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How to spin poodle hair?

 
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I wanted to learn to spin and felt  last year with a drop spindle, tried to find a fleece,ran around and called local specialty stores - no one had roving or wool of any kind, placed an ad on Kijiji looking for a fleece, nothing... Got overwhelmed looking online by the thousands of options (and the prices for a project I wasn't sure I would enjoy). Really wanted to try felting slippers, not just spinning.

Thought about using my standard poodle's hair. When I was about 10, I had a lovely conversation with a woman at a Scandinavian culture exhibition who was spinning dog hair.

Google told me poodle hair doesn't work for making yarn, you need undercoat from a shedding dog-so I  got frustrated and gave up the project.

Anyway, yesterday I stumbled across someone who claimed to have made 100% standard poodle yarn but refused to share how she did it as she sells this yarn as a business. She says poodle fur is similar to Angora, finer even than Merino. Hmmpft. Ok - so it is doable though.

More research..... Looking at how Angora is spun, I found a woman with Angora rabbits who casually mentions she also spins fur from her black standard poodle. Unfortunately, the account hasn't been used in years and only has one video.

My poodles body hair is about 2", maybe a bit longer now. It's very soft and she has a very dense coat. If ungroomed, it wants to form fine kinked cords rather than plate mats (different poodles apparently have different styles of matting).

I combed her out a bit last night and collected a handful of fur (poodles shed like humans but the hair gets caught in the curls). Played with it a bit. Googled, found one woman who uses hackles rather than cards for dog hair, using a dog comb. Flipped my comb over, tried to hackle it. Hand rolled it and twisted it. It made a very soft yarn - but the moment I pulled on it, the yarn slipped apart.

If I were to want to go further, a few questions.

1) Would it make sense to wash and force air dry the dog before shearing her? Force air drying straightens and removes tangles from the coat, but would also mean I am less likely to get double cuts.  It takes me about 45 min to dry her. Or would it be better to leave her curly?
2) I think her hair is about 2" - maybe 3 finger widths unstretched. Would leaving it another month to grow out to another 0.5" or so make a huge difference in workability?  
3) If I use a drop spindle - is the yarn likely to have the same issues with the yarn pulling apart?
4) one method said it's important to remove the guard hairs which are less soft and more scratchy. They suggested putting the hair in a bag with foam blocks to tumble in a dryer, and the guard hair will get stuck on the foam. Any other ideas? Is this important?
5) Would you wash before or after spinning? Even if I wash her, there is likely to be a trace of oil from the clippers .
 
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I think you should save the hair for sure. I haven't tried spinning yet, but have been able to make some very strong "yarn" out of my cat's fur. She is a long haired tortie, probably about 2" coat. I just took bits of fur from the comb, rolled and stretched them between my fingers. By themselves, these don't hold together, but then I reverse wrapped them and they are quite strong, despite being fairly thin. I wish I had better answers for you, just wanted to offer some encouragement that what you are wanting to do seems possible. Somehow. Hopefully someone else has more specific guidance and answers for you!
 
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Personally, I'd go for it. The worst thing that could happen, is you end up using it to stuff a pillow, or something.
 
Catie George
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Ooh... I like the pillow stuffing idea! Why didn't I think if that? Much softer than polyfill.
 
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Nothing to add,  except to say , seeing threads like this is one of the great joys of Permies.
 
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A number of years ago I felted my friend's poodle's fur. It came out somewhat lumpy, so I have a long term plan to try again but to try actually carding the fur first and putting it down in layers at different angles. However, that requires actually learning to card *after* getting my gimpy right shoulder back working.
I have *definitely* heard of people spinning it, but I can't help with sources. Good luck!
 
