Knitting with Dog Hair
I am a dog lover but I am really disturbed by a dog hair sweater. Anyone else think this is odd? I will concede that this is probably an appropriate choice for a dog/craft kind of crowd, but I can’t get my head around wearing dog hair INTENTIONALLY. Am I missing something?
I was at a local craft fair a few weeks ago and we met a woman with an actual spinning wheel- making lumps of hair into yarn. It was dog hair. A friend of hers collected shed hair from her dog and when the dog died, wanted a sweater made to remember her pet forever. I guess if you have a dog with soft, long fur it would be nice. If you’re allergic to dogs, wearing a dog-hair sweater would be torture!
The fur is thoroughly washed before it is spun. People are usually allergic to pet dander, not the actual fur or hair.
They make sweaters out of goats and bunnies. I’ve heard even cats.
We had a keeshond with fabulous soft fur. Only with I had had this book when she was alive.
Once the hair is processed it’s like any other yarn, but unlike wool it isn’t as elastic or stretchy. So if you knit tight, you need to use larger needles and loosen up a bit.
Oh, and no, the sweater will not smell like dog if you get caught in the rain. Nor will it be itchy. All of the oils are washed away in the processing. It’s just like using any other animal hair….like sheep, goat, llama, alpaca, rabbit or cat.
Hee-hee! I remember this book from my Barnes & Noble job. Because of it I sometimes threaten to shear the cats to knit kitten mittens.
actually it’s pretty *poop*ular (pun intended.) there are companies all over the place that will spin dog/cat/rabbit hair into yarn for knitters. that way they can “hang onto their animals” when the animals die… though personally i find it disgusting.
Yeah, I hate to say it, but I’d rather the kind of person who would love this book was kept busy making a sweater from their dog’s fur. I’ve met them, really, keep the book.
Selling the sweaters could possible pay for the vacuum cleaner repairs.
As for the allergies… most people I know with dog/cat/furry critter allergies (including me) are allergic to the dander, rather than the actual hair. The process of cleaning the fur before spinning should remove the allergen.
I do have some yarn made from banana plant fibers…
I have a flock of sheep in the pasture next to my house. I also have 3 dogs, pampered indoor pets, no fleas, no odor. Any guesses which animal *smells* a heck of a lot better? If you’re grossed out by the thought of using dog hair for wool, but you think sheep wool is fine- you’ve either been around some nasty dogs, or you haven’t spent enough time around sheep 😉
It weirds me out, too, but this is actually a pretty common thing with spinners. My mom is trying to incorporate our cats’ fur into some yarn.
I guess if my cat had long enough fur to spin I might think it’s neat to have something that was made from him when he’s no longer here. But, my god, does this seem weird.
Some people may want to have some sort of garment to remember their daed pets by but probably the most people who are involved with knitting dog hair see it just as another source of animal fiber and many of them are probably spinners who want to experiment with something different. Besides, if you’ve seen what wool looks like freshly sheared (hint: sheep don’t bathe), dog hair starts looking a lot more appealing, at least for spinning purposes. I wouldn’t wear a dog hair sweater but it’s for the same reason I wouldn’t wear an alpaca sweater either, they’re too warm for me.
This literally gave me a chill up my spine. *shiver*
My main problems are a) not all dog hair would spin nicely or feel good after spinning, and b) if you’re *knitting*, you have no need for the “warp” mentioned on the cover (that’s weaving).
Yep, I’m a spinner and knitter, and have actually spun Samoyed (not my dog, and frankly it’s as nice as angora rabbit fur). Nope, it doesn’t smell, any more than a wool sweater smells like sheep when you wear it. I’d say keep the book, actually.
you should check out this photographer’s work (http://www.erwanfichou.org/); go to “dogwool”. he took portraits of people and their dogs, wearing garments made from their dog’s hair. pretty weird, but pretty cool.
It depends on the breed of dog. Some dogs, like the northern breeds, have a soft and fluffy undercoat that spins up beautifully and less scratchy than sheep wool. I have a Samoyed, and I think I’d rather wear products knitted from her fur than wool any day. I don’t spin it or have it spun because it just seems so tedious to me to collect it, but the idea is not silly at all – dog fur has been spun since the invention of spinning. If the library in question has an extensive fiber arts collection, this would be appropriate, not a weeder. For a small library, though, it might be taking space that a more popular topic could use.
Yep, this is something people do. The book should stay!
