Mar 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm #1300624
Has anyone experimented with using angora rabbit fur as a cheap fill? Here is an interesting article about Angora rabbit fur.
One of the problems with using angora rabbit fur though, is that it can matt and felt somewhat easily. I was wondering if a soak in Nikwax would change this some? I can get a pound of this fiber for 28 dollars.
It's supposed to VERY warm stuff. I've not seen any articles about studies or research comparing it to goose down, so if anyone knows anything about this, i would be interested.
RE: the article, i've read in other places that some of the fibers of Angora rabbit fur can be even much finer than the 10 to 12 microns, down to like 5 and 6 microns, which is akin to the diameter of sub fibrils of goose down.
I've thought about mixing it with some goose down, to cut the costs of goose down.Mar 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm #1967128
Quick addition. I don't know how true it is or not, but a lot of online sources say that angora rabbit fur is roughly 7 times warmer than sheeps wool.Mar 18, 2013 at 7:42 pm #1967241
Looks very interesting, especially as they seem to just collect the molted fur rather than killing the rabbit. Thread book marked.Mar 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm #1967544
I now wear angora bed socks, hat, and neckwarmer on backcountry trips.
It is insanely warm and light. Certainly multiple times warmer than the equivalent items I have in merino wool.
Pretty cheap on Ebay.Mar 19, 2013 at 2:59 pm #1967545
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
If you lead the live rabbit up the trail, you could wrap it around your neck while it is still warm. Then, if food runs out, the rabbit goes into the stew pot and the rabbit fur gets used.
–B.G.–Mar 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm #1967600
I wonder how it fairs with being wet. If it had better warmth properties than down and it retained warmth when wet, say hello to my new top quilt. Angora rabbits only cost $20-30…. hmmm.Mar 20, 2013 at 5:50 am #1967744
@dipinkLocale: Western Washington
The primary issue would be loss of loft. Under conditions of pressure and abrasion, angora rabbit fur would likely matt together, never to be re-lofted again. Felting (matting) generally needs moisture, heat, and movement/pressure happen, but I would guess that if it got wet, then was compressed in a stuff sack the fluff would smash together and felt. Awesome for knitted items, and my favorite hat is angora/cashmere/merino blend, very lightweight and warm for its size, but I wouldn't use it in a quilt as the only insulation.
Now, if you got it blended with wool into batts, and had it sewn into a quilt, that might work, as the wool would keep some "loft" to the bat. Gonna be heavy though. Better stick with down or synthetic.
PS–it ain't cheap, either. Need a lot of bunnies to produce enough fiber. Haven't purchased any for a while for spinning yarn, but it's $$ per ounce, not per pound. Prices I'm seeing on the web range from $10-25/ounce.Mar 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm #1967973
I suspect that matting may be an issue with Angora Rabbit fur. This is what i have thought of to try to get around it. A soak in a Nikwax or Grangers type solution should make it more "slippery" for a time, which will make it harder to matt. Also, i would not be using just the Angora rabbit fur. I plan on mixing a pound of angora to a half pound of Goose down, or high quality Duck down. More specifically, i'm looking for a fill of about 700 to 750, with some percentage of feathers which will help the Angora to keep lofted. All would be mixed together in a very large bag first.
This also should keep down any matting, as well as help keep up the loft. I doubt the Angora will matt to the Goose or Duck down…and i'm hoping if anything, it might replicate a bit, what happens with Eider Duck down, which apparently does "stick" a bit together, which somehow increase the thermal insulation properties (i don't pretend to understand the intricacies of why Eider is superior in this regard).
RE: price, i've already done research on it, and found a small farm in Maryland that raises Angora rabbits, and they sell raw, "2nds" fiber for 28 dollars a pound. Actually, 2nds fiber for around that price for that weight is not that unusual.
This is the fiber that is hard to spin into yarn–usually because the fibers are too short or too fine, and usually people buy or use for felting purposes. But for fill, it's fine.
