This, my friends, is an angora rabbit. We all have days when we feel like this, no? They are raised for their fine angora coats and to give other rabbits a fit of the giggles.
The lady who hosted those spinning lessons I told you about kept these rabbits in her garage, right beside the stone grinder she used to grind her own wheat into flour which she used in her bread that (oh yes, I do not lie) she Baked Every Day.
Back to the rabbits...
Despite their cute and fluffy appearance, her wascally wabbits were wild and wooly in the truest sense. They struggled and bit her like rabid vampires when she brushed them. In all fairness to the bunny, wouldn't you if you looked like this and someone tried to brush you? But she seemed to think it was worth the effort and I had to sort of agree after I fondled one of her lacy scarves made of an angora/silk mix. What was that? Silk, I hear you say. Why, wherever did she get raw silk to spin?
Yes, the same woman who raised the hairy bunnies and ground her own wheat berries also raised silk worms in her basement.
Here is a silk worm. Not nearly as cuddly as the bunny, but these don't bite and scratch.
You do, however, have to get past the ick factor. I don't mind. I'll take worms over rabbits any day. We had a rabbit as a pet when the kids were young which we dubbed The Killer Bunny. If you're familiar with Monty Python skits, you'll know what I'm talking about. We were assured by the pet store guy that it was a male and very cuddly but it turned out to be high strung and totally irrational and unpredictable in its behavior. I wouldn't have thought there could be so much energy in such a tiny, furry little body, but this rabbit scared the bejeezus out of me.
There was no way anyone could even stroke it, let alone hold it. (An aside: I just asked Eldest in the other room, "What was the name of our bunny?" and she said, "You mean Killer Bunny? The Monty Python Bunny? Did it even have a name?")
In order to change its cage, I had to lock myself with the rabbit in a closed room. I dressed in a long, thick winter coat, and my husband's leather work gloves as Bunny had a tendency to leap from the ground, bite a leg and retreat. Did you read that? It could, and did, Leap From The Ground and bite our legs.
The last straw for me (like biting my leg wasn't enough) was when I gently picked it up to put it back in its cage, and it screamed in a pitch so high and unearthly that all the hairs on my body stood on end. It was like receiving an electric shock. I didn't think rabbits could even made that sound. T
So back to the silkworms. These are the cocoons from which the silk is unraveled and spun.
Cool silkworm factoids:
Fact: The only thing silk worms eat is mulberry leaves. Fact: My next door neighbour has two mulberry bushes in her front yard. Food for thought. And for silk worms.
Fact: Unlike spiders, the silk comes out of the silkworm's mouth, and the silk is actually hardened saliva. Fact: That fashionable silk blouse is made of worm spit.
Fact: The silkworm moves its head in a figure 8 patterns as it produces the silk. Fact: Not 7, and never 9 or 2.
Fact: Each silk worm cocoon, about 2 inches long, produces one unbroken strand of silk about a mile long. Fact: This is about how long my weekly grocery bags would be if you lined them up, end to end.
Fact: It takes 1,000 cocoons to produce about 4 ounces of raw silk. Fact: This is enough for one shirt. No seriously. It's enough for one shirt. And it takes 2,000 for one dress.
Right now I can drive to the wool shop down the road and just pick up some silk worms someone else raised. But I'm thinking there might be room in my house for a few.
How hard could it be? It's got to be easier than goats or llamas or little bunny rabbits.