Craft for Cats: Two Yarn-Scrap Toys for Your Feline Friendscomments (12) February 19th, 2009
Spice up your cat's playtime with cool toys you can make with leftover yarn and a little imagination. The store-bought sparkly little pom-pom balls incite riotous, frenetic play, and the soft toys filled with the nip launch my cat into a rapturous, romantic trance. Both behaviors are extremely entertaining to observe. Devising my own homegrown versions is a thrifty and fun way to encourage more feline frolicking and cat satisfaction.
- Clover Pom-Pom Maker or cardboard to make your own
- Scrap yarn
- Size 7 knitting needle (or a size to suit your gauge taste)
- Tapestry needle
For the sparkly balls, I gathered up a variety of leftover yarns including mohair for fluff, wool/silk tweed for substance, and various types of novelty yarn for fuzz and sparkle. Pom-pom making is easy-peasy with the Clover Pom-Pom maker. The 1-3/8-inch model makes the perfect size pom-pom. If you don’t have a clover gadget on hand, you can make pom-poms old-school style by wrapping the yarn around a doughnut-shaped piece of cardboard. My favorite freehand tutorial can be found on Hello Knitty’s fun knitting pattern website.
No matter which way you work your poms, make absolutely sure that they are tied tightly so no loose strands of yarn slip out. Test them before giving them to your cat with a vigorous shake and a couple of tugs on the pom strands. If there is a lot of shedding, save the bits for next week's project or other crafty mischief. Yarn in a cat’s digestive system is not a good thing!!!!
I tested several combinations of the fibers, and the favorite was the mohair combined with a fuzzy and sparkly yarn! The rest were batted around a bit but did not have the ideal mouthfeel and rolling capability. To get the party started, make sure you marinate the balls in catnip. Without the nip, the balls do not have much initial appeal.
Eeek a Mouse Knitting Instructions
Even if you have a mouse phobia, your cats will thank you with purrs-aplenty when you handcraft a fuzzy mouse playmate for them. I used a strand of worsted-weight wool and a sparkly/fuzzy novelty yarn held together. I wanted a mouse 4 inches long, so I figured that the gauge of the yarns I used would be five stitches to the inch and that led me to a cast-on of 20 stitches with size 7 needles. You don’t want the gauge to be too loose because the catnip will leak out. If you plan on felting the mouse upon completion, you may wish to cast on 30 stitches to allow for shrinkage. Leave a long tail when casting on for the tail of the mouse.
Knit every row (garter stitch) until you have a square shape, then bind off, leaving a long tail for sewing together.
Fold the square into a triangle with the cast-off tail at the top and the cast-on tail on the right. Thread the tapestry needle with the top yarn tail, and seam down the left side to the point using the mattress stitch (aka invisible seam). You will finish where the nose of the mouse will be.
I ended up with a very pointy, anteater nose, so I punched the threaded needle into the mouse and tugged until the nose receded to a more mouselike profile.
To enhance the snout, I used the plain worsted-weight yarn and a satin stitch. For the eyes, I made two fat french knots. Before stuffing with poly fiberfill, I generously sprinkled the inside of the mouse with catnip and sprinkled a bit more on top for good measure.
To close up the back end, fold back flap with the tail end to meet the bottom seam you just made. Seam up with a strand of the plain yarn, making sure you keep the tail outside. Voila, a cat toy to rival any pet-store offering. Let the merrymaking begin!
For more pom-pom madness, check out Pom Pom International for pomtastic info about their Pom Poms for Peace movement.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery