Fibre fan spins yarn of cat hair – purrfect

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Rag doll cat Beau with owner June Barrett eyes up the fur spun by creative Margaret Hawkey.

By Mick Jensen

Margaret Hawkey is a creative fibre fan and her latest project is using an unusual material – cat hair.

A plentiful supply of hair is provided by friend June Barrett, who owns rag-doll rescue cat Beau.

Beau is 11-years-old and was close to being put down before Mrs Barrett came to his rescue.

Because of his breed, he sheds a lot of hair year-round, but particularly in autumn and winter.

“I need to brush my beloved Beau day and night year round and I found myself collecting so much hair, I thought why not try to put it to good use.

“I spoke to Margaret and over the course of the last year, I’ve presented her with three carrier bags full of it,” Mrs Barrett said.

After some discussion with her friends in the Ashburton Creative Fibre group, Mrs Hawkey set about “teasing out” the cat hair for spinning.

Fellow spinners had advised her to combine the hair with merino when trying to spin it, but that had not proven necessary, Mrs Hawkey said.

“My second batch has turned out better than the first and it’s just so lovely and soft to the touch.”

The finished fibre looked very much like “homespun” and “dirty like mohair”.

The spun hair will be dyed either green or red.

“I’m making a knee rug and I will also also use mohair and alpaca wool for it.”

If that went to plan, she hoped to use the cat hair to make hats for people who have lost their own hair during cancer treatments.

“It’s not itchy like wool,” Mrs Hawkey said.