Posted by: PeggyGaffney | June 18, 2008

Working Dog Hair into your Sweater

Now for those of us who have dogs, having dog hair in a sweater is a given. Dogs shed! That is one of life’s facts and if they are going to shed anywhere, it will be on you. However, what I’m talking about now is working dog hair into the sweater as part of your knitting plan.

As those of us who have Arctic dogs know, dog hair is warm, very warm. My dogs go out and sleep in the snow with icicles hanging from the coat and they are warm as toast. So will you be if you knit an entire sweater of dog hair. My friends who have done this have found that these sweaters are too warm to wear for any length of time unless they are outside in January.

No, the use of dog hair in the sweater that I’m referring to is the inclusion of it in the pattern. Dog hair, especially that which has been blended with other natural fibers such as merino wool works beautifully as an accent or when you are working the intarsia design.

When you are knitting the intarsia pattern of your dog, you want it to look as close to the original as knitting will allow. You may not be able to match the coat color with the shades of wool or cotton available even though they are numerous and varied. The answer might be to take combings from your dog; and you really don’t need much, and have it spun to be the yarn used when knitting the dog’s coat. That would guarantee a perfect match

What I have also done is knit the sweater in wool or cotton and then using pure dog hair that has been spun, and gone over the dog pattern in duplicate stitch. This had two benefits. One was that since the same gauge yarn was used throughout the sweater, there was a smooth transition between yarns. The second was that by working the stitches over the original yarn using the spun dog hair, all the fluff was on the right side of the work. This was done very effectively on a scenic sweater I knit in Brown Sheep’s Cotton Fleece. I then went back when I finished and worked just the Samoyed in the spun hair. It was very effective and the dog being the only fuzzy part of the design seemed to come to life and almost move.

So give it a try. Find a spinner nearby who will agree to work in dog hair, or teach yourself to spin which will really be fun, or send the hair to a place like VIP Fibers which will spin it in the exact gauge you want. You don’t need much to make a spectacular effect.

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