Friday, November 17, 2006

Knitting the Dog ~ Fur Real

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At the risk of forever being known as the "insane dog lady", I admit to searching for, locating and purchasing Knitting With Dog Hair. Initially I picked it up for kicks but as I thumbed through it, I began to get an itch to pick up the doggie brush and get to work. And would you look at the bounty harvested from just ONE brushing of two golden retrievers and a grumpy lab?

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But back to the book. . . Why spend all sorts of money on yarn when I already have two fuzz producing critters? But then again, am I really so cheap that I'll wear a hat that smells like my dogs? I refuse to answer that.

Smell was my biggest worry when I ran across this book. I know only too well how stinky my wet dogs can be, but apparently they say the smell can be washed out quite permanently and easily and then they ask if one has ever smelled a sheep up close. Good point!

With smell issues out of the way, I read on with interest. Instead of throwing away all of that lovely golden fur floating around my home, I might actually be able to use it and make FREE YARN! Of course this involves quite a bit of work. Daily brushings, the labor intensive washing, washing and washing again of the fuzz (without clogging your drain in the process), then one must card (comb) the fuzz so it all lays the way it should, then you've got to oil it, spin it (an art in itself) and ply it into yarn. Yikes, it looks so easy when laid out in a few pages in a book but it sounds too much like work for someone like me.

After you've done all of the above, you can knit hats, scarves and just about anything that you'd knit with wool, if you have any energy left, that is. The projects seem pretty straightforward but the instructions assume one has some familiarity with knitting. There are scarves, hats, mittens sweaters, even a doggie sweater (the pic shows a pug smugly wearing a sweater made from newfoundland fur, way too cute!). You must know the basic stitches, know all about knitting the round, know how to use your double pointed and circular needles and how to work fair isle/intarsia if you want to finish many of these items. I would've appreciated a little knitting 101 section here (especially for the color work, are you supposed to purl or knit the colors??), but that's just me and I suppose that stuff can easily be found on google but still . . .

The other downside of this book are the black and white photos. The items are described as beautiful tones of "golden retriever fur" or whatever and then they go and show a grainy b&w photo of a fuzzy looking scarf/hat/shawl which was so disappointing. Also, there are not nearly enough photos showing how to make and use the drop spindle but the carding section was well illustrated and appears simple enough that even a nitwit like me can probably figure it out. I seriously doubt I could learn the art of spinning dog fuzz using only this book and will look for a video if I ever get my fuzzies washed and ready, Actually, this whole washing and rewashing bit intimidates me the most!

There is a section outlining breeds and their "spinability" for those on the lookout for potential fuzz factories. Lucky for me, my two goldens are top producers but my labrador retriever is a poor choice. Apparently, though, his "short chocolate sprinkles" can be added to all of the glamorously soft golden fur to spice up the color. Who knew?

This was an informative, very niche book, that takes its topic seriously and was a fun read. It's got me looking at the fuzz balls in a new way but I'm not sure if I'll ever work up the energy to collect, wash, card, and then spin this stuff into workable yarn because I'm just too lazy. Though it might make a nice little side business for someone with a lot of time to spare. Imagine a keepsake of your beloved pet made out of their shedding fur? The possibilities are endless . . .

Wait someone has already beat me to it!

Where's my fuzz mom?
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And here's some actual knitting I've been working on, the 2 heart bags are completed (woo hoo!) but I've been too lazy to felt them and here's the beginnings of the Nov Midmonth KAL. I've also been working on a heart cloth for a gift but will get to that later because blogger is giving me trouble with the pics and I'm quitting while I'm ahead.


Blogger kshotz said...

Cool! I know a woman at church who has made mittens and a scarf from the undercoat of her dog...she did it several years ago. They are the softest mittens I have ever felt in my life! (And they don't smell bad when they get damp from the snow!)


12:37 PM  
Blogger Abigail said...

Hee! I harvest and spin the fur from my American Eskimo dog (kind of a small brown eyes Samoyed) and it's wonderfully soft and lovely, but she's small so I don't get much.

(a secret? I don’t wash or card the fur before I spin it, I just grab a hunk and go at it, and it comes out fine. Once the yarn is made it is so much easier to wash without clogging the sink)

5:16 PM  
Blogger LaurieKnits said...

I don't have to wash it first? Seriously?! Wow, I'm off to buy myself a drop spindle. I was completely put off by the washing, carding, oiling thing but I may I try it your way first. I will report back, of course, with my results when I get my butt in gear.

8:05 PM  

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