Catie George
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For future reference when I look back at this project, here's the lady who casually mentions she got a black poodle to add more colours to her spinning and knitting :D



Here is someone claiming they make 100% poodle yarn

https://www.reddit.com/r/poodles/comments/cflzn3/100_standard_poodle_yarn/

And here is someone hackling dog fur with two Greyhound combs - since I own a poodle, I have MANY of these lying around. Slicker brushes too. She mentions not having success with poodle mix hair, finding it scratchy, and suggests the guard hairs are to blame.

https://www.craftmehappy.com/2019/12/preparing-and-spinning-dog-hair.html?m=1

 
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I don't know much about poodles, but a couple of people in town spin dog hair as a source of income.  If you can spin pet hair, then you can make a lot of money.  I tried it, but I got hives as apparently, I'm allergic to the animal or the shampoo.

You can spin any hair.  Your own hair even.  So if someone says you can't spin poodle hair, you have my permission to ignore them.  They don't know what they are talking about.

However, if (okay, you got me - when) I spin yarn from my own hair, it isn't the most comfortable yarn in the world.  It's quite scratchy.  Because my own fibres aren't soft.  The individual fibres from my head are coarse compared to other animal fibres.  Some fibre are more preferable than others if the goal is to make a soft yarn.

Question, when you brush your dog, does it have two kinds of fibre?  The soft fluffy stuff near the skin and the coarser, longer stuff?  Or does it more-or-less have the same texture and fibre length throughout?  It's going to influence how you process the fibre.
 
Catie George
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Good question.

She has two types of hair, guard hair and undercoat. I would guess 75% + of her hair is undercoat. The undercoat is much finer than my own very fine hair, the guard hairs are about the same coarsenes or less coarse, than my fine hair, but much curlier.  If I comb her, undercoat comes out, not usually the guard hairs. If I clip her, of course I get both. The guard hairs do seem to grow faster than the undercoat but not significantly so, and since I clip it fairly regularly, they are about the same length +/- 0.5 cm or so after a month or two between clippings. The tail and legs and spine area have more guard hairs (my plan was to just harvest from the easier to get one clip areas of the torso).

 Combing doesn't seem a particularly efficient way to get hair. An hour long brushing session might yield less than half a handful of uncompressed fur, as she grows hair the same way a human (and I presume a sheep) does. Google claims poodle fur is finer than Merino, if that helps. My dogs hair doesn't felt/mat particularly quickly. I'll see if I can find a way to get a picture with decent scale to it.
 
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Dogs aren't my area, so I'm working from hearsay here.

Is it possible that different times of the year, the dog will shed more of the fluffy undercoat?  I'm imagining in the spring as the weather warms.  

Are the guard hairs so uncomfortable that they are scratchy when you hug your dog next to your cheek?  If not, then it might be fine to leave them in while you learn spinning and worry about separating them after your skill improves.  

 
Carla Burke
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"1) Would it make sense to wash and force air dry the dog before shearing her? Force air drying straightens and removes tangles from the coat, but would also mean I am less likely to get double cuts.  It takes me about 45 min to dry her. Or would it be better to leave her curly?"
I think personally, I'd trim the day after a wash, letting the fur dry, naturally. This isn't really an option, with most wool-bearing critters, but I think the whole shearing and spinning process would be simplified and sped along greatly, that way.

2) I think her hair is about 2" - maybe 3 finger widths unstretched. Would leaving it another month to grow out to another 0.5" or so make a huge difference in workability?  
&
3) If I use a drop spindle - is the yarn likely to have the same issues with the yarn pulling apart?
the longer the fibers, the easier it is, to spin, and even to felt.

4) one method said it's important to remove the guard hairs which are less soft and more scratchy. They suggested putting the hair in a bag with foam blocks to tumble in a dryer, and the guard hair will get stuck on the foam. Any other ideas? Is this important?
Do poodles have guard hairs? Some critters do, some don't.

