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Pets and Yarn

A while back, I asked you guys about your current knitting challenges. One respondent wrote the following: "My dog will steal my project and prance around the living room with it. Sometimes I feel bad for knitting instead of giving them attention (even though they get plenty of attention when I'm not knitting). It just seems like the second I start knitting, they want love!"

For myself, I have a  yarn-loving cat. I cannot turn my back on my knitting for 5 seconds without Wall-E grabbing it and running off. If I accidentally leave out some yarn (even a small ball of leftover yarn), Wall-E will find it and grab it. When we first got him, we had to make a run to the emergency vet because he had eaten quite a bit of yarn and we wanted to make sure he was okay (he was, though obviously did not learn his lesson).

So whether you have a pet that wants your attention while you're crafting or a pet that steals yarn, here are some thoughts about pets and yarn.

Dogs

We do have a dog (Luna, a Boston Terrier), but she's not quite as bad as the one from the first paragraph. She just wants to sit in my lap while I'm knitting sometimes. Fortunately, I can usually get her to move to the side so I can knit without too much trouble.

But what can you do if your dog won't budge from your lap or if your dog grabs your project and runs off with it? Dogs seem to be creatures of routine, so establishing a clear routine around your crafting might be needed. (Every dog is different, though, so you'll have to figure out what might work best for your dog.)

So, if your dog usually likes to jump in your lap when you are sitting down, establish spaces where lap sitting is okay and spaces where you are crafting and therefore direct lap sitting is not going to work. It may mean knitting in another chair than you normally just sit in (and I know that might not always be possible), but if there's one chair that is made for having the dog sit beside you always rather than in your lap, your dog will start associating that chair with sitting next to you rather than in your lap. (Your other option is to contort yourself so you can still knit or crochet with the dog on your lap. Depending on the size of your dog, that may or may not be possible. But do remember to treat yourself well and keep your body in a position while you're crafting that is not going to cause pain.)

If your dog sees you sitting down to knit/crochet and picks that moment to grab what you're working on, the dog is definitely telling you to pay attention to him. Because dogs are creatures of routine and make associations with things, you want to avoid sitting down to knit, having your dog grab your project or do something else to get your attention, and then putting down your knitting to play with your dog. Now you've just taught your dog that when you sit down with your project, it's play time! That's the opposite of what you want!

Instead, try having play time right before you sit down to craft. Give the dog your undivided attention for that play session (wear the dog out!). Then announce that playtime is over and sit down to knit. Keep doing that (and make sure you don't put down your project and play with the dog right after--even if the dog has been good because then the dog will think that knitting time means playtime). Maybe your dog will get so used to this routine that he'll bring you your project bag because he knows he'll get playtime before you start to knit! (Hey, we can always dream.)

Cats

Cats are a whole other issue. Most of them are completely stubborn and won't do what you want even if they actually want to do it. I'll be completley honest. With Wall-E, instead of trying to train him not to eat/play with yarn, he's "trained" me. I always make sure to put my projects away, even if I'm just getting up from my chair to get a drink of water. My yarn is not left out where he can get to it. Almost all of my project bags have zippers so I can be sure they are securely closed. And I've just resigned myself to not being able to have my yarn out as decoration. (I even have to hide the items I make as Wall-E will run off with a sock or even a cardigan!)

If you're noticing that your cat seems to gravitate toward yarn with wool in it (or other items made of wool), that's actually something that happens with cats. It could be a sign of the cat having been weaned too early or even that the cat is not getting enough fiber in his diet. So especially if you notice your cat grabs the wool yarn but leaves the cotton or acrylic alone, you might want to talk to your vet about the cat's diet.  (Wall-E doesn't distinguish between fiber types; just this morning I came home to find that he had run off with a tassel from a graduation cap!)

You can try distraction, replacing the yarn/wool item with an appropriate toy (maybe even one made with wool fabric, as long as there aren't any strings the cat could swallow). Actually, making sure the cat has  appropriate toys (and having playtime with the cat) is really helpful. If your cat does seem to gravitate specifically to wool, you can provide safe wool items for the cat. (For example, my MIL, who is a quilter, made little quilts for each of the cats. She used wool batting inside as opposed to cotton, and the cats love to lie on their blankets.)

But honestly, as much as I've tried a lot of different things, after two years, Wall-E is still stealing yarn/projects as much as he used to. So if you have any additional suggestions, I would be super grateful to hear them!

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