Sunday, December 28, 2008

new hand painted Super Angorino Tops and Bunnycare. part two

Mickey, our funny English Angora Bunny with his antenna up !
(Mickey has a lazy ear that he can put up when he wants to, but most of the time he just lets the one ear work as his antenna.
He is a very cute super fluffy english angora)

By now you must have come to the conclusion that I cannot sit still and, better still, want to share all my dyeing, spinning and bunny adventures with you ! I have been warning everybody about the new Super Angorino tops that I was working on and well, here they are! Like I said I only have 1 kilo to share with all of you at the moment. So, when you want to try out 15micron merino tops blended with some yummy english angora, please do not hesitate to ring the bell and stalk me ! The tops are compact, brilliant in colour and texture and super fine spinnable! Just divide the tops into super thin pencil rovings, spin to your hearts content and you will be amazed how super fine you can spin! Brush the fibres up afterwards for that soft glowy look.

Special Super Angorino Hand Painted Tops

(90% 15micron merino+10%angora bunny)

"Rainbow Bunny" 100g AU$20 (sold)

"Sunny Bunny" 100g AU$20 (sold)

"Flower Power Bunny" 100g AU$20 (sold)

"Bush Bunny" 100g AU$20 (1 left)

"Kookaburra Bunny" 100g AU$20 (sold)

Angorino hand painted tops (95% 18-20 micron merino+5% angora bunny)

"Kangaroo Bunny" 150-160g AU$19 (2 left)

"Bush Bunny" 150-160g AU$19 (1 left)

"Funky Bunny" 150-160g AU19(1 left)

"Rock'n'Roll Bunny" 150-160g AU$19 (sold)

"Surfin' Bunny" 150-160g AU$19 (sold)

"Opal Bunny" 150-160g AU19 (sold)

Hand painted Mulberry Peace Silk Tops (peace silk=good Karma silk=animal friendly silk, no animal was hurt making this silk !)

"Yarra Valley Bush Flower Silk Swirl" hand painted Mulberry silk tops 50g AU$23

"Barossa Valley Silk Swirl" hand painted Mulberry silk tops 50g AU$23

"Desert Flower silk Swirl" handpainted Mulberry silk tops 50g AU$23

"Happy Day Silk Swirl" hand painted Mulberry Silk tops 50g AU$23

"Berry Blossom Silk Swirl" hand painted Mulberry Silk tops 50g AU$23

Hand Spun and hand painted Pure English Angora Yarn plied with Australian Cashmere
(12wpi, 42-45 meters per 25grams)

"Sunny Bunny" Angora Yarn 125grams available in 25gram skeins

"Summer Rainbow Bunny" Angora Yarn 231grams available in 9 skeins

Bambi, our golden fawn english angora bunny
Bunny Care, Part 2

English Angora rabbits require a high protein high fibre diet. The protein is necessary for wool growth and the fiber is necessary for lessening the problem of woolblock. The following mixture works very well:
4 parts of l7% - l8% protein rabbit pellets,
l part of Calf-Manna + barley + wheat + sunflower seed with shell,
l part of whole oats,

The above grains are available in feed stores , not grocery stores. In addition, by feeding the same amount in each feeding, the owner will have a good idea whether the rabbit is in a normal state or not. If the dish is empty before the next feeding, generally speaking, the rabbit is doing fine. If there are leftovers in the dish for a couple of feedings, the owner better carefully check on the rabbit to see whether the water bottle is functioning well; whether the rabbit is suffering from diarrhea, woolblock or even maggot infestation.
I feed each rabbit l/3 cup of the above mixture in the morning and l/3 cup in the evening. Nursing does require 2/3 to l cup per feeding. I also feed a large handful of hay at night and a piece of treat in the afternoon. Sometimes I give wild bird seed to help clean up the rabbits' digestive tract. It is available in grocery stores as well as in feed stores. Angoras enjoy alfafa hay, grass hay and oat hay. Alfafa hay is rich in protein but quite messy to use. When buying Alfafa hay, select the bale which looks green and fresh from the outside, preferably with the dried leaves attached to the stems. The yellowish ones are too dry and leaves will fall out in the rabbits cage. The rabbit enjoy alfafa but the grass and oat hay are the ones which provide the roughrage necessary to prevent wool block. Also feeding Alfalfa or Lucerne to a pregnant doe will make that the offspring is predominantly male! It appears that it doesn't let enough Iodine into the foetus and a female foetus needs iodine to develop ! Clover does the same thing, so be careful and rather feed it oats, grass or prairy hay. Timothy hay is by far the best fibre content wise and we always feed it when our little ones are in need of some critical care.