Yes, people do this, but I find it icky, totally disturbing, and wrong! Sadly, I’d keep the book in a public library. I keep thinking…what if it rains? Won’t you smell like wet dog?
If any spinners/knitters out there are interested, I have reams of dog hair…under my refrigerator!
I remember hearing about a lady who had two Great Pyrenees dogs. They’re huge and white and shed like there’s no tomorrow. She was tired of filling up her vacuum with their hair so she started spinning it. It made beautiful clothes and high end fashion magazine started purchasing some of her pieces for photo shoots!
Oh YES. My family’s had Great Pyrenees, and trust me, that lady’s approach was PERFECTLY VALID. Brushing out Lily’s summer coat blowing left us with buckets of fluffy white dog hair, no joke…
I’m a handspinner, and I have made yarn out of all sorts of fibers, but for some reason, I just can’t wrap my head around using dog hair as spinning material. I imagine that it would be quite hard– the fibers are so short, they’d want to fly all over the place. But some people apparently like it. As weird as I find it personally, I am going to have to withhold judgement. Silk, after all, is nothing more than worm spit, and I can’t spin enough of the stuff.
There was a period of time in either the 18th or 19th century where is was popular to spin human hair and use it for artwork. I remember a piece at a historical site where I used to be a guide that I would point out. (I want to say mid-19th century, but my memory is really hazy here.)
While it’s a bit weird in our culture, I don’t see too much disgusting about it. I mean, I pet my dog’s fur all the time and I wear long hair. What makes it disgusting once it is separated from the animal? Heck, given all the fur my dog sheds normally, it certainly would be more eco-friendly than filling my trash with her hair.
I googled one of the authors. She has quite an interesting bio–it mentions the book, too, as the only craft book ever reviewed in the New York Times Book Review: http://www.effie.org/about/board/crolius
Yuck. Just yuck.
Spinning pet hair seem like a great way to put all of that shedding to use. I would LOVE to have a scarf made out of my cats’ fur but I would probably avoid mentioning that it is cat yarn when anyone asks about it. I don’t need to be the creepy cat lady…
I have friends who actually have their dog’s hair spun and then they knit it into a variety of things. They say it’s very soft. Makes me glad I have a short-haired dog–I don’t need any more hobbies!
I don’t see why people are grossed out by it. You’re wearing the dog’s fur/hair, not their skin. It’s no different really then wearing stuff spun from sheep’s world or rabbit fur.
My dog, Audrey, passed away at the age of 16 back in February. If I had known about this and knew someone who did it I probably would’ve saved her fur from her haircuts and had them make me something. Not a sweater, I don’t like sweaters. But maybe a nice little pad to rest her urn on.
*sighs* Wool, not world.
This is what happens when I reply before drinking coffee.
My SIL threatened all the time to spin the hair shed by my brother’s Great Pyrenees–too bad she never did it.
They’re great dogs, btw. Gigantic, but very calm.
Keep the book. I spin and knit dog hair, rabbit hair, goat hair (mohair and cashmere), llama, alpalca, sheep (wool). You brush or shear the animal and make clothing out of it. There’s nothing smelly or gross about washed animal hair or fleece. I have tried spinning my own hair and that’s awful.
And to think I’ve been complaining about how our dog won’t stop shedding all over the carpet when I could be putting all that fur to use … NOT. Ewww yuck. I don’t like her fur on my carpet and I definitely wouldn’t want to wear it. 🙂
My mom saved, spun and knit her dogs hair into a scarf. It was the itchiest thing I have ever seen. I think its actually a really neat idea, you just have to have the right kind of dog. Sadly, Dexter isn’t.
We have a copy of this in my library. It creeps me out, but hey, it circulates.
knitting dog hair is kind of a thing, so I would say this was a keeper. I have 6 dogs but only one that produces hair in any quantity & I would not want to do it, but I know people who are into it. Mostly they seem to make non-garment-type things. I have never seen a dog hair sweater, but I have seen bags, scarves & memorial samplers.
I have a friend who was just looking for information on this at the begining of the week (she loves her dogs). Have to admit this is one I would actually BUY for the library. If anyone has a copy and doesn’t want it I would be happy to take it.
Took me a moment. My first inclination was to laugh and say “WEIRD”…but let’s be honest. WHY are we being grossed out or weirded out by this? I mean really? I couldn’t come up with a good reason and let the knee-jerk reaction go.
