Behind the wheel . . . Janette McKenzie has spun some of Rocket’s hair, her old English sheepdog.

Janette McKenzie’s favourite seat is at the pedal of her spinning wheel.

For more than 30 years, Ms McKenzie has developed her spinning skills – turning everything from wool, mohair, alpaca hair and silk, to Highland cattle fur, cotton, and dog fur into yarn.

Originally from the Waikato, Ms McKenzie spent 42 years living overseas before moving to Oamaru, where she and her husband, Brian Harrison, now live.

The two met 12 years ago in Canberra, and took an early retirement – Oamaru was their choice after touring the South Island.

They stopped in the seaside town, walked through the Oamaru Public Garden and the Victorian precinct, and “fell in love”.

“[Oamaru] stayed in the back of our minds,” she said.

In 2014, they bought their South Hill home, before making a permanent leap across the ditch.

Ms McKenzie’s adventure overseas started with a working holiday in England, where she worked in a casino.

As her visa approached its expiration date, Ms McKenzie decided to move closer to home and landed in Hobart, Tasmania where she picked up work in another casino.

Having lived away from New Zealand for much of her life, Ms McKenzie’s passion for spinning started after a fateful stroll past a shop in Gore. Ms McKenzie was in the Southland town visiting her sister, when she saw a spinning wheel and wool in a store.

Having always planned to pick up the skill once she retired, Ms McKenzie thought “Why not now?”.

She bought a spinning set up and shipped it back to Australia, where she completed a textile course, learning about the science behind spinning and fibres, and what different sheep were bred for.

Ms McKenzie also developed a passion for Old English sheepdogs, while living across the ditch.

Staying warm . . . As well as being a skilled wool spinner, Janette McKenzie is a keen knitter. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Her current dog, Rocket, was her fifth example of the Old English sheepdog breed.

She had spun yarn from all of her dogs’ fur, and knitted a jumper from Rocket’s.

The trick was to brush out their undercoat, while avoiding the itchy guard hairs.

During this year’s Meet the Maker, Ms McKenzie took one-on-one tutorials, teaching people to spin fibres.

She was not the only one to spin dog hair, as a couple brought some of their furry friend’s coat to spin.

Though she was done with spinning dog fur, Ms McKenzie would continue her love of spinning and knitting.