Softer than Frodo

I’ve been felting like crazy, feeding Wanda, my trusty l’il Wonder Washer machine, used wool sweaters as fast as I can find them at thrift stores!

Lessons learned: first, a felting fail. I couldn’t resist a soft sweater of gorgeous muted colors that violated the First Felting Rule: thou shalt not waste time and water trying to felt fabric that dost not have at least 50% wool fiber.

felting sweaters

My fingers were crossed that the 20% wool plus 9% mohair would add up to enough, but nope. Hey, anyone want a beautiful very clean (as in, I ran Wanda about four times before I gave up) sweater?

Another lesson, that I guess is self-evident and I bet has some fancy scientific and/or metaphysical explanation: sweaters that are super-soft when unfelted, remain super-soft when felted. And itchy scratchy ‘I could never ever wear that’ sweaters? Oh yeah, after felting this 100% Shetland wool sweater, I’m not even sure what I can make out of it. Nothing that comes anywhere near anyone’s skin. Fantastic color though, and sturdy as, well, a Shetland sheep!

But on to my ode to soft. If you don’t know me in person I haven’t bored you with my phone pix of our crazy sweet kitty Frodo, and you have zero idea what the title of this blog article means. Frodey is incredibly soft on the scale of Persian down to scratchy short-hair alley cat …

And I’ve just felted some sweaters that I can’t stop petting as much as I do Frodo. The first photo up top in this article shows four sweaters I scored in one epic trip to my local Thrift Town. The purple argyle and two red sweaters are all 100% cashmere. Because there can be ethical problems with cashmere, I wouldn’t buy a garment or the yarn firsthand.

Most crazy soft, this unassuming short sleeved pullover. You can see how much felting shrunk it. Length always shrinks most, this one went from 21.25 to 14 inches! And width at shoulders: 12.75 to 10 inches.

Second softest, the other red, a touch more designerly with a long ribbed waist, which flared out after felting. Length: 21.75 to 12.75 inches; width at shoulders: 12.5 to 8.25 inches.

And a close third, the purple argyle. Interestingly the different colored fibers felted to slightly different degrees. Sometimes white or very light wool (also black) won’t felt at all, apparently due to a process used to achieve the color. This sweetie went from 22 to 12 inches in length, and 15 to 9.75 inches in width at shoulders.

You didn’t really think I’d let you go without a Frodo pic, did you?

Want to read more about felting fun? Click here to read my article Old Sweater, New Purse!

Feral Cats’ Thanksgiving Feast

For more than a year George, along with volunteering at the local spay/neuter clinic, Fix Our Ferals, has been working with a group of people who feed several feral cat colonies in Richmond. The group also traps and spays the colonies, so eventually they will disappear. This year George’s assigned feeding day fell on Thanksgiving, so before we went off for our own feast, we brought food and water to one of his colonies. We were greeted by two of the friendliest cats, Martian and Baby. They’re so socialized that we guess they were probably abandoned by people who lost their houses. This is Baby, doing her “Hello George” rollover.

Feral catsGeorge gives her a good scritch.

Feral cats

Here comes more of the gang.

Feral catsThere’s plenty of food for all. Some is donated by the Animal Rescue Foundation and Pet Food Express, and it’s otherwise paid for by private donations and out of the volunteers’ own pockets. A lot of the care for sick feral cats is arranged through Community Concern for Cats (CC4C).

Feral catsThey haven’t been able to catch all of the cats, so one mama recently had kittens. This one was shy at first.

Feral cat

But soon was happily eating alongside his brother.

Feral cats

Bad weather in winter makes life harder for a feral cat. If you have time and energy to help out, contact your local organization. If you’re in the Richmond/El Cerrito area, you can volunteer at Fix Our Ferals, and you can also reach the group that’s feeding feral cat colonies by speaking to Kathy at Fix Our Feralsor leave a comment here and I’ll get back to you.

Happy Feral Cat Day!

It’s National Feral Cat DayThe theme this year is “TNR: From the Alley…to Main Street.” TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Return, which, as the NFCD website states, is “a humane approach to managing and caring for feral cats— the only effective method of stabilizing feral cat colonies.”

