Thursday, March 15, 2007

Knitting with Dog Hair

Sigh. I've had a hell of a day. Adrenaline flowed freely at work today, and we all just sort of rolled along , bumped and bruised as we turned corners and confronted the next bugbear.

But I did take an hour off to go to my weekly Kaffee Klatsch, where we knit and craft and paint in a local coffee bar. I then went out to dinner with a colleague. And now I feel human again.

At the Kaffee Klatsch, I further investigated knitting with dog hair.

One of my fellow knitters in the Klatsch not only knits with dog hair but spins her own yarn from it. And she does this for others--dog owners who pay her to create something useful and beautiful from their dogs' shed fur.

After carding and spinning, she shampoos the yarn with deodorizing dog shampoo before she knits it up into scarves, hats or sweaters for the dog owners. I saw a selection of her work last week at a local fiber art show; on each knit item, she had a picture of the dog from which the yarn was spun, its breed, its name.

The yarn she was using today was snowy white and angora-like. She did not know the breed of this dog, as the hair had been mailed to her from a client. Very, very beautiful.

For those of you who are intrigued, there is actually a book published on just this subject (yes, that's the image above): Knitting With Dog Hair: Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You'll Never Meet

My boss, a fairly intense animal lover, might be interested in hiring my dog-hair knitting friend.

My boss is also a horse person, and I inquired about whether one could spin and knit horse hair trimmed from manes and tails.

Sadly, no. Horse hair doesn't spin (it's too coarse)--but, I was told, there is a whole industry of braiding horsehair and making jewelry from it. (Who knew?) Check out Suzanne Storms' fairly astonishing work.


ruth said...

Sorry, just can't get over the eww factor with the dog hair...What does it smell like when it gets wet?

Femminista said...

Yeah, I know. But maybe dog lovers don't mind? Come to think of it, wet wool doesn't smell very nice either. (Wet sheep hair, wet goat hair, wet dog hair...)

sognatrice said...

I had no idea! Now all I need to do is learn to knit, because I certainly have enough dog hair around here ;)

Femminista said...

Hmmm. Maybe one of us knitters needs to fly to Italy to teach you...we could stay in Cherrye's B&B and have "Knitting Camp."

Ann said...

I know this can mean a lot to some people...but to me it's just weird...sorry. I so hate my dog's hair all over my house and furniture and clothes that I can't imagine wearing it on purpose! I have seen the horse hair jewelry & that's pretty cool.

Femminista said...

I think I like it because it's weird. :)

I am not a dog owner (yet) and so have no huge affinity for dogs (or dog hair).

I guess what appeals to me, though, is making something useful out of what most consider garbage and nuisance. (My boss tells me that she has spent her life combatting dog hair and breaks her vacuum cleaner about twice a year because of the stuff...)

I also like the self-sufficiency aspect of spinning your own yarn with the materials at hand.

Bridget said...

I don't think it's weird to spin/knit with dog hair, what I find weird is reading about people who have tried saving dryer lint to spin and knit!

I don't have a dog, but everything I knit has cat hair in it ... though not really intentionally ... :-)

Femminista said...

Spinning dryer lint??? That just wouldn't work, would it?? And isn't it mostly dead skin cells?? That is truly YUCK. I compost my dryer lint.

Ann said...

Oh, WAIT! I DO knit with dog hair...and cat hair! We have 2 cats & a Dalmation...she may be short-haired but Dalmations shed CONSTANTLY and in huge amounts. And she lays where I knit so her hair is in everything I knit. So I guess I am pretty with it after all!

Dryer about the paper some people make with it?

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