Spinning Pet Hair - Finn 03-04-21 01

Spinning Pet Hair

The confluence of people who spin and people who love their pets makes this a potentially explosive topic. Is spinning pet hair gross or a loving tribute?

Pros and Cons of Spinning Pet Hair

As someone who loves my pets and who spins, I have thought a lot about this topic. I have only one experience in the past of trying to spin dog hair, and it wasn’t pleasant.

So I tried a small experiment with Finn.  I brushed him with the Furminator deshedding brush (here’s a good conversation about pros and cons of the Furminator, which I won’t weigh into).

Here’s the result:

Finns Fur Roving 03-04-21

Without any further preparation, I started spinning the “roving.”

Spinning Finn 03-04-21 01 Spinning Finn 03-04-21 02

Bland color. Incredibly difficult to spin. Broke incessantly. Had to treadle so slowly, it was the first time I’ve ever preferred a drop spindle to my wheel.

I was only able to get a couple of yards of single spun. But I plied it anyway.

Plied Finn 03-04-21 01

It was relatively soft, despite looking like prickly rope. So I knit it.

Knitted Finn 03-04-21 01 Knitted Finn 03-04-21 02

I had to put a lot of twist in the single and in the plying. But not in equal measure. So, it wasn’t a very balanced yarn, so it created a torqued fabric when I knit it.

It looks scratchier than it is. But here are my overall thoughts.

  • It’s not worth it
    • Takes a while to accumulate enough fluff
    • Spinning is dreadful…both difficult and creates a really bad yarn
    • The resulting knitted fabric could not be used against human skin
  • Come up with a better way of making a keepsake of your pet (I prefer photos)
  • I don’t find it at all disgusting (in fact Finn’s fur was pretty clean and odorless during the process)…I just don’t find it a worthwhile effort

Any other thoughts on this controversial subject?

Current Knitting

Despite this crazy effort at spinning, I also got some knitting accomplished this weekend. I finished another Activities Cap.

Activities Cap Muted Camo 03-07-21 03

Activities Cap Muted Camo 03-07-21 01

Activities Cap Muted Camo 03-07-21 05

It uses a beautiful and soft  and warm yarn that I have no idea what it is. I think it must have some alpaca in it, but I can’t be sure.

Activities Cap Muted Camo 03-08-21 07

It still makes me look idiotic, but I’d wear it to shovel snow. At 3:00 am when no one would see me.

I also finished the first fingerless glove.

Choose Your Cable Adventure Fingerless Gloves 03-08-21 01

Well, almost finished.

Choose Your Cable Adventure Fingerless Gloves 03-08-21 02

I still have a few ends to weave in. But I have cast on for the second glove and I’ll try to focus on finishing that quickly.

What have you got on the needles/hook/loom/spindle/wheel?

11 comments on “Spinning Pet Hair

  1. Personally, the “ick” factor of spinning pet hair will prevent me ever trying this, in spite of having several large long-haired dogs. That being said, I think the fiber probably varies widely between species and, within a species, between breeds, As part of the purebred dog community, I do know people who spin from their dogs’ fur, and I have the impression some is easier to spin and creates a better yarn than others.

    Still loving these hats!

  2. My aunt in Cornwall UK has Great Pyrenees and spins and makes cardigans with their hair. She is never without a long list of people who want them.

    Are you any closer to selling the pattern for the activities cap?

    1. Thanks Jenny…for the Activities Hat/Headband pattern, I’m not promising, but it looks like it will be published and available on Wednesday. At least that’s the current plan.

  3. A zoom knitter/spinner friend, Lisa, in Alaska asked me to save brushings that after our cat made an on screen appearance. Lisa said she would send me the yarn she makes with it. I’m politely passing on that but hope she has fun with feline fiber, although Kitty Baby has her concerns. Identity theft…cloning…. K.B. considers herself the only true cat. All others are impostors and pretenders to the throne!
    The fingerless mittens look fantastic! Yay!

  4. My girlfriend once spun the fur from my angora rabbit. It was beautiful fiber and knit up well-into a gorgeous shawl. Not long after- her dachshund ate the shawl- apparently, the bunny fur smells delicious to dogs. So, that was a lot of work for something that ended badly…

    I am terribly allergic to cats (I once went to the ER after thumbing through a magazine from a cat lady friend’s house- I couldn’t breathe and my eyes swelled shut) so I would never ever ever ever want to have any spun cat fur garment near me. Having said that, I love looking at pictures of cats. Your cat is a real looker.

  5. I found the dog hair for spinning depends on the breed’s hair type. I had a collie husky mix and his hair was wonderful because of the length of the staple, ended up a nice light warm brown. I learned from a woman who lived in Amsterdam during the occupation in WW2 . Her mother and her would gather dog hair, spin it and make socks to barter for food. She told me that you need to spin it dirty, and wash it after you have plied it. She had me use Ivory dish soap and then rinse it in water with white vinegar and then in just water and then in water with lemon juice. If the yarn got wet after that treatment it would not smell like a wet dog! Worked like a charm…used the yarn for hats, and in my weaving.

  6. I wish I had known that process. I knitted a dog hair beanie for a friend, and every time he wore it he smelled like a wet dog! I didn’t enjoy knitting with that fiber, but I’ve always been a cat person.

  7. I had a curly hair angora cat that had to be combed or she would mat up something terrible. And I thought (as a spinner) that it had to be spin-able. So I did, but remember I said her fur matted. The ‘yarn’ matted and was just a mess. I only tried it the one time.

  8. I used to read a blog of a woman who spun her dog’s fur into yarn, then knitted a cat toy out it, which the cat loved (she put catnip in it). I thought that was pretty clever.

  9. I guess it depends on the animal that you get the fur/hair from. I collected the “brushings” from my Birman (Cat) since the day I adopted her. I had her for 6 years before she passed away from a heart condition. I had a pillow-case full of fur and when I spun it I got approximately 10 balls of lovely soft Birman yarn to knit a memorial cushion with.

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