Real life cats in hats
It's not enough to knit sweaters for our children and grandchildren. Dexterous fingers need more. They need to knit something smaller, faster. They need to knit hats for cats.
What started as a lark and to honor the grandmother who taught her to knit has turned into steady work for Sara Thomas, author of "Cats in Hats: 30 Knit and Crochet Patterns for Your Kitty" (Running Press, March 2015).
Thomas hopes the book, with quick knitting and crochet patterns for a dinosaur, chicken, bunny, turkey, cupcake, extraterrestrial, banana, Santa, elf, lion, fox, dog, baby bear and more, will free up time so she can knit and crochet something else.
"As much as I love the cat hat, I do want to do other things," admits Thomas, of Nashville, Tennessee.
In 2009, Thomas launched her Etsy shop, Scooter Knits, with disparate handmade items, including one hand-knit kitty hat, which quickly sold.
She's been crocheting tiny hats for feline companions ever since. In 2012 she had her biggest year, selling 300 kitty chapeaus (the holiday hats sold best). Thomas sometimes crocheted until 4 a.m. to fill the orders.
Hannah Milman, editorial director of Crafts at Martha Stewart Living, isn't surprised.
"People love their pets it's 'the new baby' so it's no wonder people want to create personalized, wearable gifts for their pets," Milman says. "A large part of it is also social media .... Who doesn't love seeing cats or dogs on Instagram in cute homemade outfits or accessories?"
At least one of the patterns in the book the Happy Birthday Cat Hat pattern is free at Thomas' blog.
Her two cats are first to try out her admittedly kitschy creations and while Dorothy has proven agreeable, Sinclair has not.
"Sinclair does not enjoy modeling the hats. In fact, he likes to attack them," says Thomas.
A pattern book of hats for dogs isn't out of the question and Thomas also would like to rework her grandmother's vintage patterns for a book. "She was a beautiful knitter who grew up in Germany, so I'd want to make the patterns era-appropriate."
But first, she'll probably embark on a holiday-themed book that puts more cats in outlandish hats, because she has learned that hats for cats sell.
Critical thinking challenge: Etsy is an online store. In what other way has the Internet helped Sara Thomas grow her business?