5) Would you wash before or after spinning? Even if I wash her, there is likely to be a trace of oil from the clippers ."
I'd probably touch and look at it, before deciding. If the dog is white, and the oil shows, I'd likely clean it, again. But, a little oil won't hurt the process, and many spinners spin 'in the grease', even with lanolin-laden sheep's wool.
 
r ranson
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I agree, washing on the critter is easier.  But make sure they are absolutely dry as dampness near the skin can make it easy to damage the critter.  

As for the other questions - what Carla said.  
 
Catie George
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Nope. She sheds very little, all year round.

I really like the idea of "try it without messing with guard hairs, and then see if it needs to be changed for later attempts". I can definitely feel then against my cheek, but wouldn't call then scratchy. Perhaps the clipped ends might be. (Hmm- tried a cut lock against my skin and couldn't feel it. I would say "ignore guard hairs" is sounding like a great option).

I took a few photos...  

I didn't manage to cut to the skin as I was using scissors and worried about cutting her, so the hair is about 1.5"-1.75" unstretched. I think waiting another few weeks is probably a good idea.

First photo is combings. Definitely softer than polyfil I also had on the table for comparison.

Second photo is locks taken from two different area of coat. The bigger sample is from an area I have brushed recently, the other sample from an area I don't tend to brush
IMG_20201213_124647238.jpg
Combed out hair
Combed out hair
IMG_20201213_125804826.jpg
Clipped locks
Clipped locks
 
Carla Burke
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Oooo! Very pretty! I'd def let it get longer, though.
 
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I have read that dogs have either fur or hair. Fur has the undercoat and overcoat which grows to a certain length and sheds, while hair grows more like human hair. I was under the impression poodles had hair, but maybe that's not true, or maybe not all the hair is the same thickness. My dog is half lab/half pit and has plain fur. It is absolutely amazing. The guard hairs are quite coarse, a little over an inch long at most, and are quite rigid, but feel sooooo soft. Twice, I have had a pain in my foot like a splinter and taken off my shoe to find one of his hairs had impaled the sole of my foot! But they feel soft. They must be quite oily because mud dries and fall off with no trace; it's virtually self-cleaning. But it doesn't feel oily. Beggar lice, cockleburrs, etc. won't stick to it. His undercoat is very fine and fluffy.
 
r ranson
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Technically there are very specific meanings for "fur" "wool" "hair" "kemp" and other fibres animals can grow.  It has to do with the protein structure, the kind of gland that excludes it, the shape and structure, and thickness of the fibre and.... ug.  Quite frankly, we don't need to know any of this to make yarn (but for those who want to geek out, it's a fun rabbit hole).

Even if it's hair or fur, some hair can be very, very fine.  Some fur can be coarse as boars bristles.  It depends on the animal and it's diet more than anything.  

Personally, I like to come to each animal individually and experiment with the fibre it gives to find out what that specific fibre wants to become.  
 
Carla Burke
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Human hair *can* be spun and felted, too. I've been curious about that, at times, when cleaning my brush.
 
Catie George
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First - I love that I can ask these questions here and get a way better answer than 'no you can't'. You guys are awesome.

Ok - so sounds like I need to wait a while longer. Fair enough. And washing the dog first is good, it keeps the clipper blades sharper longer. No forced air dryer is also very easy. Ok. The impatient person in me is tempted to clip her head and tail NOW, which are much longer, but she looks pretty stupid when I do that so I shall resist.

As for human hair - I had heard of human hair being used as rope or cordage, which, I guess is more or less the same process as spinning, isn't it? Just a rougher product.

Jordan - they have hair in that it grows continuously like human hair. No idea about technical terms. Poodle hair/fur is really interesting, it is like Puli or Komondor hair (corded mop dogs). The combination of the slightly coarser guard hairs and the softer undercoat can mat and form cords making a really water resistant,if sometimes mildew smelling, coat. Poodles can do this too, and it was a really popular hair style before the days of electric clippers, high velocity dryers, and dogs sleeping on the bed lol. Modern poodles aren't really bred to have a coat that cords WELL though, since that's not the style that wins in the modern show ring. Her coat is definitely not impervious to burrs or dirt either! But it's also not smelly like oily coated dogs unless she rolls.


