What´s the difference between plainweave cloth and a stripey kitten? Not a lot, actually when you find out the origins of the word tabby, which refers both to the silvery brindled patterning of certain cats and also to the simplest of weave structures – plainweave. But did you know that the same word tabby also refers to a particular kind of watered silk fabric? Read on….
noun: 1. A domestic cat with a striped or brindled coat, or a fabric of plain weave or a watered silk fabric
ETYMOLOGY: From French tabis, from Medieval Latin attabi, from Arabic attabi, from al-Attabiya, a suburb of Baghdad, Iraq, where silk was made, from the name of Prince Attab.
All this means, logically, that tabby cats should be the natural choice for weavers, in which case, boy, am I a lucky weaver!!!?? For our pet cat Tangula, who as you might remember was just a kitten when I started writing this blog last year (click here to see a blog post with a photo of Tangula when still a kitten last year), is now the proud mother of no fewer than FIVE BEAUTIFUL TABBY KITTENS. Two will be staying in the village of Cristosende, just moving a few doors down to Debs´ house. But if you can provide a loving home for one or two of the others and live within driving distance of the Ribeira Sacra, Ourense, Galicia – then – look no further for your kittens. Just contact us. They will be ready for adoption by the end of June 2010, and are already toilet trained because Tangula, despite her tender age – is proving to be an excellent, if slightly stressed out, mother!
Whilst on the subject of kittens, you might find my training tips quite useful – they´re not just for weavers or knitters!
TRAINING TIPS FOR KITTENS – HOW TO EDUCATE YOUR MOG IN THE HOME OR CRAFT WORKSHOP
(Below are 3 photos of the beautiful kittens ready for adoption in Ourense, Galicia, Spain – June 2010)
Having a new kitten – especially but not exclusively in a weave workshop – presents some, erm, rather obvious hazards. Linen shawls with fringes are a temptation that no kitten can resist; and yarns, whether in skeins, balls or on cones – are, for cats, obvious proof of their owners “desire to play”.
I have had a few initial disasters in my weaving studio with cats, yarns and (aaghhh) fine, hand-woven linen shawls, but they have taught me some useful lessons and made me explore useful training methods. I have written them down here in my blog so that you won´t have to ban your mog from your studio (or bedroom or living room!). Of course, in addition to training your kitten, you will also find as he or she grows older and “more responsible” they won´t find playing with your hand-wovens such a temptation.
I have discovered is that it is perfectly possible to train a cat not to destroy either your yarns or hand-woven scarves (and by extention your sofa or bedcover or favourite cushion!). I can now allow both our adult cats into my workshop and shop, where linen shawls with fringes are well within cat paw height – and have no problems. All it requires is a bit of patience as kittens need to learn what is acceptable – and unacceptable – behaviour. A bit of perseverance when the kitten is young will be rewarded later on, when you can enjoy the purr of a dozing cat whilst you weave.
1. Keep a plant spray handy and stay alert. A light spray of water when kitty starts to “play” with your yarns is enough to persuade him or her that it´s not such a good idea – without causing any hurt.
2. Engineer noisy “accidents” which put cats off jumping up onto display areas, shelves, tables etc., where you don´t want them to go. Once one of our cats jumped onto a textile display area and managed to pull a display bust over, with several textiles. The resultant clatter, as both bust and cat went down together, was actually very effective shock therapy and he never jumped up to cause problems again. With a young cat or you can re-create this kind of happening – but less destructive, (to the display bust and textile and cat) – for example – by contructing a tower of empty toilet rolls with some jamjar lids – which will persuade him or her that it´s not such a good idea to jump onto that particular surface. One cat training book suggests placing one or several traditional mousetraps, upside down, with a cloth over them, so that when a cat jumps up it jumps shut with a loud snap – this is enough to make your cat “jump” and move off the surface.
3. Use your voice – cats recognize the voice of owner disapproval – so establish a warming sound and use it every time you use the plant spray, for example, so that the sound eventually has the same effect. Tsss tsss is the sound which now works wonders, at least with Spanish cats – I don´t need to use the spray, just the sound is enough now to persuade our cats to think twice before doing something they shouldn´t. You can follow up the warning tone with a loving “come over here and I´ll stroke you or play with you” tone.
4. The best way to train cats to avoid particular places to sleep (like on your sofa or yarn box or on a pile of recently ironed shawls or scarves) is by creating a place they like even better. For cats are creatures of habit and once they´ve found their “favourite” place to sleep they will return again and again. A bit of trial and error may be necessary in order to find a location they like (cats often feel more secure off the floor in a higher area) and the kind of surface (one cats usually have a preference for natural fibres).