If you own a longhaired dog, you may have marveled at the copious amounts of fluff dogs shed during grooming. If you knit, crochet or weave, you can harvest this fur to spin yarn for your crafts. The undercoat of dogs produces a luxurious fiber called chiengora in the knitting world. Now you can wear fine fur humanely obtained from the host animal, at little or no cost.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Dog hair
- 2 slicker brushes
- Cotton carders
- Drop spindle
- White vinegar
Save clean, chemical-free hair from a suitable breed. The dog's hair must be 2 inches or longer if you wish to create yarn without blending other long fibers, such as wool. Keep the soft undercoat for spinning, and discard the stiff, scratchy outer hairs.
Card the dog hair with two slicker brushes or cotton carders. Carding disentangles the hairs from each other so they're easier to work with. Draw one brush through the other repeatedly until the hairs fluff up.
Take a small amount of carded hair in one hand and draw some hairs from the mass with your free hand. Twist and pull gently until yarn begins to form. Take care to keep from pulling the yarn from the mass.
Speed up your spinning efforts with a drop spindle. Prepare the spindle by tying your handspun dog yarn to the shaft, just above the weight. Wind it around the shaft several times and leave 6 inches of yarn hanging off the groove at the top of the shaft.
Start to spin by attaching some dog hair from your carded mass to the fluffed end of the yarn on the spindle. Turn the spindle clockwise, and let the dog hair mass twist and join up with the yarn on the spindle.
Keep the spindle moving in a clockwise fashion. If the spindle changes rotation, the yarn will unravel.
Wash the finished yarn in warm water with mild detergent. Deodorize the yarn in a sink of warm water and ½ cup white vinegar. Set the yarn by winding it on a yarnblocker or the back of a ladder-backed chair and air-drying for 3 days.
Tips and warnings
- Practice spinning with prepared wool if you are new to spinning. Wool is easier to spin than dog hair, and gives you some practice without using up your chiengora supply.