Saturday, February 28, 2009

Angora genetics -- Agouti colours


This is a continuation of the Joybilee Farm description of Angora rabbit genetics and colours.

The fawn rabbit is an agouti rabbit. Its fiber changes colour along the hair shaft. Its face, ears, and back are coloured and the stomach is light cream.




Agouti is the dominant gene. This means if a rabbit has the agouti gene it will be evident in its coat colouring. Self rabbits do not carry the agouti gene. Ruby Eyed White rabbits may carry the agouti gene but the albino gene masks it.
If you breed an agouti rabbit with a self rabbit the litter will have agouti babies in it.




The two rabbit colours and their dilute expression (Black, Chocolate, Blue and Lilac) also express in the agouti gene. Agouti rabbits with the black gene for colour are Chestnut rabbits--the wild rabbit colouring. Agouti rabbits with the Chocolate gene for colour are Chocolate Agouti. Blue agouti rabbits are called, Opal and Lilac Agouti rabbits are called Lynx. Copper Agouti rabbits have a surface colour of rufus red and are ticked with black tipped guard hairs.




All agouti rabbits have three bands of colour in each fiber length. The bands of colour will be evident when the angora rabbit's coat is opened. The surface colour determines the colour of the rabbit, with the order of the bands of colour defining specifically which colour it is.


The Chinchilla rabbit carries an agouti gene but it is expressed with only two colours repeated along the fiber length. Chinchilla is the black colour expression diluted to squirrel in rabbits that also carry the dilute expression to blue. Chocolate Chinchilla is the Chocolate colour expression diluted to lilac chinchilla in rabbits that also carry a dilute gene.


These 10 day old angora babies are (back to front) Chinchilla, Chestnut and Pearl. The pearl rabbit carries a shaded gene--evident by its nose shading. Their mother is a fawn rabbit and their father was an opal.
Even though there is such variety in acceptable Angora rabbit colours the wool from these rabbits and the yarn made with the wool will always fall into one of 4 colours -- white, fawn, Dark to light cool grey and dark to light warm grey.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Angora Bunny Adult Colours and Genetics

There are several ARBA approved angora colours and they can be cleanly defined into three main groups: White, Self and Agouti.




White Rabbits - the albino gene



White (aka Ruby Eyed White) carries an albino gene. This gene masks the genetic make up of the carrier rabbit so that its fur is pure white and its eye irises are ruby coloured -- actually transparent so that you can see the blood vessels in the eye. The albino rabbit (Ruby Eyed White) will transfer its genetic make up to its off Spring so looking at its litter will give you clues to its genetic make up -- if unknown.



Garnet is a REW female at Joybilee Farm.

















The albino gene is recessive so both parents must be carriers for the off spring to be REW.When a REW and a REW breed -- 100% of the off Spring are REW.



Self Rabbits:


A self rabbit is a solid coloured rabbit -- Its face, back and stomach are the same colour. There are two basic colours in rabbits - Black and Chocolate. These two colours can be diluted to Blue and Lilac, respectively.

Black is the dominant gene. Blue is a dilute gene of the Black. Chocolate is the other self colour -- recessive to black-- and lilac is the dilute gene of the chocolate.

Smoke is a Black female.















Chocolate Swirl is a chocolate female.



















In a breeding with a chocolate and lilac rabbit only chocolate and lilac colours can result in either selfs or tortes. Tortes have a shaded gene that expresses itself in self rabbits. They look golden or fawn but have the shading of their self genetics on face, ears and flanks. The shading isn't obvious until 4 to 6 weeks of age.

Topaz is a Lilac Torte female.














Earl Grey is a lilac male.











For the greatest variety in the nest box in self rabbits, a breeding of a black rabbit with a lilac rabbit will give black, blue, chocolate, and lilac babies as well as tortes in these self colours, and ruby eyed whites.




This breeding gives the greatest variety of natural angora colours for handspun yarns too -- fawn, white, charcoal and warm grey from one breeding.





