Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Never Look Back in Angora

"I can't go there, I get so angoraphobic." I couldn't see her face, but I admired the back of her long cabled coat. Did I hear correctly? How could a woman with such a smart coat say something... well... so stupid? She paid for her coffee and turned to leave — her face blocked by her cell phone clad hand. How did she look? I wasn't willing to lose my place in the coffee line to ask "Are you really afraid of long-haired rabbits?" Angora is a fiber of great antiquity, it's noted for it's light-weight warmth and soft silkiness. Named after the Turkish capital of Ankara, it's popularity came about during the Ottoman Empire (13th century). It's made from the fur of the long-haired Angora Rabbit.

ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) recognizes four breeds of this luxury Lapin: English, French, Satin, and Giant — each varying in cuteness and productivity. Weighing in at 10 pounds, the Giant Angora Rabbit is the most popular. But this big-ass bunny is prized for its its ability to produce three types of wool from it's fur. Underwool, Awn Fluff, and Awn vary in paramount degrees of flufferocity. The Giant breed is also albino which makes it ideal for dying. 100% Angora Rabbit yarn is hand-spun due to its "slick" quality. It requires almost no tension to the wheel and a skilled hand. Commercially, it is spun with up to 30% merino wool, or run with nylon or cotton chord to give it tensile strength.

Gimme Mo' Hair

The word "mohair" comes from "mukhayyar", a type of head covering worn by the Arab men woven from the fine fibers of the Turkish Angora Goat. The use of Mohair precedes the use of rabbit fur. Mohair fibers increase in diameter with the Angora Goat's age. The younger goats yeild a finer quality fabric, and the thicker hair from older animals are used to weave fine carpets and heavy fabrics. Despite the suave quality, mohair can be irritating to the skin.

Angora and Mohair conjure glamorous images of the1950's sweater girl or starlets like Lana Turner. But during WWII, the U.S. Government subsidized wool and mohair farmers in an agreement to outfit our military. The Angora/Mohair/Wool blends were used to make blankets, uniforms, bomber jackets and socks. This blend had a "wicking" property that carriesd moisture away from the skin of the wearer. It kept our troupes fabulously warm and dry. B-movie maven Ed Wood would agree.

The Turks also bred a variety of domestic cat also known as the Angora. This fuzzy feline is not used for fiber, but I'm certian that somewhere out there there's a crazy old lady who has made an entire winter wardrobe from a few generations of these lazy lap creatures.

Wide Open Spaces

Agoraphobia is a serious anxiety disorder brought on by public places where one might not feel safe. An agoraphobic might have an episode in a stadium, a bar, or an East Village poetry slam. Drug company research has found it might be linked to Serotonin Deficiency Syndrome (SDS). On the other hand Claustrophobia is an irrational fear of confined places such as a an elevator, a car trunk, an airshaft— almost anything a shifty realtor would sell as a "cozy" one-bedroom.

Angora Anxiety Disorder (Angoraphobia) is brought about by "sticker shock". Rowan Kid Silk Haze goes for about $14.00 per 25g ball. Treatment may be found in taking incrimental steps — such as wearing mohair blends or baby alpaca, or perhaps visiting the rabbit pen at a petting zoo. But most anxiety disorders can be managed with regular therapy and same the SSRI medication used to treat chronic or mild depression.

There is no cure for Shifty Realtor Syndrome (SRS).

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