I Am a Spinner: Erin Dillard, Pet Stylist

I get to play with all kinds of animals while also building close relationships with them and their families.

Spin Off Editorial Staff Mar 13, 2020 - 4 min read

I Am a Spinner: Erin Dillard, Pet Stylist Primary Image

Photos by Dan Colon

Tell us about your day job.

I groom dogs and cats in standard breed clips as well as unique, creative styles. I bring out a pet’s personality through its haircut! Some like it short and sassy, some prefer long and luxurious, but all require an understanding of how hair and fur work. I get to play with all kinds of animals while also building close relationships with them and their families.

How did you become a spinner?

My formal education was in fine art, specifically sculpture, so I’ve always been drawn to activities that utilize my hands. I learned how to knit as a teenager. I began to encounter people who made their own yarn, and I took a basic spinning class at my local yarn store about seven years ago. Shortly after I attended a workshop with one of my favorite indie dyers, an opportunity to purchase an inexpensive wheel came up—I couldn’t say no! I now own three wheels and more pounds of fiber than I can keep track of!

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Do your job and your fiber/spinning hobbies ever overlap?

It’s tremendously satisfying to take a pet from unwashed and overgrown to coiffed and polished. That process mirrors the enjoyment I get out of spinning. Transforming something in its raw state into something new and beautiful is a central theme in both my career and my crafting.

Being a successful groomer requires you to understand how a pet’s coat works, and this ties in with the knowledge I’ve gained about spinning fiber. I analyze a dog or cat’s hair for the same qualities I do a fleece: crimp, strength, fineness, luster, etc. If I have a client with a particularly nice coat (such as a thick, snowy Samoyed or a downy-soft Himalayan), I find myself collecting bits of the hair to finger-spin small plyback samples just for fun!

But there are times when the job and spinning butt heads. The motions that I use to draft fiber are the same motions I use when handling a pet, and sometimes those muscles just don’t want to be used anymore!

How does spinning fit into the rest of your life?

I try to spin a little every day, but on the days I’m not working, I spend a lot of time with my wheels. I can happily spin for hours with my canine kids curled up by my feet. I am part of a small spinning group that meets bimonthly, so spinning is a social event for me as well. I plan my vacations around fiber festival season.

What is your favorite thing about spinning?

Spinning helps me to disconnect from the sources of stress in my life and reconnect with the things I value most. I turn off the TV, put away the phone, and focus on being a Maker. The fulfillment and joy I get from producing something with my hands cannot be matched by many other things . . . except for maybe puppy kisses!

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE whom we should feature in “I Am a Spinner”? We’re especially interested in spinners with unusual careers, locations, and perspectives. Drop us a line at [email protected]. Because of the volume of submissions we receive for this feature, we will only notify you if your nomination is selected.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2018 issue of Spin Off.

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