Tag Archives: spinning

Dog and Cat Fur Yarn – Who Knew???

Yesterday I talked about my lust for odd yarns. Possum in particular. That got me thinking about what other fur I’d like to see yarn made out of. We used to laugh about saving our dog hair because heaven knows there is enough of it rolling around the house. At the time we had an Old English Sheep Dog. He was the most lovable dog, but honestly as dumb as a rock.

Now we have a black Lab. She is a sweetheart and is really smart. Extra bonus in a dog! You may think I am bragging (ok, I’ll admit it, I am) but she is probably the smartest dog we’ve had. And we’ve had lots of dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll give you a glimpse of Indy in action. She loves to play fetch. She is truly a Labrador. Given a choice between food or fetching, the Frisbee always wins. Anyway, one afternoon my husband was up in the our loft  throwing her ball over the railing into the living room so she would have to run up and down the stairs. He figured he’d wear her out faster. After a few times he heard her scratching at the carpet. The ball was under the bookshelf, so he had to run down to get it out for her. He sat back down at the computer, tossed the ball over the railing and continued typing. Next thing he hears is her scratching again. The ball was under the bookshelf. He ran down, threw the ball and stood at the railing. That’s when he saw her pick up the ball, toss it under the shelves, and scratch the floor looking up to see if he was coming. She succeeded in training the hubby to run down the stairs every time.

Sorry, I was talking about dog fur yarn. Anyway, Indy is super soft and especially in the spring and fall, black fur bunnies collect by the dozens under the sofa, chairs, beds…maybe I should start saving it because I found a place that will make it into yarn!

Check out the website for VIP Yarns http://vipfibers.com/. They will tell you everything you want to know and more about creating yarn out of your pet’s fur. Instead of throwing away all of those hand fulls of fur you clean up or brush out you can save it and have custom yarns! If you don’t knit or crochet, they even offer custom items they will make for you out of this fur. Everything from bookmarks to teddy bears, pillows, scarves and blankets are offered. I guess if you have a Pekingese you should plan on a  bookmark, and proud owners of Malamutes (they shed faster than a tree after the first hard frost) can shoot for the blankets.

There is a really cool question and answer page that is worth a look-see even if you don’t feel like collecting your pet’s cast off hair to create some custom yarn.

For $12.00 an ounce (3 ounce minimum – based on the weight of the raw fiber) they will do all of the following with the fiber you send in. They will card it to create a “well balanced yarn”. They will then roll it into rollags and hand spin to sport weight yarn. Then two threads are spun in opposite directions to create 2-ply yarn, which is sturdier. It will be measured for yardage and yarn size and weighed. It is washed and soaked until the yarn is clean and odor free. Then they hang the clean skeins in a drying room until dry. The labels are custom. They’ll put your pet’s picture with yardage, weight, care instructions (for the yarn, not the pet) and breed.

They will spin all kinds of animal hair for you. The partial list list includes any kind of cat or dog you can come up with and some others that may interest you. I know they made me go hummm. Angora rabbit, buffalo, camel, goat, coyote, wolf and of course my Labrador Retriever were included. I’m sure if I could just talk to those people at the zoo, VIP Fibers would be happy to add lion, bear and snow leopard to their list.

While yesterday’s yarns were created by hunting and trapping pests that had to be destroyed (per the government regulations in New Zealand, using humane procedures) the fibers made from pet fur that would normally be landfill. I would like to give this a try just once, but wonder how long it would take to collect 3 ounces of dog fur. Has anyone tried this?

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New Zealand Possum Yarn!

I saw a sign once that life is too short to use cheap yarn. That doesn’t mean you can’t use bargain priced yarn, just not yarn that feels yucky or doesn’t drape nicely when the scarf, sweater or whatever you are making is complete. Yarn fascinates me. I’ve always been a tactile kind of person, so it stands to reason I like to feel my yarn before I by it. Different weights, different fibers and different processing can all make a difference in yarns. The feel of a nice alpaca or silk blend is heavenly. I’ve used bamboo sock yarn and wool that is soft, scratchy, smooth and lumpy.

Lately, I’ve gone for unusual yarns. At Stitches Midwest I bought some Bison yarn. It is hot pink and black – I imagine the bison would NOT be happy with his fur being turned into these colors, but I loved ’em. I also saw some possum yarn. I dragged my friend back to look at it then we must have gotten distracted by something else, because I ended up not buying it. I was picturing the ugly, rat tailed possums we have in Illinois. They are mean looking critters that have short hair. We actually were trying to figure out how they made a decent yarn out of these overgrown rats.

The next day my friend went back to Stitches, and I decided to text her to pick up that crazy yarn. By the time she got out of class, the vendor wasn’t there. Now I’m obsessed with this weird yarn. So, thanks to the internet, the world of wonky yarn is at my fingertips.

On the contrary – the New Zealand’s possums are actually kind of cute. But New Zealand doesn’t really think they are that cute anymore Apparently in 1837 they were released in the bush to establish a fur industry. There are two breeds, Australian, which have have “rich blue grey fur” and Tasmainian which have “red brown fur”. They have interbreed. Because they are marsupials, not rodents like the American possum, their fur is “hard wearing, silky and plush”.

Possums actively destroying New Zealand's native bush and birds

Unfortunately, they’ve overrun the place. by 1980, 91% of New Zealand was inhabited by them. The Australian possum is a marsupial and a very different species to the American possum, a rodent. The yarn comes from feral animals because it is against New Zealand’s environmental laws to breed or farm them.

Now I am totally obsessed with getting some of this yarn. The website tells us it is not only great yarn, but it is helping their fur industry because the more possums are over running the country and killing off the native species of animals and plants.

The website I found sells Supreme Possum Merino. It as 40% possum fur. The yarn was created from the from the “desire to see a world class quality product made from an ecology ravaging pest”. All Supreme Possum Merino yarn comes from feral animals because it is against New Zealand’s environmental laws to farm or commercially breed possums. The collection of possums is humane and according to Department of Conservation regulations.

The yarn is available in 4 ply, 8 ply and 12 ply. The only light color available is “natural”, but blues, greens, a really pretty burgundy and a darker pink was available. The price wasn’t bad – approx 10.80 US dollars. I don’t know about shipping, because I haven’t ordered any yet – but I’m gonna!

Check out the website, even if you don’t want to get some of the yarn. It just amazes me that yarn can be made out of a “ravaging pest” and be soft and warm.

It makes me wonder what other creatures make soft furry yarn. My stash has that wild bison yarn (I’m going to make some mittens for me, but maybe not until after the first of the year). I have a few balls of yak yarn I found online, don’t know what that will become. There is a wonderful hank of alpaca that I bought because it has the animal’s picture on it that it came from. Alpaca is common, but nice, and this one was cool since I almost feel like I knew the animal it came from.

Maybe the keepers at our local zoo will start collection of lion’s mane that litters their dens. I’d love to use some of the fur from the polar bears or the grizzlies that live there. I’ve seen tufts of fur in their dens, I wonder what they do with it? Do you think our founding mothers used these kinds of fur when spinning yarns? (of course I’m not talking about the lion fur, don’t be silly) If I find out answers to these burning questions, I’ll let you know.

 

(Thanks to http://www.merinopossum.co.nz/why_merino_possum.htm for all the info on the yarn and possum history in New Zealand – and the possum pic). All the zoo animal pics courtesy of my wonderful hubby.

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