Most English Angora rabbits enjoy almost all possible treats: dry bread (especially dry french bread), grass (fresh wild weed grass, not lawn clippings since they mostly contain residues of fertilizer and spray), greens, oranges, apples, carrots, melons, plums, grapefruits, peaches, corn, corn stalks, etc. A variety of food can give them different nutrients. Never overdo it, however. Small portions give them enjoyment; large quantities give them diarrhea. When giving treats, if the rabbit does not consume them right away, make sure that wool does not stick to the treat. If there is wool on the treat, remove the wool or discard the treat to lessen the chance of woolblock.
Angora rabbits can die from woolblock. The dying process is slow and painful - when the rabbit's stomach is full of wool, the rabbit cannot eat, and he starves to death. Cats and dogs can vomit when there is a hairball; rabbits cannot. For short haired rabbits, hairballs are a problem, but not nearly as great of a problem as with Angora rabbits. For Angora rabbits, hairball, or woolblock, is the No. l killer. Many Angora rabbits die unnecessarily young.
For woolblock, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The following practice may prevent woolblock from ever starting:
I give a large handful of hay each day. The rabbit receives grass hay and/or oat hay everyday.
Wildbird seed mix
Some rabbits love this mix. Once or twice a month, I withhold the regular rabbit feed and give 1/4 cup of this mix as a substitute. There was a case many years ago in which one of my rabbits became blocked and went off feed. She would not eat anything for several days. When I offered her this mix, she nibbled some. I decided to give her this mix solely. After one week she passed the wool mass and has been normal.
"Marble watching"
Droppings tell you the condition of the rabbit's health. Watching these marbles is another task for a conscientious breeder. If the droppings are round, moist, dark-brown and evenly large, the rabbit is in good health. If the droppings start to look like a "necklace", droppings being connected by strings of wool, you should pay more attention to the rabbit. If he is still eating the normal amount of feed and drinking normal amount of water, he probably is still healthy. If not, he may be blocked. If the droppings start to be of uneven size, some big and some small, irregularly shaped, with light colour and a dry look, this is a sign of wool in the system. If the rabbit is not eating well, that provides further evidence he is blocked. If the rabbit stops eating, excretes few droppings, and these droppings look oily and gluey or totally dry, he may be near the end of the rope.
What do you do if the rabbit is blocked?
First, remove all of the wool. It may also be wise to use a superstrength enzyme instead of the maintenance-oriented enzyme used weekly. One possible enzyme is called "Prozyme". I'd use the mixture of Prozyme with banana or Prozyme with Ensure to help add enzyme and nutrients to the rabbit. Use a syringe to administer the mixture into the rabbits mouth. At this time, since the rabbit probably has stopped eating, Ensure also helps to prevent dehydration. If one follows the above method closely, the rabbit usually comes out of the woolblock in about a week. If the blockage is too large to be pushed out, some veterinarians are able to surgically removed the woolball. Woolblock, however, is not totally reversible unless the woolball is removed by surgery. Once the rabbit is blocked, he is likely to become blocked again, because some of the woolball in the system cannot be totally forced out. Keep an eye on this rabbit to detect reoccurrences of the problem.
