Centered around the production of wool from large Angora rabbits, Barber’s Bunnies, at 844 Waldoboro Rd., in Bremen recently added another element to their fiber business.
Anna Barber has opened a yarn shop at her location to sell products produced from the angora fiber of her 10 Angora rabbits.
The rabbits, which range from roughly 9 to 15 pounds, produce soft and elegant fiber used in a variety of knitted items, including hats, scarves and shawls.
“The fiber is incredibly warm. It’s as much as eight times warm as sheep wool if it’s done right,” Barber said.
Additionally, Barber said the fiber produced by the Angora rabbits is soft and much less itchy than other wool products.
The Angora rabbits at Barber’s Bunnies are a German variety of the breed which grow a quarter of an inch of hair a week and get haircuts roughly every three months.
She said she is hopeful the business will draw interest from shoppers who like to experiment with colors.
“I’m hoping for knitters who like a really luxurious soft yarn,” Barber said.
Barber said the fiber on sale at her store is a Made in Maine product and thinks it will make a good souvenir for tourists passing through the Midcoast during the summer months.
Barber’s new yarn shop opened for business a couple of weeks ago and sits adjacent to the barn housing the furry creatures. The operation provides centralization to Barber’s fiber business allowing her to sell her product and related items from her home.
Previously she had traveled to a number of regional farmers markets and fairs to sell her products. She still plans to attend a few, but the shop will allow her to operate her business close to home.
The fiber available at Barber’s Bunnies is blended with Merino wool, a type of sheep’s wool Barber said she uses because it is one of the softest varieties of sheep wool.
A number of varieties of Angora fiber are available at her new store.
They include Bargain Bunny, a thinner sport-weight two ply yarn with 15 percent Angora wool.
Also available is Beefy Bunny, a three ply worsted weight yarn with 35 percent Angora wool and Classic Bunny, a version with up to 50 percent Angora wool.
“The hats from this are soft and lightweight. You don’t feel it on your head but it keeps you warm,” Barber said.
Barber said she got her first experience with the wool producing rabbits in the late 1990s, as part of a school project. Barber, who was formerly a long serving librarian at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta, was leading a research project when she first started handling Angora rabbits.
“What got me into this was I was in charge of a research project that had to be very personal,” Barber said.
Barber said she has learned a lot about raising the specialty breed of rabbits over the years and though she enjoys her troupe she does not recommend them as pets to those unfamiliar with their needs.
She said they require a substantial amount of monitoring, notably in the summer months when warmer temperatures can cause the creatures to overheat easily.
“You just don’t run up and feed them once a day,” Barber said.
At her barn the rabbits have specially designed cages allowing them to venture outside in mild weather while still enabling them to retreat in doors and get out of the elements.
In the rabbit barn Barber uses a short bristle brush, dog ear trimming scissors and nail trimmers to tend to the rabbits cutting their hair and beginning the wool production process.
Wool from the rabbits is processed in Otisfield.
The new yarn shop is currently open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Following the annual open house around Easter, Barber will take a short break to pursue gardening and other interests. She will be available by appointment during this time.
The shop will be back open with summer hours around mid-June.
For more information on demos and the store please visit the Facebook page, The Barber’s Bunnies, email Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 529-5977.