Spinning a cat hair comforter …

Two funny little cats, Eggy and Ilsa, came to live with us some 18 months ago …Unlike any other kits I have had (and I’ve had quite a few in my time) they need constant grooming. This isn’t surprising really as they are half Persian and half Exotic Shorthair, inheriting from their Persian father a gloriously luscious outer coat and a dense, soft undercoat. Left unchecked, this undercoat matts badly – so they need the regular grooming to keep their coats shiny and silky.

It occurred to me last¬†summer that I might well be able to spin this undercoat. Why I had quantities of it available! The very cream tones are from Ilsa (on the right above) and the darker colours are from Eggy (on the left).But it’s not exactly a long staple, being just a couple of inches at most.¬† Sometimes there are guard hairs too, but mostly what I was getting from grooming sessions was the soft grey you can see by my fingertips below.I decided the best thing was to blend it with some of the Cornish alpaca I still had spare. This is a beautiful creamy lustrous fibre (once washed – it was almost grey with dirt and dust when I first acquired it), but similar in texture to the cat hair, so I expected the fibres¬†to blend well. On with the alpaca to the carders then …Followed by the rather grubby cat hair (this I didn’t wash – full explanation to follow) …It carded very well together …Giving a beautiful silver grey rolag …Actually there were lots of tones in the rolags, reflecting the different colours of the cat hair.¬† I rather like this variation, being true to the original cats …What did the kits think of my work?¬† Were they at all interested in this processing of their hair?¬† After all it must smell of them … And they were about much of the time as I was busy¬†carding and spinning¬†…Ah yes! Look at Ilsa in seventh heaven padding away at my rolags!¬† Can you see the little bits of alpaca fluff floating up and catching in her whiskers? And Eggy keeping a sharp eye behind?!Eggy had her heavenly moments with the rolags too.¬† This looks like pure cat bliss to me too …Happy summer days …Why I was even tempted to card straight from source (as it were) …!Time to start spinning my rolags …With my not-so-helpful kitty companions … I spun the mixed cat hair and alpaca fiber very fine with lots of twist to hold the cat hair and fluffy alpaca in place.¬† Any relaxation of the twist and the yarn easily broke …Then the cat hair/alpaca strand was plyed with pure alpaca …Giving me a yarn that was 25% cat and 75% alpaca … (pure white alpaca in picture here to show the colour difference) …Time to get knitting! I wanted a very simple pattern, so adapted¬†my knit from this Viewfinder cowl in Alexa Ludeman and Emily Wessel’s Road Trip.¬†I’ve knit it before as a cowl, but this time wanted to knit¬†a comforter ….. Are you familiar with the term?!¬† Well, it is the best word – in my opinion – for a shawl or scarf.¬† Time to consult¬†our wonderful¬†1891 Webster’s! A knit woolen tippet, long and narrow. Just so – thank you, Mr Webster.¬† Only I would add: something to offer the physical warmth of succour … a woolly hug, perhaps … You see this comforter was planned as a gift for my daughter whose cats these really are.¬† They no longer live with her, but with the unwashed (now you see why the cat hair wasn’t washed!) comforter, she could wrap herself in comforting almost pure cat … So effective was it (and so pleasant to knit), that – having plenty of yarn still – I knit another comforter …You can see the catty variations in the spin quite clearly …And laid out you can see how¬†the lacey stitchwork has distorted the rectangular comforter into something quite shaped with pointy ends …I decided to dye the second comforter, mixing up a vibrant fuchsia colour from my Easyfix AllinOne Dye powders …Such a pleasing result!Was I influenced at all by the colours of the season ….?You can see quite clearly the distorting effect of the lacey stitches as the comforter dries …The resulting knit matted a little bit in the process – but that’s not a bad thing as it stops the comforter shedding cat hair¬†so much¬†…And boy, is it cosy and comforting to wear!(Not mine for long as it’s off to give comfort with its predecessor …)