Animals: Spinning Yarns – Part 1

by Rebecca Simpson on July 24, 2011

roxy hairThe time has come for the dog known as Roxy to stop shedding copious amounts of hair.   Our little Arctic misfit has been sloughing off hair grenades all over the house for four months, and frankly, I, the vacuum cleaner, my husband, the washing machine, and the broom are all sick to death of this yearly episode.

I have done my best to keep up with the hair, knowing that it is one of those things that requires persistence.  And persist I have, filling four brown lunch bags with soft, fluffy dog undercoat.  Gross, you say?  Yes, I can understand how you feel.  It is an unusual concept in the Information Age.   But here at the farm we try to reuse what we can, and Stone Age people had dogs before they had sheep.  So, it seems natural to not let this beautiful, useful fiber go to waste.  Don’t worry, you’ll get used to the idea.

Tonight is the perfect night to settle down, prepare my space, and let the process begin.  I’ll take you step by step through it all.  At the end, you’ll see that we have produced a unique and beautiful garment.  And honestly, the best part about it is that your kibble-eating, lawn destroying best bud provided the materials.   It makes it a fair trade.

Stay tuned for part 2 in the series on going from hair to head gear at SSA.  I’m eager to hear your questions and comments as we go, so keep them coming!

 

 

 

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie Simko August 8, 2011 at 9:43 am

Can this be done with cat hair? I have 4 cats, two of which are VERY long hair and each time we brush them I get enough hair to make a new cat! Just thinkin’…..

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Rebecca Simpson August 8, 2011 at 9:51 am

It sure can! I forgot to mention that in my reply. I have not personally done it yet, but I have seen projects other people have done. They are beautiful. I presume the principle is the same as for dog hair – that is you want the fluffy soft undercoat and not the stiff guard hairs. I know we have some spinners out there, does anyone have any tips to share on spinning cat hair? Thanks!!

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Elizabeth July 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm

My dog has been shedding like crazy too but I resist on spinning dog fluff! Remove guard hair…no thanks. But I’m glad to know someone else does it though! It is terribly warm too much warmer than sheep! Do you blend it with wool? What kind of wheel do you use?

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Rebecca Simpson July 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Hello Elizabeth! You’re right, picking out the guard hair is a bit of a drag. I find that the first batch of hair that sheds around March is the best. It is all undercoat and no guard hair. By the middle of the June, it is a 50/50 blend undercoat to guard hair, and by the end of July, it is almost all guard hair and not even worth saving. I am not sure what type of dog you have, but as a Husky, Roxy seems to follow that hair-pattern every year when she blows her coat.

When I spun last year’s yarn, I did not blend it with wool, although all the research I did recommended that I should. I wanted to see how 100% dog yarn performed first before I started to tweak it. I found out that it is a good yarn, but has low elasticity. You’re right, its super warm too. Regarding the wheel I used, I actually used a drop spindle. It took ages to spin it, ply it, and knit it. I definitely want to move to a wheel, but wasn’t sure what was the best type for the price. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!!

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Elizabeth August 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Hello again! Yes, I have a few suggestions about wheels. There are several considerations, like price, size of the space you have etc. If you can come out to a Ventura County Handweavers & spinner’s guild meeting sometime you can find out about people selling used wheels and if you are a member you can even rent one to try for a while. Also it’s a good place to find out what people think of different wheels. I think the Lendrum is a good wheel, versatile not terrible expensive. Personally I use several wheels, a Schacht matchless, a Jensen saxony wheel. You can see them on my blog. You can email me any time if you want to get into a more in depth discussion of wheels. Do you ever go on Ravelry.com? It’s a great place for knitters/spinners etc there are lots of groups with spinners. If you do join Rav you can find me there as ElizArtist. I hope that helps you to have a starting point.

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Rebecca Simpson August 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Thank you so much for your feedback! As I work with my drop spindle, I am certain next year I’ll move on to a spinning wheel. Your suggestions will come in handy!

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