Saturday, June 13, 2009

Knitting with hair

A few years ago, my friend Cris's dog groomer saved the trimmings so she could give each client a clear Christmas tree ornament containing the fur of the appropriate pet. Cris and I found that to be a bit creepy (and she has donated the ornament to my Museum). Last night, my Mom and I were talking about the "Furminator," a grooming tool (click on 2nd photo), and I remembered reading years ago about a woman who knit a sweater from the fur of her golden retriever. Well, the craft has since blossomed - "Who knew Cruella de Vil was such a craft nerd?" asks one knitter. I found portraits of people posing in their "canine couture" (click on 1st photo), DIY instructions for knitting a dog hair sweater ("Watch for puckering because dog hair is heavy and nonelastic."), and a network of knitters willing to spin and knit that "custom cardigan" for you.
But what's creepier than recycling the trimmings from the coat of your dog or cat to make a coat of your own? That would be wearing "woolly jumpers" made from the fur of your dead pet - in this case, a pedigreed white Samoyed named "Kara," who died 12 years ago, and a Swedish lapphund named "Penny," who died in 2002. "People are surprised when they find out we're wearing dog wool clothes. Some think it's disgusting and ask how we can do it, but it seems very normal to us," says Mrs. Willis.
And what's even creepier than that? Making clothes from human hair! Ioana Cioanca, a 71-year-old Romanian woman, grew her hair out to a length of 40" so that she could weave it into a hat, shawl, skirt, blouse, raincoat, two bags, and a pair of gloves. I'm sure the get-up rivaled the human hair dresses on the catwalk in England and Croatia. Artist Chrystl Rijkeboer (3rd photo)works with human hair because it has such symbolic significance (beauty, strength, health, etc.)and may have said it best: "The moment it is separated from the human, all these factors turn around, hair is considered dirty, unsavoury and dead." Sheep's wool? Ok. Pet hair? Questionable. Human hair? I think not.

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