Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

19. November 2011 10:20
by Jobo
0 Comments

An extra special Fur Project

19. November 2011 10:20 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Every now and again I get to work on some very special projects… something beyond just knitting an established  project with boring old run of the mill wool.  In this case, the uniqueness comes in the form of some special dog fur. 

Gaia

I met the owner on the internet… she was looking for someone to spin up some fur from a well-loved Shepherd Dog – Gaia – who has since passed away.  I always find it interesting how people meet up sometimes, and how the internet makes the world that little bit smaller.  This fur came all the way from England to Prince Edward Island to be processed and worked into a keepsake photo frame. 

I’m a little embarrassed to say that this has taken me longer to get ready than I had anticipated… life is a little weird right now with the baby coming and all.  But I managed to get the fur carded up and spun at the Maritime Handspinners’ Retreat, and this weekend I plan on finishing up the knitting of the frame.

First things first:  Here’s the fluff itself!

Gaia Fur on Carder with Merino

I decided to use the drum carder for this project to make some nice puffy soft batts to spin from.  I actually had a decent amount of the dog fur (about 2 ounces) so I eyeball blended it with some soft creamy Merino Wool about 60:40 Dog : Merino.  I really liked the way that the golden/cream fur combined with the cream wool… not overpowering the color, but instead highlighting the depth of shade that was already present.  I got 4 nice big soft batts, and took them along with me for open spinning time at the retreat.  I even stumped a few people at the retreat who tried to identify the preparation.  One thought it might have been alpaca, because of the softness.

Oct 15 2011 176

Since I knew I was going to be knitting a photo frame, I decided to go with a standard 2-ply yarn, and let the fiber decide on the size as I went along.  It’s funny really how sometimes a fiber prep will tell you how it wants to be spun.  It seemed to flow through the fingers nicely at a fingering weight-ish single, so I just went with it.  The finished yarn feels like a light worsted weight or so, but I imagine will knit up like a regular to heavy worsted yarn because of the nice halo.  I do lovely that aspect of spinning canine undercoat – the yarn ends up with such a desirable substantial halo.  The stuff may be prone to felting, but boy is it warm!

Gaia Skein 1 

The finished skein is a nice size… somewhere around 3 – 3.5 ounces, and the finished yarn is already developing that characteristic halo.  I like the way that the cream and golden colors have marbled together and gave a nice soft variation in the finished yarn.  Now I’m off to skein it up and do a little swatching to choose the correct needle size.

I had a hard time finding a premade photo frame to measure and use for the dimensions of my knitted frame… so I think I’m going to get creative and wing it.  I figure, I intended to cover the entire frame with knitted fabric anyways, so I think I will make a frame in my own desired size from some nice smooth corrugated cardboard (maybe in 2 – 3 layers to give the illusion that there is a thicker wooden frame under the wool) and use that as my starting point.  It will be light for mailing back to the UK, but also can be any size that compliments the photo, so will give me a few more options to really showcase Gaia and his beautiful fur.

24. November 2010 12:32
by Jobo
1 Comments

Alaskan Malamute Experiment... signed, sealed, delivered!

24. November 2010 12:32 by Jobo | 1 Comments

imageAfter many months of effort, I finally came to the end of my Alaskan Malamute Adventure this past week!  To give you a basic recap... I was commissioned by a local pet owner to spin some of her pet dog's fur and make a hat/mitten/neckwarmer set from the resulting yarn.  This was my first time working with dog fur, undercoat to be exact, but I was very excited to see if I could make it all work.  The fluff was lovely and light and soft, and I knew in the end I would be able to make something of it... 

I started the fiber prep by removing as many guard hairs from the dog fur as possible.  Guard hairs are bristly, and would have resulted in prickly bits in the finished yarn... and I didn't want that.  Then the fur was weighed, and blended 50-50 by weight with some nice fine Merino Sheep's wool.

I carded and blended all of the fiber by hand on some regular Ashford Hand Cards... mostly because I like the process of hand blending.  I weighed small amounts of fiber that were comfortable to work by hand (around 4-5 g of fiber at a time) and the resulting rolags were light and airy - perfect for some woolen style spinning.

husky wool blend carded basket The swatching process was fun... I decided to spin up a small sample (about an ounce or so) of the wool at a sport/worsted size and knit some small swatches in different stitch patterns to show my client.  In the end, because the yarn had so much halo and fuzzy feeling, a sport weight yarn really knit up and felt like a worsted weight one, which was actually perfect for the project.

