Dog sweats and cat batts

I expect it’s my upbringing… not only have I been wearing my 20-something year old insulated coveralls again this year, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw away a ratty pair of hubby’s sweatpants.

So I started cutting them up, wanting to end up with the largest pieces of fabric possible.  We keep ‘dog towels’, which come in handy for a lot of grubby uses, and I thought these might work for something along that line.  I used pinking shears to cut the legs off, then cut along the seams.  When I got to the elasticized bottom, an idea began to germinate.

Long story short, I now have matching dog coats for our Italian Greyhounds – Juliet has a Supergirl cape style, while Griffin’s is a dapper gentleman’s cutaway.  Both use that elastic ankle as the neckband, and feature ‘tummy buttons’ to keep them in place.  They required just a bit of hand-stitching, for the buttonholes and buttons, but were quick and easy to whip up!  The trickiest part was holding the dogs still long enough to mark the cutting lines – Griffin was apprehensive about the whole process, and was so tucked up during the fitting that his ended up a tad shorter than I intended.  Juliet LOVES hers, but Griffin is still undecided.

SUPERgirl! Aren't I pretty?

I hate snow! I hate snow!

I was a bit surprised when I got home from my LYS on Saturday not to get a thorough going-over from these two, as well as our dachshund.  I had finally made it to the loosely-organized monthly knitters gathering, but instead of working on my bed socks, I took some cat hair and wool to blend on the shop’s drum carder.  I didn’t get nearly as much done as I hoped (this could be the title of my autobiography), but had three batts to show for my efforts – not to mention a nice dusting of cat hair all over.  The dogs never even noticed I’d been cheating on them with a CAT.

This is the first cat hair I’ve worked with, and there were a couple of little surprises in store for me.  Since this was not especially soft or long stapled hair, I decided to blend it with some wool to make it easily spinnable.  The night before, I had lightly scoured some nice crimpy fleece.  Before heading out on Saturday morning, I weighed the cat hair and fleece into roughly equivalent batches, and packaged it all in 8 zip-lock bags, 4 per fiber.

The cat hair was much denser and heavier than I expected.  Some of it had been bagged for, well, longer than I care to admit, and while it wasn’t felted, it had rather compacted and needed a good teasing out by hand.  (One of my knitter/spinner friends just pitched right in to help!  She did comment that the knitting project she brought was losing its charm at the moment.)  I began to make ‘sandwich’ batts, so laid on a thin layer of wool, then started in with the cat hair, to be followed by another thin layer of wool.  Boy, the cat hair did not want to cooperate!  Although looking back on it, that may just have been another expression of cat independence…

It was easy to find the bits that weren’t teased open well enough, because they either showed up on the drum as clumps, or refused to be caught at all, and dropped down below the drum.  But persistence paid off, and after a couple of hours, I had three batts, which I had by that time split and re-carded in an attempt at consistency.

Cat hair/wool blend, approx. 50/50 by weight

I’m now playing with the spinning.  The first test was a fine-ish singles with a good amount of twist.  I chain-plied it and gave it a wash.  The result was pretty disappointing.  It feels rather harsh, and while it’s balanced, it still seems over-twisted.  The white cat hair does give it a nice halo, but the yarn looks kind of greyish in some spots.   And it was really too ‘grabby’ to chain-ply very well.  Back to the drawing board.

The rest of that batt has now been spun, a bit heavier and with a little less twist.  Once I get the next batch spun up, I’ll see what a two-ply looks like.

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