This photo is of some of my spinning. Usually I spin fibres like sheep, alpaca, rabbit or silk; sometimes something truly exotic like camel or buffalo. Most times, the fibre I’m spinning is totally anonymous (very rarely do I know the name of the animal it came from, and only sometimes is it an animal I’ve known in person).
The two skeins on the left are Great Pyrenees dog hair. Those of you who are not familiar with dog hair as a yarn fibre might think that it is not suitable for this purpose, that it is scratchy and perhaps smelly, but this is not so. The undercoat of some breeds of dogs is as fine and soft and warm as the best angora or cashmere.
My friend Elisabeth had a Great Pyr named “Fleece” (appropriately enough), and over time she saved up a bag of combed-out undercoat that was set aside for spinning “some day” — Elisabeth is a novice spinner and perhaps was waiting until she was better at it before tackling this precious fibre from her good friend. Dog hair is short, and slippery, and not the easiest thing to spin.
After ten years with Elisabeth, Fleece died. Elisabeth was heart-broken, and almost two years on, when she speaks about Fleece, you can see that the dog is much loved, and much missed. I don’t remember whether Elisabeth asked me to spin the Fleece fibre, or whether I offered to do it. It doesn’t really matter. I think Elisabeth feels that she owes me something for doing this spinning for her and she gave me a cone of her yummiest llama yarn as payment for my work. However, the real payment is one of friendship — Elisabeth honoured me by trusting me with this very precious work, and I am very pleased to be able to give her a tangible remembrance of her four-footed companion. Fleece’s loyal, giving nature lives on in strengthening the friendship of the humans who knew her. You can’t ask for much more from a dog.