|Me and Patch... my Collie cross|
Question: I have kept cairn terrier fur/hair from my cairn and am interested in trying to use it to make Christmas ornaments or something like that. I have been told to use some carded wool with the fur in order to spin it. I have an old spinning wheel and carders so know how to do that but my spun wool lacks expertise or perhaps just need to practice more.
I have also wondered about the possibility of felting with it. Would I need to use some lamb's wool with it in order to keep it from splitting? Would dry or wet felting be better?
I want to make these items for some volunteer friends in our cairn terrier rescue group. Any advice you could give me would be appreciated. If my ideas do not seem reasonable please tell me so.
Do you know of any books that speak to using dog fur/hair?
Cairn's have a double coat, the outer one is very harsh and the under one is very soft. It is beautiful.
I trust your abilities and knowledge. Thank you so much, Judy.
Answer: Hi Judy,
I've personally never felted with dog hair, or spun with it... but it can be done, so I am told.
I couldn't find a book per-say on any of the techniques you asked about, but there is YouTube help.
Here's what I can tell you though;
- You may need to do a quick test piece with say 10g of hair.
- Test with the outer coat (more coarse), so the whole double coat and then test with just the under coat. You may find the under coat is the hair that likes to felt, or spin... coarse fibres can be harder to get to do what you want them to do.
- Test these same parameters again by adding 50% merino... Merino felts and spins well so it's I think the better choice here.
Preparation of fibres for spinning or felting -
- Wash and dry the dog
- Trim the dog and lay out the fibre on a table.
- Sort the fibre into what is usable... we tend to skirt a fleece, so with a dog you may wish to do the same and throw out the back end fibre (check if the leg and belly fibre also needs binning). Having said this I did read on-line that someone found the leg and belly hair better on a dog, because the top /saddle is more coarse... so experiment.
- Brush the fibre so that you release any further dust and skin cells.
- Taking a small length of merino and a handful of hair, start blending with your hand carders... ideally I think you will want a 50/50 blend for ease of spinning as I don't think a Cairn's hair is a long staple. Traditionally you might use a supported spindle on shorter fibres, so that you don't have the weight added to the tension of drafting. I think a 50/50 blend with wool should avoid any spinning issues for you.
- As for technique I think I would personally use a short forward draw, for better control of the twist going into my yarn. I would also add extra twist.
- Having said this here are some videos on dog hair spinning (by Spinning My Wheels - Leading a Warped Life) where the spinner uses a different style... Spinning Dog Hair - Part 1 and Spinning Dog Hair - Part 2 and finally Spinning Dog Hair - Part 3. You can see her yarn is very delicate, because of the shorter staple, so it might be worth considering the 50/50 hair to wool blend we talked about.
- I think the overall yarn will have a 'halo', fluffy appearance.
Wet Felt Making -
- I found this video... Trans-Formation: Felting Dog Hair (by Natalie Magnin), which shows the crafter used one layer of dog hair and one layer of wool in her felt. Now I don't know if this will work with a shorter haired dog, so my advice is try a small swatch like this and try a second swatch where you blend the dog hair and wool fibre together as you did for spinning.
Needle Felting -
- Depending on how well the dog hair will wet felt will give you an indication of how well it will needle felt on it's own. You may end up with some mohair (fluffy) decorations. Blending it with merino may lessen this. As with all decorations and 3D sculptures I recommend starting with a 36 gauge, triangle needle to get your shape, then progressing to a 38 star to make the shape solid and finally decorating with a fine 40 gauge, triangle needle.
I hope this helps you get started... if you don't mind I'd like to add this information to the blog. So when it is ready I will send you a link and please feel free to comment on that post to share your experiments and findings... this is very interesting to me.
Have a wonderful day... Sara x
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