Anyways, i was more curious to see if anyone here has ever tried anything like this, a mixing, to cut costs.Mar 22, 2013 at 11:41 am #1968577
Jeremy wrote, "Looks very interesting, especially as they seem to just collect the molted fur rather than killing the rabbit. Thread book marked."
From what I understand so far, most of the fur collected in the U.S., at least from the smaller farms is either brushed off, gentled pulled off while being molted (doesn't hurt the rabbits supposedly), or cut/trimmed. I've heard that some places, like China, will forcibly and painfully pull hair out. But otherwise, and generally speaking, it tends to come from less cruel and painful methods. These kinds of Rabbits actually need the grooming, otherwise they will get major digestive issues to the point of death.
Btw, more generally speaking, don't misunderstand, i'm not in any way saying that Angora Rabbit fur is in any way better than high quality Goose down, except in price point. Matting may be a real big issue being used as a fill and Goose down has a lot of unique properties which combine to make it unusually efficient for use as thermal insulation. I will update when i'm done with my experiment, and after a little while of using the quilt i'm going to make out of combo Angora rabbit fur loose fiber and Goose down. The interesting thing about Angora Rabbit fur is this though, very fine diameter mixed with noticeable hollowness makes it very warm, and if it's strong enough to be woven into cloth textiles (though fragile compared to many other woven fiber textiles), then it should be strong enough to manage dealing with some compression if you can get around the felting and matting issue (i'm not sure i will be able to).
If anyone is interested, this is the farm and site that i'm ordering from:
And this is a link to the raw Angora Fiber and prices:
I'm paying a total of 34 dollars for a lb of the 2nds White fiber, which includes 6 dollars shipping to my locale in VA. "IF" mixing these works decently, should be pretty interesting.Mar 23, 2013 at 12:39 am #1968758
@ckrusorLocale: Northwest US
I think this is an interesting idea. Qiviut and other animal fibers have been discussed as alternatives to down in this forum before.
I also looked up angora rabbits. A single angora rabbit will produce more fiber in a year than a cashmere goat:
A small herd of those and a Flowbee would provide plenty of insulation for all of your domestic and backcountry needs.Mar 25, 2013 at 11:44 am #1969402
Thank you for chiming in Colin–i've read some of your past posts and have tended to find them interesting and/or informative. Yes, Qiviut is interesting stuff too, but way too expensive to either buy the fiber, and i imagine quite hard to raise the animals! The average micron count of Qiviut and Angora Rabbit fur however, is quite similar, and they are both more truly hollow fibers, and so they should have a very similar warmth rating.
I've read some interesting studies (albeit somewhat oldish) which compared traditional/Native Artic clothing compared to more modern mountaineering and military clothing and found that the traditional stuff worked better as far as keeping you warm in these truly cold, Artic conditions. These usually use Carbiou which apparently has very densely packed, hollow fiber fur.
I'm no expert by any means, and while i do know that "loft" is quite important in warmth, i don't think it's the only major factor either. It is important for Down, since Down primarily relies on a combination of it's very, very fine fibrils and naturally lofty nature to provide excellent warmth.
But i'm thinking that even if the Angora rabbit fur does matt and felt some, even though the loft will be decreased, it won't be as much an issue as it would be with say Down. Reason being because of the rarish combination of rather hollow fibers and rather fine diameter size.
Most synthetics for example, either try to minic Down by re-creating the micro like fibrils (fibers) of Down, or they use hollow fibers, or they combine the two. However, the hollow fibers that synthetic makers use, still aren't that fine. It's apparently hard to create both hollow and micro sized fibers at the same time, especially any that have any natural resilance like Angora does.
A side note: It's interesting that Angora rabbits have not been adapted to truly Artic conditions like Qiviut, and yet they still have such extremely warm, warm fur. I've thought about this, and two reasons become apparent. Wild rabbits typically as a species have very lean bodies with little fat reserve or buildup, and two, they tend to be rather small animals, and so even in moderately cold conditions they would need very warm fur to stay warm enough, wheras an Arctic Musk Ox (Qiviut), has the large, thick, bulk mass and greater fat reserves plus the super fine, downy and hollow fiber undercoat.
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