As with any human endeavour, there's a certain amount of misconceptions and just plain head-messing with needlework. Non-DIYers will often assume you are a) poor and b) trying to save money, whereas in truth making things by hand is often at least as expensive as buying ready-made (though of course with the bonuses that you have far more control over factors like colours, sizes, and fibre content).
Crafters play head games with themselves too. I have a bad habit of under-estimating projects which require making lots of small things. Sure, each small thing may be very quick to work up, but the finishing can equal or surpass the work necessary for a much larger thing.
The nieces requested me to knit them kitties back in mid-October. Niece the Younger wanted blue, Niece the Elder grey with a black face. The kitties also had to stand up on their own and have toy mice to play with. Got that? The kitties needed toys.
The kitties. Uh huh.
Fortunately, I like to keep track of what knitting books have been published for just such occasions, and knew that Osborne and Muir of Princess Diana sheep jumper fame had written a book called Knit Your Own Cat (among many other books). Both the blue cat and the Siamese (they didn't have the right shades of grey and black at the yarn shop, so I made do) are knitted from the British Shorthair pattern, which was the most, er, "catlike" of all the cat patterns. The rest of the patterns tended to give the cats very narrow bodies and pointed faces, which made them look rather rodent-like.
I did originally intend to also make the nieces Bengal cats in their preferred colours, but once I'd stuffed the first one I realised I didn't like the body proportions. Do you see what I mean? The hind legs are too thick, the forelegs too thin, the neck is too long, and although I did mod the head a little so it would be looking straight ahead instead of down like the original, it's just not right. To me it looks more like a bird's head. It's lovely shaping and all, but it's just not a cat.
Someday I will borrow the book from the library again and plot out the fur pattern on a graph, so that I can expand it and make it to cover the shape of the British Shorthair. I just ran out of time.
In the meantime, I knit the kitties some mice from this great (and free!) 20 Minute Mouse pattern, and crocheted each of the kitties a bed, a dangle toy, some collars, and a food bowl. I also got some Goldfish crackers for the food bowl because, let's face it, those things look like pet kibble to begin with.
The collars were made last, and were finished around midnight Christmas Eve. Like everything else for this project, they weren't difficult, but they were fussy. Foundation single crochet for the collar strap. A single star or moon (circle) medallion. Then sewing the strap together and sewing the medallion to the strap, burying four separate ends into a finished piece made up of not-very-many stitches. It was all very fiddly, as was everything else in the play set. Altogether there are two finished cats, two beds, two food bowls, two dangle toys, four toy mice, and eight collars. It all took much longer than expected.
Niece the Elder has already named her Siamese Fluffball. Niece the Younger's kitty went through several names Christmas afternoon, ranging from Fluff to Fartball. We'll have to see what she settles on.