Sure, not many people have a good long haired dog, an urge to experiment with fiber, and a spinning wheel around, but that makes it merely a niche interest, not an icky one.
Recently I had a patron who was looking for just such a book. We didn’t have anything so she made a purchase suggestion. If you have a dog like a samoyed, its just another type of fluffy hair like angora rabbit.
I was VERY jealous when my sister’s godmother sent her a pair of socks knitted with dog hair! My godparents sent no gifts, and probably didn’t even have dogs. They also had nothing to do with my Christian upbringing. Moral: an eccentric godparent is better than a do-nothing godparent. DON’T WEED IT!
It’s a keeper. The right type of undercoat makes wonderfully soft, warm yarn. I’m actually amused at the number of people going “ew.” Cashmere is made from goat hair. Have you ever been around goats? They’re pretty disgusting animals. But we’ll pay through the nose for the fibers.
I’m just disturbed that this book was on the list so soon after the cat dissection one.
i’d hate to get my pets mixed up.
I get cat hair sweaters and I don’t even ask for them.
Good grief…have you ever put much research into where fiber traditionally comes from? The idea really is not so far-fetched. Less so than turning plastic bags into fiber!
We’ve got this one:
Actually lots of knitters are interested in this kind of book. It’s a keeper. If nothing else, you can knit your dog a little dog-hair sweater!
I don’t think it’s *that* gross, but I found a book in our library’s knitting section that had little clips of all these different kinds of animal hair/fur. The book was probably thirty years old, and those bits of hair were nasty-looking.
My great-aunt actually used to “harvest” her Samoyed’s hair and had it spun into yarn – I think she knitted a tam and matching scarf – True story.
If you know an outdoorsman (mountain climber, ice fisherman etc.), there’s nothing they’d like better than a pair of doghair socks – they’re incredibly warm, too warm for indoor clothing use, but fine for jacket liners and extreme weather gear. So there’s your Christmas-shopping tip from me.
Okay, the comments have covinced me that it might produce a nice sweater.
But the cover says to wear it on a “Three-dog night” Isn’t a three-dog night a very, very hot night?
“Isn’t a three-dog night a very, very hot night?”
Um, no – a three-dog night is a very, very cold night.
The term refers to the number of dogs you’d would need to allow in bed to keep warm at night – a three-dog night was the coldest. Maybe with four dogs, there’d be no room for the human.
No. Three dog night means it’s SO COLD you have to sleep with three dogs to keep warm.
I forgot to mention it’s also the name of an awesome band.
No, it’s the opposite. It’s a rating system of how many dogs you need to keep warm. Two dog night is cold, three dog night is even colder.
Two (or three) dog night
Australian. The number of dogs needed to sleep cuddled up to for keeping warm.
I thought it was a band, cbjames.
cbjames, you’ve got it backwards. A “three dog night” is a very cold night, when you need three dogs in bed with you to keep warm. Presumably a dog-hair sweater would replace at least one dog. (None of mine have the right sort of hair, I don’t think–I’ve got a pointer, a lab mix, and a beagle mix. The pointer makes a nice hot-water bottle because her coat is so thin, she gives off a lot of heat, but I don’t think her hair would spin into thread at all.)
We’d rather let our labrador Archie roam the hills with a full coat of hair than sheer him for our personal comfort. Although he might take it as rather a compliment to see us in a labrador sweater or coat.
When we got our first Bernese Mountain Dog we were told there was good news – they only moult once per year. The bad news was the moult lasted 365 days! Over the years we had them we did have spinners contact us to ask us to save the fur we collected when we brushed them, so they could use it for spinning & knitting up.
I’m sickly intrigued. LOL
There are taxidermy books, and this is much more animal-friendly. I wear wool, and it’s funky when wet. I’m reading from my diplomatic teleprompter and withholding the laugh track!
Oh, definitely keep this one. Dog hair, cat hair — it’s big business. I’ve also seen a person who knits, then felts the fabric and makes purses, so that people can have a little piece of Rover or Fluffy to remember him by when he crosses Rainbow Bridge. Maybe creepy to some, but popular with pet lovers and, IMHO, better than keeping the pooch stuffed on the mantel.
This is a keeper,those knitters are hard core. I see them around even in coffee shops. Their hands don’t stop moving making something.
I have a pair of dog’s wool half gloves. Warmest things I’ve ever worn, and make a great supplement to regular mittens.
