But let us tell you, knitting friends, you haven’t felt true luxury until you’ve touched our newest addition to the Hope Artisan Collective online store - our Angora/Merino blend yarn!
Made in a 50/50 blend of wool from our own flock of Merino sheep and that of the German Angora Rabbits we imported into Rwanda three years ago, this yarn is over-the-top in delicious squishiness and warmth.
People are often surprised when they learn we were able to successfully import three rabbits into Rwanda. Can we let you in on a little secret? We were, too!
But God has a funny way of making those things that seem impossible absolutely possible when they fit God’s timing.
Three years ago, our Executive Director, Diana Wiley, was attending a fiber festival in Texas when she saw a woman sitting in front of a spinning wheel with a rabbit on her lap. The woman was gently brushing the rabbit then feeding the collected hair into the wheel, creating yarn. Fascinated, Diana asked the woman to tell her more about the process.
As the woman spoke, the wheels … of Diana’s mind … began turning …
Could it be possible?
Is this something we could introduce in Rwanda?
It hardly seemed likely but, if you now our Diana you know this: nothing is out of the realm of possibility if you leave in God’s hands. That’s how this ministry has survived for over thirteen years. That’s how it has grown from employing ten women to employing 157 people and is now the number one employer of women in the Musanze District of Rwanda. Diana has a gift for stepping out in faith - without knowing how … or when … the pieces will fall into place.
That’s what she did in this instance. Diana started making inquiries, tracking down breeders of German Angora rabbits, and learning what hoops she would have to jump through for the Rwandan government to approve the importation of animals into the country….all the while saying, “If God keeps opening the doors, we’ll keep walking through them.
And open them God did. Left and right, at every turn, things fell into place. What should have taken a year of slogging through red tape was accomplished in a fraction of that time and, within two months, Diana traveled with three German Angora rabbits - Adam, Evie and Alice - to Rwanda.
The rabbits have acclimated wonderfully to Rwanda. We now have 30 rabbits in our care. Our cooperative is in the northern part of the country and the temperature there is very mild (think northern New Mexico). The rabbits live at the cooperative and receive round the clock care from our wonderful rabbit caregiver, D’Amour. They eat high-protein rabbit feed as well as plenty of fresh vegetables from the garden.
We are proud to provide an ethical source of Angora. Much of the world’s Angora is not sourced ethically, with rabbits forced to live in cramped conditions in mass-production facilities. The removal of the Angora hair is often performed in a way that is stressful … if not painful ... to the rabbits.
Our rabbits are lovingly cared for and gently sheared, as are our sheep. The rabbits are held gently while their hair is sheared ( a requirement for Angoras - they must be sheared every 90 days or they develop life-threatening health problems). Often, they receive a treat during the shearing process. You can see a brief clip of the shearing process during our “About Us” video (the rabbits make their entrance at the 2:15 mark…but you really should watch the whole thing!)
And, just in case you’re curious how this decadent yarn knits up, check out this gorgeous poncho knit by the ladies of Handspun Hope…SWOON!
While this product definitely falls within the luxury yarn category, one touch is all it will take to have you falling head over heels for this fabulous fiber blend … and dreaming of the perfect project for it.
What a wonderful way to #KnitForGood !