Ich finde die Zweibeiner hier in Hamburg ja schon klasse, so hundeverrückt die sind. Aber in England, hab ich mir sagen lassen, stricken die aus dem rausgebürstetem Fell Ihren Hund nach .........
Knit your own dog!
A new craze called Fleece Dog is sweeping across Britain. This bizarre craft — popular in Japan — involves taking combings of your pet's fur and weaving them onto a wire chassis to create a tiny replica pet. Even Jonathan Ross was brandishing his own fleece dog on his TV show last week. We challenged four celebrities to attend a fleece dog masterclass to recreate their dogs.
ROY HATTERSLEY lives with his 12-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Alsatian cross, Buster, in Derbyshire and London. He says:
Why anyone should wish to make a hand-sized replica dog from the clippings and combings of canine hair is by no means clear to me. But I am told that it is all the rage in Japan and I'm also assured that it's fast becoming a hit in Britain. Always anxious to be in fashion, I recently subjected myself to a brief demonstration on how it is done.
Then, I made a completely incompetent attempt to reproduce my Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Alsatian cross, Buster, in a one-to-one tutorial with a young lady tutored in this curious new art. Buster is a 12-year-old dog who achieved brief notoriety ten years ago in St James's Park when he killed a goose — which turned out to belong to the Queen. Fame followed in 1998 with the publication of Buster's best-selling diaries, and a second volume will be published next year.
They record life in London, Derbyshire and any hotels prepared to accept dogs. Fortunately, prior to my replica dog tutorial I had not cleaned Buster's brush for some days. So I was able to collect an envelope of hair with which I travelled across London to see my tutor.
The necessary tools were already spread out on the workbench when I arrived. They included a large needle which, on close examination, turned out to be a tiny harpoon with a barbed point.
There were several other implements available, including a large pair of scissors and a tiny pair of pliers. Much to my regret, I got to use neither.
The wire frame on which my little hairy Buster was to be built had already been constructed. However, my experience with the instrument which I was permitted to employ confirmed the importance of keeping me away from the more lethal weapons.
The harpoon was used to matt the hair and make it malleable. The process involved stabbing the pile of hair with a downward motion — and, in my case, regularly puncturing my finger.
Once matted, the material is ready to be squeezed into appropriate shapes — body with legs, separate head, tail and ears which are added to the torso to create the correct impression.
Reference to the textbook was less than reassuring. Page after page provided pictures of how to create various pedigree breeds. To my regret, there was no diagram with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier/ Alsatian mongrel, or 'cross' as Buster likes to be called.
ADMITTEDLY, my study of A the text was handicapped by a problem which I had not expected and, thus, for which I was not prepared. The loose hair made me sneeze uncontrollably.
I have brushed Buster every night — well, most nights — for the past ten years, slept in the same room, wrestled with him on various floors and spent hours with him upon my knee without a single twitch of the nose. But while making his replica, I sneezed my head off.
The result was a hair-dog constructed through a haze of tears. Perhaps it was the alien material that caused the difficulty. Buster's spare hair was reinforced and augmented with lambswool — an ironic choice since Buster and sheep do not get on.
However, it was no more than his spruce appearance deserved.
My tutor then did a great deal of twisting, twitching, pulling and squeezing — of the hair-dog, not of me. I am happy to admit that the result was remarkably like Buster — ears pricked, nose slightly tilted upwards and at rest in the position that he has copied from the Landseer lions in Trafalgar Square.
It was presented to me — kept safe in cotton wool — inside a cellophane box and I brought it home with great care. Only one question remains: What the hell do I do with it now?
EMMA FORBES, 41, lives in central London with her husband Graham, 45, the couple's children Lily, 10, Sam, seven, and Alfie the shih-tzu.
I HAVE been asked to do some pretty weird things in my time — presenting '100 things to do with a potato' for the potato marketing board (yes, really) being one of them. And when I was asked if I wanted to go to a masterclass on making a tiny replica of my dog out of his own hair, I thought it was a mad joke.
But despite sounding like a project for toddlers straight from an episode of Blue Peter, this is apparently the latest craze to sweep Japan and — never one to turn down a challenge — I went along. On arriving at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, I was shown into a room full of tiny replica dogs made by Sinco, the woman behind the craze. Surprisingly, they were so adorable that I truly wanted to take them all home.
I had brought along a little bag with some fur I'd cut off from my shih-tzu dog, Alfie. And so the lesson began.
Sinco makes it look easy — in a few apparently simple moves she twists wire, bundles up bits of fleece and with a Lethal Weapon-style needle does a lot of stabbing to get the fleece to stay in place.
She gave us some plasters 'in case of injury' (you need them!), as it is easy to get carried away with the whole stabbing experience.
I had a photograph of Alfie with me and I can't honestly say that what I was creating was a replica. Sinco smiled quite a lot at me, sadly I think more to encourage me and be sympathetic than because I was a star pupil.
And the room went almost silent with us all getting embroiled in our task. I found it a lengthy, time-consuming process but strangely therapeutic.
Once I'd recreated Alfie, I was quite pleased with my handywork. I went home and eagerly showed it to my son who burst out laughing. He mocked my efforts hugely, but little did he know I'd brought home a Fleece Dog kit and may yet be creating some masterpieces.
This is a craze which I am sure will take off as a cult craft. We are a nation of dog lovers and if you have a flair for sewing and are nifty with a needle then this is the perfect pastime.
