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Vegan Fox
by Marie-Christine Mahe

This is a non-violent interpretation of a fascinating artifact from the '30s: the fox stole, complete with beady eyes and dangling paws. Most of the final impression comes from the judicious yarn choices. The Merino Frappe is a very soft yarn which stands in for the matte downy undercoat, and also gives a stable structure to the fabric, which would otherwise drape in an unmanageable way. The Splash fringe provides the dense shiny color that we associate with foxes, and the Fizz eyelash adds the longer, sparser dimension of guard hair, indispensable for true realism. You can substitute yarns, but make sure that you pick them on grounds of structure as well as of color!

The pattern is simple to knit in that it's basically a long rectangle, with a few rows of increases and decreases thrown in. It's knit in stockinette stitch so the naturally rounded fabric helps achieve the desired effect. Since it's hard to see individual stitches, make sure you keep track of which side you're working on [the purls curl to the inside]. Most of the shaping, and the personality, come from the finishing. Since this is a very fuzzy item, even minimal finishing skills are sufficient.

model: Betsy McCall     photo: Susan Druding


1 ball Crystal Palace Splash [100g, 85yd] color 203 [copper].
1 ball Crystal Palace Fizz [50g, 120yd] color 7342 [chocolate].
1 ball Crystal Palace Merino Frappe [50g, 140yd] color 044 [cinnamon].
US#15/10mm needles
US#10.5/7mm double-pointed or short circular needles
1 pair of teddy-bear eyes, whatever color you please
3/8" shank button, black. I used a vintage one of faceted glass, which gives just the right touch of glamour, but whatever you choose is fine.
1 hair clip, tortoise shell. A 2-3" long pincher type would be closest to original models. I could only find a rounded ponytail one, but I like the fang effect it provides. Be sure it's no wider than 2" or longer than 3", that it's easily operated with one hand and that the handles have holes [and the ends, if it's a long one]. Go to the nearest drugstore and get creative with what you find there. Ideally, nobody should be seeing it, as long as it reasonably matches the color of the yarn.
yarn needle
optional: a bit of batting for stuffing.


7 st = 4 inches over stockinette.
You will be knitting the entire body holding all 3 yarns together, working on #15/10mm needles.


Start to shape the tail by co 3 stitches.
Row 1: p 3
Row 2: *k1 inc1* 2 times, p1. [5 st total]
Row 3: *p1 inc1* 4 times, p1. [9 st]
Row 4: *k1 inc1* 8 times, p1. [17 st]
Row 5: p17
Row 6: k1, inc1, k15, inc1, p1
Row 7: p19
Work in st st [purling the last stitch of each row, slipping the first, so you get a cleaner edge] till piece measures 12 inches.

Row 1: *k3 tog* 6 times, p1 [7 st total]
Row 2: *p1, inc1* 6 times, p1 [13 st]
Row 3: p13
Row 4: k1, inc1, k11, inc1, p1.
Row 5: p15 Work in st st till piece measures 22 inches from the butt.
You may consider making this body section a couple inches shorter or longer, depending on your own overall body size.

Row 1: *k2tog* 7 times, p1. [8 st total]
Row 2: *p1, inc1* 7 times, p1. [15 st]

Break off the brown Fizz guard hair yarn.
Row 1: k15 Work in st st with the remaining yarns [undercoat merino and copper Splash], till this flap measures 3 inches.

[This part is slightly tricky.]
Using the undercoat merino only, and the #10.5 needles, pick up 8 stitches on the underside [purl side] of the neck, below the ears. You can't go wrong here - it won't show.
Row 1: *k1 inc1* 7 times, p1.
Row 2: p15
Work another flap in straight stockinette, still using only the merino.
Note: this stockinette faces the same way as the body and the ears - the purls must be all on the same side.
When this flap reaches 5 inches, BO.

Use the merino alone with the #10.5 needles, as you did with the head.
This uses a technique called "idiot cord", so named by Elizabeth Zimmermann.
CO 4 stitches.
Slide them back to the other side of the needle without turning.
Knit them, tugging gently on the first stitch so as to take up the slack across the back, forming a tube.
Slide the stitches back to the tip of the needle again, and so on.
Make 4 paws, each about 5 inches long.
Don't cast off, but leave fairly long tails.

Don't stress, the paws don't have to be either that length or even exactly the same.


Sew in the paws fairly loosely, catching each of the loose stitches with body stitches. The attachments should be about 1" in from the edges: two about 1" up from the butt and two about 1" below the neck.

To finish and shape the ears, take some of the Splash copper fringe threaded on the yarn needle. Crunch down the top earflap in the middle, arrange it artistically, and sew around it securely several times, perhaps over 1/2" or so. This should form 2 triangular ears which somewhat stand up.

For the head, start by finding the middle of the top edge of the merino flap, and fold down the sides till they meet in the middle, origami style. Roll the edges in on both sides, so that the muzzle is narrower than a straight fold would allow, and so that muzzle is self-stuffed as well. Stitch along that length, which will be shorter than the total length of the head flap.

Sew on the eyes. I found that putting them fairly close together gave it a goofy expression that balances the overall glamour nicely, but you may feel otherwise. Just experiment here. Use the merino to secure them in place, pushing the shanks down to the back first, and catching the adjacent stitches with them. You may wish to use small felt pieces on the wrong side to keep the eyes in place more securely.

Using any combination of yarn that makes sense to you, sew down the middle belly seam all the way to the neck, making sure all loose ends are tucked in. Any stitch will do, overcast or running stitch. This is not a seam that'll get a lot of stress, and nobody, not even you, will be able to see anything about the details when you're done. You could, at this point, stuff the tail and body with a bit of batting for more structure. But go very lightly with that, or you'll get a stiff little sausage quickly; the model is unstuffed.

Finally, attach the clip to the underside edge of the neck and finish the face in one tricky step. Take a fairly long length of merino and stitch one side of the clip securely to the edge of the neck. Then thread the needle through the muzzle all the way to the nose. Catch the end of the nose and thread back through the muzzle, then stitch the other edge of the clip to the neck, pulling and adjusting so the chin comes flush with the edge of the neck. This is what will give the face the jaw/forehead poof it needs.

Keep working this way back and forth till the whole thing feels secure. During one of these passes, thread the nose button on [this may require unthreading the needle and working the yarn through the shank by whatever means, then re-threading]. You may use a small bit of batting [or yarn ends] to stuff the head very lightly. Then attach the other side of the clip to the underside of the neck.

Voila! Admire your work. Wear it proudly ;-].

Marie-Christine's grandmother tried to teach her to knit at an early age "to shut her up". This didn't work very well, but Marie-Christine took it up again later with enthusiasm after being exposed to a wild improvised sweater. She is sadly lacking in her ability to follow patterns and consequently rips a fair amount.

A lifetime of geek jobs has left her with a deep appreciation of textures and colors, but her math instincts have served her well both in the topological visualization of projects, and in the urge toward the simplest solutions. Her output consists mostly of socks and scarves - portable projects - the weirder the better.
Pattern & images © 2002 Marie-Christine Mahe. Contact Marie-Christine.