I was recently given some rabbit angora fiber that had been in storage for at least 15 years and has a really bad wildlife smell to it. I'm new to spinning and this is my first experience with raw fiber of any form. I did a basic google search for washing angora and only got info about washing sweaters and that angora fiber doesn't need to be washed before spinning. How do I wash it to get the smell out without losing the softness? I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.
I don't know, so I'm going out on a limb here. Others, if I'm really off base, please inform me. I want to learn.
So, here goes. Does the smell really bother you? If not, just spin it up and wash it in yarn form. If it does here goes some ideas.
I'd place the locks...tufts in stacked layers with something mesh like in between and gently submerge them in cool or luke-warm soapy water. Let them soak then gently pull them out and do the same in a rinse. Repeat until the smell or soap was gone. A last rinse in some conditioner rinse will help cut the
You could try to place small amounts in a small garment washing bag. Do the same as above.
The softness shouldn't disappear from anything you do...unless it felts. They you have a nice cat toy. Experiment with a small amount first to see which you are willing to spend time doing.
On Joy of Handspinning and here, Tulasi Zimmer describes the fiber as clean from the animal. Yours is older and is smelly. Angora blends nicely with fine wool. Ms. Zimmer describes using fine handcarders to organize the fibers to make spinning easier. I know people who spin straight fluff as well.
Here's another washing adventure, so know you are not alone.
I wonder if - just to lessen the smell, without washing - you could # 1, let it air well, then # 2, seal it up with an open box of baking soda in a plastic bag for a few days? I've always heard the "angora is clean to spin straight from the animal" philosophy, & wondered if it also was a warning that angora is a real nuisance to wash before spinning. If you do wash it before spinning, don't be shocked to find it has gone from a great, fluffy, puff to a little wet, pathetic-looking rag of fiber during its bath - it will revive as it dries, & you gently tease it apart until it's nice & fluffy again. As Denise wrote, felting is the thing to avoid! I think I would try to spin before washing, myself. Good luck! LT