06 September 2011

Cat Toys and Four-Strand Braids

The other day, I bought my cat, Anna Poo, new cat toys.  (I may or may not have vacuumed up one of her favorites...).  Anna is only a year old, so she is still kitten-ish, and she loves her toys, especially long ones that drag and smaller ones she can carry around in her mouth.

Anna also has a weird love of water.  She loves to play in it.  I swear, I have cups with lids and straws, because she'll stick her paw and head in my glasses if I don't use those!  One thing she loves to do with water is to drown her toys.  It's gross, I know, but I can't exactly make her stop.

The other morning, I woke up, and Anna's bowl had black water in it.  Black.  It was gross.  With a capital G.  I briefly panicked until I picked up her new, zebra striped toy; it was soaking wet, and there were black sploshes of water coming off of it.

Her new toy was bleeding color.  I picked up another new one, that had also been recently drowned, and blue water was coming off of it.  It got me thinking that if water makes the color run, does her saliva do it, too?  Is she eating the color on the toys (toys which are most likely made in China)?

I promptly threw those in the trash, and I set about making my own toy for her.

This is by no means rocket science, but here's what I did.

I took some cotton yarn that I have in my stash (it's yarn that I know is 100% cotton).  It's white, so it's most likely been bleached, but there shouldn't be any color to run (I know it's Lion Cotton in a worsted weight, but I don't have the actual wrapping to tell me how the yarn was colored).

I took a long piece, about the length of my arm, to make a toy that was long for her to carry around, since I know she likes these.  Then, I using the first length to measure the rest, I cut 12 total lengths.

Next, I took three lengths and braided them, leaving a longer stringy part at the top and bottom than I would have done if I were making, say, a friendship bracelet (I used my trusty friendship-bracelet-making method of a clipboard to hold the pieces, which I loosely knotted at the top and bottom when finished.  I wanted to hold the braid but be able to take the knots out later).

I did this four times total, making four separate braids, and then I took the one side of the loose knots out and tightly knotted all four braids together at the top.  I took my four individual pieces and braided them together in a four-strand braid.  (Initially, I was going for a three-strand braid, but when I started it, it seemed a bit too thin for Anna's liking.)  When I got closer to the bottom, I took the other loose knots out, and when I was finished, I made another tight knot to hold them together, making sure to leave the stringy ends out.

A four-strand braid is easy to do; there are lots of tutorials out there, and I looked for some to include, but they were all more complicated than needed.

If you think of a three-strand braid, your basic motion is over-under (or under-over).  That is, you take one strand over the next and under the third (or under the next and over the third).  To do a four-strand braid, simply add another step: over-under-over (or under-over-under).

Anna approves!

One other trustworthy source for buying cat toys (if you're not motivated to make your own), can be found at Marvelous Melissa's shop at etsy.  Anna hasn't had one yet (Santa Claws may deliver this year), but other cats of mine have, and they definitely get two paws up!  Add a tail in there, too, because Melissa upcycles old socks into some of her toys.  Keeping things out of a landfill always gets smiles, and meows, around here!

(Note: Marvelous Melissa didn't pay or perk us (or Anna) in any way...we just happen to be big fans of her toys around here!)

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