January. Every day is a new page and every month is a new chapter. As cliché as it is, it fills me with hope and excitement when I look at the coming year in this way. Thanks for joining along as we write this year together - I have a feeling 2020 is going to be the best ever!
Good to Know
What is the best tool for grooming if I'm saving undercoat for yarn?
*I get this question a lot and it's really a matter of preference and comfort; for both you and your pet. Stick with slicker brushes, combs or rakes and avoid the Furminator and anything with blades if possible (these can sometimes damage the hair as it's being removed and can affect the texture of the yarn). The longer the hair the better and remember - it's the downy undercoat that is needed to make yarn from your cat or dog. Outercoat or guard hairs are slick and will stick out of the yarn giving it a prickly feel. Not to mention they will shed out over time - which can be an annoyance. Same goes for hair that's less than about 1.5 long. Grooming and petting your pet is such a beautiful way to bond with them. If you are just starting this ritual be prepared for it to be one of your pet's (and your) favorite activities together.
Lupe is my 20 yr old Devon Rex. She has a short wavy coat but her undercoat is downy and will be just long enough to make yarn.
Jasper is a great Pyrenees who spends his free time shedding his undercoat in mass quantities!
How should I store the saved brushings?
*Storing your precious stash of dog or cat hair to be made into yarn is a pretty important step in the process. Whether you are storing it for an extended period of time or just until you have a few ounces the best practices are basically the same. Remove it from the brush or comb and drop it in a paper bag or cardboard box. Shoe boxes are great because they have lids. Pillow cases that zip closed also work if you have a big shedder and those brushings are adding up quickly. If using a bag of any sort just be sure to secure it to keep it free from pests and moisture. Avoid plastic - it seems to attract moisture and that combination with friction can result in felting in the case of cat hair. Don't worry if you have been using plastic up until now - just transfer it to cloth, paper or cardboard and keep on collecting.
News and Happenings
When I was contacted by a journalist from the New York Times about participating in a feature article about "spinning pet hair as a sort of modern memento mori, a form of hand-spun healing for those grieving the loss of a beloved pet" I knew immediately it was something I wanted to be a part of. Now - let me preface this by saying I'm not always so gung ho about sharing what I do and why for every story that comes knocking. As you can imagine, I get my fair share of curious writers who are more likely to categorize me and my work into the bizarre/creepy/oddity genre; at this point with Nine Lives Twine, I'm just not interested. I am so far removed from that way of viewing my work that I just don't want to put any energy there; especially trying to explain why it ISN'T those things. I knew this was going to be written by someone who loved animals, was facing losing her companion, and who understood the intention and love behind my work. And - most importantly, this was an opportunity to help push conversations about pet loss to the spotlight. We need to be talking about this more as a society. It's important! It affects literally millions of people; our grief is real and the understanding and level of support and resources to help just aren't there to the degree that they deserve to be. If you missed it you can read it here - and don't worry - if you aren't a NYT subscriber it's been syndicated and you can catch it here as reported in the Seattle Times and elsewhere.
Pet Features - honoring and celebrating our pets in ways as unique and beautiful as they are
"Tucker" 9/15/15 - 8/25/19
Tucker was special for alot of reasons, and the fact that this Labrador Retriever's saved brushings were long enough to be spun on their own was a sign that this project was just meant to be. I was mesmerized by Tucker's eyes when I saw a photo of him. Tucker was a gentle giant with a kind heart; always patient, considerate, undestanding, accepting and loving. He was the love of his person's life and will forever be held in her heart. Every word that was used to describe him, I could see and feel in his expression. I wanted this yarn and bracelet to be a reminder that true love stories have no endings.
I love making Kumihimo bracelets and one of the best things about them is that they can be made with a small amount of brushings. Just a few brushings sessions and you will have collected enough for a completely one of kind keepsake.
When I first took on the project of making yarn from Tortie's brushings, I was most excited because of what Tortie's yarn was going to become. Her person was learning how to knit on a loom while I was making the yarn. He was learning so that he could make hats from Tortie for his two children. This was heartwarming because someone was learning a new skill (yay for it never being too late to learn to knit or crochet) and it was including children. Once I learned that Tortie's family had rescued her and her 6 littermates as kittens, and placed all 6 of the others into loving homes, my heart grew even larger for this project. The yarn you see is made with about 5 oz Tortie's brushings and an ounce of blending fiber to give it some elasticity (pretty important when making hats) I like to think there are two kids walking around wearing their Tortie hats with pride, and a smiling Father knowing he gave his children the ultimate gift; his love for cats.