PlanetJune Craft Blog

Latest news and updates from June

book review: Crafting With Cat Hair

Let’s get this out of the way first: I was given a copy of this book to review. But I’m not being compensated for this review in any other way, and the following is based on my honest opinions!

Overview

Crafting With Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts to Make with Your Cat by Kaori Tsutaya was originally published in Japanese, and has now been translated into English by Amy Hirschman. When they say “…to make with your cat” they really mean it, as all the projects in this book are designed to be created from the excess fur that’s removed when you brush your cat.

Crafting With Cat Hair review by PlanetJune
Cover, showing cat hair finger puppet

The included projects are:

  • Finger puppets
  • Book covers
  • Cat portraits
  • Tote bags
  • Coin purses
  • Knickknack boxes
  • Pincushions
  • Badges
  • Mittens & gloves
  • Hats & scarves

Note: the amazon description also mentions cat toys and photo frames, but this is incorrect.

Crafting With Cat Hair review by PlanetJune
My favourite project: pretty pincushions

Aside from the finger puppets, which are made by wet-felting, each project includes patterns to needle-felt the cat shapes onto the finished item, and some also include embellishments (eyes, collars, bells, etc).

Between each project, there’s an information spread. These cover the benefits of brushing your cat, a comparison of cat hair and sheep’s wool, seasonal shedding variations, and more. The info sections are brief and easy to read, and include lots of cat photos to enjoy.

Crafting With Cat Hair review by PlanetJune
Cat-embellished mini tote bags

Note: the publisher’s blurb says “All the projects are cat-friendly, eco-friendly, and require no special equipment or training”. But, for any of these projects apart from the finger puppets, you will need what I consider to be specialized equipment: a felting needle and some kind of foam or sponge to stab it into.

My Experience

Before I start, I should introduce you to the real star of this review, my handsome boy Maui:

Maui cat in the sunshine
Maui enjoying the South African sunshine – it’s a hard life…

I’d been collecting Maui’s fur for a couple of years, in case I thought of something to do with it, but then I moved abroad and decided to throw it all away before moving. Of course, now there’s something I could have done with it! Luckily Maui is a fur generator, and graciously consented to being brushed every day for a week so I could save his fur to test-drive this book for you. He’s a short-haired cat, so if his fur will work for these projects, I’m pretty sure that it’ll work for any cat hair.

From looking through the book, I got the impression that creating a clear outline for your needle-felted silhouette seems to be the hardest part, so I picked one of the largest patterns to give me the best chance of making it look good (the cat pattern that goes with the Coin Purse, p51). It’s nice that several cat shapes are provided for most of the projects, so you can choose a pose that looks like your own cat – the one I chose was very Maui-ish. I used a sheet of acrylic felt as my base, as I’m sensitive to wool. I gathered up my small pile of Maui’s fur, and I got to work.

I do have a little experience with needlefelting (I made a mini guinea pig), so I can tell you that needle-felting with cat hair is definitely much slower than with wool. The claim of “quick and quirky” projects is a little overly optimistic, in my opinion. Cat hair doesn’t really want to be felted; it takes more stabbing to get the strands to mesh together. But it does work, eventually!

I felt that the needlefelting instructions were a little brief – if I didn’t already know better I’d have assumed from reading the instructions that I’d stab the needle in a few times to anchor the fur, and that would be it. (If you don’t already know, you have to stab over and over again, all over the surface, to mesh all the strands together into a solid fabric.) There’s also no safety warning in the book, which I think is an oversight – this is a sharp serrated needle you’re stabbing very close to your fingers, and you do need to be vigilant. (Ask me how I know this…)

cat hair needlefelted silhouette by planetjune
Pretty kitty silhouette (with the dreaded stabbing device)

It took me about an hour of stabbing to make my small cat silhouette (just over 2″ long), and it’s not perfect – it’s very tricky to make the edges neat, and perfectionism has no place here. You can see stray hairs around the edges and they really don’t like to be tamed; I may have been able to improve it further, but I took my stabbed finger as a sign to stop. Even so, it is adorable: it’s a sweet little silhouette of my Maui, made from his own fur! This is very special and I will treasure it.

cat hair needlefelted silhouette by planetjune (back)
The back looks similar, but more fluffy and less defined

The back (above) looks almost as good as the front! I’m not convinced that the cat hairs have matted together at all; it seems more like stabbing them through to the back of the felt has pinned the hairs into place. (FYI, the cheap acrylic craft felt stood up to all the stabbing with no problems, so don’t be afraid to use it as a base to needlefelt onto.)

I haven’t decided how to finish my piece: I may add a felt border and some simple embroidery, inspired by the Badges project (p66), or make or find a frame for it, à la Portraits (p36), or maybe a combination of the two. I also considered adding eyes and a tiny embroidered nose, but I think I’ll leave it as is; simple is sometimes better. If I change my mind, I’ll flip through the book again to give me ideas!

Peeves

Although there are 10 projects in this book, 1 involves wet-felting and the other 9 are all needle-felting projects. Yes, there are directions for making a pincushion, bag, coin purse, felt pin, etc, but the actual cat hair part of each of these projects is exactly the same: needle-felt a cat silhouette to the project you’ve made, or to a bought garment. This may be an inbuilt limitation of trying to craft with cat hair, as opposed to any lack of imagination on the part of the author: cat hair is too short to spin into yarn (unless you have a long-haired cat) and, as the book explains, it doesn’t felt as firmly as wool, so it may be that these limited projects are really all you can do with it. (I previously tried to make a felt ball with some of Maui’s fur, and, although it looked like it had felted firmly while it was wet, once it had dried some hairs popped out around the edges, and it really wasn’t pretty enough to do anything with.) Still, I had been hoping for a little more variety with what to do with the cat hair.

