Putting On The Dog

This is Jake.

Dog
Isn’t this the sweetest face you ever saw?

Jake was the much loved pet of my knitting friend Deb, and he passed over the rainbow bridge some time back, but due to the foresight of Deb a fairly large bag of his leavings remain. Deb saved the handfuls of fur that she brushed out when he was shedding, and a few weeks ago she passed the bag of doggie down to me to see if I could spin it.

Here’s the problem with dog fur. There are actually two types of hair in that coat: the guard hairs are the beautiful shiny coat that we see, and underneath there is a layer of fluffy undercoat; short, not so shiny, and very warm. While the soft and glossy guard hairs seem like they would spin up into yarn, they are actually too slick and stiff to behave themselves in yarn. They spring right out of the plies and poke like crazy. Bad dog!!

The saved fur that Deb gave me contained a lot of the undercoat layer, but the strands were really kind of short. I decided that the best thing to do would be to pull out as much of the locks of guard hair as I could (sorry Jake!) and then blend the remaining hair/down mixture with another longer fiber like wool or alpaca. Deb liked the look of Jake mixed with alpaca, so that’s what we did.

Alpaca
I had a buff colored alpaca fleece in my stash, so I opened up the locks and ran it through my drum carder to make batts. I split each batt, weighed the amount of fiber and put it into a labeled storage container.
Dog fur
I then cleaned up and made matching containers of dog down (with some guard hairs) that would allow me to create 50/50 blended batts on my drum carder with the alpaca and the dog. Good plan, right?
Loading dog down onto drum carder
To do the blending I took a matched set of alpaca and dog containers to the drug carder to make a new 50/50 batt. The alpaca loaded right onto the drum of the carder with few problems. Jake, however, was too short to feed in so I manually loaded him onto the large drum just like I would if I was working with a blending board. I alternated the alpaca and dog to create layers of each in the batt.
Cat meets dog
MacKenzie was pretty interested in the dog down!
Finished batt
Here’s the final carded product of alpaca/dog blend. The sprig on the batt is cat mint because, well, doesn’t it seem appropriate?

The carding has been going slowly because it has been raining off and on for several days, and if it isn’t warm enough my hands get all cranky. I wanted to work outside as there was waste dropping out of the fibers as I worked; best to keep all that out of the house! I finally got several batts finished late last week and the spinning began.

Drafting
Because the alpaca has longer fiber than the dog down it is really helping me with the spinning. There’s dog down in that drafting triangle but it’s behaving itself very nicely. I am spinning the singles pretty fine (for me); the finished two ply yarn will be between fingering and sport weight.
Singles
Here’s the first yarn on the bobbin. You can just seen the cinnamon colored dog escaping the twisted ply. This yarn will have a halo for sure, but I’m hoping that it won’t shed too badly.

I took the bobbin of yarn to knitting this week to show to Deb, and we pulled off enough to make her a sample of two ply yarn that is about 10 meters long so she can see how it knits. She’s looking at shawl patterns while I continue to spin Jake’s fur into yarn. It’s kind of exciting. We are debating what to call the yarn.

Alpaca-Arf? DoggiePac?

I think that Deb is settling into calling it PuppyPaca.

Beautiful Jake. Forever in Deb’s heart, and soon to be a fabulous shawl.

 

Snowfling Mitts are done!!

…and for the first time in quite a while it isn’t going to snow this weekend. Figures, but who am I to complain. Check these babies out!

Snowfling Mitts
These mitts fit perfectly, are very cushy and warm, and I am so happy with how they came out!
Lining of mitts
and they are lined!! I used superwash merino sock yarn for the lining. 

These mitts are the Snowfling Mitts by Tanis Lavallee. The MJ Yarns American Worsted (the purple painted yarn) was just a little bit smaller in diameter then the Malabrigo Rios (black), so I carried the black yarn in my right hand and the purple in my left while I was knitting the pattern. Since the stitches knit with the left hand are a little larger it all worked out to make a balanced fabric. The American Worsted yarn had a little more twist to it and seemed to be denser, which helped make these mitts really nice and cushy inside where the stands are located. So happy with how it came out. There is just enough room for me to slip a hand warmer into the mitt if I need it.

Here are my project details and notes on Ravelry.

In the middle of the week I mowed my lawn for the very first time this year and took out the lawn furniture. This is a major event; spring has arrived!!

Back yard
Doesn’t this look promising? You wouldn’t know it to look at it but two days before this there was snow all over the grass…  Tomorrow I may go to the nursery to buy some hanging plants for the deck. I’m hopeful that we are done with the snow, but it could still happen. I’m keeping those mittens out for a few weeks before I pack them away to wait the the fall’s first snow.
Drum Carder
Since it was so nice outside I set my drum carder up on the patio table and began working on an alpaca fleece that I’ve been wanting to spin. This fleece is just wonderful. It is sooo soft and the locks opened like a dream. It was a joy to feed it into the carder. 
Cat asleep in alpaca fleece
MacKenzie likes it too!

I’m so happy carding this alpaca I was motivated today to go digging in the fleece stash and found two different wool fleeces that are just amazing grey colors. Wow, my spinning wheel is going to be really, really happy. There is some serious spinning coming his way. I hope that the nice weather holds so I can do most of this carding outside.

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy Mother’s Day!