A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Thursday, January 20, 2005

What ABOUT Fun Fur?

I was surfing through some knitting blogs yesterday and came upon Beth's posts about Fun Fur and starting up "Knitters Against Fun Fur"; go to her posts and decide which button design you want to wear.

But what about Fun Fur? Yes, it is yet another silly fashion trend, along with a return of leg warmers (I thought those would never resurface) and the steady lowering of pant waistlines to the point where girls will have to go back to skipping underwear entirely, as there won't be any room for a thong! I also agree that some of these scarfs look best on 8 year olds, and wonder why people don't just use alpaca if they want something soft around their necks.

That said, I have to admit that I have made (and worn) two novelty yarn scarfs for myself, along with a chenille scarf for a friend of my daughter's, a mohair one for one of my sons' girlfriends, and a Chincilla neck warmer for my mother-in-law, all in the past few months. They were quick and easy and everyone loves and wears theirs. I returned to the high school where I teach after the Christmas holidays to find several people wearing variations of the fun fur scarf... one of our former staffers, who is an awesome crafty granny/mentor to many of us, decided to make several in favorite colors for the fashionistas on our staff. She must have poured a lot of love into this project, since everyone had their favorite color on. Another staffer had learned to knit over the vacation, and while snowed in, managed to complete her own first version, combining wool knitting worsted with a novelty fur. She was so proud of her efforts, and couldn't wait to start on another project, having me teach her both the purl stitch and how to make yarn over stitches last week.

These little stories point out two validations for the existence of such novelty yarns. First, when someone loves you enough to make a gift they know you will be delighted with (even if it is a fashion trend like fun fur), you are really blessed... and we all need all the blessings that come our way. Second, this is the largest wave of new knitters in decades (you don't have to take my word for it; read No Idle Hands: The Social History of Knitting in America to get a great picture of how knitting has affected our lives over the past several generations.

These new knitters are getting a lot of encouragement and developing a passionate interest in our favorite art form, and I feel an obligation to support and nurture them. That means showing that there are other options than fun fur, and endless opportunities to move beyond simple garter stitch scarfs, but I have had three new knitters (in my tiny county of just over 3,000 people) get excited because they saw someone elses' scarf and wanted to learn to make one for themself.

Yes, it's only a trend.
Yes, the thrift stores are going to be flooded with these scarves in a few years when they aren't the latest hot fashion item.
And, yes, I'm still knitting the beautiful, creative garments that I have loved for so long (below is a photo of my merino wool scarf, made a few years back from yarn from Nordic Fiber Arts, in a diamond lace stitch).

Merino wool scarf

But, opinionated knitters everywhere, keep in mind that there is LOVE in those hand-made scarves, and we were all clueless beginners once (I was five when I first learned to knit and would have DIED for a fur boa). This too shall pass....


Blogger monkeemaven said...

Just bein' contrary here... I have a scarf from Lion Fun Fur and a scarf from Classic Elite Inca Alpaca. The alpaca is incredibly soft when I fondle it, but around my neck itches like crazy. The Fun Fur scarf is gaudy as all get-out but the softest thing around my neck. I don't have a clue why.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

I'm just catching up on some old posts here.
I am a novelty yarn freak. I love the stuff. I love the way I can jazz up a simple cardi or a little top with a fancy edge. Scarves? I've got over 50 of the beasts - sometimes someone wants to buy one or two so I get a little money back towards my hobby. Novelty yarns are great for freeforming, fancy little bags, all sorts of stuff. It rarely itches me, unlike wool.
That said, I am currently spinning up some merino and silk, and also some white alpaca fleece. I have plenty of woollen yarns that I like dyeing lurid colours. I just can't wear it next to my skin like I can with synthetics or cotton.
So I say suck 'em in and keep 'em interested. Sooner or later they'll be so hooked they have to make that latest thing in stranded fair isle or that fancy lace shawl.

2:15 PM  

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