How much of your pet's hair would you need to knit – say – a pair of gloves? Assuming you wanted to knit with your pet's hair and assuming you were able to knit with your pet’s hair. well, it turns out that you can knit with your pet's hair. Or at least Irene Lerman can. Irene’s been knitting with her cat Mittens' hair for about five years and now she has a shop on Etsy, where she makes handmade items from shoppers’ pet hair. Irene spoke to Kathryn Thomas on the Ray D’Arcy Show and told her how she came up with the idea of using Mittens’ hair for knitting:
"It’s a rag doll, they have very fine, long hair and he likes to be brushed, so I got a couple of boxes of his hair even before I started knitting. Then I was thinking what should I do with it because it was too good to throw it out. So I was – I wanted to knit something with it."
Irene knew how to knit with wool, but she wasn’t sure how to knit using the very fine, long hair of a rag doll cat.
"I didn’t know how to make the hair into the yarn, so I did some research and was able to spin it with some tools... The process is exactly the same as with sheep’s wool, except it’s easy, because the hair is not dirty, so it doesn’t have all the grass and things like that. And also, because it’s brushed, the fibres are lined up nicely."
The first thing that Irene made with Mittens’ hair was a little purse. Then she made a collar with a bow tie. But cat hair was only the beginning. When her friend told Irene that she’d collected her dog’s hair and wanted to make fingerless gloves with it to help her arthritis, Irene obliged.
"I was very excited to try it with someone else’s hair and I made her gloves and she claims it works. She types on the computer with them and they keep her hands warm and she’s very happy."
This success led Irene to open her Etsy store, where she takes orders from eager pet owners all over the world. But let’s get back to our first question – how much pet hair do you need to make a pair of gloves? Irene knows instantly what’s required:
"I need about from four or five sandwich-sized plastic bags stuffed fully. So, for fingerless, it’s a little less; for closed, it’s a little more."
Her Etsy store is thriving. But what, Kathryn wanted to know, is the weirdest thing Irene’s been asked to make through the store?
"I got an order for wolf hair, from the Wolf Sanctuary people. I guess they brush wolves, I had no idea. And so I made scarves with wolves’ hair."
That’s next level pet hair knitting right there. Just don't wear them when there's a full moon. You can hear Kathryn’s full chat with Irene Lerman by going here. And you can find Irene’s Etsy store here.