Post Published on April 17, 2016 | Last Updated on July 14, 2021 by Jenny
Cat Hair Yarn: Interview with Irene Lerman of PetHair2KnitWear
Etsy Shop: PetHair2KnitWear
I was born in Russia and learned to knit as a girl because knitting is very popular there and almost every Russian woman knows how to knit. After moving to US I did not really knit as you can buy anything you want ready made. After adopting my cat Mittens, I started collecting his beautiful hair and for years did not know what to do with it, until one day I had a brilliant idea on making yarn with it. So I did some research and u-tube learning, ruined a lot of Mitten’s hair and finally got it right after a few months of trying! I later used a friend’s English setter’s hair and made lovely mittens with it. Now with Etsy’s help I am taking custom orders and never had a dissatisfied customer!
How did you get interested in cats? How old were you when you had your first kitty?
When I was a child, I had a dog and was considering myself as a “dog person” until I met Mittens! He is a Ragdoll and was given away because the owner developed allergy to him. We only came to “take a look” but ended up taking him home with us. Mittens became a buddy for my little son who is now in college and only comes to visit occasionally. As all rug dolls, Mittens has gorgeous hair and through the years I collected quite a lot. I did not know what to do with this treasure, until one day I thought of a possibility to spin it! I made a few calls to friends but nobody knew how to spin cat’s hair, so I had no other choice than take lessons on U-tube. I ruined a lot of Mittens hair before it started come out nicely and I was able to knit a few small items with it.
Next, I wanted to try dog’s hair so I asked around and obtained a sample from my friend’s English setter, Lucy. The hair felt very different, but never the less I made fantastic gloves with it!
Please describe your creative process.
The process of making items is a bit messy: first, depending on the hair quality, you I need to go through the hair and separate usable hair from unusable. Then I have to wash and dry it and then it goes through carding. This is a process when hair gets combed with special metal brushes (I use antique carders used for sheep fur) and it becomes nice and soft and ready for spinning! For the next step, I use a simple hand wooded spindle.I can make my yarn thicker or thinner, depending on how much hair I have and what I am planning to use it for. The rest is easy and far more pleasant: actual knitting!
How did you discover Etsy? Did you consider other ways to sell your products?
A friend introduced me to Etsy a little over a year ago and I started my shop with just a coupe of items, mostly made with Mitten’s hair.
Do you sell your products in a local store in your area?
I do not sell products in local stores because they all are very special and made to order.
Have you been successful at selling your products on Etsy? Have you always been successful, or did you end up getting a lot more traffic after being featured on a specific blog?
I believe i am quite successful even the volume is not high. All my products are requiring a lot of time to make, so I can only make an item or two every month.
Do your customers ever give you new ideas for products?
My customers constantly give me new ideas! The all look for something very special and unique. I get a lot of orders from the pets that are no longer alive, but the owners were able to collect and store their fur. These are very special orders and I try to do my best to honor the owner’s wishes and special requests.
Have you thought of featuring a Ragdoll cat is some way? (Had to ask.)
Mittens is proudly featured in my store. After all, if I did’ not have him, I would not be a part of Etsy community!
Are you a one wo/man show?
Yes, I am a one woman show, I do everything alone but enjoy the creative process greatly!
Do you have a blog?
I do not have a blog, but my creations were featured at Top Crochet Patterns. com, together with other cool pet hair knitting individuals!
Do you do custom ordering? Can someone return it if they don’t care for it?
Unfortunately I can not accept returns because of the nature of my items, but luckily, so far I never had an unhappy customer! My favorite items are handbags – they come out beautifully and I get lots of compliments for them! The also are very practical and werable. By the way, all the items I make are perfectly washable and will last forever!
Can you share a story with us behind any of your products that you especially enjoyed working on? Maybe because of the story behind the kitty?
My favorite items are handbags – they come out beautifully and I get lots of compliments for them! The also are very practical and wearable. By the way, all the items I make are perfectly washable and will last forever!
I also love posting pictures of my furry clients on my web site – they all are so cute and adorable! I always request a picture for the inspiration before I start working on a particular item.
Also, can you go more in depth about how to submit one goes about submitting cat hair to you?
As for the process, customers usually pick what they want from my listings, ask me how much hair will be needed for a certain item and then mail me the hair. I usually complete an order within two weeks. They all are surprised how little hair is needed for small items.
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