Checking viability of very large gauge fur-like knitting machine

Please pardon the questions from someone who has no exposure to the world of machine knitting. But, I have a rather odd question and thought it wise to check the viablility of the idea before I put much time or money into it.

My need is to make fake fur for both puppets and costumes. I currently volunteer at a local community theater that is getting ready for an upcoming production of Dr. Doolittle.

I am wondering if I can make a fake-fur like fabric by using a knitting machine and some of the very fuzzy yarn. I am referring to yarns like the LIon brand Eyelash Yarn. I have also seen similar yarns called “Faux Fur”.

My motivation to create this type of fabric, is that stretch fur is very good at conforming to shapes, and so we need fewer seams. But, it is often difficult to find stretchy fur. I had hoped that a knit version created by using a very fuzzy type of yarn would be a good substitute. It should also permit more air circulation when we are using it on a costume.

I am concerned that this type of yarn will not work in a knitting machine. I also have not seen any knitting machines that have the very large gauge that we would want. I wonder if it is possible to get a standard gauge one, and simply remove every other needle?

I have looked to see if there are any fuzzy yarns that are actually elastic, but have not seen anything like this. Perhaps it would be viable to actually include elastic in the knitting, by simply adding elastic thread along side the fuzzy yarn?

I appreciate any thoughts on this idea.

-Joe Dunfee

Interesting idea! I have a friend who’s a teddy bear artist. She actually has the opposite problem–it is extremely difficult to sew seams in knit faux fur, so she only uses woven or fused fabrics.

Before investing in a machine to make the fabric, I suggest you do a mock-up of the fabric on hand needles and see if you get the result you want once you cut it and seam it.

You might also sign up at Ravelry and check the pattern section for costumes. There might be good tips from people who have already made something similar.

One of the benefits of knitting is that you will have very few seams. I don’t have that much experience with knitting machines (mine is old and only uses small, slick yarn) but there is, indeed stretchy knit fabric made out of fun fur–it was briefly popular a couple of years ago, when companies marketed a loose cowl that could be used as a poncho or skirt. when stretched, a cowl when scrunched and a scarf if it was pulled lengthwise. I don’t know where mine is right now or I’d post a picture.

I came across a “Made by Me” toy knitting machine for $5 at a thrift store, and tried some fun fur yarn. The yarn went through the machine perfectly. The only extra step I took, was to brush or blow the fur strands towards the inside of the tube, and then turned the final product right-side out after the knitting was finished. Not only does this concentrate the fur part on the right side, I also think this helped to prevent the strands from getting caught into the hooks, which was a little problematic as I started to work with it.

However, for my purpose, I would still have preferred a larger gauge knit. The other thing I would probably do, is to purchase a blower fan. (the kind that are often seen in the small inflatable figures) and mounted it so that the air would blow the fur strands all to the correct side, so I would not have to do it manually. It’s in my nature to try to invent or try to improve stuff.

I am now looking into dye-able fur or eyelash yarns. I found some “Lion Brand Romance Yarn Silky White” yarn that is 84% Nylon/16% Polyester. I know nylon is dye-able, and the polyester is somewhat dye-able. So, this may permit custom colors.

The theater where I volunteer has both Lion King and Sussical the Musical coming up, and both will use fur in the costumes. So, I will have some opportunity to put these ideas to work.


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