Knitting with Dog Hair (Chiengora)

At Holidays4Dogs, we are always looking out for the latest dog news concerning their welfare, behaviour, history or any other unique subjects related to our four-legged friends.  This article discusses the little-known use of dog hair in knitting. This craft promotes the virtues of knitting garments from dog hair. 

 

The idea of knitting with yarn made from greasy dog hair might make one initially cringe. You may wonder what clothing made from dog hair might smell like when it’s wet!

However, knitting with dog hair is gaining in popularity, not least because it is warm, plush and water-resistant. If you have certain breeds of dog, there is also a very good ongoing supply of dog hair.

Chiengora

It also has a much softer feel to it than wool, or cotton, and it is eighty per cent warmer than sheep’s wool. Chiengora is the name used for the fibre created from spinning dog hair.

Chein’ is the French word for dog and ‘gora’ is from the word ‘angora’, meaning the soft fur of the rabbit.

People have been knitting with dog hair for many centuries – as far back as prehistoric Scandinavia. Before the introduction of sheep by the Spaniards, dog yarn was widely used on the North American Continent.

According to enthusiasts who knit with yarn made from dogs there are several suitable breeds from which to take fur. Huskies, malamutes, collies, Labrador retrievers and Newfoundland’s are all favoured. However, fur from any dog that moults a soft undercoat can be suitable for creating yarn.

What about the doggy odour?

Once it has been washed dog fur does not have any ‘doggy’ odour. Items of clothing knitted from dog hair can be washed the same as wool fabrics. However, enthusiasts state that spinning the hair also removes oils present in canine fur. After washing, the wool, whether wet or dry, smells no more of dogs than sheep’s wool smells of sheep.

There are a few Chiengora artisans in the U.K. who create yarn and garments from the fur of customers much loved pets. Some enthusiasts who spin dog hair for this market, claim they have long waiting lists and backlogs of work waiting.

Knitting with dog hair isn’t the same as knitting with sheep’s wool, because dog fur lacks elasticity. For this reason, many people mix dog hair yarn with sheep’s wool to create a more malleable fibre.

Pure yarn from dog fur is extremely soft and fluffy. Therefore, any clothing made from it has the same fluffy, effervescent look – referred to as a ‘halo effect’.

Fancy having a go at knitting something from your own dog’s hair? Have a look at this popular little booklet. It’s available to order from good high street book stores, or online.

It has the rather brilliant title Knitting with Dog Hair: Better a Sweater From a Dog You Know Than a Sheep You’ll Never Meet’ (Author K. Crolius; Publisher Cassell Illustrated New Edition).

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