I didn’t make an amauti last year, but I bought two used ones. One is for spring or fall, and one is for winter. I got the winter one for a great deal at a yard sale; it’s traditional white, has two layers, and genuine oil stains from fixing a snowmobile. It’s kinda big on me, but I love it, and it would be so nice to have fur trim on the hood. Fur on a hood really makes it a lot warmer, and it cuts the wind way down around your face. But I was waffling about whether to do it, mostly because it’d be expensive. To get a big enough piece for an amauti, 4 feet long, would probably cost me around $200. This may very well be my last winter of amuk-ing a baby, and I don’t know that this one is in good enough shape to sell when we’re done with it. See above about oil stains. (If we end up having more kids, I will make or commission an amauti that fits me a bit better.)
Fast forward to this summer. I’m in Olney, Maryland; it’s June; it’s hot. I’m on my second visit to So Original in Sandy Spring, a funky store run by a sassy Russian designer, now in its third location a sprawling labyrinth of an old bank building, its tiny rooms bristling with the wildest selection I’ve seen since Yarn’s Unlimited’s former glory. She still has a room just for novelty yarn; I didn’t even know that was possible.
I had brought my sister-in-law back to browse, and was on my third or fourth walk through when I stopped dead in my tracks. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that looked a lot like a fox fur. “Why is there a fox fur in a yarn store?” I thought, then I picked it up. It was knitted.
It was knitted out of a fun fur, but the yarn was constructed in such a way that it actually looked like fur. Looking at the yarn’s construction, the main color of fur is shorter, and is accompanied by fewer, longer strands of a different color – white or black – that makes it look like the tips are a different color. Like a silver-tipped pink, or a black-tipped orange. Hey, it fooled me for a second. (It’s Luzia by Louisa Harding yarns, by the bye.) Did they have purple? Yes they did.
My sister-in-law thought I was kidding her when I walked out of the back room with a bag full of fun fur. I’m best known for all wool all the time, the crunchier and closer to the sheep, the better. To say this is not my MO is a serious understatement. But somehow, the series of insane events that has been my life has resulted in me laying down a cool $50 for three balls of fancy nylon fun fur. (Hey, compared to what I was considering paying for a real fox fur, I was saving money! At least, that’s the justification I used when I got home.) I had my interchangeable set with me, so I could cast on right away.
As with the black fox fur, I experienced some hesitation at first. For some reason, I remembered the shop sample being knit in such a way that the fur only showed through on one side, and I couldn’t get that to happen. I was scouring the internet for tips, to no avail. After a few attempts I realized the yarn was going to wear out if I kept trying, so – get this – I went back to the yarn store to have my hand held. That was a moment. Going back to a yarn store to have my hand held, and with fun fur. That was surreal enough to make me a little dizzy. Awesome Russian Lady was very knowledgeable and willing to help, and a closer examination of the sample showed that my memory was quite faulty. It did indeed have fur on both sides. After that, I just picked a suitable number of stitches, cast on, and knit like the wind ’till I had forty eight inches.
Once I got going, I shouldn’t have to tell you, it was a sneeze of a knit. Trouble is, after that, I had to sew it on. So, of course, when we got back to it sat in a drawer for two months.
This is very silly, because once I sucked it up and did it, I had it done in the time it takes to ignore a showing of Bladerunner. I was imagining another long, careful sew like my black hood trim, but combine these factors: it’s not fur (therefore really easy to sew through), it’s knitted fabric (therefore flexible), it’s not black on black, and I’m only expecting to use it for one season, well… poof.
Exhibit A of why I almost always wear my hair in a tight braid: Most days, I have to balance this grabby girl on my head and slide her into a pocket on my back. I thought I could get away with a little side ponytail this day. Nope.
We’ll see how this knitterly take on an old Inuit technique holds up. It’s really not real fur, and there’s a huge difference. It won’t be as warm, and it won’t hold up as long. And I definitely expect some funny looks from Inuit! But it’ll help me get one more year of use out of this coat, and I expect it to add some warmth and wind shielding. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunity to compare it with my kindercoat fur.
Tomorrow: What’s next on the docket for northern sewing projects?