Crochet with fur for a one-of-a-kind crafting experience. Have you ever had a special dog in your life that had a beautiful, downy-soft coat, and you thought to yourself, This would make some incredible yarn! With a little know-how and understanding of pet-hair fibers, it’s easy to create your own unique blend of pet-hair yarn from the fur of a beloved friend.
Why crochet with fur from pets?
First, it’s not practical for most people to keep traditional fiber animals like sheep or llamas, but it is practical to have a dog that, in addition to loving companionship, will provide you with a ready source of fiber to spin. Second, long after a beloved friend is no longer here, a knitter or crocheter will have a pair of cozy socks or a cute, fuzzy hat as a memento.
If you crochet with fur from your dog or cat, does it smell?
While some dogs smell more “doggy” than others, once the pet fur yarn has been washed it usually doesn’t have a noticeable smell. There are exceptions, however. Hair from a wolf-dog hybrid will usually reek, even after multiple washings.
What kinds of pet hair can you spin and use to crochet with fur?
You can spin almost any hair as long as the hairs are at least 1 1/2 inches long. Most dogs are double-coated with stiff, coarse guard hairs outside and a soft, downy undercoat next to the skin. For dogs, a slicker brush works well to collect the undercoat without getting a lot of the guard hairs too. Some excellent favorite breeds to spin are sheltie, husky and Samoyed. You can also spin hair from breeds without a double coat, such as poodle and Afghan hound. Longhair cats work well too.
How to spin pet hair into yarn so you can crochet with fur
There are a number of steps involved in processing pet hair into yarn to crochet with fur.
- Collect the pet fur.
Naturally shed hair is best. If you brush your dog, collect the hair from the brush and keep it in a bag. Using clipped hair is not recommended. Hair clipped from double-coated breeds will have a lot of guard hairs in it that will have to be picked out.
Some state and federal laws prohibit processing, buying or selling anything made from domestic cat or dog. These laws are designed to prohibit the killing of pets for their flesh or pelt. However, the wording of some laws is broad enough to include items made from shed or clipped hair. It’s a good idea to check the dog- and cat-protection laws in your area, especially if you plan to crochet with fur for other people either privately or commercially.
- Pick the card.
“Picking” the fiber is sorting through the hair to separate the usable from the unusable. The three-bag method works well for most. Begin with three paper grocery bags: one for the collected hair, one for the guard hairs, twigs, matted clumps, etc. that get picked out, and a third bag to hold the hair for spinning.
“Carding” uses a pair of paddles with rows of small, bent-wire teeth to comb the hair so that all the hairs run parallel to each other. Sometimes the picking process will make the hair fluffy enough that it doesn’t need carding. If you want to blend the pet hair with another fiber, like wool, to modify the properties of the resulting yarn, you would need to card the different fibers together.
- Spin the pet hair into yarn so you can crochet with fur.
Spinning twists the hairs together to form a ply (single strand). Two common spinning tools are the drop spindle and the spinning wheel. A drop spindle has a weight at one end of the shaft. You set the spindle turning in the same way that you would spin a top. A spinning wheel has a foot treadle to keep the wheel turning continuously. With both tools, it’s the rotation that supplies the twist.
Two things control the thickness of the yarn: the amount of hair twisted into an individual ply and the number of plies in your final yarn. A single ply will coil back on itself and is very difficult to work with. You generally need at least two plies to make a workable yarn you can use to crochet with fur. You make yarn by spinning two or more plies together, in an opposite direction from which they were originally spun. For example, if your individual plies were spun clockwise, when you ply them together to make yarn you would spin the spindle or wheel counterclockwise.
- Wash, set and dry your pet fur yarn before you crochet with fur.
Wind the plied yarn into a hank by wrapping the yarn around and around, hand to elbow, the way you might coil a long extension cord or phone cable. Tie the hank loosely in about four places with lengths of string or other yarn to keep the hank from getting tangles.
Submerge the hank in very warm, soapy water. Add a healthy amount of an inexpensive shampoo directly to the water for most house-pet hair yarns. If the hair is particularly dirty, or if it’s from an oily-coated breed of animal, you can use grease-cutting dish soap. Don’t agitate the yarn or it might felt. Just let it soak for 10-15 minutes, and then drain. If the water was very dirty, repeat the soaking process.
Rinse the hank by submerging it in clean water that is at least as hot as the water you soaked it in. Continue the submerge-and-drain process until all trace of soap is removed. Gently squeeze as much water as you can from the hank. Never wring it. Roll the hank in a towel to blot out more water.
