Thursday, August 5, 2010

Heir of the Dog

A friend gave me a couple bags full of wolf shed – that is . . . the soft, fluffy undercoat of a wolf from a domesticated wolf-dog.

From what I’ve read, wolf fur is similar to alpaca or angora.  Although, it is not as elastic as wool it is much warmer.  The feel of it in its raw state is luscious.

The process of spinning fur is just like spinning any other material.  First it has to be prepared for spinning.
The fur can be pre-washed, but this isn’t necessary since it will be washed and soaked in the final process.  

The fuzz needs to be carded, a process that aligns the fibers in the same direction.  This is a good time to pick out any straight short hairs and debris that might be trapped in the fuzz, which can make the fiber scratchy.  You can also use carding to blend the fur with wool or other raw fiber.  
I use a drop spindle to spin.  It is portable and I can take my spinning with me wherever I go.   Spinning is simply turning many short fibers into one long strand.
Once the yarn is spun, it can be plied for thickness or added strength.  The twist in the ply is in the opposite direction in which they were initially spun.  

Then the yarn must be skeined . . . I have a niddy noddy which is specially made for this purpose but you can just have a volunteer stick out their arms and wrap the yarn around their hands.
The yarn is then washed to set the twist, this also gets any remains dog smell out of the fibers.   Any mild detergent mixed with hot water will do . . . I use Ivory dish soap.  Gently hand wash your yarn until water runs clear, if needed. Soak your yarn in hot soapy water for ten or more minutes to set the twist.
Rinse the yarn and gently pat it in a towel to remove excess water . . . shammy cloths work great for this.  Now hang it up with a weight at the bottom until it is dry.

You can also dye the yarn, if you wish.  Personally, I prefer the natural dimensions of this beautiful natural fiber.
'Dream Spindle'
Some call it crazy
this spinning of dog hair.
But as the wooden spindle turns
making it's lazy way to the floor
tethered by a gray fuzzy strand,
I see nothing crazy.
For as it turns
it spins in memories.
Memories of
long walks,
soft furry ears,
wuffling dreams,
a paw on my arm when I was ill,
brown eyes searching my soul for forgiveness,
but most of all,
it spins in memories of love.
Jeri Monroe

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