Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Not So Crazy Now

Before:


After:


You knew I wouldn't be able to resist trying it, right? I can't believe how simple it is to spin dog hair. It's actually easier than spinning wool, and the end result is softer, too. For those who are interested, here's how I did it:

First, I should note that all of the dog hair I am using is hair that I have collected from my own, relatively clean dogs, through brushing only (no clippings or dust bunnies). Because the hair is fairly clean and brushed, it doesn't actually need washing or carding before spinning. I will have to wash the yarn after spinning, but this seems much easier to me than washing, carding, and oiling it prior to spinning, and then washing the yarn again to remove the oil after spinning.

All I do to prepare my fiber is pull a handful of fluff out of the bag and pick out any foreign material and guard hairs. My dogs, a Golden Retriever and a Newfoundland, are both double-coated dogs. They have a soft, downy undercoat that feels a lot like angora, and a coarser, shinier outer coat. Guard hairs are hairs from the outer coat. I only want to spin the downy undercoat, so I need to remove any guard hairs, which would make the yarn coarse and "hairy". Most of the hair that my dogs shed consists of the downy undercoat, so there aren't too many guard hairs in my saved fiber. This is what the discarded material looks like:


And this is the fiber ready for spinning:


I just sort of roll a pile of the fluff into a manageable sausage, wrap a little around my leader, and start spinning, exactly as I would if it were wool.

The fiber is quite silky, and because it is not washed prior to spinning, it retains enough natural oil that the individual fibers slide easily past one another to make drafting smooth and pleasant. The final product is a soft, slightly fuzzy yarn, similar to an angora/wool blend. I am looking forward to spinning and plying some more of this so that I can knit a swatch and see how it turns out. So, yes, there will be knitting content shortly!

12 comments:

uberstrickenfrau said...

Hmmm, still skeptical...I definately want to see a FO outta this. Wouldn't be funnie to make a little wienner dog coat out of it?

Faith! said...

Yes, wholly and truly nuts! I'm impressed (with the crazy). Can't wait to see the progress!

janet said...

Spinning dog hair has got to be the best recycling project of all time. You've literally made something from nothing.
I was very impressed to see you spinning Sophie's hair this afternoon. I can't wait to see the sweater.
I wonder if everyone thought it was crazy to make yarn from rabbit fur. They're so small and hard to handle. Sophie just stands there while you brush her, the quantity is incredible and its' super silky. Newfoundgorra? Newgorra?

Sarah said...

O.K. so I just want it on record that I never thought the idea was crazy! And who could resist that puppy dog face in the photo. As for the state of sheep, I have witnessed a flock in mud and muck just prior to shearing. you are right, I probably would not pet them in that state.

If you market your cheinnile you definitely need those puppy dog eyes in the label.

Mrs. H said...

....... AWESOME......!

Haley said...

just be careful of getting it wet. i read a story in Knit Lit about a woman who made a sweater out of dog hair. She loved it until she got caught in the rain one day and smelled like wet dog! but before reading that story, i considered it, too. i have two lovely dogs who shed a TON! i'm sure i could have a whole doghair wardrobe by now.

sophanne said...

Now what would really crack me up is if you were to knit a dog coat with your dog roving for your dog! Very cool.

MelissaKnits said...

I am a tad jealous. I need TIME!

And I've heard what Haley says before also, that it's great until you're in line at the bank and the snow is melting on your hat and people are sniffing and asking where the wet dog is...although I'd snicker and not care.

Sharon said...

If you do make a wiener dog coat, my little Buster will gladly be the test pilot! He's a smooth mini-dachsie and gets cold easily.

I am so lovin' this...

Lydee said...

OH MY GOSH!!!!! Combind Uber and Sophanne's ideas and make coats for both of the dogs, but put the honey colored coat on the coffee colored dog and vise versa!

Oh My Gosh, I think the Humane Society is knocking at my door already. I'm going to bed now.

PS, don't take me seriously ; )

kmkat said...

My first thought at seeing the second picture was, OMG! How did she transform an entire dog into one little bobbin of yarn? Where are the bones? Where is the skull?

And then I calmed down. btw, that handful of fluff on the couch cushion looks soooo familiar. (One large chow/husky/mutt dog here with a fluffy undercoat that could fill a comforter.)

Kim said...

I am so freaking impressed! The dog yarn looks great! Can hardly wait to see what you knit up with it!