It’s not disgusting, and they don’t smell. I’m really surprised that people haven’t heard of this.
They are dyed a lovely leaf green.
My girlfriend says that during WWII in Norway, when wool was rationed, folks used to use dog hair as a substitute. Thanks for the exciting discussion!
Awesome! Someone gave me this book and I have it on a shelf in my office as a curiosity, but could never quite bring myself to add it to the library collection. I’m an avid knitter and beginning spinner, but I generally stick to sheep, goat, and alpaca. No reason this should gross me out, I guess, but it does!!
Still chuckling about the cool mullets from last week…
We have that book at our library. We had a knitting display up for awhile last winter and we found this little prize. I love it!
At first I tried to think knitting with dog hair perhaps isn’t such a horrible idea it first seemed – and then I thought of wearing it in the rain…
Or soaking it from the inside by sweating out of fear of smelling like a wet dog.
Don’t worry about getting dog hair wet and smelling like a dog. Do you smell like a sheep when your wool sweater gets wet? No, you probably just get warmer, as wool generates heat when it’s wet. Do you smell like a goat when your cashmere sweater get’s wet. No.
Now silk. That stinks when it gets wet.
Why is it any weirder than making a sweater from sheep hair or goat hair? We had a Pomeranian we got from a breeder. Her friend had spun the Pom hair from her daily brushing of a couple of dozen dogs into a nice cashmere-like yarn, and knitted her a heavy outdoor type sweater. It was softer than wool, and very warm.
For a while we kept the combings of our ivory Pom, but life is too short to learn to spin… or even to find a spinster. (My mom’s a knitter). The up side is you don’t have to card the wool because it comes out of the dog-brush pre-carded.
Keep the book.
I think the fact that the little boy on the front is wearing a dog-hair sweater with a picture of a freaking CAT on it is a real kick in the teeth for the poor canines… They’ve seen their hair collected up by freaky humans and then turned into a garment that worships the arch-enemy.
p.s all books ever should have ‘Stop vacuuming and start KNITTING’ written on them, that’s amazing.
There’s a dog-loving knit blogger called Yarnhog (www.yarnhog-yarnhog.blogspot.com) who wrote at length (maybe a year or two ago?) about spinning her dog’s hair and ultimately knitting it into a blanket as an intarsia dog shape (making the whole blanket of dog hair would have been too hot.) Kinda cool, and has pictures.
Keep it. I am a spinner and I’ve been asked by several people if I could spin their pet hair into yarn. Depends on the kind of hair, but it can be done.
It’s not any more disgusting than any other animal fiber (sheep, goat, rabbit, etc.).
I think what weirds people out is the fact that they KNOW that animal and are freaked out by wearing a part of it.
I’m less freaked out by a scarf knitted from Fido’s hair than a stuffed Fido sitting in a corner. 🙂
Robots in disguise!
(big points to anyone who gets this. Probably only the very rare Australian…)
I think I’ve seen this book before.
I also hand spin, and I have to echo the sentiments of the other spinners. There are all kinds of fibers you can use to spin, and they all have their pros and cons. Yes, you can be allergic to dog hair, and dog hair can be itchy. But the same can be said for more “normal” fibers wool, alpaca, mohair, etc. I’m mildly allergic to dogs and cats, so I probably wouldn’t try spinning dog or cat fur.
That being said, an entire sweater out of dog hair is considered overkill by many spinners. I’ve seen a few purses, and I can see smaller items like hats. Knitting an entire sweater out of your own handspun is quite a feat, regardless of the fiber. But entire sweaters out of dog hair are the stuff of legends.
(I have read one story about someone who did knit an entire dog hair sweater. It was fine until it rained and she smelled like wet dog. I can’t remember the breed.)
Based on what I’ve seen, spinning *your* pet’s hair is a novelty. I’ve seen it with both dog and cat hair. Often it’s just a small skein or even just a short length of yarn just to say “hey, look what I did.” (I’ve contemplated using my pet rabbit’s hair, but I think the fibers would be too short.)
I took this picture at a yarn shop in San Antonio. A couple of spinners showed off yarn they spun from their cats’ fur:
I think this book would have a place in a library, although the topic is a bit out there, even for spinners. I would be interested in reading more. Do they talk about dog breeds? Some might might go out of their way for Pomeranian fiber, but might not go for it if they have a breed with wiry hair. Is the dog hair combined with other fibers? Is the dog yarn used throughout the entire pattern, or just for trim?
