While Chiengora is a modern term, dog hair has been utilized by the Scandinavians and the Native American for hundreds, possibly a thousand years. The key to a great Chiengora yarn, is a fuzzy & warm double coated dog such as Malamutes, Husky, Chow Chows, and Elkhounds. In fact the Salish Wool Dog, now extinct, was selectively bred for their wool by the prehistoric Natives in the areas we now call Washington State and British Columbia.
Step 1: Collect Dog Hair
To collect dog hair all you need to do is find a double coated dog blowing (releasing) their undercoat. Longer coated dogs will benefit from a dog brush made for removing their heavy undercoat. Some short coated breeds do not release all of their undercoat at the same time, and the clumps can easily be removed by hand.
Step 2: Spin the Single
One of the joys of spinning dog hair is it not does need much prep, and can be spun from the cloud, loose fibers. I placed a large handful of dog hair in my lap, removed any clumps, and fluffed the fibers by hand. I spun this single on my Kromski Minstrel spinning wheel.
Step 3: Lazy Kate
Place the finished bobbin on a Lazy Kate.
Step 4: Wind a Center Pull Ball
Use a Lazy Kate and a Ball Winder to make a center pull ball of yarn.
Step 5: Ply the Yarn
Hold the two ends of the yarn together, attach to your leader, and treddle. I chose a very low twist due to the long 4-5" staple length, and I wanted a chunky textured yarn.
Step 6: Niddy Noddy
Wind the finished yarn onto a niddy noddy, and tie strings in 3-4 places around the skein.
Step 7: Wash the Finished Yarn
Dog hair is very dirty, and is coated in body oils. The easiest way to clean the finished yarn is to scour the wool. Heat water to 150-160*F. Add about 1 tsp of Power Scour to your water, and insert the yarn. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Step 8: Rinse Yarn & Remove Excess Water
Pour off water and yarn. I prefer to place the basket of my salad spinner in my sink, and pour the yarn directly into the basket. The excess water can be removed by hand, or by using the salad spinner.
Run another container of hot water, place the yarn into the water. Let the yarn sit in the water for about 30 minutes. Utilizing a spinner to remove excess water reduces the total amount of water needed.
Repeat until the water runs clear.
Step 9: Dry the Finished Yarn
Lay the yarn out in a warm place to dry.
Step 10: Center Pull Ball of Yarn
Wind the dry yarn into a center pull ball.
Step 11: Knit a Test Swatch
Knit a test swatch. Try different size needles, and decide which create the look you want to create.I
Step 12: Cast on and Knit the Hat Brim
Cast on, and knit 1.5-2 inches in a 1x1 (knit one, purl one) rib.
Knit with heavy tension, or with one size smaller needles.
Bulky Weight Yarn - 2.5 stitches per inch
Cast on 48 stitches
Knit 1x1 rib (k1, p1, around)
knit for 1.5-2 inches from cast on edge
Step 13: Knit Body of Hat
Knit around in stockinette stitch (knit) until 7" from cast on edge.
Start decrease pattern
1: SSK, knit 7 stitches, k2tog, k1, repeat around, (40 stitches)
2: Knit around (40 stitches)
3: SSK, knit 5 stitches, k2tog, k1, repeat around (32 stitches)
4: SSK, knit 3 stitches, k2tog, k1, repeat around (24 stitches)
5: SSK, knit 1 stitches, k2tog, k1, repeat around (16 stitches
6: K2tog around (8 stitches)
Cut yarn leaving a 12" tail.
Use a yarn needle to run yarn through the remaining 8 stitches.
Sew in yarn end at top and brim.
Step 14: Enjoy Your Warm & Fuzzy Hat
One of the amazing characteristics of Chiengora is the beautiful halo, similar to angora. Put on your Warm & Fuzzy hat on a cold winter day and enjoy!