Tuesday, December 30, 2008

knitting - a 50's style "fur" collar

The idea of going out and buying a new wardrobe every year is one that, to the best of my memory, started in this country in the 1960’s. Prior to that, the woman of the house annually sat down and re-worked, re-vamped, and restyled her clothes as well as the rest of the family’s, so this project, while not vintage, is certainly vintage-inspired. It offers a little touch of affordable luxury and helps transform a plain winter coat in need of a lift.

My best winter coat is a three year old grey flannel London Fog. The collar is a little "rubbed" and the lining is beginning to go, but the rest of it is fine and it still fits well. I am going to replace the lining, using the old one as a pattern, and hide the worn areas with a new collar. I could use a different shade of flannel, or fake suede, or tweed, but I decided to experiment with something more up-market.

Our local hobby chain had a sale before Christmas on novelty yarns, and I splurged on a fake fur yarn ("Beguile" by YarnBee) for $1.99. These types of yarns require a filler of some kind, something that’s a little thicker to add strength and body. I had ¾ of a skein of Lion Brand Homespun in black left over from a long-ago project, and the thick and thin texture combined with the fake fur resulted in a pleasant unevenness. If you decide to make this project, do a small swatch first to determine your gauge; you will need to know your gauge to achieve the right size for the collar. I used a size 13 needle for a fairly closely-knitted fabric. You don’t want this to be see-through.

My gauge was 2.5 stitches to the inch. I measured the coat collar, and knew that I needed the finished fur collar to be about seven inches wide and twenty-three inches long, with a slightly curved outward edge. I cast on 12 stitches treating the fake fur and the Homespun as one yarn.

Row 1 – knit.
Row 2 – K1, M1, knit to the end.
Row 3 – knit.
Row 4 – K1, M1, knit to the end.

Remember to slip the first stitch purlwise and purl the last stitch in each row through the back for a good-looking selvedge. Continue increasing the second stitch every other row until you have added five stitches. Knit until your collar is 9 rows short of the desired length (this is where calculating your gauge comes in). Decrease the second stitch on every even row, knit the odd rows, until you have twelve stitches left on the needle. Bind off and weave in any yarn tails.

You can use any attractive fake fur/filler yarn combination. This particular pairing looks a lot like Persian lamb and is lovely, very soft to the touch and not too bulky. My mother, mother-in-law, and grandmothers would have lined the collar and sewn on snaps. I’m a lazybones and will probably just attach it to the coat collar with small slip-stitches so it can be removed when I send the coat to the cleaners. One skein of the fake fur made one collar with about twenty inches of yarn left over. You could wait for another sale and buy a couple of skeins to make matching cuffs or a band for a Dr. Zhivago-style hat.

Of course, if you want to toss the whole idea of frugality out the window, you could use a luxury mohair yarn as the filler along with one of Paula Lishman’s real fur yarns. It would technically still be recycling but in the end you might be spending enough to pay for a new coat.

CAVEAT KNITTOR: While this a very simple project, all in garter stitch, it’s not really suitable for an absolute novice. Knitting with novelty yarn can be frustrating and a little experience is needed to keep the stitches even, so I would classify this as for the “advanced beginner.” It’s certainly quick to make; I knitted it up in one long powerless afternoon last week. Thank God for a wood-burning stove and a BIG woodpile.


Lydia said...

This is *adorable*! I love it!


Nice job! Maybe with sewing making a "come-back" (again) more people will reline and make over garments.

Especially like the kitty in the collar.

Su said...

It looks amazing. I think I might have to try this one.

BTW- Your "model" is stunning!

AlisonH said...

Ho-lee mo-lee. $147 for 25 yards over there. Wow. Although, I've seen that yarn at one LYS, and it is NICE stuff.

Shay said...

A couple of years ago I sent for a sample of Paula's fur yarn (I think the sample was $6 or something!) It is very very nice. It is also very very expensive. In this neck of the woods, $147 will buy you a decent winter coat, nothing fancy, but still....

Oh and the sample? I think one of the cats found it irresistible.

Anonymous said...

Good to know there are more frugal folks around! I thought it was just me reusing snippets for new projects. And may I complenent your choice of color to match the cat?!?!?!!! She looks tres chic.

sewducky said...

Ooo very cool, Shay! I like the treatment! I'm lame and remake the coat or remake a collar, so this is just exciting for me.

Posh And Trendy Living Frugal said...

Oh yes, I grew up with my mom revamping and remaking things and she would even turn collars and cuffs to make a shirt look new again..
I LOVE your new collar.. I just happen to have a couple of those fancy Lion Brand yarns so I'm going to have to give this project a try.
Thanks for the info on it.

sewducky said...

LOL here I am again. I love your site, and I have posted an award on my blog for you.

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Enjoy your blog very much. Lots of good info. Thanks. Love the cats too.

Shay said...

Sewducky -- thanks! I'm honored ;-)

Celeste said...

It looks great!