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 again...as long as 'mom' washes it!

9 comments:

  1. 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 spinning....lol.

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

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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.

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

    Warm Regards

    Biby Cletus - Blog

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  6. 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?
    Petpig00@cs.com

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  7. 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!!!

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  8. 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.
    Bonnie

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

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