Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rabbit Kit Cowl for Lydia

I think for most fiber animals, the wool from babies is more desirable than wool from adults.  However, this is not true for angora rabbits.  The fiber from the back and sides of adult rabbits is far superior to anything obtained from junior rabbits and kits.  Junior fiber is generally too soft (if such a thing were possible--not in my world!) and it can mat very easily.  Out of the ten kits in this litter, only Velvet, the self-black, needed next to no grooming and had only two or three tiny tangles.  Shirley was gone as soon as he was ten weeks old, so there were eight rabbits left to comb.

The eight kits produced over 1.4 ounces of fiber in four different colors: white, sable agouti (a light gray), chestnut (a darker gray), and fawn (cream).

I decided that Lydia should have something knit from these kits to remember this remarkable litter (she'll gross over $850 from them, and net about $720).  Because there were so many little tangles, I needed a project where that wouldn't be a problem.  And I needed something that would be quick to knit, as I wanted to enter it in the Nevada State Fair, in the Nevada Home Grown hand spun and hand knit competition.  I really should have started thinking about that a lot sooner.

Anyway, I wanted to use all the different colors, so I spun each color for about twenty minutes before changing colors.  I then Navajo plied the yarn to keep the colors separate from one another.

Lydia didn't like the resulting colors of the yarn.  Truth be told, neither did I.  I think I would have liked it better knitted up, but we'll never know for sure.

So I asked Lydia if she wanted me to dye the yarn.  She wanted a light blue.  I used sapphire blue from Dharma Dye.  I tried to make it light.  I failed.  But Lydia liked the color anyway.

I forgot to take a picture of the dyed skein before knitting.  Oops.  

I had selected this pattern to use for the cowl.  I think it's beautiful and thought it would work really well with the yarn.  Simple Mohair Lace Scarf - Purl Avenue

But I was in a hurry.  I had only six days left to finish it before it needed to be entered in the fair.  After knitting about an inch, I decided it just wasn't going to work.  So I had to look for another pattern.


This is the one I settled on, the Cashmere Cowl by Purlbee.

I decided to use size 9 needles instead of size 8.  I think that was a mistake.  And because I was making it for Lydia, I made it slightly smaller.

Here's how it turned out.

Now, off to the fair. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Buck or Doe?

Sarah, one of the buyers that contacted us last week, asked our thoughts on whether it was better to get a buck or a doe.  No one had ever asked this question of us before, so we were a little surprised.  It has been our experience that does are in much greater demand than bucks.  There are two reasons for this.  One, I think, is that most people think that does are nicer in general than bucks.  The second reason, of course, is that if you want to have kits, you need a doe, and if you are planning to become a breeder, you need only one buck, but you probably want two or three does. 

However, if I were to have only one French angora rabbit, all other factors being equal, I would choose a buck. 


Well, because in general bucks are nicer than does.  Most does eventually want to have kits.  If they don't get bred, they may get rather cranky about it and start nipping.  Nobody likes that.  On the other hand, bucks are very lovey-dovey.  At least the ones we have here are.

Now of course bucks aren't perfect.  They have a downside, too.  They sometimes spray.  Some people put spray guards around the bottom edges of the cage.  Others hang shower curtains.  We keep all the bucks on one side of the barn and hang a tarp to protect the wall. 

Sarah had originally planned to get a doe, but changed her mind after getting our opinion on bucks and does.  She'll be taking Arven home next week.  She should probably call him Lover Boy instead.  We had all the remaining kits inside for some playtime last week, and this sweetie pie refused to go play.  He kept jumping up on the couch and wanting to be held.  Just thinking about it now makes me feel so guilty for continuing to put him back down on the floor.  I could almost run out to the bunny barn right now and scoop him up.  But it's almost midnight.  Maybe tomorrow.

Bunny Bonanza

We don't do Facebook, which according to our 4-H president is the way to advertise rabbits.  We usually sell one at every ARBA show we go to.  But most of our rabbits are sold through Craigslist.  I listed Lydia's litter of ten on June 29 both here in Reno and in Modesto, CA, where my dad and stepmother live.  (We visit them often and so we can deliver rabbits along the way.)

And we heard nothing.  Not a single inquiry for four days. 

Then boom.  It seems like all I did on July 3 was respond to inquiries from five different people.  And what was amazing was that they were all interested in different rabbits.  Two people were local and three were in California. 

Sarah wanted to come by almost immediately to meet her choice, Arven, a buck with a superior body but unfortunately, an unshowable color.  She's getting into spinning and dyeing.  And she wants to learn everything possible and be completely prepared to take him home.  We love that!  So we spent about an hour with her on Saturday.  

As we were going to be heading down to Turlock to visit Grandpa on Monday, we were able to offer to meet the Californians along the way.  Julie was our first stop in Elk Grove.  She needed another REW (one of Charlotte's rabbits, as Lydia didn't have any REWs in this litter) to enter in the state fair.  He lacked a bit in body, but he made up for it with fabulous density in his coat.  We are anxious to hear how he did at the fair.  Jordyn was our next buyer.  We met her in Lodi and delivered her new chestnut doe. 

Grace came to Grandpa's house the next day with her mom and four or five sisters (we love large families!) to pick up Velvet, a self-black doe that we all considered the pick of the litter.  With so many girls in the family, we know that Velvet will be very well spoiled.  All French angoras should be so lucky.  We really look forward to seeing Grace and Velvet at some of the shows. 

Genevieve couldn't see us before we left for Turlock, so we made tentative plans for meeting on Friday after we returned.  She chose Ella, another perfect bunny were it not for being an ermine, which is an unshowable color.  As I groomed her a bit before Genevieve's arrival, I kept wondering whether we were foolish to sell her.  She has really fabulous wool.  I thought about getting a certificate of development for ermines.  But I decided that might be more work than I am ready for at this time.  I raise girls to become young women.  My girls raise rabbits.  Raising quality girls takes a lot of time, so raising quality rabbits (for me) will have to wait for now. 

Anyway, we spent about an hour Friday afternoon with Genevieve, and then she took Ella home.

And I know a blog is supposed to have pictures.  I can't believe I forgot to take pictures every single time we sold a rabbit this week.  Better luck next time.