Feral cat

With two rescue cats of our own, every day of the year is Feral Cat Day, but to celebrate, I’d like to celebrate by thanking everyone who helps feral cats, including trapping, spay/neutering, feeding, fostering, adopting, and more!

Martian and Brin-brin

For more than a year George has been volunteering at Fix Our Ferals, the local spay/neuter clinic in Richmond, California, where they just fixed their 10,000th cat! The vets, veterinary assistants, clinic manager, and volunteers at FOF are the most amazing people – they go way above and beyond to treat with great care and compassion every cat (and dog and rabbit) brought to the clinic.

Fix Our Ferals booth

And many more people work selflessly to feed feral cat colonies, and to trap them so they can be spayed and either returned to their colonies or fostered and placed in forever homes.

feeding feral cats

Our newest daughter Daisy was a feral kitten rescued from an abandoned truck by a Good Samaritan. She was bottle-fed by FOF’s clinic manager, who persisted until George finally admitted that he had fallen in love with her.

Daisy and George

Our son Lars was also a feral cat, dumped on the doorstep of Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. He almost died, but ARF performed surgery on him, and he has been the light of our lives ever since. Our initial reluctance to get another cat was due to the fact that we were worried Lars wouldn’t accept another cat – but he and Daisy finally came to an understanding.

Daisy and Lars

Even if you don’t have a lot of time or extra funds, there are many others things you can do to help: donate towels, newspapers, and other things that Clinics need; spread the word about your local clinics or other groups; foster a cat until he or she can be adopted; and much more! So Happy National Feral Cat Day — and a million thank-yous to all who donate time, resources, and money to help these vulnerable animals.



We recently had to say goodbye to our wonderful Betty.  Betty was a sweet shy black cat, with the softest furry cheeks.



She spent a lot of time in her “cat room”, which is a large closet at the top floor of our house where she would run whenever she heard anyone in the house other than George or me.  For this reason many of our friends doubted that we actually had a third cat. She dearly loved her brother Dorian, and he frequently washed her face.

Betty and Dorian

Betty and Dorian

She didn’t always get along as well with her pesky little brother, Lars, but once in awhile they shared a cuddle.

Lars and Betty

Lars and Betty

A few months ago, our lovely Bee was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma.  Dr. Benjamin Otten, of allCreatures Veterinary Clinic , referred us to veterinary oncologist Dr. Sabhlok at PETS Referral Center.  Dr. Sabhlok treated Bee with chemotherapy for several months. She rallied for about a month or so, but the lymphoma caught up with her.

In our sadness we were moved and comforted by the outpouring of sympathy from our veterinarians. We got several cards from Dr. Otten and the people who work at allCreatures, from Dr. Sabhlok and the people who work at PETS, and from VCA Albany, where we had also taken Betty.

We wanted to express our appreciation for their kind gestures, and especially for their care and treatment of our precious Bee.  I decided to make mini-quilts for them, and printed my favorite photos of Betty onto fabric. Here are the two that I’ve finished so far:

Betty and Lars mini-quilt

Betty and Lars mini-quilt

Betty and Dorian mini-quilt

Betty and Dorian mini-quilt

Bye Sweet Bee, we miss you…

Purrcasso benefit for Berkeley East Bay Humane Society

Animal lovers! Don’t miss this great event coming up next weekend.  The fifth annual Purrcasso will take place Saturday, November 6th & Sunday, November 7th, 2010.  It’s a great benefit for the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society, which needs your donations more than ever after suffering a fire earlier this year.

Saturday night there will be a silent auction and art sale, live music, entertainment, and mingling with artists.  On Sunday, there will be lots of fabulous handmade crafts for pets and pet lovers, and beautiful art featuring cats and dogs.

If you’ve gone before, you know it’s fantastic to meet other animal lovers and supporters of the BEBHS, and that it’s a great place to find wonderful artwork dedicated to celebrating cats (and some dogs).  This year, it will be held in a new location, at 2865 Seventh Street (at Heinz) in Berkeley.

