-up of one of my first angora yarns (from Cricket) on the left, the more the yarn blooms and the easier it sheds. The halo is also developed as the yarn is handled or the garment is worn. Spinning a firmer yarn helps, but doesn't stop this.
This is true not only of 100% Angora yarns but of blends, such as the sleeve of this Angora / Jacob / Merino blend sweater (below), as well.
While many people love the soft halo effect, most folks don't like the shedding. The way to prevent this is to abuse the yarn. Sounds terrible, I know, but that's what they call it! Perhaps “wash and whack” would be a better way to say it.
The idea here is to take advantage of Angora's excellent felting quality by fulling the yarn in two steps.
Firstly in the washing. All that is required is warm water, a squirt of Dawn dishwashing liquid (or whatever you like to wash wool in), and a rough hand: squeeze the yarn vigorously.
In her video, Spinning Exotic Fibers & Novelty Yarns, Judith MacKenzie McCuin recommends using 2 pans of water, one hot and the other very cold. She works the yarn back and forth between the two, further shocking the fibers into felting.
Rinse thoroughly and squeeze as much water out as possible. I like to squeeze it in a towel.
The second step is the whacking:
Hold the damp skein tightly in one hand and whack it firmly against a hard surface like a counter top. Whack hard! And loud! A bunch of times. Like cracking a whip. No wimpy whacking allowed. Then rotate the yarn and whack some more.
This step was not easy to get a picture of. I couldn't coordinate the whack, flash, and aperture opening(!) As you can see, Catzee was plainly curious. She would run off with every whack, but couldn't stay away for long as she just had to see what was going on.
After whacking I lay it loosely on a towel to dry. This textured yarn was spun from Rudy, using the "out of hand" spinning technique.
Next - a mini-gallery of some of my handspun Angora yarns.
Posted 7 March 2007 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com
Angora Rabbit 1 - My Bunnies
Angora Rabbit 2 - The Fiber
Angora Rabbit 3 - Spinning the Fiber
Angora Rabbit 5 - A Few Handspun Yarns