PEI

'We can spin just about anything': P.E.I. company makes yarn out of pet fur

Mini-Mills, a textile manufacturer in Belfast, P.E.I., are putting a different spin on yarn.

'People discover that these hair balls that they're sweeping up can actually be turned into something'

Mini-Mills in Belfast, P.E.I., makes yarn out of all kinds of animal fur, including dog and camel. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Belfast Mini-Mills Ltd., a textile manufacturer in Belfast, P.E.I., is putting a different spin on yarn.

While yarn is most commonly made from wool, the owners at Mini-Mills have been spinning yarn out of pet hair.

"People are quite surprised that we do dog fibre, cat fibre. Some people turn up their noses but it's amazing fibre," said co-owner Linda Nobles.

'We can spin just about anything'

Nobles said they started spinning pet hair after someone requested it several years ago — and demand just keeps growing.

The process of creating pet yarn can take up to several days. Pet fibre must first be washed, dried, conditioned and picked through before the weaving process. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"It gets bigger and bigger every year. People discover that these hair balls that they're sweeping up can actually be turned into something," she said.

Nobles also said they can spin yarn out of almost anything as long as the hair is long enough. 

Mini-Mills owner Linda Nobles said she's had a variety of strange requests, including human hair to be processed into yarn. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"It has to be longer than an inch for us to be able to spin it," she said. "We suggest that you wait until your pet has produced at least 8 ounces of fibre and then you bring it in."

The process 

Once the pet hair makes it to the mill, Nobles said they give it a quick wash, condition it, and pick through it to remove any coarse hair. After that it's stretched, evened, spun, plied and steamed to achieve the perfect consistency for yarn.

Nobles said the finishing touch is rinsing the hair in Borax.

The pet hair is stretched, evened, spun, plied and steamed to achieve the perfect consistency for yarn. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

"It gets rid of the dog smell so then when you're wearing your scarf and you get wet, you won't smell like your dog," she said.

Mini-Mills charges $50 a pound to produce pet yarn.

While most would find the concept strange, Nobles said she's typically not fazed.

"The dog fibre isn't the strangest thing we've done. We've also done human hair. It's kind of a bizarre industry but we can spin just about anything," she said.

Nobles also said that customers knit just about anything out of the pet yarn, but most choose to make hats, mittens or scarves.

Mini-Mills needs pet fibre to be at least an inch in length and a total of eight ounces to be able to turn it into yarn. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

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