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Woman Spins Yarn From Dog Hair

October 15, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ Betty Burian Kirk is giving new meaning to the expression ″putting on the dog.″

Mrs. Kirk hand-spins yarn out of dog hair. Her clients then use it to knit mittens, scarves and shawls for themselves.

″It’s becoming more and more popular,″ Mrs. Kirk said Wednesday. ″A lot of people do it for sentimental reasons - they want to wear something from their dog.″

Prospective clients include Susan Kanar, who plans to begin saving fur this week for mittens or a scarf from her white Hungarian sheep dog, Schmutz.

″Why? He’s my baby. His fur happens to be beautiful,″ said Ms. Kanar, of suburban Northbrook.

″My mother is disgusted by the idea, my friends are disgusted, but I just think it would be a neat thing to do,″ she said. ″You have to be somebody who really cares about dogs to want to have this done. It’s wearing your own pet.″

Mrs. Kirk, an elementary school art teacher from suburban Sauk Village, has been spinning dog hair since 1981, when she was an art student at Northern Illinois University.

She said she hopes to attract more customers to expand her hobby into a mail order business.

Mrs. Kirk has knitted herself a scarf and crocheted a shawl from the fur of her Belgian sheep dog, Lance.

″I like them - they are nice and soft,″ she said. ″Depending on the breed, it’s real soft and will make nice, fluffy yarn.″

Hair from Samoyeds and huskies spins into the softest yarn, she said, but collies and German shepherds aren’t too scruffy, either. She also has spun nice yarn from Belgian tervuren, golden retriever and akita, but doesn’t recommend toy poodle because the hair is too short or Cardigan Welsh corgi because it’s too harsh.

″I usually don’t recommend making a sweater from it,″ she said. ″It’s a lot hotter than wool generally.″

She tells dog owners not to clip their dogs’ fur but to brush it out regularly and save it up. She charges $2 to spin a small sample and $5 an ounce in finished yarn for larger orders.

Mrs. Kirk said that although ″some dogs smell pretty rank,″ the odor usually is removed when she washes the yarn. ″But when you have something made from dog hair, if it gets wet, it might smell like dog hair.″

Ms. Kanar said she told her mother wearing dog fur is like wearing a mink coat. But mother said, ″That’s different - I don’t know the animal.″

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