Comfort for Critters

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The Do's and Don'ts of Blanket Making

When I started CFC in 2007, the only blankets I made were crocheted ones, about 20” x 20”. These fit the most enclosures at the two shelters we initially supported and crocheting pretty much maxed-out my creativity. I was also only creating about 100 blankets a year! Now that we have so many creative people helping, and are providing so many blankets, our creations come in all shapes and sizes.

I always encourage a new volunteer to follow their heart and create whatever they feel called to work on. Sometimes it’s large dog blankets, other times catnip toys, but everything always finds a home! So please keep this in mind as you read these “Do’s” and “Don’ts” on making blankets. There are no “wrong” blankets! These suggestions are just a few things I’ve learned along the way, or heard from a shelter. I hope they will be useful to you, as you create your next blanket to comfort a homeless pet.

The Do’s of Blanket Making

Add Color – Shelters love to be bright and cheery, and our colorful blankets can really help. So don’t be afraid to use super-bright colors, and combine colors in unusual ways. The more color the better, which even includes adding a bright trim on a blanket, or choosing fleece with a bold pattern. There’s no such thing as too much color!

Create Any Type – We started by crocheting blankets, but the shelters love blankets that are knit, sewn, quilted or made with tied or sewn fleece. Some of our blankets combine fleece with a crocheted trim, which is colorful and fun. If there’s another way you’d like to make a washable blanket, please do! Also….tell me about it, so that I can share the idea with the rest of the volunteers.

Catnip is Okay – If you’re making cat toys and wonder if it’s okay to add catnip…it is! The shelters know which cats can get catnip, and which wouldn’t appreciate it. So feel free to make plain toys or ones stuffed with catnip. All will be appreciated!

Washable is a Must – The only requirement we have for supplies (yarn and fleece) which are donated to us for blankets, is that they are washable and machine-dryable. The shelters launder the blankets on a regular basis, so they need to stand up to lots of washing and drying (and cuddling and kneading!).

Be Positive – Only use “positive” images on any fleece you use. Of course, the pets can’t tell the difference, but potential adopters may be sensitive. This usually crops up if we use Halloween-themed fleece, which may have a skull and crossbones, or “RIP” as part of the design. Happy, colorful images are really the way to go!

The Don’ts of Blanket Making

Color Rules – Whenever possible, it’s best to have some true color in the blanket. A completely white or black blanket tends to show every bit of dirt. It’s fine to mix in black or white yarn, but do try to blend it with something colorful!

No Worries – Do NOT worry if the blanket isn’t the perfect size, shape or perfectly done! Even though we provide some general suggestions on size, the shelters will use whatever you care to create.  They help all sorts of pets, in all sorts of sizes, so whatever you create will be used by the shelter and loved by their pets.

No Strings – I hate weaving in the ends as much as the next crafter, but it is an important step for these blankets. Volunteers sometimes ask if they can leave loose ends for the pets to play with. This is a sweet thought, but a loose string could also be ingested. So be sure to weave these in. I use a blunt tapestry needle to do my weaving and it’s really not as bad as you think!

Fancy yarn? – The many gorgeous yarns on the market can be quite tempting! Please remember though that it has to be washable and quite durable, since it will be used and loved a lot! The fancy yarns are sometimes washable, but they need to “dry flat” which isn’t possible in a shelter setting. These yarns are also expensive, so save some money and treat yourself to twice the number of skeins of some basic washable 4ply!

Smoker? - If you're a smoker, or there's a smoker in your home, chances are the smoke will find its way onto your blankets. Shelters are very sensitive to any scent on the blankets, so with this in mind please wash your blankets before sending them to me or a shelter. I find that if I wash a batch of smokey blankets, with a double-shot of detergent, and then dry them on a cool setting with a few dryer sheets, they come out fine! This routine also makes them a bit softer, which is a plus!

Tags? – I’ve seen some wonderful, thoughtful tags that are being added to individual blankets. These are just awesome! I’d suggest though that a larger tag, placed on top of a group of blankets may be enough. Remember, that these blankets are not put on a shelf, but put into an enclosure right away! So the individual tags will be removed once the blanket is being used. The same sentiments, put on a card at the top of the box or bag, will surely be appreciated by the shelter staff.

I have received many inquiries on every one of these topics, so I know many volunteers do wonder! I can’t wait to see the new types of blankets which lie in our future.  Please continue to follow your heart, your passion and your creativity….as we change the world for these precious lives, one blanket at a time.

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