Our pets are family, and one way to memorialize our love for them is to spin some of their fur into yarn. I have a friend who raises angora rabbits, and when one of her older beloved bunnies passed away I took some of that rabbit’s fiber and spun it into yarn, then knit it into a heart and mailed it to her to frame in a shadowbox.
I have received many emails from pet owners who are looking for someone to spin their pet’s fur into yarn, so here are some resources if you’d like to do this yourself or find someone who does it professionally.
Tips + resources for spinning precious pet fur into beautiful yarn.
Collecting the fur.
If you are interested in having your pet’s fur spun into yarn, begin collecting the fur when you groom them. You will need to collect several ounces of fur to spin enough yarn. Many pets shed most in the spring when they are getting rid of their winter coat, and this is a perfect time to get out that brush and begin collecting the fur.
Do not store your pet’s fur in a plastic bag, as the fur may have moisture in it and a plastic bag won’t allow this moisture to evaporate. If you collect fur in a plastic bag, it can felt or mildew. A cloth bag is best, so season by season the collected fur can adjust to the humidity and temperature of the room without becoming moldy or felted.
Washing the fur.
Once you have collected enough of your pet’s fur to spin into yarn (at least 4 ounces) you will need to wash it. Washing the fur removes dirt and odor, and protects the fur. Some fur will felt very easily (angora rabbit fur, or very fine cat fur) so make sure you do not expose the fur to much agitation or extreme temperature variation. To wash your pet’s fur you will need:
- A large bowl
- Warm water
- Soap (dish soap or pet shampoo)
- A towel and a countertop to dry the fiber
First, fill a large bowl with warm water. Since pet fur does not have grease or lanolin, the water doesn’t need to be as hot as you may require for washing wool. Keeping the water warm instead of hot will help prevent felting. After the bowl is full, add a squirt of plain dish soap (no oxy-ingredients, which damage fiber).
Note: You can also use your favorite pet shampoo instead of dish soap.
Gently swish the soap in the water with your hand until the water feels slimy, being careful not to create many bubbles which can prevent the fur from sinking into the water. Gently immerse the fur into the warm water for 15 minutes. Take a strainer and strain the fur from the water.
Refill the bowl with warm water and place the clean fur into the bowl. You might need an additional rinse or two of warm water to make sure the fur is clean. Lay the fur out on a towel on your countertop until dry, then store in a clean cotton bag. You do not need to wash the fur until you have collected enough to spin.
Blending the fur.
Many pets have very short fur. Most spinners prefer a fiber length of 2 or more inches. A coarse, short fur (like many domestic dogs) is almost impossible to spin without being blended with another animal fiber. So consider what fiber you would like your pet’s fur to be blended with if the length of the fur is under 2 inches. If you have a black dog, you could consider blending the fur with black wool or alpaca – or blend your dog’s black fur with white wool or alpaca for a heathered look.
You could also blend your pet’s fur with wool dyed in your favorite color, or the color of their favorite leash or toy. There is no wrong blend, just consider what you would find the prettiest. If you are blending the fur yourself, you can purchase the fiber you need on ETSY and use dog combs from your local pet store like hard cards to blend the fibers together.
Spinning the fur.
If you have never spun yarn before, it would be best to learn to spin with wool so you can learn without using up or getting frustrated with your precious pet fur blend. You can purchase a drop spindle on ETSY and or take an online spinning class!
Or purchase a spinning book, or take a local spinning class. If learning how to spin is overwhelming, hire a spinner to process your fur into yarn for you. Many spinners love doing custom projects and can even wash and blend and knit your pet’s fur for you so when you receive it in the mail it is ready to frame and hang.
Finding a pet fur spinner:
Facebook Group: Fiber Artists Marketplace. I recommend writing a post on this page that explains what you would like (finished yarn, how bulky, already knit for a memorial or ready to knit), the breed of fur, if you need it to be washed, if it may need to be blended (if the fur length is under 2 inches it may), and your email address for spinners to contact you regarding arranging payment and pricing.