English Angoras as well as other rabbits, are susceptible to heat, drafts and wetness. In the winter time, make sure they are well protected from wind, rain and snow. In the summer time if the temperature is over 30c, put an ice bottle in the cage. An ice bottle is a two-liter soda pop bottle filled with water and frozen solid. When the temperature is over 35c rabbits can easily die from heat exhaustion if they are not cooled.
Rabbits need exercise just like people. Since an English Angora rabbit's coat can pick up dirt, leaves and stickers from the ground, it is necessary to confine him in a clean area.
If you choose in-house exercise, you should rabbit-proof the areas your rabbit is allowed to visit. Rabbits can do great damage to electrical cords of all types. If the power happens to be on when the rabbit is chewing, he can die from electrocution.
If you choose an outdoor exercise area, the ideal set up will have a solid fence, large lawn, no predators, no swimming pool, a little sun with lots of shade and some tasty greens available for digging and munching. Not all yards satisfy these requirements. One possible way to come close to this is to construct an exercise pen and move it to areas on the lawn or patio under a tree.
Here is a satisfactory method for constructing a playpen from lx2" welded cage wire. Panels approximately 30" long can be cut from a roll of 24 - 36" in width. (Be sure to cut off all the short bits of protruding wire after cutting.) These panels can be joined with J clips or hog rings, which are also used in cage construction. (Hog rings tend to be more durable.) Make sure that the panels are all the same size so that the finished playpen can be folded up accordion style when not in use. The playpen will be easier to work with if you make two sets of six or seven panel sections and clamp them together when in use. This will make an area approximately ten feet in diameter. The wire should be as heavy as possible to prevent the rabbit from prying the pen up in order to escape. Be sure that there will be adequate shade in the pen area when the rabbit is exercising in it. If the rabbit cannot escape from the direct sun on a hot day he could die in the pen.
In most cases, does can run together, young bunnies can also run together, but not bucks. Since bucks are territorial by nature, each buck should run by himself.
When exercise time is over, you should check to see how much stickers, twigs and other debris are attached to the coat of the English Angora rabbit. Make sure they are all removed before putting the rabbit back into the cage. If not done, the rabbit is likely to try to lick them off himself and ingest wool in the process and cause woolblock. In addition, if there are any foxtails and burrs, they could cause injuries to the rabbits' skin and eyes.
Hope all this information is helpful to all of you bunny lovers ! Part three will tell you all about grooming your bunny and more !
We all wish you a wonderful start of the New Year!!!!
Happy 2009 !!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Very Happy Hoppy Christmas!