QUENTIN LETTS, 43, is the Mail's theatre critic. He lives in Herefordshire with his wife Lois, three children Claud, nine, Eveleen, eight, and Honor, three, and a mongrel called Cinders. He says:
WHAT an odd business. First you have to gather up some of your dog's fur. Then you fiddle about with two lengths of soldering iron and some wool, creating a dog-chassis covered in wool. Finally, you get to stab a voodoo-style doll repeatedly with a sharp needle to 'fix' its neck, head and outer coat in place. This includes piercing the doll's skull and prodding its nether regions. Ouch.
'Freece dog!' said slim-fingered Nobuko Nagakubo, creator of this boutique doggy madness. She stabbed away like billy-o. 'For fun!' Her Japanese eyes swelled with excitement as she plunged the needle rapidly into the tiny doll.
Under the expert tutelage of Miss Nagakubo, who takes the nom de plume Sinco (it means 'needle'), I slowly assembled a drunken-looking model of a dog. Not just any old dog, either, but our dog, Cinders, an arthritic, scruffy Bedlington Terrier-cum-mongrel.
Sinco rolled a tiny ball of black wool between thumb and forefinger and told me to fix it to the head of this 'dog' by more needle-piercing. 'Nose!' she yelped.
Much as my family love Cinders — tolerate is perhaps the more accurate adjective, as far as I'm concerned — she is not an object of terrific hygiene. She was originally found by my late father-in-law at a dog rescue home. We don't know her age but believe her to be about 12.
Cinders divides her time, as they say of fashionable writers, between her pee-stained, biscuit-crumbed bed and the fields of Herefordshire. Although she hobbles after a hit-and-run outrage a couple of years ago (the accident left her incontinent) she still likes to chase rabbits and sometimes catches ones with myxomatosis.
Cinders is seldom happier than when paddling in our stream, chasing pheasant or barking at bullocks. She is, readers, a very smelly, muddy, country dog. She would not have it any other way.
Sinco showed me a photograph of her own dog, a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen by the name of CJ. What a glamour model!
To speak of Cinders and CJ in the same sentence was embarrassing, like introducing Nora Batty to Elle Macpherson. Sinco asked me to produce my dog clippings and I did so with a certain hesitation, for Cinders's grey fur was flecked with blobs of Herefordshire mud. At least I hoped it was mud.
Sinco was a stoic. She said nothing about the farmyard-ish pong arising from my plastic bag of grey fur. To watch her meld the dog hair with some white wool and then start working it in to the Fleece Dog was fascinating. When I tried it myself, I was all thumbs.
It was a bit like that part of Bruce Forsyth's Generation Game when the contestants watched an expert do something fiendishly difficult and then made idiots of themselves by attempting to repeat the trick.
Sinco passed me a couple of pins with beads at one end. 'Eyes!' she said. I stabbed these pins into the 'head' of the doll and, sure enough, the thing suddenly started to resemble an animal. After half an hour I had assembled something that looked half-sheep, half-Bedlington.
I suspect little girls and craft enthusiasts will love making Fleece Dogs. Ardent dog lovers may jump at the chance to immortalise their pooches in wire, wool and some of their own fur. Some Japanese dog owners apparently make shrines to their late dogs with these models. Others simply like to put the dolls up on their shelves or mantelpieces, to be admired by all. In the age of Damien Hirst, anything can be art, perhaps.
JULIA STRINGER (formerly Carling) is 41 and lives in West London with her husband Rob Stringer, chairman of a record company, and their two children Honor, five, and Florence, three. Her black Labrador, Biff, is 12 years old and much loved by the whole family. She says:
WHEN it comes to my dog I'm at a very sensitive point in my life, because next month I shall be moving to New York, giving me the heartache as to what to do with 12-year-old Biff.
London is full of great open spaces and parks, while Manhattan has one large chunk of greenery in the middle surrounded by expensive real estate.
Biff has enjoyed a life of intense freedom with lead-free walks. He's so happy in his routine that to be moved to a more restricted lifestyle and to bear the stress of the flight in the twilight of his life is unfair. Consequently, I've had to make that awful decision to leave him with close friends in London.
I get very weepy just thinking about it — so of course I seized the chance to make my own replica Biff in a Fleece Dog masterclass to take to New York. I was introduced to the creator Sinco. The Fleece Dog kit provides the wool, felting needle and wires, although Sinco gave me a little head start by handing me a flattened frame of wire wrapped with black wool with four legs spread out.
Manipulated into the pose I wanted my dog in, I was shown how to gently stab pieces of wool on to the frame with the needle, the more prodding giving a short-haired look and less for a more fluffy effect.
With the help of an interpreter, Sinco explained how Fleece Dog evolved from her work studying flower arrangement and animal design topiaries, and of course the love of her own dog, CJ.
'People in Japan really love their dogs and they've been amazed how easy it is to create their own models,' she said.
I found the whole process quite therapeutic, slowly prodding the needle, and I became quite particular about getting it as perfect as possible.
I was pretty chuffed with my result, which I thought utterly adorable, and I was so enthused that I might put even tinier versions on a keyring to give to my daughters for Christmas in memory of their beloved pet.
I am so proud of my Fleece Dog. He's sitting on the mantelpiece at home in all his glory — although I do feel I'm going to look a little silly walking it around Central Park next month.
• FLEECE DOG by Sinco is published by Mitchell Beazley, priced £10. To order a copy (p&p free), call 0870 161 0870.
Quelle; Daily Mail