So I would it’s not a weeder.
(Although I agree that “Woof to Warp” is inaccurate. Perhaps “Canine to Cast On” would have been a better subtitle.)
When I was a kid growing up in Canada. I had a neighbour who had Samoyeds and she used the fur to knit hats etc. This was in the 70s. However, I’m sure its a niche market!
Niche market – yes, interesting pursuit – yes. However it is unlikely to become a passion. There is no reason not to spin the cleaned fur/fiber, especially when it is gathered in a manner similar to angora rabbits. I am a hand spinner and think you can learn a little something from everything you spin. I’d keep the book in the library – I would like to check it out, try it, and then return the book. It isn’t something I would buy, but would like to read about.
actually i have seen this book somewhere and have heard of people spinning dog hair into wool, although it is not something that would appeal to me. i do have a long haired cat whose hair loss is amazing, the fibers end up in long, long strands (under the bed where she sleeps especially), might be interesting to try and spin her fur 🙂
The strands from Samoyed undercoat are 2-4 inches long are easy to turn into yarn with a wheel. I would get half a paper grocery sack of shedding combed from each dog each spring and just keep it until I had a few bags full. (Note: PAPER sacks. Plastic will not breathe and the unwashed fur will get funky.) I used to have a deal with a spinner. She spun the fur and kept half of the yarn for herself. It knits up just like angora and is incredibly warm and lightweight. When it gets wet, it smells like a wet mink coat. It is no creepier than any other natural yarn.
Hey! I *OWN* that book!
I love the idea of wearing something of pet’s hair! I’ve been thinking of knitting something of my cats’ hair for a while now, a scarf maybe, but I just haven’t gotten around to start collecting the hair, and before that I have to find someone locally who’d be willing to spin it.
One of my cats has this unique shiny black coat with silvery white undercoat, it should look beautiful when spun and knitted. I actually have tried felting a tuft of her hair just to see what color it turn sout, and it’s nice silvery grey.
So yeah, that’s a keeper.
I wonder if there’s a similar one for cats wool:)
I just want to point out that Martha Stewart is apparently bringing this back. She talked about it on Late Night with Conan a few years ago. She had the dogs’ hair made into dog sweaters. So strange…
Hi. I used to live with 4 cats, all street cats that I adopted.
I DID spin the hair they shedded, and the resulting yarn was very nice. I only did this a few times, and I managed only to knit a small square of 100% cat wool. It was a bit fragile, since these cats were short haired, and I’m no expert in spinning…
Oh, one little thing: one of my cats behaved quite strangely about the cat yarn and about the resulting cat yarn square… She would bite the square and lick it… as if it were a kitten maybe??? a few times I left the square unguarded and this cat tore it to pieces trying to “straighten it up”. She also ate some bits of the yarn I was collecting. I can only guess she ate much of the square too… But she never got sick, that I noticed. Anyway, it seems to me that cats can recognise their own fur even when spinned and knitted. Has anyone had a similar experience? Let me know please. (BTW, this 100% cat square had been washed a few times. I really don’t think it had anything to do with smell)…
Well, now I’m thinking of spinning my own hair. I cut it at home, and I decided to keep it and spin it maybe. 🙂 This won’t make allergics tingle!
Funny story, but Cats 101 on Animal Planet recently did a bit on a woman who regularly shaves her long-haired cats and uses the hair to make purses and other goods.
My cats too recognize spinned bits of each others and their own hair, and try catching and biting it. Maybe they think it’s a cat, or simply fun? Once I actually felted a small ball of their hair, and they excitedly chased it around the room:) From what you said, it looks like normal behaviour.
Even if the hair is washed and a human nose smells nothing, a cat’s nose is much more sensitive, so I’d guess they sense the smell even after a few washings. I wonder if this means that things knitted from cats hair shouldn’t be left unguarded when cats are around? I can’t check this, as I don’t have anything of cats yarn.
Eating the square should be no more harmful for a cat that licking their own fur, as it’s still the same hair, I wouldn’t be worried about it.
OMG I’ve got this book at home. It’s actually quite interesting. Unfortunately I bought the wrong type of dog for spinning – with a Jack Russell I’d get a hair shirt, if I could get enough hair. I wouldn’t have it in my school library but would leave it in any other library.
One has to wonder if the early settlers used dog hair to make clothes. They didn’t waste much of anything.