Craft for Cats: Two Yarn-Scrap Toys for Your Feline Friends

comments (11) February 19th, 2009     

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Tina_Hilton Tina Hilton, contributor
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So many balls, so little time!
The proud mouse hunter.
The raw material for pom-pom-making madness!
So many balls, so little time!

So many balls, so little time!

Photo: Tina Hilton
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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.


The proud mouse hunter.

Supplies:

  • Scissors
  • 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

The raw material for pom-pom-making madness!

Pom-Pom Balls
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 your square into a triangle to test if you have achieved squaredom before binding off.

 


You will begin sewing the mouse togther at the top.

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.


Insert your needle under two stitches on one side, pull the thread, then the other side, and repeat until you get to the end.

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.


Even if your nose was initially mouselike, you will still poke the thread through the inside and weave in the ends to complete.

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.


Sprinkle some catnip on top of the fill.

 


Pinch together the bottom and sew together.

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!


A finished mouse.

 


"Boccie ball anyone?"

 


A state of nip-induced rapture!

For more pom-pom madness, check out Pom Pom International for pomtastic info about their Pom Poms for Peace movement.

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posted in: knit a mouse, pom pom balls for cats, Yarn cat toys, knit cat toys

Comments (11)

TheKellyMermaid writes: can't wait to try this!
Posted: 11:14 pm on March 30th
bkrmama writes: Hi Tina... Have made the mouse, only much larger out of wool and then felted it. I don't need to use catnip with my cat Sam, he has a thing for felted wool, especially wet felted wool. So I dampen his 'mice', and he will play for hours.
Next time I am going to add a 'fuzzy' yarn with the wool, he
will love it :)
Posted: 6:40 am on March 14th
K1Drink2 writes: TOO cute! Can't wait to watch my cats bat these around. Thanks for another great, quick project. Perfect for gift-giving for all those cat-lover friends, too.
Posted: 3:26 pm on March 13th
Tina_Hilton writes: Bird can't get enough yarn balls to play with. Sometimes in the middle of the night I have to get up and take them away to stop the frantic nocturnal one cat soccer match! I find the mouse in a different place every morning so she's on that too overnight!

I'm thinking about what I can make her next...
Posted: 10:18 am on March 7th
JenniferStern writes: Hey Tina, maybe I should have started with this most adorable mouse... I love your knitting style, If my boyfriend wasn't allergic to kitties, I would run out and get one!
Posted: 6:58 pm on February 26th
Jen1964 writes: We don't have cats just now, but minus the catnip, Westies & little kids love these things too! (Some DOGS were bred for mousing, too.)
Posted: 10:54 am on February 22nd
lucybug33 writes: awesome idea!
Posted: 11:22 pm on February 21st
SMVG writes: Tina,
I made the balls and the cat loved them but she especially enjoyed the mouse when I insert a bell into the belly with the catnip. She went wild. Tina, thanks for another fun and useful tip.

Posted: 11:38 am on February 21st
PoochPal writes: p.s. Your feline model is the cutest!!
Posted: 10:14 am on February 21st
PoochPal writes: What a great project to use up scrap yarns!! Thank you Tina!
Posted: 10:13 am on February 21st
ewephoric writes: I made these and my cats just love them!!!! Thanks again Tina for a woderful project, you're the best!
Posted: 1:54 pm on February 20th
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