Craft Book Review: Crafting with Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya

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Reviewing the book Crafting With Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts to Make with Your Cat resulted in, hands down, two of the most bizarre projects that I’ve ever made. Strangely enough, they also ended up being two of the cutest. Keep on reading and you’ll see what I mean!

Crafting With Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts to Make with Your Cat was written by Kaori Tsutaya, and was translated from the original Japanese by Amy Hirschman. The book is 96 pages long, contains 10 projects, and retails for $14.95 US. This book was published by Quirk Books, who definitely stayed true to their reputation for focusing only on the fun and the odd with this one! (Quick Books is distributed by Random House).

From the Random House site:

Got fur balls?

Are your favorite sweaters covered with cat hair? Do you love to make quirky and one-of-a-kind crafting projects? If so, then it’s time to throw away your lint roller and curl up with your kitty! Crafting with Cat Hair shows readers how to transform stray clumps of fur into soft and adorable handicrafts. From kitty tote bags and finger puppets to fluffy cat toys, picture frames, and more, these projects are cat-friendly, eco-friendly, and require no special equipment or training. You can make most of these projects in under an hour—with a little help, of course, from your feline friends!

The Cat and The Hair

Once I got over the initial yuck factor and started getting sucked into the projects and techniques, Crafting with Cat Hair suddenly stopped feeling so weird, and started feeling like any other cute-focused craft book. In my opinion, the reason that this book ultimately ends up working so well is, in large part, thanks to its fantastic translation and editing work. Clearly, a lot of care was taken to preserve the flow and feel of the original Japanese text, and it made all the difference. I found that the familiar (to me) amigurumi-like style in the writing and in the projects really helped to balance out the strangeness of using cat hair.


For my projects, I tried to strike a balance between odd and useful. First, I went all-out ridiculous and made a cat-shaped finger puppet (p. 12). For my second project, I got a bit more practical and settled on a pincushion (p. 60).

What I loved:

Finger Puppets

 

Pincushions

1. Both of the projects that I tried were really fun to make. Perhaps it was just the novelty of working with cat hair, but I really had a good time trying out new techniques and learning how to work with an entirely unfamiliar medium.

Easy to Follow Instructions and Photos

2. The projects are quick, the instructions are straight forward, and anything in the book can easily be made in one afternoon.

Tools List

 

Materials List

3. The required materials and tools are common and easy to find. Many of the projects can also be made using recycled fabrics and accessories that you already have on hand.

Spots added to Finger Puppet before Felting

4. There is a lot of room to customize your projects with different colors and designs.

5. Most of the projects in the book, including the tote bag (p. 42), the coin purses (p.48), the pincushions (p. 60), the badges (p. 66), the mittens and gloves (p. 72), and the hats and scarves (p. 78) are not just decorations—they’re made to be worn and used.

Felted Finger Puppet with Tape-Coated Cardboard Pattern

6. The wet felting process was so much faster than expected. Once I finally got the hang of wrapping my pattern, it took no time at all for my finger puppet to come together.

7. Cat hair allergies are addressed in a very responsible way in the book, and the author encourages people who make cat hair crafts to, at the very least, ask people if they are allergic to cats before allowing them to touch a project. The author also goes on to suggest different ways that cat hair crafts can be displayed in enclosed cases and frames when in public places. As a person with nasty allergies, I think this section is very important. (p. 58-59)

What I didn’t love:

Baggy Cat

1. If, like me, you don’t have previous experience with felting, some of the instructions can be a little unclear. For example, in the Finger Puppets project (p. 19-20) I had a lot of trouble figuring out the best way to get the cat hair to stay around the waterproofed (tape-covered) cardboard pattern, and I wasn’t really sure how thick the layer of hair needed to be.

Cat Hair Strips

At first, I wrapped the hair around the pattern in sheets like the instructions suggested, but this method simply didn’t work for me—I ended up with a very baggy cat! Eventually, I figured out that, for my cat’s fine, short hair, wrapping the hair around the pattern in horizontal strips was the best way to get a good, tight fit. (This is likely due to the fact that different cat hair types behave in different ways, and is not necessarily indicative of a problem in the book.)

Needle Felting a Cat onto the Pincushion Fabric

Finished Pincushion

2. The book doesn’t say that you should only try to felt your cat shapes onto wool or other animal fibers. When I made my pincushion (p. 60), I used an old knit hat for the fabric, which happened to be acrylic instead of wool. Though it did eventually work, it was much harder to felt my cat shape onto acrylic, and the hold was not as secure as it should have been. Plant and synthetic fibers do not lock together in the same way that animal fibers do, so keep that in mind when starting your own projects.


3. There are quite a few cat photos and captions that aren’t really related to the content of the book. The intent may have been to add more context to cat hair as a material, but I found them somewhat distracting.

4. It probably goes without saying, but, by the time I was done with the second project, I had cat hair absolutely everywhere. This might not be the right book for the neat freaks among us.

Overall impressions:
I had a great time reviewing this book. I thought the projects were creative, fun, and well thought through. Even if it seemed a little strange at first, it was actually kind of nice to use piles of cat hair to make something pretty instead of just throwing it away!

Simon with Cat Hair Finger Puppet

 

Finished Finger Puppet

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About Haley

Brooklyn-based DIY from a Gal in Granny Glasses! When not at CTD, I write The Zen of Making (http://www.thezenofmaking.com), a DIY blog featuring craft tutorials, handmade geekery, and all things domestic. (Okay, and a few cat photos.)

View all posts by Haley

5 Responses to “Craft Book Review: Crafting with Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya”

  1. Jenn Says:

    So I’m a dog person- we have two so there is an enormous amount of hair generated. Any idea on whether you could do these same sorts of things with dog hair?

  2. Haley Says:

    Jenn: I think it depends a lot on the texture of the hair. I don’t have dogs, so I’ve never tried it myself, but I have heard of people spinning yarn using dog hair.

  3. Andrea @Oasis Accents Says:

    I have a dog and two cats, finally something to do with all that hair. But it is definitely….um strange.

  4. Terri Says:

    Why are people freaking over cat hair. It’s no different that all the animals we borrow hair from. Sheep shed (wool)and how about mohair from goats, camel hair, alpaca and llama, sofas used to be stuffed with horse hair. Wolf hair makes artists’ brushes and Samoyed dog undercoat is spun into usable yarn, silk?? from a worm? Eewww.

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