Interview: 5 minutes with Chloe Stott
An inspiration to us all, Chloe helps cats in need with her craft skills so we sat down with her to find out more
“Giving me a new crafty thing to learn is like putting fire to paper!”
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I first started crocheting in 2015 when my mother handed me a bag of yarn, a hook, and a book on how to crochet. I had wanted to crochet for ages and had been spellbound since I had first seen somebody knit (though I didn’t particularly care which learned!). Mum had assured me it would be easier to start crocheting first and then knit. Ironically I actually prefer crocheting, but I am learning more knitting and enjoying it! If she had only known that by 2020 I would be spinning, knitting, crocheting, weaving, tatting, sewing… to name a few of the crafts I learnt! Once I had crocheting figured out, I wanted something else to learn. So I taught myself knitting with some old needles. Then I met my Ravelry friends Hilary and Pauline, who love to send me fibre, yarns and spindles among other things. I started spinning, weaving, and tatting this way, and I am figuring out netting and Teneriffe lace. Giving me a new crafty thing to learn is like putting fire to paper!
I am also a complete and total cat lover. It started with our wonderful Smokie cat, who my parents adopted a year before I was born. I grew up with Smokie! When I was 7 we adopted Charlie cat (he was a little kitten then- now he is 8 years old!) then a little while later we rescued a pedigree Bengal cat, Milly. Then Skipper was born in 2015. That is a long story! Now it is just Charlie and his little adopted brother.
You have a Ravelry group that helps cats in need! How does it do this?
We knit and crochet cat blankets and toys to donate to no- kill shelters and charities around the world. My group is called Cats Protection Knitters, but in reality we don’t just donate to CP. We have members in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Spain, and many other countries, and CP is only in the UK, so I ask that our members donate to any no- kill shelter to help kitties. Blankets are especially useful because most shelter cats have to live in enclosures or cages with hard, cold floors. Imagine trying to sleep on that?! It is a known fact that cats love knitted or crocheting items to sleep on so what better thing to knit than a cat blanket? Some of the members even knit warm, squishy beds for the cats!
What inspired you to start this group? How did it come together?
My inspiration came one day in early March, 2018. I had started crocheting yet more cat toys. Then, I stopped crocheting and smelt the roses. I looked across the room at Skipper and Charlie. Asleep and dead to the world. Why am I crocheting more toys when they don’t use them? They probably prefer store bought toys anyway. I had never got anything more than a mildly interested bat at one of the balls out of either of the cats. But I love crocheting toys. If only there was a cat who would use the toys I made… then I remembered something. Skippers mother is a stray cat (who lives with the neighbour at the last house now.) She had four kittens and we rehomed 3 with Cats Protection. Surely CP could use my toys. Half an hour of Googling later, I had found the email address of a fosterer in Rochdale. She replied back to my message saying she would love any donations of toys. I donated toys and a little blanket I had knitted, and then I got pictures back and even a video of the kittens playing with my toys! I decided that the world needed more wonderful moments like the one I had when I saw those pictures. Cats need help and I am going to give it! But making a difference on my own wouldn’t be as effective as if I had a community of cat- lovers behind me… so I set up the Cats Protection Knitters group, the first group of its kind on Ravelry. I met many good friends in CPK! As of January 2020 we have 174 members. I hope we will get more members soon. The more members we have, the more we can help the cats!
Do you think it is important to use skills like knitting and crochet for charity?
Totally! Have you ever eaten a biscuit from a shop and then a homemade biscuit? Big difference. You can tell if something is made with love, with time and effort put into every part of it, or if something is made by a machine. I hope that when a tired cat waiting for a home curls themselves up on a handknit blanket, they can feel the love the knitter or crocheter has instilled into the blanket. You can’t get that from a factory- made blanket. Blankets and toys are also a great opportunity to build your skills, as with a project like a cat toy or a blanket you can get as simple or fancy as you want. Cabled, shorts rows, YOs, it’s all up to you! I prefer to use a wool/ acrylic blend for my charity projects. The wool makes the yarn warm, but the acrylic also make it more washable. There is the added benefit that it is cheap and easy to find, coming in a range of colours too!
How would somebody go about getting involved?
It is super easy to get involved! You can hop over to my group, Cats Protection Knitters, on Ravelry and I hold KALs and CALs often. If you drop me a me a message on my group I can send you a list of shelters and fosterers near you. If you don’t want to join the group, no problem! Find a no- kill shelter near you that accepts donations, crochet a bundle of toys (I usually crochet at least 7 toys) and send them off to the shelter. Please make sure that there are no small, loose parts and that all toys are knitted firmly! I have a few designs for toys in my Ravelry shop. If you are in the UK, head over the the Cats Protection website and you can find a fosterer near you, who gladly accept any donations. Bonus points if you include a pack of cat treats!
Do you have any more plans for the group or future projects?
Many more plans! Mainly based around fundraising. A few years ago we raised £22 for CP. That is enough to give 2 kittens vaccines and buy cat food as well! I plan to try and get designers to help with a project to raise money for cats in need. The more designers who we can work with, the more money we will be able to raise! Until we get that arranged, I set up numerous KALs in the group. There is a lot of friendly chatter on the group, and feel free to jump in! There may be prizes in some events…
What is your advice to someone who would want to start their own charitable group?
Go for it! Half of the effort is knowing what you want to do. Ask the moderators of other groups if you can start a thread in their group to advertise yours. You can get more members this way. Once you have the members, set up knitalongs based around your cause. In my group, this means starting in blanket and toy- knitting events. A special feature of my group is the Toy De France- whilst the Tour De France is on, we all knit toys!
If you have a charity you want to help, do it. I was 13 when I started my group and I mostly had no idea what I was doing. I knew I wanted to help cats but the mechanics of how a group would work were out of the window. I have mods to help me (moderators help so much!) and now I know how to successfully run a group and we can all help cats together!
Find out more at www.ravelry.com/groups/cats-protection-knitters