Introduction: What to Do With Pet Hair
If you have indoor pets like I do you may wonder if there is anything else to do for a shedding pet's hair besides vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Well, I thought it might be interesting to see if I could turn the pet hair into a usable fiber.
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Step 1: Pet Hair
I have a white cat, feral who sort of tolerates being brushed for 10 seconds at a time and a black bunny rabbit, similarly rescued from a life on the streets and more comfortable with being brushed. The cat under coat is scant but enough and the rabbit under coat hair is more plentiful but fluffy and wispy like dandelion seeds. This is not a rabbit breed whose fur is known for making yarn like an Angora rabbit.
Step 2: Tools
I used a regular hairbrush and a soft bristle pet brush to brush the animals. Many pet brushes have metal tines which can scratch the animals skin. I do use the metal tined brushes later in the project for combing the hair when it is off the animal. I have a drum carder to comb the fur after it is collected but the metal tined brushes can be used for this step instead. Lastly, I have a spinning wheel to spin the fur but a hand spindle is perfect (and easily made) or one could hand roll the fiber as well.
Step 3: Preparing the Fiber
As you can see in the photos the rabbit hair is dark at one end and fluffy at the other. The cat hair is more coarse but usable. The sheep wool started out very matted but was combed out to a usable texture. After collecting the pet hair until I got a sufficient amount for my project I prepared it by combing on my drum carder. The drum carder also allows me to blend the two types of animal hair. As I said before the bunny is not the breed for spinning and her hair is so fluffy it is like handling clouds in the sky so I decided to combine it with sheep wool to give it more substance. You can choose to combine (or not) with just about any type of animal hair to get the combination you like. Since I mostly wanted to see what the bunny fluff would look like I used more bunny fur. The final combination was something like 70% bunny fiber, 25% sheep wool and because the cat was largely an unwilling participant in this project, 5% kitty fur.
Step 4: Combining
I added the bunny/cat hair to the sheep wool, as you can see the bunny hair was a major fluff but after awhile the combination seemed good to work with. This can be done with the metal tined brushes, brushing the fibers so they mostly flow one way much like when you comb your hair.
Step 5: Spin
Now that I have combined/blended the fibers sufficiently I can remove the batt from the carder in a flat rectangle. From there I go to the spinning wheel to begin to make the fibers into yarn. It is challenging to handle because it is so fluffy but the sheep wool helps to hold it together.
Step 6: Using the Yarn
I am a knitter so that is what I will attempt. It is very soft but knits well enough. If you don't knit you can felt it or give it to the woodland creatures to use as bedding or let your creativity run wild.