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Friday, February 11, 2011

Spinning Dog Fur: A Poodle Adventure

Meet Carl, the 80-pound standard poodle.  Before I learned to spin he was just a great, big, furry, lovable, happy pal.  Once I started spinning I began to eye him in a new way.

All those lovely black curls...

Tightwad that I am, I decided not to let Carl's coat end up in the groomer's wastebasket.

My first attempt at harvesting his coat was disaster, but I learned something important.  Wash dog first.  THEN clip.  I assumed I could treat a poodle coat like a fleece.  I clipped the dog and washed the fur very, very gently in shampoo.  It turned into a mass of black felt.  I salvaged less than half an ounce, spun a tiny ball of 2-ply, sent it to Spin-Off and got it pictured in the fall 2009 issue, but that was it.

Last spring I was ready.  I washed the dog FIRST.  Let him dry.  Combed out the tangles.  Then I clipped off the best parts of his coat - like a sheep's fleece, that was the neck, back, sides, and rump.  I didn't bother with the rest.  I took him to the groomer looking like an advertisement for mange and carried on with my fiber fun.

Despite how soft my dog feels when I pet him, his fur was somewhat wiry.  The crimp is open.  Because he is middle-aged there are now a lot of white hairs mixed in.  So I decided to blend the dog fur with natural black merino.  I carded up four big batts.

I don't remember why, but for some reason I had to set aside the project at this stage.  I laid the batts carefully over the back of an old sofa in the basement and decided to get back to it when I had time.  Fast forward to this fall.  When I went to finish the carding, half the fiber had felted, JUST from the summer heat and humidity of my basement.  I have never had t his happen, not even to rabbit angora.  I threw the matted junk away and re-carded what was left.  I carded it three times.

Here is what I ended up with - poodle/merino roving.

It was NOT easy to spin!  I swear the fiber WANTS to felt.  It felted when I looked at it.  It felted as I spun.   It was hard drafting but finally I finished the yarn - 400 yds of two-ply, just in time for our Fiber Guild meeting.  I skeined it and made it into a yarn twist.  That was less than two weeks ago.

Today I took the UNTOUCHED skein out of the closet.  The strands are felting together.  Can't blame humidity this time of year - it is dry, dry dry.

What I learned:
1. My dog's fur is great for felting.
2. I don't love spinning dog fur.
3. There is a reason sheep are the primary fleece animal in the world

I probably will not be spinning any more of Carl's fur.  But someone is going to get a dandy pair of felted slippers or mittens, courtesy of the family canine.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's Official! Side-Kick Prices

I just got the news from Schacht - here are the prices on their new travel wheel, the Side Kick.

The Sidekick package (full wheel, bobbins, etc) is $785.

And here is some GREAT news for those who already own a Lady Bug or Matchless - The Side Kick is available without whorls, bobbins or a flyer for $665.  If you are happy to share parts between your wheels, you can get this fantastic travel wheel for a considerable savings!

The Bulky Flyer kit is an additional $260.

I am taking pre-orders.  $200 down will reserve your place in line.  Don't wait!