 
Carla Burke
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Catie George wrote:...but she looks pretty stupid when I do that so I shall resist.


Bwabahaha!!! I love that you're sensitive to her pride!!

Catie George wrote:As for human hair - I had heard of human hair being used as rope or cordage, which, I guess is more or less the same process as spinning, isn't it? Just a rougher product.



I think that might also depend on the human's hair, and how it is processed. I've touched human hair that was softer than wool, and some that was coarser than a brillo pad, lol. Throw in the straight/wavy/curly textures, each with their own, unique cuticle patterns, and lengths, and there would, I think, be an incredible variety.
 
Jordan Holland
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Catie, I think it's a worthwile endeavor, but of course I had the same idea myself, so I would like it! I have been trying to save my dog's hair from the vacuum for mixing in cob anyway, so this caught my attention a while back. You've probably seen it, but in case anyone hasn't dog fur is typically referred to as "chiengora." Internet searches under that term bring up quite a bit. One of the neatest things I read about it (other than easy access) was that chiengora is almost twice as insulative as wool. Even if it can't be spun, it would still seem to make an excellent stuffing for insulation. It's amazing how different dogs can be, and I imagine a lot of the breeds people curse for shedding would have been prized ages ago for that very trait.
 
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There was a breed of dog here on Canada's West Coast that was kept specifically for it's hair. It went extinct when disease killed a huge percentage of the First Nations people in the area, followed by the introduction of sheep which I understand were a cheaper if poorer hair to use for similar needs. I read recently about research being done on the subject, but can't remember where I read it.
 
Carla Burke
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Here ya go: https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/hair-from-extinct-b-c-woolly-dog-found-in-old-coast-salish-blanket/
 
Jay Angler
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Carla Burke wrote:Here ya go: https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/hair-from-extinct-b-c-woolly-dog-found-in-old-coast-salish-blanket/

Thanks Carla! It would be so cool if there was DNA in the pelt and they could actually "un-extinct" this breed! So many people in North America own "pets". It would be nice if going forward, more people had, "pets with benefits". My friend's Banties fit that discription - yes the eggs are small but they're perfectly nutritious and the birds bring her great joy, as pets frequently do for their owners. There are lots of dogs around here, and a lot of horses. Horse-hair fabric is incredibly sturdy and long lasting and was used for train coach seats at the start of the steam age in Britain. A renewable resource which has been replaced with non-renewable fossil fuels.

So spinning, felting and "stuffing" dog fur is a great project to spread through our society in an effort to improve sustainability by a notch. Enough notches, and we'll have a better world.
 
Catie George
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Well, I shaved her today. I used a #10 blade (1.25 mm / 1/16"), the shortest I can use without risking clipper burn on areas not accustomed to being clipped closely.

I had wanted to wait a few more weeks, but I washed her today and found a lot of mats during blow drying that needed to be removed. Animal welfare is more important than my plans for spinning, so a shavedown today. Brushing time seem to increase exponentially with coat length, and I was up to probably needing about an hour a day to keep her brushed out, or a weekly bath and blow dry (2 hrs), and honestly, I didn't keep up with it over Christmas at all.

I have gained new respect for sheap shearers, who make it look so fast! I did my best to shave the easy areas (back, sides, top of legs), getting about one grocery bag full of hair. There were some second cuts and areas I didn't quite get down to the skin, I was trying for long strokes rather than my normal "make it look good" method.

Here's her, after I had taken all the "easy areas". She looked so patchy! The remaining hair on her legs, belly, etc, I discarded as those areas are much harder to cut in one stroke.




New questions:

1) Is there a way to seperate out any shorter off cuts?
2) How should I store the hair  until i do something with it? It's in plastic right now with an open top, would a cloth bag be better?

