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Betty Burian Kirk

Collecting the Dog Hair

For a nice yarn, collect hair that has the longest length and softest feel. Avoid guard hairs, they will make the yarn harsher. Colors of the hairs from several dogs can be blended to achieve a desired effect. Wool can be added to dog hair, but I prefer to spin it without adding wool.

Brushings of the dog's undercoat with a slicker brush, are the most desirable for soft yarn. Routinely brush your dog and save the hair. Spring shedding has fewer guard hairs. Prime hair or the softest comes from the dog's ruff, shoulders, back and sides. The legs, breeches and tail tend to have coarser hair. When storing dog hair, do not pack it tightly as this can cause it to become matted. Keep the hair in paper bags or in a cardboard box. Fill a bag only three-quarters full. Since dog hair is a protein fiber, moths may attack it just as they do wool, so be vigilant.

Clipped dog hair tends to make a coarse, harsh, prickly yarn. If you save your dog's hair clipping, save only the softest and longest and dispose of the short fibers. Terriers who are stripped tend to have coarse hair which makes a yarn that is not suitable for garment, but can be used for rugs or wall hangings. The hair from short hair dogs is rarely suitable for yarn.

Characteristics of Dog Hair Yarn

Dog hair yarn is very dense, heavy, non elastic and very warm. Because most dog hair is very short, it requires a lot of twist to hold it in place. To do this the yarn must be thin. To make thicker yarn it needs to be plied, several strands twisted together. When being spun, dog hair is smooth, slippery and short compared to wool. Because of this, dog hair yarn is heavier than wool when comparing the same length of yarn. With use, it fuzzes up to form a halo.

The breed of dog you have, the texture of the hair and the way the yarn is spun determines how your dog hair can be used. Dog hair can range from thin, soft and fine to thick coarse and harsh.

The nicest yarn generally comes from dogs with two coats, especially the northern breeds such as Samoyed and Husky.