The weather turned cold this week. I had to start to fuel the burner to warm up the house and workspace. I manage to do some garden work, cutting apple trees, cutting down old rotten trees and cleaning up afterwards. A lot of fun to take care of your own garden. Takes time though. I wore my western Leifur Fedora while working.
I came over a couple of 100% Nutria felts which I have started to work on. The first one, Blue Cobalt color, was completed. It turned out very beautiful. For those who do not know, Nutria or Coypu is considered an alternative to Beaver felt. Both animals live in similar conditions and the fur is exposed to living in water. There are tons of information about this if you search for it. Nutria is also considered an invasive species to USA, cause great damage to nature and other animal lives in the long run. I have heard about Nutria felt being used in the past and I always wanted to try crafting hats out of it.
Is it equivalent to Beaver fur? It might very well be. But the Beaver felt I get from my famous Portuguese supplier is far superior. The Nutria felt is very thick. On top of that, there is a considerable amount of stiffening in the felt making it more Western than dress fedora like. The felt body size is rather small, or perhaps I was given the odd sized felts as not all of them were the same size. It's definitely better quality than the Hust company felts that are more stiff. I think the Nutria felt has great potential, but its not where I wish to place my money in the future. The 50X and 100X felts from Portugal are worth to wait for. The Nutria is a great alternative while waiting on the regular stock of felts to arrive.
The nutria is also a bit overpriced given the fact that there is an abundance of felts available in USA, as Beaver is more scares. Or perhaps this is what they want you to believe. Just like everything else in the world, in order to increase prices on every single thing there is. The cost for me to purchase Nutria felt is greater than purchasing quality 50% and 100% beaver from Portugal, and they are already quite pricy compare with previous years. The difference is in 9 months wait for felt replenishment or getting a Nutria felt within a month or two.
As a consumer, you would be buying a great quality hat. No doubt, I made it! It all depends on what kind of hat you wish to wear. I love western felts and I make fedoras out of it and wear on daily basis. Just this morning, working in the garden, I was wearing my Leifur Adventure Fedora. A Leifur hat made with a stiff western felt. That hat can surely take a punch from branches falling down of a tree or what ever. It has not happened yet, I can't back that up yet. But it is a great fedora for wearing in all weather and it felt great during the cold morning, even with a bit of activity.
In conclusion, I wish to see more Nutria felts on the market. But from the supplier that exists only (what I know of) in the USA, I find it not very well made and very overpriced for me to purchase in bulk and make hats out of. As a consumer, it is a great quality felt, which I derive from working with the felt. Shaping and assembling. I stick for the most part with Portuguese felts, as long as I can get my hands on them. Interesting colors though for the Nutria felts. I will still purchase every color to keep a sample swatch for the future.
Thank you for reading and I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!
Mikael Einarsson | HUFVUD HATMAKER | Askeröd, Sweden.