Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dog Hair - what can you do with it?

Not just any kind of dog hair but the undercoat of a black German Shepherd.
Here is the story: Just after I learned to spin, my mother asked if I would spin her shepherd's undercoat. I thought it would be a way to spin something I didn't have to buy! Yipee!
Through the shedding months, mom religiously combed him and saved every bit. Now came the time I received a pretty good sized package in the mail. I was so excited! After getting home, I opened it and immediately took it to the bath tub for a wash. I used Dawn Dish washing Liquid (mind you, I was very new to processing fiber, too) and pushed the soft down into the soapy, warm water as I leaned over the tub. It was at that moment, I got a whiff and wondered how in the world a wet dog got in the house! Oh, boy!! Okay, after I controlled the dry heaves, I rinsed it with Downy. Alright, I can handle the very clean smell now!
I drained the water out of the tub squeezing the water out of the ready-to-dry down. It was a chore to get all the damp dog hair off me but I succeeded and laid it out on a towel.
Days later, with dry fiber in hand, I was ready to card it. Hummm, it didn't card very well, so I skipped that part. Here comes some spinning time! At the time I tried to spin it -- is when I finally paid attention to the length of the fiber -- a little over 1". After several attempts to get a good enough twist, it worked!! Not only did I spin it, I had enough to fill two bobbins and then plied it! I even went ahead and set the twist, rolled it into a huge ball and sent it back to my mother.
She sent me the sample I scanned and told me she was able to knit a scarf, headband, and two wrist warmers. The color turned out to be a rich chocolate and, unbelievably, does NOT shed!! It is also so very soft and warm.
Anytime I show the knitted sample, people try to guess its origin. When they ask me, I tell them it is called "Quanah."
Where did my mother get a name like that for fiber? It was the name of her gorgeous male Shepherd!
I would certainly work with dog undercoating long as 'mom' washes it!


Scarlett said...

That sounds freaky and cool. I have a big german boxer who demands to be brushed every morning. Too bad I have no intreast in

catmum said...

Quanah was the last chief of the Comanches...never lost a battle. I have an acquaintance who named her daughter this.

NancyMaria said...

My mom made it a point to name all her shepherds after famous Native Americans and all her Arabian horses after rich jewels.
I think Catmum's acquaintance named her daughter well.

Monika said...

I always thought I should collect the hair I get off my dogs, but somehow the bags full of it, always seem to dissapear. I'm not a spinner, but I would have loved to knit something with the hair of my dogs.

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

Petpig said...

In using dog hair for spinning, how can you separate the longer outer coat from the shorter downy undercoat? I have a chinese crested Powder-puff, and her hair is usually 2 to 3 inches. When I brush her, almost every day, I get a mix of both coats. Or do you just go with what you have?

Mildred said...

Hi Nancy. This was such an interesting read. Using dog's undercoat to create yarn for knitting. That's amazing. Maybe my bichon frisee would be willing to give some of his up :) he's got enough!!!

Anonymous said...

How cool that you made yarn from your Mom's dog's underbelly fur! You are too much, Maria! Is there ANYTHING you can't do? I don't think so, if there is then you will learn it.

Snowcatcher said...

Wow. Love the name, too! Just wow! I knew this could be done, but to see it done, that's amazing!