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.