Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cat Toys

If you don't have any table runners or belts lying around in need of tassels, here's another fun use for them.  Cat toys.

When making a belt with braided ends, a lot of the yarn that would have been unweavable waste is used in the belt.  But for all the other bands, there is a length of yarn that can not be woven.  The knots where all the yarns were joined are in this section but even after you cut those out there's a good amount of yarn left.  The question is what to do with it.  I hate to waste yarn so I've almost always bundled it up and set it aside for later.

Well, when I discovered how easy it is to make tassels, I looked at a couple of these bundles that hadn't been stowed away yet.  I thought, ''Wouldn't they make lovely tassels?''  But then what to do with just one tassel?

The cats have always loved my yarn.  I have to watch carefully or next thing I know Tess has a ball half unwound in the kitchen.  When I'm warping she can be that mix of annoying and cute as she attacks the yarn in my hand.  So I took to keeping a bit of yarn around that was designated a cat toy.  Now that I have these singular, otherwise useless tassels I decided they'd make good cat toys.  And the cats agree.  The tassel adds a nice weight that a normal feather or leather toy doesn't have.  And they can really get there claws into them.

I don't have the greatest pictures of them playing yet.  These were taken as they interpreted me trying to photograph other things:

Constructing the cat toys took longer than I'd expected but they are durable because of it.

First make a tassel using yarn of your choice.  See previous entry for instructions http://2horseweaving.blogspot.com/2012/01/tassels.html

Then cut three strands of yarn about 2 feet long (or desired length for dangling)
I knotted the strands every one to two inches to more or less form them into one strand.

On one end of the three strand knotted yarn, sew on the tassel using the tassels four loose ends.  Basically just bundle all seven strands together, stick the needle through the bundle somewhere, wrap thread around the outside a couple times, stick the needle randomly through the bundle again, repeat until you feel it's secure and/or looks good.

Tie the other end of the three strand knotted yarn to a dowel.  I think the size I used was 3/8 inches but really it can be any diameter you'd like.  It can also be any length desired.  I made mine 9 inches because it's long enough to be useful but still fits in the mailing envelopes I have.

Now you can be done if you'd like but I added a few feathers for a more enticing smell and tickle effect.

For the feathers put the needle through the shaft of the feather.  This is best done where the shaft begins to turn white.  If you can't see the color because the feather has been dyed or you're just not sure that's okay.  Just choose a spot about a half inch from the end.  If you go too near the end of the feather, the shaft might split.

Next put the needle through the yarn in the location you would like the feather.  If using yarns of the tassel, be sure not to go too close to the end of the yarn or it could unravel.

Wrap the thread a couple times around the shaft and yarn together.  Stick the needle through the yarn a couple times randomly.  I avoid going through the feather more than twice as it might split the shaft.  Again, wrap until secure and decorative.

If placing a feather on the ball of the tassel, you may pierce the tassel ball with each pass of the wrapping or you can wrap all the way around the tassel, whichever looks better to you.

I chose to glue the yarn onto the stick because I wanted these to be as secure as possible.  I was worried the toy might get pulled off.  I used gorilla glue.  It's very secure but I'm not happy with the look.  Maybe you could try wood glue, super glue or tacky glue.

Here's some pictures I hope will help.  Again, I can add pictures of the process itself if requested but I don't have any right now.

Hope you and your kitties enjoy!

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