If you’ve never needle-felted before, I’d suggest you look up instructions online before you begin, and please, please be careful with the sharp needle!

After seeing how fluffy the finished piece is compared with felted wool, I’m also not entirely convinced how well the cat hair felt would hold up on any kind of garment or item that gets heavy use – I suspect you may end up shedding cat hair wherever you go..! But the ideas and the silhouettes are all very cute, so here’s my suggestion to get more mileage from the book: you could always use the provided cat silhouettes and instructions to needle-felt wool roving to your hat and mittens instead of the cat hair, to get a sturdier result, and maybe save the cat hair for the more ornamental projects.

Final Thoughts

I see one huge reason to buy this book: cat owners will go crazy for a little felted something made with their own sweet kitty’s fur! I love the little silhouette I made with Maui’s fur, and I’m sure that your non-crafty cat-mad friends and relatives would be equally delighted with a little replica ornament of their beloved feline companions – it would make a great Christmas gift (although maybe not a surprise, as you’ll need to gather a few days’ worth of cat fur brushings in advance)!

Crafting With Cat Hair is definitely a specialised book, and one that only cat-lovers will appreciate. But it’s fun to read for the cat info and photos, and the projects, while a little limited in scope, are very cute. If you like needlefelting, or want to try it for the first time, and you, or someone you know, loves cats, you’ll probably enjoy this book 🙂

13 Comments »

  1. elizabeth said

    I have a really fluffy white kitty and I have always thought that maybe I could do something with her fur. What a precious idea!

  2. This book is sure to be a winner with cat lovers/crafters. It reminds me of the time I clumped together some cat hair I had recently brushed off my friend’s orange tabby, stuck some googly eyes on it, and told my husband it was a toy hamster. He promptly put it on his head and started dancing around with it. Unfortunately, we soon found out he is definitely allergic to my friend’s cat. Whoops!

  3. Tiffany said

    It’s so funny that you are reviewing this book. I just got this book from my job becasue someone left out in the break room (people always leave books they want to give away in the break room). I love kittys and quirky craft books like this.

  4. Yarnitect said

    Thanks for the review. Very interesting. I’ve never needle-felted so really appreciated your intro to that in addition to the book review.

    I feel a bit sheepish right now…because I’ve been saving up my dog’s hair and can’t help but wonder how that would compare! I was planning on using the dog hair for stuffing for a christmas stocking (for the dog).

    • June said

      I’ve read that dog hair felts well provided it’s the soft undercoat fur; breeds with coarse hair won’t work (or not as well) – I’m far from an expert on the matter. I think you should try it! You’ll know within 5 minutes if it’s going to felt or not, so there’s nothing to lose 😀

  5. Meg P said

    Couldn’t really believe this wasn’t a joke, but after reading the review, I appreciate all the time and effort you put into testing out the book. Thanks, June!

    • June said

      Heehee, well I did say it wouldn’t appeal to everyone!

  6. Very fair and detailed review!

  7. Amanda said

    Craziest craft I’ve ever heard of, but somehow, still cute! I really don’t know how I feel about the craft, but I know I’m allergic to it. LOL

  8. MorganAdel said

    Thank you for the great review of this book! I decided to order this for my crafty, cat-loving grandmother for Christmas. Neither of us have needle felted before so I plan on buying the materials needed and learning with her Christmas afternoon!

  9. macati said

    well, I’m a cat lover (but living with a dog…) and I really find this craft book adorable… 🙂

  10. GraciesMom said

    Ahh yours came out very nicely! I got the same book to try to make cat hair crafts. I made the mistake of using way too much hair for my first try. It has a appliqué look, but hard to work with. I’ll try again with less hair next time…

  11. Eve said

    A friend just gave me a bag of cat fur from her Siberian. This breed has three layers of fur. I carded and wet felted a trial piece. It felted quickly, with about 50 percent shrinkage, but the long guard hairs stuck out all over, and obviously aren’t going to felt.

    I plan on incorporating the fur into a wet felted purse, using merino wool, and shaving off any guard hairs when the purse is finished. Wish me luck!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment here! I read and appreciate every comment. I only respond to questions here on the blog, so please return to this page to see my reply, or check the box below to subscribe to new comments by email.

Please note that I can only answer questions related to PlanetJune patterns and tutorials (see details), and I can only respond to questions or comments written in English. Thank you :) - June

  • Welcome to PlanetJune!

    June Gilbank

    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!

    If you'd like to get in touch, you can contact me here.
  • Follow me

    RSS FeedSubscribe to my blog by EmailFollow me on TwitterFollow me on Facebook
    Friend me on RavelryWatch me on YouTubeFollow me on PinterestFollow me on Instagram
  • Life Behind the Scenes

  • Browse Blog Categories

  • Blog Archives

  • Support PlanetJune!

    Want to say thanks? You can send me money in seconds at paypal.me/planetjune.

    Or simply click one of these links before you shop at Amazon:
    Thank you for your support!
Back to top