My donationsYou’ve seen the kitty collars in my prior posts.  here are the ones I’m donating (we get to keep Lars, the model, though):

Big dogs little dogs!

I’m a cat person.  Hey, guess what my astrological sign is?  Yep, I’m a Leo.  And from the first kitten I begged my parents to get (who I named Button, for the spot on the top of her white head), I’ve rarely lived without a cat (or two, or three…).   Don’t get me wrong, I really like dogs.  But when my husband George and I see a really cute dog, we call it a “kitty pup” …   Anyway, you know from my previous blog post that I just started making pet collars from the fabric that I design.  The cat collars came first, of course.  I made this soft sculpture to display the collars from a photograph of our cat Lars.  I lengthened his neck a little so more collars would fit on … a bit of artistic liberty thanks to Photoshop.


Lars soft sculpture with collars galore

Lars soft sculpture with collars galore


But guess what? There are a whole lot of dog people out there who want collars for their pups!  And boy, are they different from cat collars.  First, the breakaway clasp that I use for the cat collars (so they can release if they get stuck on something while they’re being bad cats) don’t work for dog collars.   You need the dog’s clasp to hold so when the collar is attached to a leash it won’t release.   And another thing that’s different between cats and dogs — cats vary in size a bit, but oh my … you’ve got your mini-sized dogs and you’ve got your jumbo-sized dogs!  So yesterday I made one collar for a mini-dog (an adult dachshund whose neck is 11.5 inches) and one for a jumbo-dog (a Lab puppy whose neck is already 18.5 inches).

Monarch peacock fabric dog collar

This is the large collar.  The fabric is one of my new designs. I took my photos of a monarch butterfly wing and a peacock feather and blended them, then kaleidoscoped the blended image.  I had the fabric printed by spoonflower.  The collar is easily adjustable for when the puppy grows.  The person who wanted the collar taught me something else — some dogs chew up their dog tags (I don’t think even bad cats do that).  Hence, the invention of slider tags.  The tag slides right onto the collar – before it’s sewed up, of course.  You can’t add the slider if you buy this kind of collar ready-made (another reason to make a custom order, hint, hint).  I ordered the slider pre-printed.  Here’s a photo of what the slider looks like (the printing’s nice, I blurred it here):


Dog collar  with slider

Dog collar with slider


Here’s the small collar.  Because the dog is full grown, I didn’t leave much extra length, but it is adjustable to add about an inch.


Small pup collar

Small pup collar


And here … a stack of dog collars!


Dog collars

Dog collars


And for fun, this is the tag I designed for my dog collars.  The model is Scout, who lives with my brother and his family.

I’d love to make a collar for your pet out of any of my fabric designs.  If you’re interested, just email me at  Click here to see some of my fabric designs.  I can also make a custom collar using your photographs or images.

Click here to see the cat collars listed in my Artfire shop and click here to see the dog collars.

Garden Design Fabric pet collars!

You know I love thinking up new ways to use the fabric that I design and print from my nature photographs.  My newest favorite thing to make with my fabric  — cat and dog collars! On the runway (okay, on the bed) … presenting our model, Lars!

For cat collars I use breakaway safety hardware, because we all know that mischievous cats need collars that will come apart to release kitty if he or she gets snagged on something.

Dog collars have different hardware — you can’t use the breakaway latches because they would come apart when you’ve got your dog on a leash.  For the dog collars, I sew in a “D” ring very securely, to attach the collar to the leash.

Dog collar

Dog collar

I make the collars from fabric that I’ve designed and either printed myself or had printed for me by Spoonflower or DPI-SF.  The fabric is sturdy cotton, and it’s waterfast — so you can hand wash the collars in cold water or spot clean.  I use interfacing for strength and protect the collars with Quiltgard (a product that’s not available anymore, it’s like Scotch Guard) to resist dirt.

The collars are easily adjustable using the slide (in the picture above the slide  is brass-plated), and the cat collars also have brass-plated bells.

I can make a collar for your pet out of any of my fabric designs.  If you’re interested, just email me at  Click here to see some of my fabric designs.  I can also make a custom collar using your photographs or images.

Click here to see one of the collars listed in my etsy shop.