Angora rabbits molt 4 times each year and release their wonderful warm fiber to be groomed from them. A french angora rabbit will provide approx. 450 grams of prime groomed angora fiber each year -- enough for a shawl or light sweater. I'll tell you more next week.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Angora Yarn Colours

The angora yarn comes out a muted shade of the bunny's colour. There are many different angora colours recognized by the ARBA. However, angora fiber is either white, cream, fawn, charcoal grey or warm grey. There are shaded greys and fawns that are more or less red, but these are the basic yarn colours coming from the angora rabbit.





In a clockwise direction beginning at 12 oclock -- grey from a blue rabbit, fawn, warm grey from a chocolate rabbit, white, charcoal grey from a black rabbit.





When angora yarn is freshly spun the it doesn't look as luxurious as it feels. But as it is knitted with the halo begins to develop.



This is actually an advantage, since it is easier to see the individual stitches should one have to frog the garment back to correct a mistake. The fiber blooms over time until it resembles a fine fur garment. Sometimes it even hides the stitch definition, the halo is so pronounced. I like to take advantage of this trait of angora to resemble fine fur, as I design garments that accentuate it.





Angora is 8 times warmer than wool. Garments that take advantage of this trait are open to allow the heat to escape. Ponchos, shawls, shrugs, hats and fingerless gloves are the perfect garments for angora -- capitalizing on the insulating advantages of angora yarn, yet allowing for the body to be cool as well.





See Joybilee farm for patterns that capitalize on angora's softness, and warmth.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Angora Colours


This litter is only 2 days old. You can already see the fawn, ruby eyed white and broken black babies. There are 2 agoutis in this litter that aren't so easy to identify at this stage.



Here is a litter with a group of agouti babies. The top one is a chinchilla, the middle one is a chestnut, the other is a lilac pearl.









This litter has 3 tortes -- a chocolate torte and two lilac tortes, a ruby eyed white and two pearls. The pearl rabbits have nose and flank shading with a white or cream undercoat.





This litter from left to right: Chocolate, chocolate torte, ruby eyed white, blue, 2 black and lilac.

Here is a chocolate and a lilac side by side. These two rabbits both carry the chocolate genetics but the lilac rabbit carries a dilute gene that allows the chocolate colour to be expressed as lilac. A blue rabbit is a black rabbit genetically that carries the dilute gene that allows the black colouring to be expressed as blue. Black, Blue, Chocolate and Lilac are all self colours -- their underbelly is the same colour as their back.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Angora Rabbit colours

Our Spring litters are beginning to arrive. We've had two litters of baby French Angora rabbits so far.


I thought you'd like to see the colours and learn how to discern a colour in the nest box.



Baby rabbits are born naked, with their eyes closed. They begin to grow fur right away and in a few days you can begin to see the colours. They open their eyes on the 10th day and by 3 weeks are vigorously active and hopping out of the nest. They begin to eat their mother's food right away.















The rabbit colours change a bit as the fibre grows out. Self rabbits -- those that are genetically solid coloured -- Black, Chocolate, Blue or Lilac are identifiable within a week of birth. Their stomachs are the same colour as their backs. Ruby eyed whites can usually be identified as soon as their eyes open at 10 day.



The mother of this litter, Crystal, is a ruby eyed white rabbit. The sire was a Chocolate rabbit. Crystals dam was a black. This tells us that these are all self rabbits -- 1 chocolate, 5 lilacs and 2 Ruby Eyed whites carrying a chocolate gene and possibly the dilute gene that makes chocolate express itself as lilac.


The Tortes need some time to grow before you can tell if they are a Torte, a blue torte, chocolate torte or lilac torte. Their self colour genetics show up in the shading of their face, ears, and flanks. Genetically a torte is a self rabbit with a dilute gene that shows the torte features. A fawn rabbit could be mistaken for a torte but the fawn rabbit is an agouti rabbit and the torte is a self rabbit genetically. The agouti colours all have paler stomach fur than the fur on their backs.


