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Hair of the Dog

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DOES YOUR SHAR-PEI LOOK SHARPER than you do? Does your setter look better than your best sweater? Who’s groovier, you or your Bouvier? For those who dread being in fashion’s doghouse, there is hope—in the form of an all-natural fiber that can help you put on the dog.

In Knitting with Dog Hair, subtitled A Woof-to-Warp Guide to Making Hats, Sweaters, Mittens & Much More (St. Martin’s Press), authors Kendall Crolius and Anne Montgomery promise to teach how “to make an afghan from your Afghan or a beret from your Beagle.”

Crolius, 40, an ad executive who lives in Fairfield, Conn., believes it’s better to wear garments made from “a dog you know and love instead of a sheep you never met.” Montgomery, 45, a freelance writer in Earlysville, Va., thinks dog hair is the perfect fiber. “It’s cheap, it’s easy,” she says, “and landfills are spared all that dog hair.”

Crolius got the idea when she took spinning lessons and learned that almost any kind of hair can be spun into yarn. Although her old friend Montgomery originally felt that Crolius might be “a few puppies shy of a litter,” she admired the canine garments Crolius had spun and agreed to help write the book. Together, they describe the whole hairy process, starting with collecting the raw-material—after all, shedding provides just so much, and most of that is on couches. Crolius and Montgomery recommend gentle grooming after a hearty meal (eaten by the dog, not the owner). Then they cover topics including sorting, spinning, dyeing, deodorizing and knitting—and garment care. Obligingly, the authors grade the hair of various breeds. Newfoundland hair, which Montgomery calls politically correct mink, rates very high. Terrier hair, though, is itchy and not to be worn next to the skin. “We maintain there’s no such thing as an unspinnable dog,” says Crolius, “except the Mexican hairless.”