Sunday, November 25, 2007

Knitting With Dog Hair

It had been a long time since I had knit with dog hair. At the National, I began again and the joy of working with this fiber has come back. The yarn I'm using is a Samoyed/Merino blend that is so light and soft that it seems to float. Since it takes dye beautifully (as anyone who has tried to get red berry stains out of a coat prior to going into the ring would know) and the raspberry color that I was working on for the scarf was lovely. I am now working on mittens to match. If you'd like to try some of this yarn, go to the Kanine Knits - Yarn page

The beauty of this yarn is in the bloom, that halo of fiber hair that appears when the stitch is completed. Though it doesn't show when the yarn is in a ball, it suddenly fills your knitting as you work and fills in any space within or between stitches. Rather than working on #US8 needles, I decided to jump up to #US15. This should have produced a scarf full of holes. Instead, the bloom filled every space and the result was a lovely soft as cashmere scarf which weighed almost nothing and was warm as toast. Since dog hair is eight times warmer than wool, the scarf will be perfect for chasing away the January chill.

Speaking of dog hair, I have been working with Victoria Pettigrew of VIP Fibers lately to see how Kanine Knits patterns look worked up in the hair of the dog. When she knit a sweater from one of the patterns in The Crafty Samoyed Knits, she worked the Samoyed portrait in Samoyed yarn spun from her own dog. The result, as you can see, is wonderful with Victoria showing how dog hair can be used in a sweater without having the garment be too hot. Plus this now serves as a source of pride that her Samoyed Bon Bien is a part of this beautiful creation.

Now this works very well with any double coated dog, that is to say one that has a softer undercoat that sheds out easily. Any of the arctic breeds as well as many, many other breeds qualify. How can you tell? If you are brushing dog hair off yourself every time you leave your home, you dog probably qualifies.

As you see with the Kanine Knits Chow Chow Pattern that Victoria knit, the fact that the dog graphic is knit with spun Chow hair, just ads to the authenticity of the design.

The Chow Chow is only one of many new patterns that will be added to the Kanine Knits web page over the next few weeks. As people request knitted portraits of their breeds, I try to get them designed quickly.

The Newfoundland and Bernese Mountain Dog books are taking shape and the books for the Corgis, Poodles, and Bichon are also coming along. Many people have been generous in offering me stories and photos of their dogs. I love it that they are willing to share them with me and I am happy to include them in the books. I am always looking for more examples of the breed to include. Anyone wishing to share photos of their dogs with me should just go to my website and email me. I love hearing from you.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Adventures at the
Big E

For those of you not in New England, the Big E is the Eastern States Exposition which is technically a state fair for all the six New England states in one place. It takes place over 17 days in September and is both fun and exhausting.

This was the first year that the Connecticut Authors & Publishers Association had a booth which they located in the Connecticut Building (logical). Each state has a building all in a row. I worked on the committee to get it set up and then in stints over the run of the fair put in 24 hours telling people about my knitting books for dog lovers.

One of the enthusiastic visitors who stopped to chat with me and look at my books was Connecticut's Governor Jody Rell. Also visiting was Miss Connecticut who attracted an enthusiastic male following.

I learned a lot and had fun meeting a ton of people who watched me knit with Samoyed hair. This was hot work though since I was wearing a wool sweater to show off my work and had this beautiful Samoyed/Merino blend yarn in a beautiful raspberry color I was knitting. The temperature in the building was about 95 degrees. How we suffer for our art.