Honey's litter is another self litter. Honey is a ruby eyed white rabbit. Her babies are chocolate, 2 chocolate torte, and 3 ruby eyed whites. These baby bunnies are 4 weeks old.






Here is an adult lilac torte rabbit -- Topaz. You can see the shading on her face and ears. Her sides have a very slight shading. This shading is more pronounced in chocolate tortes and regular torte rabbits.















Fawn rabbits are genetically black rabbits with an agouti gene and a dilute gene. Their colouring is a bit redder than the torte rabbit since they lack the shading on the flank. Fawn rabbits have a paler, cream coloured underbelly.
















I love fawn angora fiber for its colour -- the tips are reddish and the length of the fiber is cream coloured. The halo looks stunning with a fair complexion.

I'm spinning fawn angora right now. I've got 8 bobbins of singles yarn spun so far.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Puppy Love

Donder has puppies., born February 19, 2009.


















8 puppies - 4 boys; 4 girls. Mom is a pure bred Great Pyranees and Dad is a pure bred Maremma. Both are working parents. These puppies should be very good livestock guardian dogs.

Donder is so in love with her litter of puppies that she doesn't want to leave them to go outside of the barn.











Friday, February 20, 2009

Livestock Guardian Dogs

We have 3 livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) to watch over our farm and our flock. By using LGDs we avoid conflict with local predators -- they walk around our farm in their trek through the neighborhood.



Our first Great Pyranees, Missy, is the most wonderful animal. Her instict is to patrol the perimeter of her territory -- a radius of about 1/3rd km around our barns and home. She barks if she senses a predator in the area and will boldly run toward a predator -- bear, coyote, cougar -- keeping just out of reach, as she worries them away from those she loves.



She is a devoted companion to our family and would rather be talked to and petted than eat. She also dotes on the goats and sheep and will guard any young one that is weak or away from its mother. We have known her to guard wild fawns and their mothers if she finds the young deer within her territory - much to the dismay of the resident gardener. Missy is a spade female.



Her companion, Donder, also a pb Great Pyranees, has the secondary guarding position. She will sit by the animals in the paddock and watch the perimeter unless a predator comes out of the woods. Then she is ferocious, barking and backing up Missy. Last summer she killed a large ferret, that had killed one of our chickens and continued to hang around. Donder is lying down in the background of the picture.



Our LDGs love people and are the first to greet human visitors when they visit. They've never been aggressive toward any of our farm guests. They are especially fond of little people.



Our male LDG is a pb Maremma, Gelato -- in the foreground of this picture. His nature is different than the two girls. He is shy of people preferring to be with his flock. He has his favorites and checks on their well being several times a day. At meal times he jumps over the fence and comes for his meal. Then he goes back over the fence to stay with the flock. He only barks if something is amiss -- coyotes are in the distance or a weasel is in the yard.



A few times a day he goes for a long walk around the perimeter of his territory -- a larger territory than the girls-- marking, and then he jumps the fence, back in with his flock. He isn't the kind of boy that wants to be a companion of humans but he does his job well.



In the winter the animals live in the barn at night so the dogs are in the barn, too. In the summer the dogs guard all night to keep the bears away. Last year a bear attacked two of our llamas during the night -- we had put the dogs in the barn with the flock but left the llamas out. The llamas healed from their injuries. The dogs are now on duty during the short summer nights.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Website Updates


I've spent the month working on massive website updates and cleanup. I got rid of all the unlinked pages and added our logo to every page for those who get to our site via search engine.

Then on Saturday, I figured out how to convert our farm brochure into a pdf file and upload it.


Yes, I'm a learn as I go web designer. I think most of us are with all the changes that happen every month on the web. The site is low on moving graphics so it loads easily in dial up.


The biggest job seemed to be updating the webrings with our ecofriendly, sustainable ethos. But the clean up is all done. I think all the links are working now, too.


My next job is picture updates and new content.


I also registered a new url http://www.boundaryartisans.ca/ Purchasing a website is so easy and affordable now. There's no excuse for a fibre arts business not having their own.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Peace Banner


Today I wound the warp for the Peace Banner. 34 threads each of 7 colours. The final banner will be 30 inches wide by 30 ft. long.


