This snow business really gets to me about mid February…. usually we sneak off to Florida for 4-5 weeks in the motorhome and visit the folks. But this year we decided to stay home and cuddle grandbabies. Two new little girls came in Dec and Jan, so we are here to help out the new parents and support them and spend time with the wee babes…
So we are spending this time gearing up the rig with some new improvements and modifications (more about that in upcoming blogs)
Spending time at home in the winter is okay too. I am usually down in my studio, or hanging out by the fireplace in the livingroom. Here is one of my spinning wheels, my sockknitting machine and the never-ending baskets of yarns, fleece and fibers!
I got quite a few pairs of socks done with my newest yarns over the weekend:
A while back someone was asking me about spinning dog fur, so I will write about that….
I had a very special doggie friend, Akasha, a shetland sheepdog. She was also known as Akasha-Burger-Dip-Dog-Yoyo-Head-Spaghetti-Brain…. She spent almost 15 lovely years with me. During her last four or five years, I decided to save her soft undercoat sheddings each time when I brushed her. I was a new spinner and always meant to learn to spin dog fur. So the bag grew and grew in the closet.
After her sad passing to the Rainbow Bridge in 2003, I spent my time mourning, then decided to tackle this project.
Believe me, many many tears were spun into this…
I hand carded each clump of fur into roving for spinning. (I now own a drum carder so the process goes much faster) But I did this all by hand, each little fiber.
With the dog fur, I blended in some sheep wool for stretchability and springiness spinning it into many skeins of yarn. Then I plied that spun strand against a strand of rust colored loopy mohair, from angora goats, for a binder and strength. Now it becomes a 2 plied yarn. By adding the rust colored mohair strand, it also gave the fur more *color* --- the shedded fur on a Shetland Sheepdog is mostly the creamy undercoat. Not much of the longer dark hairs of rust, brown and black fur is shed that you see on a Sheltland Sheepdog’s overcoat.
Here and there in the yarn are clumps of the white *ruff* chest and collar hairs that added some dimension to the yarn too. I was not a very good or even spinner at this time, so it’s a bit clumpy and bumpy. That is OK, as it made a lovely texture in the finished product.
Now it was time to take the skeins to the loom room studio and wind it all on. This is my largest loom and weaves blankets up to 60 inches wide. It was made in Canada is a LeClerc brand called a Nilart.
Weaving a blanket is quite a process. It takes a lot of time to get it all correctly threaded and wound onto the loom, but once it is ready, the actual weaving part goes very fast.
As I stroked each strand of yarn, during the winding, warping and threading, it was like petting my darling Akasha again.
(by hanging that extra single thread off the back on a weighted roller, as I wove the blanket, the mistake was corrected in the finished product)
The actual weaving progressed nicely, and I kept all my memories of my little furry friend in my heart. It was a sad thing, but a good thing….
When the blanket was done, it was removed from the loom, the end yarns were twisted into ropelike fringes, it was gently washed, and was ready to cuddle. Yes, it sheds as bad as a dog does! It does not smell like a dog, just like a wool sweater does not smell like a sheep. With Akasha being an inside housedog, and bathed often, even her fur did not smell “doggy” either.
Our young collie, Duchess (a.k.a. Dumb Ducky) missed her old buddy too. She moped around acting very old at the age of 2, she was going through her own mourning.
(We later got another sheltie, Duke, to keep her company)
To this day, Duchess, sniffs the throw and gets a far-away look in her eyes. She knows….
Akasha Purusha Van Den Busch July 15, 1989 – Jan 23, 2003