Saturday, February 04, 2006

Locally grown

One of the biggest, if not THE biggest user of petroleum is transportation. Cars, planes, trucks, ships: they use petroleum-based fuels, adding tremendously to air pollution and global warming. So buying whatever one can locally helps reduce one of the worst wastes of this valuable nonrenewable resource and helps keep the world healthier, to boot. Thus, getting your yarns from local sources is one way to help.

But where? Up here in the Frozen North, there aren't too many sheep, and musk oxen, though available, produce really expensive (tho' ever-so-wonderful) wool.

Ah, but there are lots of dogs. Rummaging around in my trunkful o' yarn the other day, I happened to discover a bag of soft doggy wool that I had saved many years ago from my Shetland sheepdog, Piccolo. She has long since gone to that squirrel-chasing forest in the sky, but her fur remains behind, possibly to keep me warm. I have a neighbor who mixes dog wool with angora rabbit wool and makes the most lovely soft and fuzzy hats with the blend. She says the dog wool is a bit slippery (and takes a few washes to reduce that wet-dog smell), but that it works fine in blends.

There's a book out there called Knitting with Dog Hair, and I found a couple of websites for businesses that specialize in knitting or spinning pet hair. One of them, VIP Fibers, even has free patterns. Dog hair is also called chiengora (chien = dog in French). If your interest is in spinning rather than knitting, here's some guidelines for spinning chiengora.

4 comments:

Howard County Green Party Webmistress said...

Hello. It's nice to see you here! I'll be adding you to my blogroll.

One word of advice - NEVER try to use poodle hair, as the wet-poodle smell evidently does not fade. I've heard that other breeds work very well, though.

Some links for you:

Here's a source for organic cotton yarn, http://www.organiccottondirectory.net/lists/FabricYarn.html

'green' cottons are wonderful to work with, and come in a moderate range of interesting colors.

The "revolutionary knitting circle" has a nice peace sign chart.

I thought I had some links to vegetable dyes to share, but all I could find was the knitty.com cool-aid dying. http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall02/FEATdyedwool.html

...although not particulary green, the Knitting Olympics are, of course, of great current interest. http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2006/01/14/citius_altius_fortius.html

Deirdre Helfferich said...

Poodles are notoriously oily, as befits their role as waterbird hunters. Thanks for the links!

sleepygrrrl said...

Poodle hair should be one of the best types of dog hair to knit with as it is not at all oily and doesn't smell. When you collect it, just do it after the dog is bathed to get any dirt and debris out.

I have been thinking of knitting with my own poodle's hair since I've noticed that, when I wash his bed, any loose hairs on it felts in the washing machine.

Anyway, anyone that says that poodles are notoriously oily and smelly is dead wrong and has obviously never owned a poodle. Poodles are known for their lack of smell and that's because their coats have very little oil. They are waterdogs, yes, but their coats are extremely dense and curly and are not waterproof, hence the traditional poodle cuts which are sporting clips. The hair collects so much water that it weighs the dog down when swimming so the hair is only left over vital organs and any parts of the dog that don't need to be kept insulated have the hair cut away.

Look it up.

Moonembrace said...

@sleepygrrrl

Thank you so much!
My family is soon getting a poodle and my father was just asking this question! (My sister's a big knitter) :) i'll soon wear my dog :)