To commemorate the IYNF we, along with the Boundary Spinner and Weaver Guild, are weaving a permanent legacy, a Peace Banner. A loom will be set up at the Grand Forks Art Gallery from March 3 to September 21. Every one is invited to share in the weaving. A basket of threads, rag strips, and ribbons is beside the loom, with pens. Thoughts, blessings, quotes, and prayers may be written on strips of cloth and woven into the banner. A guest book will be beside the loom where participants can write their name, home town and thoughts or comments.

As each one weaves we will create a tapestry of peace that will become a community expression of Peace – a symbol of how peace can be achieved by individual actions of justice and mercy which build together into a fabric of peace.

The final Peace Banner will be unfurled from the loom on International Peace Day, Monday, September 21. The Peace Banner will be completed by members of the Boundary Spinner and Weaver Guild and presented, as a lasting legacy, to the Art Gallery during International Spinning and Weaving week, October 3 to 9th. The Peace Banner and book will become part of the Gallery’s permanent collection and be available for display in public buildings in the region.

The Peace Banner

To commemorate the IYNF we, along with the Boundary Spinner and Weaver Guild, are weaving a permanent legacy, a Peace Banner. A loom will be set up at the Grand Forks Art Gallery from March 3 to September 21. Every one is invited to share in the weaving. A basket of threads, rag strips, and ribbons is beside the loom, with pens. Thoughts, blessings, quotes, and prayers may be written on strips of cloth and woven into the banner. A guest book will be beside the loom where participants can write their name, home town and thoughts or comments.

As each one weaves we will create a tapestry of peace that will become a community expression of Peace – a symbol of how peace can be achieved by individual actions of justice and mercy which build together into a fabric of peace.

The final Peace Banner will be unfurled from the loom on International Peace Day, Monday, September 21. The Peace Banner will be completed by members of the Boundary Spinner and Weaver Guild and presented, as a lasting legacy, to the Art Gallery during International Spinning and Weaving week, October 3 to 9th. The Peace Banner and book will become part of the Gallery’s permanent collection and be available for display in public buildings in the region.

A good nights sleep

The Sleeping Comfort Study - conducted by The Woolmark Company and the University of Sydney, funded by Australian Wool Innovation - has shown that through the development of a Thermal Comfort Rating System, wool is the natural choice for bedding products.Combining human and laboratory trials, the study examined more than 30 wool and non-wool 'over' and 'under' body bedding products by testing them in a range of temperature and relative humidity environments to establish a rating of sleeper comfort.

The study clearly demonstrated that wool bedding products:

Breathe more naturally than synthetic products
Increase the duration of the most beneficial phase of sleep known as REM, or Rapid Eye Movement
Regulate body temperature by ensuring the body gets to a comfortable sleeping temperature more quickly - and stays there for longer

Other advantages of wool -- Its eco friendly, biodegradable and its a renewable resource.
Wool bedding allows you to turn the thermostat down and use less fossil fuels, since it retains your own body heat.
Its long lasting, and it stays fresh longer.
Naturally Flame resistant
Helps with back pain by keeping in your body heat

Wow! Great motivation to create a jean quilt with a wool batt liner for the bed, maybe a wool bed, too. I slept on one once while visiting our friends in Ft. MacLeod. What a wonderful way to stay warm and sleep well. Someday I'm going to make one for us. Right now we have a wool blanket under the mattress cover.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Homestead Happenings


Last week the hayshed collapsed flat into the snow. We thought that it was the heavy snow, but on closer inspection, it appears that the big timbers used to build it were not treated and it rotted off at ground level. Then a wind walked by and gave it a push.

The good news is no one was hurt and the hay underneath it was almost gone. Robin hadn’t gone to get the last 300 bales from the hay farmer yet. We have two months to clean it up before we are “open” and it poses a hazard to the public.

Robin wanted to build a hay shed closer to the animals and is hoping to salvage some of the roofing materials to use for that project. The old timbers will be cut into firewood, after all the nails and fencing are removed from them. What a big job!

