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Nov '10

Cat’s Paws


A reader recently wrote in asking about how to hook Cat’s Paws.  This little design is a motif that I really like and often utilize.  While it is nothing more than concentric circle and near-circle like shapes, there is something particularly appealing about them.  They are also a great way to use up bits of scraps.  In fact, this detail comes from a rug that was made completely with left over scraps.  I spent over 5 years working on the rug because I only picked it up after finishing a project.  Instead of storing my left over cut worms from the most recent project, I just hooked them into this rug instead.


I always start every cat’s paw, as well as every circle, in the same way:  a tail at 12 o’clock – a loop at 4:30 – a loop at 8 and the final tail back with the first tail in the 12 o’clock hole.


After making that triangular shaped start, the first order of business is to corral or push those 3 points into a round shape with a perimeter color.  If you are ever going to crowd loops, this is the time to do it.  A little crowding here helps get everything off on the right foot.

Since I was specifically asked about color, I will try and give my rational for color selection in each row.  While it is true that I can give a rational … I suppose my main motivation is picking something that looks good together.  Sometimes the colors flow in a logical progression … at other times, I make abrupt color changes because I think they look good. However, this is what I thought as I worked on this particular one, utilizing scraps from one of my boxes.   After starting with a tweed in the center, I moved to a solid color that was found in the initial tweed.


While the third row appears to be an abrupt color  change… it really isn’t as abrupt as one might think.  This strip of wool came from a marbleized scrap that had a lot of yellow gold and red in it.  Marbleized wool is particularly good for cat’s paws as it allows for great color transitions.  Of course, transitional wool does the same thing … as does a good dip dye.


While I like perfectly round cat’s paws, I also like the variety that an ameba shaped one brings to any mix.  After getting a really good, round start, I just a few little growth spots at 1 to 3 places on the paw.


While the “bumps” look a little ragged to begin with, once corralled up with the next row, it sets the irregular shape.  For this row, I did not use just one piece of wool.  I started with the magenta colored wool to the left of the paw, then continued hooking with a piece of marbleized wool  that had some of that same magenta in its coloration.  Of course, it also has a surprise color of some blueish purple.  I often use two or three colors of wool when going around a larger paw.  Sometimes it is 3 different shades of a color family – once hooked, that tends to look like a dip dye.  At other times it will be a configuration like this.  My motivation is to put something in that is related.  It does not always have to go in the same path (like with the addition of this surprise blue purple) it just has to have a enough “relation” (magenta in this case) to make everything work.  I actually think the blue/purple gives a bit of shine or sparkle to this paw.


This deeper shade, on the next row, sort of frames the colors and provides a foundation – rather like a border on a rug.


This particular paw ended with a return to the marbleized wool in row 3.  I could have stopped with the previous piece but wanted something a little bigger, so added one more row.  Returning to a color previously used is a always a good idea that almost always works.  I used the red/gold marbleized wool, but could just as easily used the gold … or a double row of the deeper magenta, etc.  It is best to let your eye lead you.  That said, I don’t think just any old color combination works as it randomly comes out of the bag – one does need to think.  I do admit to pulling out some combinations because they don’t  … well, sing.


Of course, the final step for me deciding if I like a color combination is to see what it looks like with the background.  That always changes things.

1 Comment »

1 Comment » to “Cat’s Paws”

  1. LauraWp Says:

    thanks… what a great way to do cats’ paws! and using up ends of projects… you must be able to see various rug projects in your cats’ paw rug.

    i’m leaning towards hooking without a pattern… so this might be a first step.