Look what wonderful contribution our member Connie sent:
What a nuisance we think, constantly having to clean up hair everywhere. But have you ever thought of using your beloved pet’s hair? It can be done, and beautiful items can be made with your pet’s own coat for a wonderful memory that you can keep close to your heart. Shedding offers us that opportunity!
Why have my pet’s hair spun into yarn or made into a keepsake?
We all love our pets dearly and want the opportunity to keep them as long as possible, but many have passed over the Rainbow Bridge and by having their hair spun into yarn and having a keepsake made from this yarn is a great comfort to the family. It keeps our beloved pets’ memories alive within us, offering great comfort in times of sadness and missing them.
Collecting your pet’s hair or other fibers
You can collect your pet’s hair while brushing or from clipping/shearing depending what kind of pet owns you. Matted or dirty fiber should be discarded, as this will increase the weight of beginning shipment and the cost of your spinning services.
For best results fibers should be at least 2 inches in length, although shorter fibers can still be used with blending. It is best to store the hair in either a cloth or paper bag to prevent matting of the fiber.
Your fiber can be spun alone or be blended. Having your fiber blended will produce added strength and resilience to your finished yarn. I like to use Merino or Blue Faced Leicester wool to blend with other fibers but if you have a different preference of wool/fibers that you would like blended that can be done as well.
You should avoid the coarse hair fibers and discard them, as using them, even when blended with soft wool, will make your finished item itchy and scratchy that you would not want to wear next to the skin. There is really no way to produce soft yarns from prickly fibers.
After the hair is collected, either by brushing or shearing, the hair is then carded or combed into what is known as ‘Roving’. I prefer to blend dog hair with soft, long staple wool to give the finished yarn bounce, softness and resilience. I like about a 50/50 blend of wool with dog hair, however, some spinners use a different percentage.
The roving can then be spun into a single ply yarn, or here you see for example a German Shepherd Dog and Wool Blend just plied into a 3 ply yarn.
Once your fiber has been spun and plied, it is then taken off the bobbin and made into a ‘hank’ or ‘skein’ of yarn. The skein is then washed and hung to dry. During the drying process the yarn not only dries it also relaxes it into a well balanced yarn with a set twist.
Here you see the above GSD yarn as a 3 ply skein that is now ready to be used in knitting or crocheting which ever you prefer. The remaining images show examples of the finished products of the GSD yarn shown earlier. Notice the ‘halo’ effect of the yarn.
When knitting, the yarn becomes even softer and produces a ‘halo’ effect which makes it look fuzzy. This knitted scarf is very warm and soft to the touch; it can be worn next to the skin without irritation.
This scarf uses a minimal amount of yarn as the total weight of the finished product was only 5 ounces. Amount of yarn needed is totally dependent on the pattern you choose to make your item.
Here for example you see a finished knitted scarf and hat.
Common Questions Answered:
How much yarn will I get from my pet’s hair?
There is no single answer to this question. If you are sending short or dirty fiber, there will be a substantial loss of fiber which could be as much as 33 to 50 percent loss during the processing of the fiber for spinning. Clean, longer fibers have far less loss from processing.
It is not necessary to have a large amount of hair in order to have a keepsake made of your pet’s hair. A small skein can easily be made out of a couple of handfuls of hair blended with wool. You can then hang the small skein near a photo of your beloved pet. This makes a beautiful wall hanging and conversation piece.
Will the yarn from my pet ‘SHED’?
The shorter the fiber the easier it will shed no matter how tightly it is spun. Fiber shorter than 2 inches will shed out of the finished yarn for a longer period of time. Blending your fiber with wool will decrease the amount of shed but the yarns using fibers less than 2 inches should still be handled with care.
Longer fibers shed less and for a shorter period of time. I personally do not recommend using fibers that are less than 2 inches in length for knitting.
What is the cost of spinning my fiber?
Every spinner has their own way of figuring cost for their spinning services, prices vary per spinner from $6.00 – $20.00 per ounce. So please check with your spinner personally for their exact charges and what it might include or exclude.
I personally charge as follows: Charges are based upon the weight of the finished yarn, not on the initial weight of the raw fiber. Shipping and handling costs are excluded in this charge. Shipping and handling charges are based on the actual cost of returned product plus insurance.
If you would like wool or other fibers blended into your fiber, there is an additional cost for the fiber but no additional cost for blending. If you would like to provide the fiber to be blended there is no additional cost to you. My charges for spinning your raw fibers include: Carding, spinning, plying, skein winding, weighing, measuring, washing, conditioning, and labeling.
The yarn is spun to your specifications by providing me with a sample of the weight/size of yarn you would like. I personally charge $6.00 per ounce for a 2 ply yarn, and $8.00 per ounce for a 3 ply yarn. This charge includes all of the above mentioned processing services. I do not take this responsibility lightly, I know how truly precious the fibers are that are being entrusted to me.
If you are interested in having your Brushings spun into a beautifully soft, wearable yarn/item, you can contact your local Spinners Guild for more information on someone in your area that will provide these services or you may contact me at: spinlouet (at) yahoo (dot) com for more information.
I am located in OHIO, USA. I have been spinning yarn from various fibers for over 25 years. For the past 3 years I have been spinning dog hair exclusively.
The above article was written by me, Connie Petersen, 2013. The contents are from my own personal experience and knowledge as a hand spinner of various fibers for over 30 years and a knitter of over 45 years.