It may need to wait till the snow is Gone.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Therapeutic Benefits of Angora



Angora is one of the most exquisite, light and beautiful fibers in the world. It is sought after for its natural fur-like halo and its insulating and warming powers. But its remarkable beauty is only one of its many benefits.


Angora fiber is 8 times warmer than wool and is doctor-prescribed in Europe for the relief of pain, without drugs. Arthritis pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress ailments, and back pain will all benefit from angora wraps and garments. It is valuable as an insulator for joints and extremities and beneficial for illnesses that inhibit circulation, such as diabetes, chilblains, and heart disease.


Although wearing angora and other natural fibers will not heal these diseases, wearing angora and angora blends in garments that cover the affected parts of the body, can increase warmth, circulation and relieve pain, increasing freedom of movement in the affected area.


How it works. The fine angora fibers, with their halo, trap warm air against the body and increase the blood flow to the part of the body that they are encircling. As the blood flow increases it removes toxins and lactic acid from the affected area and brings oxygenating nourishment to the affected body part. This in turn brings relief of pain. This is the same principle that therapeutic massage works on.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Weaving Farm work with life






Farm work is unending. Robin is fixing a hole in the fence with help from Panther, the cat, Gelato our pb Marema guardian dog, and Mocha the llama cria.








Inside I'm weaving a stash reduction project. This is weft for "Twice Woven Rug". I'm using three to 7 strands of old weaving yarn for each pick. The final 10 yds of fabric will be cut lengthwise to form chenille weft for a rug.






It seems like the warp groups are too close together to cut between them. I followed the directions from Harriot Tidballs "Twice Woven Rug" monograph. If I do this again I will space them with half the number of ends per inch. This one has 8 ends per inch -- 4 ends per dent with 4 spaces between dents in an 8 dpi reed. I think 7 spaces between dents would be better.






Saturday, February 07, 2009

Woad Blues

Here's the student's experiments:

The dye yield of 20 grams of woad-indigo pigment was 700 grams of wool, silk and mohair.



The colours are so...well...blue. All my favorite blues from deep ultramarine to sky. That's why I love woad. The colour is a different blue than Indian Indigo -- clearer and more noble -- less yellow tone. More toward the purples.



Also not as strong as the Pitchi Reddy indigo (India) from Maiwa -- that will dye about 3 kg. with the same weight of dye powder.



But the colour is different and well, it grew on our own ground, organically, sustainably. It took 4 to 5 kg. of leaves to produce the 20 grams of woad. But woad is a generous plant and grows lots of leaves. 3 harvests are possible in our short, zone 3 growing season. Warmer places will have better yields and more generous harvests.



We sell woad seed from an improved selection of woad plants.

Friday, February 06, 2009

International Year of Natural Fibers


The Boundary Spinner and Weaver Guild is initiating several events in 2009 to celebrate the IYNF. http://www.gobc.ca/BoundarySpinWeave

We have received permission to utilize the logo for IYNF2009 and are listed in the official events on the organization’s website. These events include an Art Gallery show, “Our Daily Thread”, A GF Museum show, “The Thread of our Heritage” and two summer events in conjunction with Joybilee Farm “2nd annual Indigo Dye Demonstration” and “2nd annual Linen Festival”.
The Peace Banner:

There will be a loom set up at the art gallery from March to September, for the public to participate in weaving a “Peace banner” for the community in commemoration of the IYNF2009.
The banner will be a “rag banner” in the tradition of rag rug weaving common in many Canadian immigrant textile traditions. Strips of natural fibre fabrics upcycled from clothing or from the scrap bag, in many colours will form the weft. Visitors will be invited to write on a strip of fabric a hope or dream for peace. And then weave this fabric into the banner.
A guest book will be beside the loom for people to record their name, where they live and any thoughts they wish to express. This will provide a lasting legacy that will be displayed in area buildings on a rotating basis, and will become part of the Art Gallery’s permanent collection.