All of us at the Ixchel Fibre Farm wish you a very happy and fun Christmas!

I will put some more fluffy lovelies on the blog on Monday the 29th! so keep your eyes on this site! I will also post some lovely bunny photos as well and the second chapter of my Bunny care information!
I told Paul we had more than enough fibre, but nooooo......he wanted to shear some

Lots of bunny hugs!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Inficio, ergo sum : I dye, therefore I am.....

The weather has been soooo wet (I am sloshing down the slope everytime I go and feed the animals...aaaaargh) these last couple of days the angorinos had a hard time getting to their fluffy self. With a little help (the living room was converted to a drying room) it all went well. So here they are:
The Philosophers and Scientists Angorinos!

"Einstein in his universe", hand dyed angorino tops 150-160grams, AU$19 (sold)

“Darwin watches the finches”, hand dyed angorino tops, 150-160grams, AU$19 (sold)
“Plato finds his cave”, hand dyed angorino tops, 150-160grams, AU$19 (sold)
“Socrates watches the Sunset”, hand dyed angorino tops, 150-160grams, AU$19 (sold)

“Newton bites the apple”, hand dyed angorino tops, 150-160grams, AU$19
(2 left)
“Marie Curie discovers a Bunny in her lab”, hand dyed angorino tops, 150-160grams, AU$19
“Kierkegaard visits Rivendel”, hand dyed angorino tops, 150-160grams, AU$19
“Freud meets a Bunny”, hand dyed angorino tops, 150-160grams, AU$19 (sold)
“Jung in the park with bunnies”, hand dyed angorino tops, 150-160grams, AU$19 (sold)

This is going to be the last batch for 2008 and then it is time for a new start in 2009! Pleazzze let me know by email or message me on RAV which of the new angorinos you'd like to adopt and I will get Santa mailman to deliver them to you before Xmas.
Ofcourse there will be a bit more happening next week like handspun and hand dyed pure english angora yarn, angora flower wrap kits and updates on the bunnies. Have fun!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bunny projects and new hand dyed Cashmerino

Driving home from the market at Southbank yesterday, I was lucky enough to glimpse a gorgeous rainbow and noticed exactly where in the paddocks next to the road it was ending! hmmmm I could go and look for that pot of gold, I thought.....unfortunately, the more I drove to catch it, the more it moved away! It was magical and reminded me so much of the ancient story told to me that Spirits always move the objects you desire, making you travel more and more trying to obtain it. Eventhough this sounds like a devilish plot, you can also see it as a magical way to see things that you may never have encountered just going from A to B. Sometimes the travel is the adventure itself, not reaching the goal. It reminded me of how lucky I am, doing what I am doing now, meeting wonderful enthousiastic people all the time and how fortunate I am to be on this journey. For all you spinners, weavers, fibre fans and bunny lovers out there: just think that everytime you are playing with fibre, creating that magical project or cuddling a baby bunny, you already hold that pot of gold!

Money Bunny Scarves

Now, what have I been up to? Well, talking about gold....I have been doing some funky "money bunny" scarves. Here they are: braided angorino, hand dyed, pure angora bunny plyed with gold! and money! yes, you heard it right: shredded US

New hand dyed lace weight Cashmerino yarn
I have been dyeing and painting some more of this wonderful lace weight yarn again. Unfortunately a lot of the new colours already sold at the market yesterday so I won't post them here to make you drool for nothing...BUT I wiill dye and paint some more this week! Please do not hesitate to email me, stalk me or call me when you want a specific colour dyed: get your order in before Xmas and Santa will get it to you FAST!!!!

Pacific Ocean

Raspberry at dusk


Moss Magic



All the hand dyed laceweight cashmerino yarn is $18 per 50grams. if you are interested in the organic natural eggshell white colour, we have that as well ofcourse! It has 550meters per 50 grams so it is enough to do a laceweight shawl and you will get a FREE pattern with your skein of Ixchel cashmerino!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bunny Baby photos and Angora Bunny History and Care, 1

"It's been a hard day at work and stretching out is sooooo good! When is dinner?"
Gorby the 8 week old dark silver grey English angora bunny
"Do not disturb me for another photoshoot, pleeeeease! I am eating!"
Goldy, the 8 week old biggest English angora baby bunny out of the litter....

Flopsy: the super model of the litter, enjoys being photographed ...I swear she strikes a pose everytime! She is all better now and gained lots of weight after the scare she gave us a couple of weeks ago, when she had the floppy bunny syndrome....

"Oy, what ya lookin at, eh? Lookin at"
Wombat, our black 8 week old english angora

"Okay then....I'll just Yawn...aaawh!"
Wombat loves to yawn or...pretending it's a Lion? hmmmmm

"Do not make me look fat! I am NOT fat!"
Goldy "ignoring" the camera and eyeing off the food.....

