Saturday, October 01, 2011


 This one is for all you dog lovers out there. Ten years ago I was on the board of our uber-local animal rescue organization Sewanee Animal Rescue League. At that time we kept all the dogs in an alpaca barn that was maintained by volunteer labor, my own included. So many great dogs came to us then and almost every one of them got homes. There was a litter of 8 tiny fuzzy puppies that were nearly bald from mange. Pat and Anne dipped them for several weeks and nursed them back to health. One of my fellow volunteers fell in love with and adopted one of those pups while he was a student here at Sewanee and named him Merlin. Now Merlin is 10 and has been by Smith's side all this time through thick and thin and I have to say has heard a lot of awesome live music in his time as well. (Yay, kinda guy). Smith asked me recently if I would spin some of the "Merlfleece", a fiber in abundant supply, since Merlin grew into a 70 lb collie/shepherd/? mix with a full and luxurious coat. Of course I agreed and here's the yarn. The marled yarn is one ply Merlin, one ply gorgeous drum carded alpaca from Lisa Olsen, who separates her fleeces and processes them by hand. The dark skein is 100% that same alpaca. The yarn on the bobbin is 100% Merlin. Dog hair and alpaca can at times be nearly undistinguishable and both have the same drape and hand.

Smith followed my instructions and combed out all of Merlin's undercoat, keeping all the fibers neatly arranged. Then he gave Merlin his usual summer doo (a buzz cut) and saved that fiber as well. As I suspected, the shorn fibers were too slippery and coarse to be spun, but the undercoat was divine, very downy and extremely soft and warm. The few guard hairs that made their way into the mix will soon fall out with wear. The yarn is so soft and really gorgeous. And it smells very clean indeed.

I have to laugh at this because so many spinners just won't put dog hair through their fingers. I've even known spinners who really don't like animals all that much and certainly wouldn't touch a dirty one straight from the barnyard (you know who you are). But why put down the dog? They are domestic animals, much cleaner than their barnyard cousins as a rule (mine certainly is). Have you ever smelled a goat? Yet that's where we get cashmere. Camel? Peeeeyoo. How about silk? It's the saliva of a worm...come on! Handled properly and combed from the proper breed (or mix) of dog, doghair is a luxurious and super warm addition to the spinning stable. The smell? I took the skein to my spinning group last week and nobody guessed what it was until they had exhausted all other options. So Merlin, you have now been immortalized in a skein of handsome yarn. Attaboy!

1 comment:

FiberAntics said...

Yay for the doggies! I have a big white fuzzy Siberian Husky named Yuki that has a wonderful coat. Wish I was proficient at spinning. --Veronica