Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fake fur and yarn

This contents of this blog actually started a couple of weeks ago when my friend Anne came to town and we got creative together. With her, Anne brought pieces of fake fur in purple, yellow, and orange with the idea of decorating clothing for us to wear on the playa. It gets very cold and dark in Black Rock city at night, and the dust seems to miraculously shake right out of fake fur. Or maybe it sinks in. Anyways, it's the fashion for good reasons.

By the day Anne left, I had plans to make this jacket for Paul. It's fake fur... low pile in orange (a gift from my friend Bob) and high pile in "big bird" yellow. I started with one of Paul's old sport coats. With the help of some pins, I traced templates of each of the main pieces of the jacket onto a large sheets of paper that I got from a brown paper bag. I had two lapels, two fronts, one back, one collar, and two more for EACH sleeve. That's 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 4 = 10 pieces. Okay, I didn't make templates for the lapels, but I might have. Then, I traced the templates onto the back of the fake fur to make sure I had enough and everything fit. Just barely, I had to do a bit of fudging to make up for my sloppy start. When everything fit, I cut out the pieces with a nice trick Anne taught me... use an exacto knife on the back. Works great. Less fur to clean up. Quite remarkable compared with my previous experiences of using scissors on fake fur. What a mess!

At this point I wasn't sure how I was going to sew the whole thing together, so I decided to try whatever made sense to do next, with the philosophy that if I just kept doing what comes next, I might eventually get lucky and finish. I got lucky and it worked.

First piece: I pinned the back piece of fur onto the back of the jacket, pinned the bottom layer inside the jacket, and sewed the bottom edge on the sewing machine. Then I added to two front panels and sewed up the seams by hand, stitching two pieces of fake fur to each other and the fabric beneath. Then, I sewed the back collar and lapels on, using my "what can I do next?" method. I found that I had not cut the front panels wide enough to accommodate the widened lapels, so I had to add long skinny triangles of orange fur under the lapels. This was all done by hand, but the fake fur is very forgiving and the seams don't show. Then, I added the sleeves in the same way. It took me two days and change to finish the whole project. What I learned: I like working with fake fur. It's very forgiving of mistakes and sloppy workmanship. I also learned that fake fur is directional, and I generally like it when the pile goes down. It hangs more naturally that way.

I've also been spinning yarn and knitting lately. This is what I made mom for Mother's Day. I got the batt from Chimera. It's got wool, sari silk and lengths of yarn from my mom's stash. I even added some bouclet loops in shiny mauve.

And this is what I spun on a toy-wheel spindle which I'm making into a bag. It's entrelac knitting. My little skeins are only 10-15 yards each. But I just got a new DT Ledrum spinning wheel. So, my skeins will be longer. Yea. What I learned: Spinning and knitting a project larger than a hat takes a lot of time to complete, but I enjoy going back and forth between the two crafts. I also feel like I'm making this project more my own than just following the pattern with commercial yarn.


  1. Gwen,

    I made a really similar entrelac bag, though I haven't given it handles yet. You should see my pictures on Ravelry. Have you joined Ravelry?


  2. Yes, I'm gwenbeads on Ravelry. Find me and there and send me a friend request. I want to see what you've done. I have several pieces posted there.

  3. yay to having a blog! I love the entrelac bag!

  4. What a fabulous bag - you are so multi-talened!!!


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