August 26, 2009

Dog Hair; Its a good thing!

 Lately, most of my fiber time is spent prepping and spinning dog hair. Partly in tribute to my old dog, Plato, who was put to sleep last June, and partly just because I want to see what it turns out to be. Maybe I'll have enough dog hair yarn to knit up a scarf, once I'm done.  Back in July I weighed the hair I had collected, and it looked to be about 400g. The sure doesn't sound like all that much hair, really. Not when I consider the pounds of fleece stashed in the closet. So why is it taking so long to card it?

I washed the hair, while dog hair may not technically felt, it will definitely mat. I remembered this just in time. I sorted by color left the guard hair in. Plato's outer coat was pretty soft, and I really didn't want to try and de-hair the fluff. Tried drum carding, but all the hair refused to transfer from licker-in to main drum. Some day I'll figure out why. I switched to hand cards, blending in a little alpaca and wool as I went. It's tough to get very much dog hair on the cards, so the rolags are kinda whimpy, but spin-able. This might be why its taking so long to card. Some day I'll learn the answer to that mystery too.

I sorted the hair into "colorways"; white, dark gray, light gray and light tan. If you own or know a blue merle dog, these are all colors in their coats, as well as black, but black undercoat tends to actually be dark gray. I blended in, as much as possible, matching colors of wool and alpaca, but only a little bit.

Initially, I was going to spin the yarns by color, then knit them together in such a way as to create a 'merle' pattern in my knitting. I have no idea how I was going to accomplish that, I figured I work it out latter. After carding and carding and carding, as in "Wow, this is getting tedioius", I decided that when I spun the yarn, I'd just try to randomize the color of the rolags and see how the yarn spins up. But I think I'll Navajo ply the yarn to keep the color together. Now I wish I hadn't kept the white separate, but oh well.

I'm actually looking forward to working with wool once this dog hair is done. Wait, that's not right, I have been working with wool as well. I finished spinning and 2 plying fleece that I'd kettle dyed a few months back with fluffysgarden. From top to bottom we have a Romney and Shetland skein (white wool), a skein of different Shetland and Rambioulet (brown and gray wool) and a small skein of Cormo/x (white wool). About 120g altogether. I spun and 2 plied a small sample of this natural colored fleece, but now I'm having trouble remembering which fleece it was from. Can anyone say, "spinner's log needed here." I do remember it drafted and plied very nicely. Its a 14g sample skein. So far, I've been working on spinning every thing woolen style, and I think I'm getting the hang of it.

With all my focus on the spinning, not much knitting is happening. I'm thinking about frogging the Summer Waistcoat back up to mid-armhole and reknitting; this thing stretched way more than I expected it to. Yeah, the armholes now end at the bottom of my ribcage. Twenty years and 30 pounds ago this might have looked good on me, but I'm not so crazy about it right now.  I think the ripple rib pattern had something to do with it, and the fact that I used a fairly heavy cotton yarn. Live and learn, or knit and learn, eh? I did finally finish camera sock #2.

Well, I'm off to card more dog hair!

1 comment:

  1. I'm loving the dog hair yarn! It is so much softer than I would have expected, too. You are definitely inspiring me to card some Molly hair up with some wool or alpaca and give it another go.