"Ain't I soooooo cute? gimme a hug...pwetty pwease?".... Flopsy

Angora Bunny History
There is much controversy regarding the story of the Angora rabbit, however according to generally accepted theory, angoras date back to the early 18th century, around 1723. As the story goes, there were some sightseeing sailors who pulled into a Turkish port called Angora, now known as Ankara . It was in this town where they saw native women wearing very beautiful shawls that were like no other that they had seen. The fineness and silkiness quite surpassed the shawls in their country of France . They inquired about the fine wool in the shawls and much to their surprise found it to be from the Angora rabbit. Thus the sailors secured some of the rabbits to take back to France .
Some French authorities dispute the claim of Turkish origin of the Angora rabbit, claiming they were the first to record Angora rabbits. The French point to the Encyclopaedia of 1765 for substantiating data to this effect. The French believe the Angora rabbit had been concurrently produced in various rabbit breeding countries, France among them. The French insisted the long, silky coats due to the proper conditions for growth. This theory seems to be born out by M├ęgnin’s report on donkeys kept in the coal mines of France without ever seeing daylight. It was in the coal mines where these animals grew very long, silky coats in the sultry darkness. With this in mind, it is interesting why animals working in a hot atmosphere should develop a long coat. Does nature provide them as insulation against heat as it does against cold? At any rate, the French without a doubt are given credit for seeing the commercial possibilities of the Angora wool into yarn. France was not the only country to visualize the possibilities of this excellent fibre. England very shortly followed suit. England probably did the most transporting of the Angoras to other countries including Germany, Spain, Japan , and various European countries.
It was probably not until around the 1920's that there were any Angora rabbits in Australia and those were by fanciers or people interested in showing the animals. There are Angora bunny lovers in Australia, who have small herds of Angoras for wool production and exhibition, and the Ixchel Fibre farm is one of them.
Now the biggest producer of Angora fibres is China, who pushed South America and Europe out of the market with their cheaper production methods. When you love angora fibres and products, think about where it comes from though and how it is produced. Our little Ixchel Fibre farm believes in organic, pesticide free and animal friendly keeping of animals. The animals come first: only when you have a happy bunny, you will have good and ethical fibre.
Angora Bunny Care and more
A good English Angora rabbit does not look very much like a rabbit, mainly because of his head furnishings: long tassels on the ears, big head bangs and side trimmings with the eyes hidden under all of the furnishings. The face should be short, flat and wide. With these kind of facial characteristics, no wonder people are confused about whether they are seeing a rabbit or a fluffy dog!
In addition to a good face, an English Angora rabbit's body should be short and cobby; legs and feet should have good wool coverage. Last, but not least, the wool quality should be dense, silky and long. 57 percent of the points in judging English Angora rabbits are allocated to wool. Of these 57 points, 25 points are on density, 20 points are on texture and 12 points are on length. Though one does not want to keep an English Angora rabbit in show coat at all times, a good quality rabbit should be capable of putting on a good coat.
An English Angora in top condition is one of the most beautiful animals in the world. A neglected one, however, is the saddest thing one can ever see: it can mat in no time. I have seen sooo many animals neglected who haven't been groomd in months and not been clipped for a year! They couldn;t move properly anymore because their legs were so matted to their body!
Due to the time, knowledge, love and discipline required to care for them, English Angora rabbits are not for everyone. It is necessary to understand that taking on the task of raising English Angoras is a long term commitment of feeding, watering, grooming, and prevention of woolblock. In return, English Angora rabbits will give you back love, affection, companionship and luxurious fibre for spinning!

