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Hoard dog hair

Citizen Staff Writer

Next time you brush your dog, don’t throw away the tangled mass of fur stuck in the brush.

Use it to make a sweater. For real. Sweaters made from dog fur are even warmer and cozier than those made from sheep shearing, swears Pegg Thomas, a longtime dog-sweater maker on Twin Willows Farm in Ossineke, Mich.

“I love to spin my dog’s hair into wearable items for myself and my family,” she said in an article promoting the craft.

Although she explained how one of her favorite sweaters was made from family dog Thor, before he passed away three years ago, she doesn’t mention how much money can be saved by spinning yarn from globs of dog fur.

This is just one of the ways we can creatively cut back in this tough economic clime, and there are certainly plenty of others.

Of course, for the dog fur sweaters to be worthwhile, you would have to factor in the price of the dog food, a pooper scooper, shots and vet care, a good brush that can grasp out adequate clumps from the undercoat and any couches or shoes the dog chews to ribbons.

Lint, on the other hand, is free. Dryer lint may seem like such a throw-away item, but it, too, has a whole host of uses.

Dryer lint artwork, especially when plastered in random clumps about a canvas, actually comes out looking somewhat like Picasso’s.

Folks can either specially select what color clothing to dry to get the colors they need, or they can dye the lint with a dash of Rit.

Dryer lint also works well for kindling, essential for lighting fires when the gas company shuts the gas off for lack of payment.

Throw the lint in a pot with some water and flour and mix over a warm flame, and you’ve got yourself some homemade clay.

It may not be as tasty as Play-Doh, but it will be much better molded to fit a budget.

Those not into dog fur sweaters or dryer lint artwork can still come up with creative ways to save money, especially in Tucson.

Our landscape is rife with tough, durable plantlife, not to mention lots of cactus spikes.

Palm fronds are ideal for fanning the flames of our dryer lint fires.

A hefty cactus spike can double as a toothpick, a hat pin or a pushpin or nail, as long as what you’re hanging up is light enough to be held by it.

Dryer lint art is fairly lightweight.

I also once used a cactus spike to secure the arm on my glasses frame when the little screw fell out and blew away.

If harvested correctly, the thick cactus and other plant skins can be used to make footwear, like those tire shoes some hippies and our next door neighbors used to wear.

The latter also used to eat butter and sugar sandwiches. We are not sure if the tire shoes and weird sandwiches meant they were cutting back or they were just plain strange.

Folks can also take a gander at all the stuff that gets chucked in the garbage or recycle bin. Perhaps it, too, can be re-used to save lots of cash.

Cereal boxes make for great greeting cards, especially when you are clever enough to incorporate a Cap’n Crunch face into something that says “Ahoy, Matey, Happy Birthday.”

Newspapers have long been the best wrapping paper on the market. Magazines can be rolled up to serve as a door stop.

But don’t stop there.

Cans can be used as pencil cups or, when hooked together with a string, as a telephone for when our phone service gets shut down.

One of my co-workers is an expert on reusing those plastic foam peanuts. He suggests stuffing them into sagging couch cushions or even eating them with a dash of cheese powder and hot oil.

Between these and the butter-sugar sandwiches, at least we’ll all have full stomachs.

Throw on our dog hair sweaters and pick up our tin can phone, and we’ll be living the life of luxury on nary a dime.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist and Tucson Citizen reporter who still has a cactus spike stuck in her glasses frame. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM.

E-mail comments and job leads to rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.


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