And here's my poor sheep poodle afterward, cleaned up, in a sweater, and on a concilatory "I'm sorry I groomed you for 4 hours and still plan on doing more grooming in the next few days" walk. The length of the pompoms on her legs is a little less than what I shaved off her body (i scissored them a bit to even them out, so her body hair was a titch longer).




 
Carla Burke
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Nice job!!
 
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Thank you for this thread which Ive just discovered. I have a spoodle (springer spaniel/poodle) whose fur/wool Ive been keeping every time he gets groomed, with the vague desire of felting it ior stuffing a pillow.
I used to keep sheep and I notice he often smells a bit like a sheep - does anyone know if spoodle fur/wool can contain lanolin?
 
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Hi there! Kind of late to this post but I can definitely identify with your fascination with spinning poodle yarn, as I have a black standard poodle, too. Such soft, lovely fur! Have you spun any, yet? I’ve saved the last batch from my 11 month old poodle. I regret trashing his first real cut when he had his fluffy puppy fur, I got tired of all the “whys?”. Glad to see I’m not the only one. Well, if you have spun some, how were your results? Any tips? Take care....Michelle
 
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Here is a link to a woman who has had success and says it is 100% standard poodle.


https://www.reddit.com/r/poodles/comments/cflzn3/100_standard_poodle_yarn/?utm_source=amp&utm_medium=&utm_content=post_body
 
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Anything can be spun. It has much more to do with preparation and determination than most anything else. From the pictures and the only poodle I've ever pet in real life, I would expect it to spin like huacaya alpaca. If you can get it long enough, as you said in needing to keep up the brushing and keeping away mats in that time, it should spin nicely. In one of the FB groups I'm in there was a woman who had like 5 huskies and it was the only thing she spun and worked with at all.

I once spun alaskan malamute that I gathered as the dog blew coat. Lots of guard hair, don't recommend. And when I had a Silver Fox buck rabbit he had a really quick molt one year and for several days I'd groom him and I collected quite a bit of it. Silver Fox have really lovely floofy dense furs. It was maybe half inch long at most and I managed to spin a short bit of yarn from it, very very slowly.

A bit determination in spinning ability is the character of the fibers. The way it looks I'd say very huacaya alpaca-like and that means it would probably do best with a short forward draw, spun worsted, and would need alot of twist. Probably more than you'd think while spinning. Unlike wool that fiber has different scale structure on the individual fiber strand so you have to make it into yarn. Whereas most wool is quite grabby onto other wool fibers and just needs a little encouraging to become yarn. In my opinion, the way I spin. It would probably do well with a light carding and made into rolags.
 
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Any success spinning dog hair? I’m about to start my journey with it! Any advice will be welcome!
 
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Torfrida kiwi wrote:Thank you for this thread which Ive just discovered. I have a spoodle (springer spaniel/poodle) whose fur/wool Ive been keeping every time he gets groomed, with the vague desire of felting it ior stuffing a pillow.
I used to keep sheep and I notice he often smells a bit like a sheep - does anyone know if spoodle fur/wool can contain lanolin?



To my knowledge, only sheep produce specifically lanolin, though many other animals have an oil or sebum-like substance. Dogs are mostly not all that oily, though even there, it can vary, depending on breed. My Cavalier (a spaniel breed) has longer, super soft fur that's more like hair, and no noticeable oil in it, or on her skin. Our Irish Wolfhound, on the other hand, has a 'rough coat'. It's heavy with guard hairs, and an undercoat that's very soft and somewhat oily.

 
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This is an Instructable that demonstrates an easy way to felt with dog hair. It doesn’t require spinning into a thread and knitting first. You just need some felting needles. I have a giant bag of dog hair from my poodle/bichon/terrier mutts. I used some in a needle felting project a while ago. The pink roving was just too pink so I used some of their hair to tone it down. It mixed in really easily with a little combing.
 
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