Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuffet for Tessie

Tessie is our eldest cat, nineteen years old that we know of. She was a young adult cat when she came into our lives.

Lately she spends most of her time in the position you see here, as she poses with the materials for her half-done nap cozy -- curled up, usually sound asleep. Prodigious napping is appropriate for a girl her age; in human years, she's somewhere between eighty-five and a hundred and ten, depending on which cat-age calculator you prefer. I prefer the method which distinguishes between ageing rates in indoor and outdoor felines. Tessie is a full-time indoor cat, which puts her well into her nineties:

But she's a bit creaky and achy these days, and she spends most of her time searching for a warm spot to snuggle in. Even though we keep the house at about 76-78 degress F in the summer, she still gets chilly, and spends a lot of time in her plush bed.

So when I checked out the yarn sale at Hobby Lobby last weekend, I had in mind a simple felted square for Tessie to curl up on, for her favorite spot on the futon.

I liked the results and thought you might want to make one for your own feline or small dog. This is a simple garter stitch square knit on the diagonal on large needles. It's a quick weekend project and the perfect size item for summer knitting -- mindless and fast. It would also be a good first felting project.


Note: due to the fact that this cozy is felted, it is not suitable for charity knitting, because pet cozies for animal shelters must be machine washable and dryable. After this cozy has shrunk to the desired size, it must be laid flat to dry after subsequent washings, otherwise it will continue to shrink. Animal shelters don't have time for special laundry handling, so be sure to knit charity pet cozies out of densely-knitted acrylic or superwash wool, which can be laundered mercilessly.


Yarn: two skeins Lion Brand "Lion Wool" for felting (I used dark teal), and two skeins Yarn Bee "Dream Girl" (colorway "Lydia"). This provided a color scheme of blues, greens and a hint of yellow. If you want a different color combination, choose two skeins of Yarn Bee "Dream Girl" that you like, and then choose a "Lion Wool" or other felting wool to coordinate with one of the colors contained in the "Dream Girl." The Lion Wool is the background, unifying color.

IMPORTANT! Fuzz can be a choking hazard! Please note: Ordinarily, I do not use eyelash or other fringey, novelty yarns for pet cozies, because in most cases the eyelashes can be chewed off and swallowed. However, I found that the "Dream Girl" is firmly secured to the binder thread. No small bits came off, even with vigourous tugging on my part. I was looking for silky softness for an elderly cat who is not a chewer. Even though the "fuzz" is firmly secured on the "Dream Girl" yarn, I would not use it for puppies or kittens, or adult animals with vigorous chewing habits (think "Siamese" here). Novelty yarn is NEVER suitable for puppies, kittens, or animal shelter cozies.

Needles: US size eleven

Cast on two st., holding together one strand of Lion Wool and one strand of Dream Girl.

Row 1: knit into front and back of first stitch, knit to end of row. Repeat until you end a row with only about two yards of both yarns remaining.

Next row: Knit first st., SSK, knit across until you are almost out of both strands. Join in both strands of remaining two skeins, and continue knitting.

Subsequent rows: Knit first st., SSK, knit to end of row. Repeat until only 3 st. remain, Knit one, SSK, pass knit st. over. Cut remaining yarn.

Weave in loose ends and snip off excess yarn. Be sure not to weave ends in tightly. My finished results are about 30" square:

This results in a very soft, appealing fabric with a nice drape. Without felting, you could make a larger square, using "Dream Girl" along with a coordinating solid-color worsted acrylic for a colorful, fun and fuzzy couch throw or kid's throw. The amount of yarn used here, with acrylic substituted for felting wool, would also make a nice, WARM lap blanket for someone in a wheelchair. I chose this colorway because most things in our house, including most walls, are ocean colors, but many other colors are available in "Dream Girl."

Toss into washer on heavy-duty setting with a bunch of T-shirts or dead tennis balls. Use hot wash and cold rinse.

Dry in the dryer on "high." If the fabric doesn't feel dense enough for your liking, repeat process.

You now have a soft, warm cozy for your pet. My finished measurements in the above picture are about 20" by 20." The cozy came out square, but the surface I used for a backdrop isn't quite flat.

Your results may vary -- felting is not an exact science, and both the water hardness in your area and your choice of soap may affect the results. It also takes longer to felt an item in a front-loader than in a top-loader, because the agitator in a top-loader helps with the felting process. I have found that, instead of jeans, the best felting aids are a bunch of old T-shirts, a pair of plain old-fashioned canvas sneakers, or half a dozen dead tennis balls. If you don't play tennis, beg some off a friend who does.

For good results with your washer, be sure to use the "Beat Your Clothes to Death" setting. If you choose to wash the felted item with a couple of pair of jeans, be sure the jeans are buttoned and the zippers are fully closed, or the zipper teeth may snag on your yarn, and knitterly catastrophe may ensue. Ask me how I know.

Happy Fourth of July to my American readers. We're going to see the fireworks tonight if the rain holds off. Go see some fireworks tonight if you can, and remember that no matter how grim things seem right now in this country, there is always hope for a better future.




At 7:37 PM, Blogger Criquette said...

Oooh, I feel like curling up and taking a nap! Thanks for posting the how-to. And please give sweet little Tessie a gently little hug from me!

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

That's a lovely idea, a snuggly comforter for a cat who wants to be warm while she watches you. Give her an ear rub from me too.

Your confidence with felting makes me draw in my breath nervously; dare I go there again? Maybe yes, maybe no...

At 4:28 AM, Blogger Sheridan said...

Beautiful colours, Dez ... lovely snuggle-bed for a grand old dame, who looks much like my own dearly-departed Jemima, who made it to a couple of months shy of 18.

Are you in the Mystery Stole 3 project?? I am! :D

At 6:16 AM, Blogger Linda said...

Awww...I know the urge, but Murphy would probably run. She too is up there and is sleeping all the time, often so deeply she's hard to wake up.

Tessie is a lucky girl.

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous naomi dagen bloom said...

well, who knew there was a different way to figure the age of indoor/outdoor cats? how about our lulu who spent early years out but has been inside for the past eleven?

At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for the pattern! i just finished knitting one for my grand dame (will be 14 next month). can't wait to felt it tomorrow!


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