Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How-Tuesday: Crocheted Cat Toy!

So I'm not really going to teach you how to crochet. Sorry for the misleading title! For starters, I barely know how to crochet, I'm self taught from several books. That's how I know that there are really great resources out there for you if you do want to learn how to crochet. I'm partial to Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet, The Happy Hooker, because she has pretty color images to help you understand all the loops and stitches and stuff.

One thing I do know how to do though, is make a cat toy. For years I have been making ball and string toys, like this:

Lela with a ball and string toy
They are wonderful, and really stand the test of time (I still have the original from 2007, and though the kitties really prefer the new ball and string toys that aren't theirs, they will occasionally bat the old one around too. Catnip spray doesn't hurt either.) but they hurt to make. You see, in order to make a knit ball sturdy enough that a cat can't claw it open in minutes, you have to knit a really thick fabric. Or felt it. Since I make these toys from cotton, felting is out of the question, so knitting a thick fabric becomes the only choice. Unfortunately, knitting a thick fabric that curves into a ball shape isn't really all that easy, and when you already have carpal tunnel, it becomes nearly impossible. I've been exploring different options over that last few years because I don't want to stop making these toys. This summer I finally tried the option I've been avoiding the most: crochet. Crochet is naturally of a thicker and sturdier construction than knitting, perfect for cat toys. I found a great pattern online for a sphere (google it - there's a lady who wrote up patterns for mathematically perfect spheres, pretty sweet) and came up with this:

Now, once I made the ball and string toys I thought, "These would be great just as balls too! And Matt has been badgering me to make a toy that he can use to teach Norman fetch...a smaller version of this is exactly what he's been wanting...." So, I fiddled around a bit more, made some small balls, and a few of these:

But of course, Etsy dashed my hopes of being original. There are at least 14 pages of cat toy balls made of cotton, and stuffed with polyfil and catnip. They range in price from $holy-cow-that's-low-how-are-you-making-a-profit?? to $wow-that's-a-lot-for-one-toy! So, I figured I would need to stand out somehow. Another idea that's been rattling around for a while now is to use natural wool fibers for the stuffing, in place of polyfil. But it's so expensive, why would you use perfectly good roving material for stuffing? Well, if you end up with six huge bags of wool still in the grease, and no way to card it, then you have a perfect stuffing material :)

There you have it my friends, how to make a crocheted cat toy. Mull it over for years, finally make it, then test it until it's ready for sale on Etsy. (We are currently in the testing phase, with hopes to move into the selling phase soon.) Good luck in your endeavors :)

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