Hang the damp hank somewhere out of the way with good air circulation until it is completely dry. Don’t use anything made of metal (it may rust a bit and stain your yarn) or wood (it may be damaged by the moisture). Hang a weight from the bottom to straighten the hank. When the yarn is completely dry, wind it into a ball and it’s ready to use to crochet with fur.
What is the yarn like when you crochet with fur?
That depends on the fiber you used, and how you processed it. Dog undercoat yarn is very soft and fuzzy; in fact, some people mistake it for angora. Yarn made from single-coated breeds like Afghan hound will be smoother and not have the fuzzy “halo” that an undercoat yarn has. Cat-hair yarn, Persian or Himalayan for example, will be very soft and drape well. Since pet hair doesn’t have the crimp that wool does, it tends to be inelastic. Some pet-hair yarns, such as Afghan hound, will felt and others like the Samoyed won’t, so be careful which yarns you mix in a project.
What can you do with pet fur yarn?
Pet-hair yarn is virtually as versatile as most other types of yarn. As with commercial yarns, each yarn has its own characteristics and you need to pair a project with a suitable yarn.
One final thing to keep in mind: Dog hair is much, much warmer than wool. This characteristic makes it much more suitable for smaller projects such as ear bands, hats, mittens or socks.
The “picking” process to clean a dog’s brushed and collected fur of debris allows her to still enjoy one of her favorite pastimes — playing in the leaves!
Crochet with fur and make a Dog-Hair Tam
SKILL LEVEL: Intermediate
FINISHED SIZE: One size fits most
MATERIALS TO CROCHET WITH FUR
- Hand-spun dog hair/wool-blend novelty yarn or similar light (light worsted) weight wool or wool-blend yarn: 3/4 oz/160 yds/21g natural color of fiber being used
- Size D/3/3.25mm crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge
- Tapestry needle
GAUGE: 5 sc = 1 inch
PATTERN NOTE: Join with slip stitch as indicated unless otherwise stated.
SPECIAL STITCH Triple treble (trtr): Yo hook 4 times, insert hook in indicated st, yo, draw up a lp, [yo, draw through 2 lps on hook] 5 times.
Row 1: Ch 6, sc in 2nd ch from hook and in each of next 4 chs, turn. (5 sc)
Row 2: Ch 6 (counts as first trtr), trtr (see Special Stitch) in each rem sc across, turn. (5 trtr)
Row 3: Ch 1, sc in each trtr across, turn. (5 sc) Next rows: [Rep rows 2 and 3 alternately] until headband fits snugly around head at temples, ending last rep with row 2.
Next row (joining row): Holding last row and first row tog, working through both thicknesses, sl st last row to opposite side of foundation ch of row 1.
Rnd 1: Working in ends of rows, *ch 5, sc in end of next trtr row, ch 5**, sc between same trtr row and next sc row, rep from * around, ending last rep at **, join (see Pattern Note) in first sc (see Fig. 1).
Rnd 2: [Ch 7, sc in 3rd ch of next ch-5] around, ch 3, join in 4th ch of beg ch-7 (see Fig. 2).
Rnd 3: [Ch 9, sc in 4th ch of next ch-7] around, ch 9, join at base of beg ch-9 (see Fig. 3).
Rnd 4: [Ch 11, sc in 5th ch of next ch-9] around, ch 5, join in 5th ch of beg ch-11.
Rnd 5: [Ch 9, sc in 6th ch of next ch-11] around, ch 9, join at base of beg ch-9.
Rnd 6: [Ch 9, sc in 5th ch of next ch-9] around, ch 4, join in 5th ch of beg ch-9.
Rnd 7: [Ch 7, sc in 5th ch of next ch-9] around, ch 7, join at base of beg ch-7.
Rnd 8: [Ch 5, sc in 4th ch of next ch-7] around, ch 3, join in 3rd ch of beg ch-5.
Rnd 9: *[Ch 5, sc in 3rd ch of next ch-5 sp] twice, ch 5, [insert hook in 3rd ch of next ch-5 sp, yo, draw up a lp] twice, yo, draw through all 3 lps on hook, rep from * around until 4 ch-5 sps rem. Fasten off, leaving 10-inch length for finishing.
With tapestry needle and length left for finishing, sew centers of last 4 ch-5 sps tog.