Chiengora: Yarn Made From Dog Fur/Hair. Make A Newfoundland Sweater!
Newfoundland Dog Yarn
At some point every dog owner, after brushing their dog, has thought, “I could make a whole new dog from this!” You may not be able to make a new dog, but you might just be able to make yarn! “Chiengora” is the polite term for yarn spun from dog fur.
Chiengora is spun from the undercoat of a double coated breed. Your average Labrador or Dalmation will not have the right kind of fur to be spun into yarn. The fur needs to be soft, woolly, and relatively long in order to work for the spinner.
Some breeds which can be combed out to make dog wool yarn:
· Golden retriever
· Great Pyrenees
To collect the fur, you must brush it out of the coat. Shaving the dog will not work, as you will have to separate the long, fine, glossy outer hairs from the undercoat. Far too much work! Instead, use a slicker brush or comb, brush out the undercoat, and collect it carefully from the brush.
Collected dog wool must not be washed, unless you are a professional fiber artist with experience preparing fleeces. Dog fur felts (mats) very easily if you wash it incorrectly. Instead, gather it into a bag and store it carefully.
If you are not a spinner, you can ask at your local spinning guild or yarn store to find a local spinner who is willing to spin the dog fur into yarn for you. Be sure that the spinner has experience in working with dog fur, because it requires more care than sheep’s wool.
Dog fur when spun into yarn does not smell like dog, any more than wool yarn smells like sheep. When the spinner prepares the fur, they will remove the oils which cause that “doggy” smell.
Most spinners will blend the dog fur with sheep’s wool (often merino) in order to compensate for some faults with chiengora. Unlike wool, dog wool does not have “bounce,” which means that a garment made from chiengora will tend to get stretched out. Blending the chiengora with merino fibers will help your garment keep its shape.
Chiengora is a delightful yarn, with a halo and a soft feel similar to that of angora or mohair. It has much more loft and insulation ability than sheep fibers, which makes it surprisingly warm – far warmer than wool. Something to keep in mind when you’re planning a garment!
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