Bedding and herding cats
A couple of years ago I knitted my kitty, Darjeeling (aka Jiji-Lou Monkey) a really gorgeous cat bed. I couldn’t wait to give it to her, I just knew she’d really love it. It’s soft and comfortable, if it were big enough I’d sleep in there myself. As soon as it was felted enough I dried it in the sun and then put it right next to my bed so we could hang out together and watch Lost on my laptop (um, this was before Lost got stupid – now we are both glad its over).
For a few days she ignored the bed, or actively went out of her way to avoid it, detouring to pounce on my stomach. I realized she just didn’t know it was for her, so I sprinkled on some cat nip as an incentive to get her comfortable. When the cat nip was gone, so was Jiji. I tried bribing her with treats and toys… but they served only to get her on the bed long enough to grab them off. After a few years I had given up, and though the princess bed remained in my room, it was relegated to a spot by the floor where I wouldn’t have to see it and endure the shame of knowing I had failed.
Then a couple of weeks ago I was away for the weekend and received a text to let me know that Jiji was well and was spending all her time in her pretty, pretty princess bed. And she’s been in there ever since. Not continuously of course, she still has a few other spots she loves to sun herself, and she still loves to curl up on my stomach (particularly when I’ve had too much to eat) but anyone can see that the bed I made her is at least in her top five places for a cat nap. Which is why I’m going to share with you the secret of how to make a cat bed from scrap yarn, you just never know when your hard work will pay off in feline pleasure.
I used this cat bed pattern that I found but adapted it for the yarn I had on hand. You can really change up the pattern to help get through your yarn stash as long as you keep the following in mind. Because the bed is going to be felted you want to use large needles and knit very loosely and thicker yarn makes it all much quicker. If you have very thin yarn then combine it with other yarn, holding two or three strands of yarn together to make something about the size of the thickest piece of yarn you have. You also want to make sure that at least a lot of the yarn you are going to use is feltable (ie wool and not white wool) – its OK if some of it is not, that will just create additional texture, especially if you mix felting and non-felting yarn together as you knit so that everything gets melded together in the end! If you have never felted before, its easy, but you might want to try a small test swatch to see what the effect will be on the yarn you are using. You can also roughly map out the color palette before you start. Since I had a lot of yarn in the white/gray/pink range I decided to limit my palette to these colors, but you could also start with one color and work your way through a whole rainbow of knitted craziness. If this sounds a bit haphazard don’t worry its supposed to be! Its such a simple basic pattern that its hard to mess up – just have fun!!