Chiengora (pronounced she-an-gora) is specially woven yarn spun from dog and wolf hair. Chien is the French word for dog, and gora is derived from “angora”, the soft fur of a rabbit. The spinning of dog hair is an ancient art form dating back to prehistoric Scandinavia. It was the main fiber spun on the North American continent before the Spaniards introduced sheep. Chiengora is up to 80% warmer than wool and sheds water well. Its fiber is not elastic like wool, and is characterized by its fluffiness, known as a halo effect. It has a similar appearance to angora and is luxuriously soft.
ALO's annual MOLT
Wolf dogs have a double coat of fur which is nature's way of protecting these animals throughout the changing seasons. During the warmer seasons, molting occurs naturally with wolves and wolf-dogs alike. The way wolves molt has been compared to the way Bison lose their coats once a year in large strings and clumps vs. dogs that tend to have numerous little tufts of fur that shed all year long. We collect our wolf-dogs' fur each spring through careful brushing or gentle pulling. This process takes time and has to be done with great care. Some wolf-dogs find it uncomfortable but some wolf-dogs actually enjoy it, and in the long run they appreciate the effort to rid them of the excess fur. (See videos below to get an idea of the process.)
Wolf dogs will regrow their insulating undercoat in the fall and be ready for colder weather as part of their natural heating and cooling system.
For many years, the staff at Wolf PAWS has been collecting our wolf-dogs’ fur, storing it for future projects. Their fur is kept loosely in bags or boxes to avoid clumping which can make it more difficult to spin.
Chiengora products are rare, as they are demanding to create, and require long, tedious hours of manual labor. Once in the hands of chiengora creators, the fur is delicately separated and brushed until it is free of tangles and ready for cleaning. Clean fur is spun gently into thin strands and transformed into skeins of yarn. The end result is luxuriously soft and keeps you warm just like it does for the wolf-dogs.
In the past few years, we have found some spinners who spin the fur into yarn which they then knit into luxuriously soft clothing items. One such spinner, Jeannie Sanka, founder of Knit your Dog, has created some beautiful products for Wolf PAWS, including gloves, scarves, and hats. Jeannie has garnered much attention and interest from dog lovers, wolf fans, and crafting enthusiasts alike.
Jeannie and others will be knitting products from the skeins of yarn she has spun from our own wolf-dogs’ fur. We are now accepting pre-orders for fingerless gloves and scarves. Because of the popularity of her products and due to COVID delays, her current waitlist is almost 2 years, although we are hopeful she will be able to send us some products sooner!
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to pre-order your Wolf PAWS Chiengora gloves or scarf! We also have other products made with our wolf-dogs’ fur that are available to purchase during private tours of our sanctuary: small glass vials filled with fur as a stand-alone keepsake or as a necklace, and wolf headbands with our wolf-dogs' fur to enhance the ears. Check out all the chiengora products available on our website https://www.wolfpaws.org/shop.