I decided to swatch out plain stockinette (for gauge mostly), a simple diagonal lace pattern, and a basic cable pattern.  In the end, after washing, the cables really seemed to disappear into the halo.  The client really liked the idea of the lace, so we decided to move along with that basic idea.

As for pattern... I found a nice basic hat pattern (Noro spiral one-skein hat by Manuèle Ducret) and modified and worked from there to make a hat with the diagonal lace pattern all around.  I used the same stitch pattern to make a "cowl" neckwarmer, and the gauntlets of the mittens.

swatches all 3the swatches... blocked and drying... 

In the end, I ended up spinning quite a bit of yarn... I needed 50g for the hat, 110g for the mittens, and around 120g for the neckwarmer.  The process was enjoyable, though I was worried that I might not finish the set in time for cold weather.  Custom knitting takes time, but sometimes I forget just how long that is.  I was impatient and I had started knitting the garments before the entire quantity of yarn was complete... but next time I do something like this I think I will do all of the yarn first, so there will be less jumping around.

set on... vogue the completed set!

In the end I was very pleased with the final results of the set.  After the knitting and blocking process, the surface of the garments developed a nice gentle halo with a soft finish totally suitable for next to the skin wear.  As you can see, the fur and the wool combined to make a warm oatmeal color, presumably which will match with just about any jacket.

set blocking the set... blocking and drying

You'll notice that I monogrammed the mittens.  The customer and I had discussed that it might be nice to have some sort of monogram or notation to indicate the fiber's source in the finished product.  While spinning up the dog fur, I came across a couple of locks of darker fiber.  I picked out as many as I could and saved them, and then blended them with some natural brown wool, and used this darker yarn to add a little paw print, and an "S" for Samiya - the dog's name.

pawprint closeup 2 <-- gratuitous embroidery shot!  Puppy Prints!

I finally brought the finished garments up to the owner last week... she seemed very pleased with the set, and excited to get to wear her new goodies!  They also decided that her husband should have a pair of special mittens for himself... so after Christmas, I'll be working on some "work" mittens - basically a pair of men's hybrid mittens, with a separate pointer finger, and the rest of the fingers together a-la-mitten.  My dad loves mittens like this, as they give better hand dexterity than mittens, but because more fingers are housed together, they are also warmer than gloves alone.

All in all... Experiment - Successful :)

if you are interested in having some yarn spun from your pet's fur, please contact me for more details :)

9. September 2010 08:30
by Jobo
2 Comments

Chiengora "One-Skein" Hat

9. September 2010 08:30 by Jobo | 2 Comments

Having completed one skein of yarn from my Alaskan-Malamute-Challenge over the past weekend... I decided to get started on the goods!  The completed skein had somewhere between 100 - 125 yards, which as I suspected was more than enough to make the hat.

husky hat 2I chose to use the Noro spiral one-skein hat by Manuèle Ducret  - which is a simple free pattern, graciously offered by Manuèle over on her website.  I thought it might be a complicated knit, but was surprised and delighted by the simplicity of it all.  I decided to work at my own gauge though, and cast on in multiples of 8 until I was pleased with the size of the cuff.  I think I settled on 104 sts in the end.  I'll have to measure the needles I used, because honestly I just grabbed a pair that "looked" appropriate in size for the yarn.  Sometimes eyeballing it *does* work for me!

The Hat itself is quite fuzzy, with a light soft grey halo.  I've been quite surprised with how soft the dog fur yarn actually is!  The dog's owner was considering having the hat lined with some sort of soft wool (maybe angora or alpaca) but I don't think the hat will really need it.  Just wearing it around the house for photos, my head was toasty warm, almost to the point of being uncomfortably warm!  I'll have to run it by her, but I think she will be pleased with it as it is. 

Next - More picking and carding up another basket of chiengora and wool ("Chiengora" is the posh name for Dog Fur Wool) and then spinning up another skein to get started on the cowl and mittens.  My head is just spinning with all of the possibilities :)

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