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-   -   Spinning dog fur into yarn? (http://www.knittinghelp.com/forum/showthread.php?t=103817)

TrueIconoclast 03-20-2011 02:56 PM

Spinning dog fur into yarn?
 
So, this might seem like an odd question (or maybe not).....
......I have a Pomeranian (dog) that has the most beautiful, thick, soft, warm, and abundant coat. Since I live in Southern California, he doesn't really need his coat, and I often shave it off him when it gets warm, and also when there's a flea outbreak in the neighborhood (HE doesn't have fleas, but I have to cut it so I can see the little buggers if they do show up). He's a small dog, >5 lb., so he doesn't produce a LOT of fur every time I shave him, but he produces a high amount of WEIGHT in fur every time I shave him (5 oz or more). Additionally, this dog grows his full coat out in a matter of months. I mean, 2 - 3 months. Super quick.

So my question is, if I'm already shaving him down out of necessity, can I use that gorgeous fur of his that would normally be thrown away to spin yarn? I understand he's a dog, and I'm not one of those ULTRA crazy animal people who wants all of her items made out of her dog's fur (I'm only a slightly crazy animal person). Additionally, sheep are animals, and we use their fleece, right?

If anyone wants a picture to see the general fiber characteristics of his hair, let me know. I have a million pictures.

Thanks, and I look forward to reading your responses. Especially if they tell me that I CAN in fact use his fur lol.

MargaretA 03-20-2011 09:13 PM

The answer to your question (which is not strange at all, BTW) is - absolutely!

Dog fur can make wonderful yarn. Some kinds can be used to mimic more expensive fibers, like angora or mohair. But the nice thing about dog fur is it's a whole lot cheaper :)

Here are a few things to consider:
- Dog fur is almost always really warm. So you probably wouldn't want to use it for a warm-weather item. But it would be great in a hat or gloves (or other item) for someone who is outside a lot in the winter.
- It usually isn't very elastic, so a lot of people like to mix it with a fiber that is - like wool. But it can also be spun by itself. If you do that, you just have to take the lack of elasticity into consideration when you're knitting with it.
- Even though the animal may have long hair, the fur may not be that long. Remember to check the length of the individual hairs - the staple length - so you'll know how to prepare and spin it. And if you find that the length varies it's probably a good idea to try to keep fibers of the same length together; they'll spin better that way and the finished yarn will have less chance of pilling.
- There may be some not-so-soft hairs mixed in with the soft stuff. I'm no dog expert, but I do know that some have more than one coat. There may be an outer coat that is usually coarser (because its main purpose is protection from the weather) and an inner coat that is finer (because its main purpose is to keep the animal warm). If the dog has two coats and is shedding it tends to be the undercoat that comes off. But if all the fur is being removed - ie with clipping - you'd get both coats. Since you're clipping - or shaving - you might have to remove some coarser hairs. Or maybe not - as I said, it depends on the dog.

The thing about dog fur is that the amounts can be deceptive. You say your dog is small, but I'll bet you find that you will soon have a lot more fiber to deal with than you planned on!

I just joined and this is my first post here, so you'll probably get other answers that will give you more information. But I hope that helps get you started. Have fun!

Meg

mullerslanefarm 03-21-2011 12:08 AM

Meg is correct about the double coat of most dog breeds. My daughter has a Pom and she gives me the undercoat that she brushes out to spin.

Additionally, I have a couple of farm collies (a Border Collie & an English Shepherd). I collect the undercoat I brush from them to spin.

I prefer to use brushed undercoat instead of cut or shaved coat. Even though the dog's hair feels silky smooth, the outer coat generally spins up coarse.

Better start looking at drop spindles & spinning wheels!!

TrueIconoclast 03-21-2011 02:00 PM

You both were right - my little pom has two coats...one coarse, thick, waterproof top coat, and a soft, almost rabbit-like undercoat. When I brush him, I have noticed the difference in staple lengths between the two coats - the top coat has a very long staple length, and the undercoat has a short - medium staple length. What I usually do is cut that top coat off with scissors, and then shave his undercoat down.

Well, he's just about due for another shaving (as soon as this storm has passed), and I can't wait to use all of the advice that you guys gave me to spin his coat into yarn! Thanks so much for your wonderful and insightful responses!

wellslipmystitches 03-21-2011 02:07 PM

It's true, True. You can use dog hair to make yarn. Used to be a woman nearby who'd mix dog hair with wool to make various garments.

Now, to get into the coat issue. Not all dogs have a double coat. Generally the members of the working group do while sporting group dogs do not. Think of the grooming it takes to keep a spaniel's ears and coat smooth. They don't blow an undercoat once or twice a year.

Hard to believe the Pom (Toy group) was derived from the Spitz that pulled sleds like Huskies. Obviously they've been bred way down in size (ergo the high incidence of 'luxated patellas' in the breed), but thats another subject.

Cyndi alluded to the use of brushed - not shaved hair. Poms and other breeds with double coats require lots of brushing. The undercoat is soft and downy and the only part good for spinning.
I'd be very careful about shaving your dog for the hot weather in Ca. You indicated he doesn't need his coat, but he does.

The outer coat, 'guard hairs' stay when the undercoat is shed and that takes care of the animal's skin, protecting it from sunburn etc. Speak to a Pom breeder who will probably have a coronary, hearing that you shave yours. They are having quite a problem with dogs losing coats and not regrowing them.

Brushing and combing the loose undercoat is certainly more time consuming but will be better for the dog and you'll get much nicer yarn without all the coarse hair.
Jean

serenitylx 06-15-2011 05:24 PM

I'm working on getting a husky, and I AM that crazy! xD People have been trying to dissuade me from getting one and the shedding "problem" is one of the reoccurring excuses. Honestly, I enjoy brushing my animals and I also love to see big results, so a lot of shedding is a plus for me! Anyway, to get to my point, I thought it would be a shame to waste all that gorgeous undercoat, so I decided I'm going to learn how to spin yarn out of it and knit it into nice clothes for myself and young children, when I have them! (I already said I'm crazy, so plz don't rub it in xD; )

mullerslanefarm 06-16-2011 02:34 AM

Not crazy at all. You may want to start your spinning adventure with wool since it is more forgiving. I personally like to blend any hair, be it dog, alpaca, angora rabbit, et al) with a bit of wool so it has a 'memory'. Hair doesn't have 'memory' and wool does.

serenitylx 06-16-2011 04:51 AM

Oh, cool! Thanks for the advice; I can't wait until I can get started! xD


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