I’ve always loved the look of mid-century vintage beret hats — especially the ones that have an angora halo. There’s just something about that iconic angora halo that gives the hat such a romantic feel, and I love it! So, I decided to make one!
For this project, I’ll be spinning angora rabbit fiber to replicate a discontinued yarn and knit a vintage hat pattern from the 1960s. I walk through the process from carding and blending angora with merino wool on my drum carder, spinning and dyeing the yarn, to knitting a beautiful beret with a classic angora halo.
Watch the full video of this project on YouTube or keep reading to see how it turned out! This project was a part of a #AngoraBunnyCollab with other creators so you can also watch the full Angora playlist to see what we all created.
Let’s get spinning!
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The fiber for this project
I had some angora fiber that has been sitting in my stash for years. This is the last of the fiber I still have from my angora bunnies, Peaches and Gaston. I believe that the best angora fiber comes from pets who are lovingly brushed and cared for with lots of love and snuggles and treats. But, if you aren’t lucky enough to have your own Angora rabbits, you can source some Angora fiber for spinning on Etsy.
I also had this beautiful merino fiber sent to me from Pam who owns The Weaver’s Shuttle in New Mexico. The sheep’s name who grew the lovely fleece for us is “King” and his fiber is majestic! This is the same wool that I used to blend with the alpaca in my Blending Alpaca and Wool project. I thought it would be perfect for this project since it is a really fine fiber with a low micron count, so it’s really soft and luxurious.
Even more than alpaca, angora fiber has no elasticity. My plan to mitigate that lack of bounce is to blend the angora with merino to create an approximate 50/50 percent blend by weight and then spin a woolen lofty bouncy two-ply yarn.
The Pattern for This Project
Angora yarn was a popular yarn to use in hats, sweaters, and trims during the early 1900s and up through much of the 1960s and 1970s until mohair took over as the go-to yarn for creating a halo effect. Paton’s produced a now-discontinued line of yarn called Fuzzy Wuzzy, which was a four-ply fingering weight yarn of 55 percent angora and 45 percent wool. Many vintage knitting patterns suggest this yarn or similar blends by other companies.
As a hand spinner, I love that I can replicate historic yarns for projects. I found a pattern for a 1960s tam by Nostalgia Rules that is specifically made for Paton’s Fuzzy Wuzzy. The pattern calls for four balls of Fuzzy Wuzzy, for a total of 40 grams of yarn.
Carding the Fibers for This Project
Angora fibers are more fragile than wool because they don’t have elasticity. They can snap and break if they are processed too aggressively and that causes them to lose their halo. We don’t want that!
So, I carded the wool once first and then added in small layers of the angora for the second pass. I used my Brother Drum Carder for this. A carder with a TPI of 90 or higher is best for fine fibers like Angora.
The resulting bat was absolute luxury! It had the spring and bounce of wool with the Angora incorporated throughout.
Next, I split and weighed the bat into four pieces approximately the same size to get ready for spinning.
Spinning and Plying the Wool Angora Blend
I spun this fiber with a long draw technique on my Ashford Elizabeth spinning wheel. I set the spinning wheel up in double drive.
When spinning Angora, it is important to note that the fibers are slippery and can fall out of the yarn if they’re not spun tightly enough. However, also be careful not to spin it too tightly or the yarn won’t bloom, and we won’t get that halo effect in the hat. Do some testing and work on finding the ideal place between too much twist and not enough twist to get all of the benefits of the loftiness and softness of the fiber. Along the way, I checked with a ply backtest as I was spinning to make sure that the yarn was coming at the diameter and loftiness that I wanted.
Of course, since there will be more twists in the singles that are going to be somewhat removed when it is plied, the halo might not appear until the yarn is plied and the ends of the fibers are loose enough to bloom out. For me, 25 WPI was perfect.
Next, I dyed the yarn. You can see more about how I did that around the 10-minute mark in this video.
Knitting the Angora Hat
Before knitting, it is essential to swatch the Angora yarn. The delicate Angora fibers can be damaged from ripping back to fix a gauge problem, so check your gauge to make sure you end up with a hat that will fit your head.
Once your swatch is looking good, it’s time to knit the hat. Like many vintage hat patterns, this hat is knit flat and then seamed up when it is finished. However, in retrospect, I would have been more comfortable knitting on circular needles.
As you knit, the halo should start to bloom. The more you work with the yarn, the more it’s going to fluff up.
The Final Hat
I couldn’t have asked for a better project! I am giddy about how this hat turned out!
Would you put a pom pom on it or leave it with a little I-cord tab? Let me know in the comments. The pattern gave instructions for both.
Key Takeaways: Spinning Angora Rabbit Fiber into a Hat
Angora is definitely one of those yarns that you aren’t truly going to know what it looks like until it’s finished, and that can be a little scary and intimidating. But the thing is you have to try it to know what the finished state will look like. This Angora hat project was so fun and rewarding for me, so if you have Angora in your stash, I encourage you to play with it and see what it does and how you like it. And let me know how it turns out!
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