Friday, July 6, 2012

Simple Scrap Yarn Cat Toys

So my camera bit the dust. It keeps telling me there is a problem with my memory card, so I might try buying a new one in a last ditch effort, but I'm pretty sure that the card isn't the problem but rather my camera's ability to read the card. It wasn't an expensive camera. My husband got it for me at Costco right after we got married so that I could take pictures of myself and eventually our baby (he left for a 9 month tour when I was 2 months pregnant) while he was in Iraq to share with him. That makes it five years ago almost to the day.

It had been dying slowly over the last six months or so. First it was a crack in the display screen. The screen still worked, but the crack foretold a grim fate for my little photo taking friend. The flash stopped working a little later and then it just got "sluggish." It had to think before it took a picture, it seemed, and when taking pictures of kids and pets, that just down right stinks. Smiles and cute poses only last so long with kids and kittens.

So because of that my blog pictures will be fewer and of poorer quality for a bit. I still have options. I have a digital camcorder with a still picture option and a built in webcam on my laptop. Both take photos, just not well.

In spite of this, I still want to share an easy crochet pattern (referenced in the post title). You may say, "Well, scrap yarn cat toys are simply scrap yarn. Cats love scrap yarn." And this is true. I can barely get any crocheting done if Carlton Lastercat is awake. He loves to tangle with my projects. However, a little bit of work can turn that yarn that is too long to throw away but too short to use for a major project into a cute little jingle bell ball toy.

For this project you need some extra materials:

Small amounts of yarn in any color
A crochet hook of any size
Some sort of stuffing material
and. . .a jingle bell.

I got the jingle bells I'm currently using at a Japanese Daiso (hundred yen/dollar store), a pack of twenty or so for 108 yen (I'm assuming the 8 is sales tax), but you should be able to pick up something like it at any crafting store or any store that sells art and craft supplies. They're fun to stick into anything that is meant for a baby or a pet. If you wanted to get creative, you could add some catnip into the stuffing as well and drive your furry friends crazy.

I've tried out a lot of different stuffing materials and for this one (because I can't throw anything away) I chose used dryer sheets. I loved these things when I was a kid. I used them for doll blankets and curtains in the shoe box houses I made for my plastic cat figurines (Littlest Pet Shop, any one?). I love them. I used to put them in my garbage cans and imagine they made my garbage smell less garbagey (used ones, I'm too cheap to do this with fresh ones), but lately, I've been hording them again. It takes roughly two sheets to stuff one of these balls. If you were leaving out the jingle bell and wanted a firmer stuffing, you might fit in three or four. Other stuffing materials I've used before include plastic bags, dried beans, and shredded rags. You could also purchase a conventional stuffing material, but what's the fun in that?

I made these with my cat in mind, but the pet that has gone craziest for them is actually Caen, our German Shepherd puppy. He took possession of two of them. I've made this pattern five times so far and it is really easy and quick. Let me know what you think or if you have any alterations to suggest.



Ch 2,
R1: 6 sc in the second chain from the hook
R2: 2sc in each stitch around-12 stitches
R3: 2sc in the first stitch, 1 sc in the next stitch, around-18 stitches
R4: 2sc in the first stitch, 1 sc in the next two stitches, around-24 stitches
R5: Working in the back loops of the stitches, sc around, -24 stitches
R6-7: Working in both loops, sc around-24 stitches per round
R8: Working in back loops of the stitches, sc around-24 stitches
R9: Working In both loops, scd, sc in the next two stitches, around-18 stitches
R10-scd, sc in the next stitch, around-12 stitches
This is a good place to stop and stuff the piece, making sure to include the jingle bell
R11-scd, around-6

Fasten off leaving a long tail. Use the tail to sew any hole shut so that the stuffing and bell stay inside. Weave under the ends.

Your piece is finished!

What you need: bells, small amounts of yarn, a crochet hook, and a yarn needle.

The jingle bells

 Two of my finished jingle balls. The yellow one is slightly off color because Caen had been chewing on it earlier.
 My stuffing material of choice.
Pink a color any color (I chose purple but I had to use another color for the last two rows because I didn't have quite enough.).

 The first few rows, working in a circle. We've done this before.
 Working in one loop only. This helps to turn the piece.
 The piece becomes "bowl" shaped.

 Starting to close up the ball.
 The stuffing is now in place. You don't want it too tight because the bell won't jingle if it can't move around a little bit.
 Fastening off the last row, like I said I was just a tiny bit short on yarn.
 Sew it closed tight.
And here we have it. Perfect for playing with your pets. 

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