Last year a sub call came out that I instantly squealed over. I was already swimming in work and did not need another project added to my pile–but this was a theme I could not resist. I have always been a big reader with a special attachment to fantasy, mythology and science fiction. One of my favorite books as a child was D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, a book I loved so much that I covered the paper dust-jacket with contact paper so it wouldn’t become torn. (I still have that book and it sits on the upstairs hallway bookshelf.) I wasn’t limited to Greek mythology though and devoured books based upon legends and fairy tales from all cultures. As an adult, my single favorite book not from a series is Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, which mixes Russian fairy tales with the modern world. So when the call was released for Enchanted Knits…I couldn’t help myself. It was my dream call.
Kitsunetsuki is a foxy red cardigan inspired by the Japanese mythology of the kitsune. While kitsune is the Japanese word for fox, in this context it refers to the fox spirits who frequently appear in their stories. Kitsune possess the ability to shapeshift between fox and human forms, often taking the form of a beautiful young woman. They can act as a trickster figure (akin to the wily coyote of Native American tales), have romantic dalliances with humans, or offer wisdom. Kitsunetsuki refers to the state of being possessed by a kitsune’s spirit.
I wanted to create a garment that was flattering, wearable and inspired by the myth rather than being too obvious. The front features a traveling cable across the chest which imitates the shape of a fox head, and also serves the purpose of demarcation between the reverse stockinette body and the stockinette yoke. The simple front allows the large unique cable on the back to stand out. Each individual cable is meant to represent one of the kitsune’s tails, as the stories hold that older and wiser kitsune are capable of earning more tails, and they join together to form a fox tail shape.
I have to admit the extent of my nerdery…my cats are named Kitsune and Tsuki.
Kitsune (left) was the first, and I named her as such because she’s gingery and has a big fluffy fox tail and as it turned out, is wily, manipulative and kind of a bitch. But I love her with all my heart because she’s unabashedly herself, no holding back. As I like to joke, “Like mother like daughter!” Tsuki (right) came second, and I wanted them to have coordinating names because I am a dork. I tossed around a few other ideas based on Japanese words/mythology but none of them sounded pretty.
If you’re interested in reading more about kitsune, I recommend the following:
- Foxwife by Hiromo Goto, a short story found in The Fairy Reel
- The Fox Wife by Ellen Steiber, a short story found in Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears
- Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling – technically this is Chinese, not Japanese, and as such the relevant stories are about huli jing. There are many similarities though, and I studied this particular book as part of my focus in Chinese History when I was in college.
Happy knitting AND happy reading!