The Angora Bunny House
When starting with Angoras, the first thing for the beginner to decide is approximately how many angoras one wishes to raise. Are you going to have one or two angoras for pets? Do you plan on doing any breeding? How many does do you plan to breed in a year? What is the maximum number of angoras the space you have will permit you to raise?
Every breeder will have their own idea as to the style and design of the perfect rabbit hutch or cage system. All of this will depend upon the amount of space you have for the cages and if the rabbits are going to be housed inside or outside. Regardless of what you decide, it is important to keep in mind the hutches or cages must be dry, well lit, have good ventilation but free from drafts, as well as the temperature where the rabbits will be housed. Several people have asked if a barn, chicken coup, garage or other unused building could be adapted for housing Angoras. All of these buildings can be suitable so long as you consider the factors listed above.
There are many different types of hutches and cages that can be used. Some are made of wood and wire while others are all wire. If you are going to have several Angoras in a small area, I would suggest purchasing or making the wire cages. When deciding what type of hutch or cage you want to use you need to consider the following: comfort of the rabbit, ease of cleaning and handling of stock, ease of dismantling for thorough disinfecting, resistance to vermin and the escape of the rabbits.
The comfort of the Angora in the cage is very important. I prefer to use cages that are bigger than th elegal requirements. We have larger cages we use for does when the babies come out of the nestbox to give the doe more room. Paul has spent a lot of time making the cages himself and if you have any questions or want a cage built, just email him for information: he will be more than happy to help.
Next week, I am going to give you information on feeding your angora and preventing "woolblock".
On Monday please check this blog again: I am going to post some new organic Cashmerino laceweight yarns ! and a new product from the Ixchel Fibre Farm : the "Money Bunny Scarf!"
Have a great weekend and see you online or at the Arts Centre Market on Sunday!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mushroom magic, Funny bunnies and New Angorino Tops

Oops, I am late! I promised I would post at noon but time just flew! But..... it is done! I have finished dyeing, drying, photographing and labelling them and taking the quantum leap of posting them here ....finally. It's been an adventure, as is all dyeing really, but mushrooms give it a whole different meaning...there is a fabulous book out that shows you all there is to know about dyeing with mushrooms, called Mushrooms for color by Miriam Rice (eureka California Mad river press, 1980) and I tell you: it's worth the read...Miriam is the mushroom dye queen, so if you are not sure that you can eat the mushrooms without poisoning your whole family, why not dye with them?! As always I combine natural dyes with Landscape dyes and everything else I can get my hands this time is no different. It has been an adventure! Have a look, take the quantum leap, drool -just wipe it off the keyboard after you're done...- and email me when you want to have one of these babies at home. Here they are!

"ZenBunny takes Quantum Leap" AU$19, 150-160grams, hand dyed angorino tops (only 1 left!)

"Raspberry wine", AU$19, 150-160grams, hand dyed angorino tops (sold)

"PlumBerry Party", AU$19, 150-160grams, hand dyed angorino tops (SOLD)

"Opal Shimmer", AU$19, 150-160grams, hand dyed angorino tops(SOLD)

"Magic Mushroom", AU$19, 150-160grams, hand dyed angorino tops(1 left)

"Great Ocean Road Shadows", AU$19, 150-160grams hand dyed angorino(sold)

"Funny Bunny", AU$19, 150-160grams hand dyed angorino tops(SOLD)

"Galapagos nightfall", AU$19, hand dyed angorino tops (sold)

"Coral Reef Heartbeat", AU$19, 150-160grams hand dyed angorino tops(SOLD)

"Baby Bunny", AU$19, 150-160grams hand dyed angorino tops(sold)

All the angorino fibre fans who have been emailing me and putting a request in will get an email from me today. I have been dyeing some ocean spray, Machiavelli, Lady and the Unicorn (yes Mooska, there is one reserved for you! lol) and Galapagos. I think I will have one Galapagos and one Lady and the Unicorn left over after I finish sending the orders I have, so if any of you out there want one of those colour combos just email me !

I better get out there now and clip some bunnies! Bunny stories and photos will be coming soon again, so keep looking at this blog! The babies are all doing fine ! So happy about that! Oh and why did I name one angorino "funny bunny" well....we have a very funny bunny named Mickey. One of his ears dropped while the other stays up all the's like he is constantly putting up his antenna to get the best reception. He is the sweetest, gentlest of bunnies, but..well,very accident prone...probably because only one of his antennas is up?....Have fun and be sure to catch up on all the fluffy bunny news soon: this week I am going to post the first installment of Bunny Care Information.