March 2005

Knitting with dog hair (Chiengora)

If you have a dog at home, most likely, you are aware of all shedding. Why not use all that fuzz for a craft project. Dog's undercoat is soft, like angora. Hence called Chiengora (Chien is French for dog). To use the hair for craft projects you need a double coat dog. The undercoat is what you need. Dog hair is warmer than wool but it is not as elastic. It can be dyed same as any other natural fiber. Some people like to add another fiber like wool to add elasticity and strength to the yarn. Others, like our own teacher Diane Sack, prefer to have pure dog hair for their finished project.

How to collect raw material? When you brush your dog you can see the fuzzy undercoat along with the prickly hair. Separate the hair from the undercoat to have a softer angora like fuzz. This is the Chiengora and you can use it for knitting and crochet.

To get rid of all the doggy smell, wash the fuzz. The fiber is now ready for carding and spinning. If you are a spinner you can start the carding and spinning process, otherwise you should find someone who does. Search the internet for spinners in your area.

If you like to make a large item, you need to wait for some time to collect enough fiber for your item, or else you can use it for hats, mittens scarves, etc. Diane collected the undercoat for a couple of years. Then she had it spun. She knitted herself an entrelac vest, I have seen it in person, it is gorgeous. It is very warm, and because of the warmth, she recommends the use of large hooks or needles for a lacy look.

Keep in mind that your garment becomes fuzzier with wear, and your pattern will disappear with time. So do not try to make an elaborate design, just use it in a plain pattern and enjoy your dog all the time.

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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