Someone at the Guild had been given a few bags, vacuum-sealed, of Keeshond fur a while ago and proceeded to share them with those of us she knew would jump at the chance to spin anything out of the ordinary. At the Royal Show they once had a cardigan knitted from Keeshond on display with the dogs themselves, and there is quite a bit of info out there on the use of dog fur in the past, as well more recent blog items on people who have created items from their beloved pets’ sheddings/combings. All say how warm the finished items are. And indeed they are.
I opened one bag of fur and washed it by soaking in a mixture of hot water and dog shampoo. The fur had clearly come from a clean pet, just pre-bath as there was an expected amount of dirt that came out in the water.
Carding and spinning (on a drop spindle) were both easy tasks, except that I started to suspect I may have an allergy. There were no detectable tiny bits of fibre floating around, so I persevered. It wasn’t until I’d knit about a third of a square (with a paw print design, of course) that I started blinking uncontrollably and felt my face flush up. This reminded me of a similar reaction I had to an anti-acne facewash as a teenager, and some years later to medicated body powder in the tropics.
Could it have been something in the shampoo? I’d happily roll around on the floor playing with any dog, and Kiera hasn’t made me sneeze once. Hmm… After an internet search, it seems that you an be allergic to one type of dog and not others. I’ll go with that one – as well as the possibility that it was just sensory overload?
Back to the knitting… although the yarn wasn’t as soft as alpaca or silk, the item has enough body to maintain it’s shape, and thanks to its halo, floated above my hand. Even from such a small sample you could feel the warmth. And no, it hasn’t stopped me from petting the occasional Keeshond I meet in real life.