Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cat Mats

With cold weather truly being upon us, though it hasn't really snowed yet in my corner of the universe, I thought I would take a minute to show off a little project idea that I came up with for keeping my wee beasties happy.  My girls don't like cold any more than I do, especially Cassandra.  I suspect she actually may like cold even less than I do as she tends to start burrowing under blankets and covers well before I feel the need to add blankets.  Of course, I may feel warmer longer simply because a cat's body temp runs at something like 103 degrees which makes them great people warmers.  Anyone with animals knows that it is generally very easy to tell where their furry friend likes to spend the day.  Those without animals may wonder how we can so precisely target the favorite snuggle spot.  Simple.  You just look for the patch of shed fur marring whatever surface it's on.  It's especially easy if you use the fact that light colored cats gravitate to dark colored areas and dark colored cats do the reverse.  In winter it is generally even easier since cats also love to lounge on heating vents.  It was a combination of knowing where my girls like to spend their time and me wanting my blankets back that caused this particular project to happen.  I used to roll up blankets near vents for them but that had the huge drawback of me not being able to use those blankets.  Enter the Cat Mat.

This is my somewhat surly princess, Cass, deigning to model the Cat Mat for me. 

She does like it, she's just grouchy and doesn't much care for being photographed.

The Cat Mat relies on a few feline laws.  1) All your warm spaces are belong to us, and 2) If it is crocheted cats will claim it in preference to any other material in the house.  I'm not sure why crocheted things get this dubious honor and I've always found it a bit surprising that knitted things don't get the same attention.  The girls love to fur up my sweaters, but they always pick a crochet blanket over a knit top despite the inconvenience to me when I have to extract the cat and remove the fur.  Knitware is still the second choice, unless an unwary guest has left a coat somewhere within reach, so I suspect it's something to do with the warmth retention of the fabrics.

Anyway, here we have the Cat Mat.  It's pretty ordinary, just a crocheted rectangle.

What makes this more than just a rectangle is what I built it to do.  When I lift up the Cat Mat, you can see that it is directly on top of one of my vents.

Ordinarily, this isn't something that I would do.  Blocking vents can do bad things, but in this case the vent is not fully blocked.  I used the double stitch pattern to make sure that the fabric was full of holes and that makes a Cat Mat act more like a diffuser.  Air can still pass through it, but it warms the Mat up at the same time.  Thus the cats have a nice, cozy place to nap and I have a floor cover of sorts which is easily removed and washed whenever the fur build up gets too high.  Everybody wins!

To make your own Cat Mats use a nice, fat crochet hook, preferably an N hook or larger and work with double yarn throughout.  The pictured Cat Mat was made with an I Love This Yarn hombre and a Susan Bates M hook (because it is, in fact, bigger than my Boye N hook.  Don't ask me why, I don't know.) Then chain out however many sts you need to be a good size for your cat and go to town with the double stitch, you can find the stitch pattern here, and work until the finished size fits your cat.  They also make great carrier liners.  No more awkward blankets to have to keep track of and untangle the animal from at the vet.  A nice, soft Cat Mat can be made to the size of your carrier.  Mine seem to prefer the mat to the towels I used to use.  I can only imagine that the Cat Mat is a lot more comfortable.

Moving right along, I thought I would share my sweater in progress with you.

I know it doesn't look like much now, but the plan is for it to be similar to a dolman top with a ballet neck and a cinched waist.  I'm working top-down and the needles are at the beginning of the cinch waist pattern.  With luck I'll have the thing done in time to enter it in that Vanna's choice contest.  I've been trying to turn stuff out for that but I keep getting distracted. )-:

I've also been feverishly brainstorming for Halloween decorations.  I've got so many wonderful ideas!  I'm doing my best not to go on about them more than a line or two here and there, but it's so hard!  We'll see how long I can hold off.  I'd like to at least be in February first.  Not being a fan of Valentine's Day, I'll probably go extra bonkers with Halloween plans around then just to protect myself from all the pink.  On the off chance that any of you are as nuts for Halloween as I am, you can check out my Halloween board on Pinterest here.

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