pocket pet fleece hammock tutorial

cooking, design, family, general crafts, sewing, tools

Our pocket pet journey began at Christmas when our 10-year-old daughter asked for a hamster. I decided to buy her a magazine called “Critters” which I bought at Petco. When I went to pay for it the young cashier said, “If you’re thinking about a pocket pet, I’d get a rat.” “A rat?! Really? Why?” I asked. “They’re smart, they’re social and you can train them to do stuff. Mine sits on my shoulder while I do homework,” she responded. She had me at “sits on my shoulder while I do homework.” I had a gerbil when I was Sophie’s age and I had no affection for it at all. It didn’t interact with me and seemed to resent contact with me.

So I bought the magazine, which explained the benefits and limitations of gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, sugar gliders, chinchillas, ferrets and yes, rats. Sophie read every word of the magazine over Christmas break and decided that she too wanted rats. Adding a pet to the family is a serious responsibility and an added monthly cost. I told her that she needed to make a written proposal to us including researching how much a cage, food, bedding, etc would cost. She needed to think about her schedule and commit to a time that she would play with them and clean their cage. Rats don’t like to live alone so it would be two rats to consider. We had her do this proposal because I wanted her to know that being prepared and organizing your case is how you get people to listen to you and take your request seriously. She did the proposal and we began looking for young rats because they only live a couple of years and we didn’t want to get one that might be at the end of its life.

Long story short, we got these rats, Taffy and Toffee, last weekend and the woman we got them from gave us a hammock to borrow until we could make our own for them. I decided to post this tutorial because the hammock is appreciated by all manner of pocket pets and is the perfect project for small scraps of fleece. The rats have been a lot of fun and are indeed as social as we had hoped.

Pocket Pet Fleece Hammock Tutorial

You’ll need:

a 12″ x 24″ piece of fleece (size is a guideline – it can be smaller)

4 shower curtain hooks

4 extra large eyelet (also known as grommet) sets and the tools for setting the eyelets

small, sharp scissors

a sewing machine and thread

1. Turn under a 1/2″ edge on both of the short ends of the fleece.

2. With right sides together, bring the ends to the center of the fleece so they meet in the middle.

3. Pin in place and sew the sides.

4. Turn inside out.

5. Place one of the eyelet pieces on the fabric and trace the circle on the inside of the eyelet onto the fleece.

6. With either a leather punch or a pair of small, sharp scissors, cut an X through the center of the circle large enough to accommodate the shank of the eyelet. Cut just a little at a time and try to work the fabric tightly around the eyelet piece. If you make it too big, the eyelet won’t hold so smaller is better.

7. Following the instructions on the eyelet set, assemble the parts and hammer until the metal shank overlaps the flat part of the eyelet. We put the nice side of the eyelet on the flat part of the hammock because that’s the side that’s visible from outside the cage.

8. Repeat the eyelet setting for the other corners of the hammock.

9. Using the curtain hooks, hang the edge of the hammock from a point that the pet can reach but that allows that hammock to move freely.

10. Pocket pets are sensitive to smells. So when you introduce a new hammock to them, fill it with bit of fabric or toys that already smell like them so they’ll feel at home.

hadi’s nectar


“Nice weather if you’re an orchid,” was my comment to Bill when I opened the door this morning. The heat and humidity have settled in and it’s time for more of Hadi’s Nectar.

Nearly ten years ago I was the matron of honor when my dear friend Kathy married Hadi. Kathy is a Renaissance Woman who speaks numerous languages, has both an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA while also being a Crafting Queen extraordinaire. This woman can do origami structures that makes your jaw drop. Hadi, it turns out has his own wide-ranging skills. Kathy refers to him as a “serial hobbyist.” Hadi is quite the foodie, is an excellent cook and has an espresso machine that looks like something you’d expect to see at Starbucks. This man takes his coffee so seriously that when I ship him Chicago’s Intelligentsia coffee for Christmas, I arrange to have it shipped the day it’s roasted because he can taste the difference.

Luckily for us, they spent Memorial Day weekend at our house. Hadi has taken up Mixology of late and whipped us up a “Ginger Rogers.” Hadi credits the recipe to the book entitled, The Art of the Bar. Bill and I are lightweights when it comes to drinking. We don’t drink much alcohol because we have so many things that we like to do each day and alcohol slows us down. Hadi thoughtfully made us Virgin Ginger Rogers although I may try the gin addition some night when I don’t mind falling asleep early.

Hadi, a Craft Nectar reader, offered to share his recipe. I also love that this recipe uses up some of the out-of-control mint in our garden that may also be in yours. Cheers!

Hadi’s Nectar (aka Ginger Rogers)

8-12 mint leaves
½ oz. ginger syrup (recipe below)
1 ½ oz. gin
½ oz. fresh lime juice
ginger ale
lime wedge for garnish

1. Put mint leaves in a glass, cover with syrup, and muddle lightly until the mint begins to release its aroma.
2. Fill a glass with ice; add gin and lime juice and top with ginger ale.
3. Using a bar spoon, stir the drink from the bottom up to mix. Garnish with lime wedge.

To make the non-alcoholic version, he dropped the gin and used 1 oz ginger syrup to 1 oz lime juice.

Ginger Syrup

Slice 3-4 inches of fresh ginger into thin disks and add it to 1 cup water/1 cup sugar.  Heat until the sugar dissolves and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove the ginger disks, let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  To make bigger batches, just keep in everything proportion.

the sweetest rats

cooking, design, experiences, fabric, inspiration

I have blogged about our daughter’s school book club and about the book club that she and I share but there’s a third book club that she’s involved with. It’s a neighborhood kids’ book club. Members take turns hosting the monthly meetings and whoever is hosting chooses the book for that month. One of the moms kindly asks the local library to borrow extra copies of the selection so it’s easy and free to get a hold of the selection that month. Generally the kids discuss the book for 15 minutes if you’re lucky, then have a snack and play for the remainder of the hour. Today we hosted and our daughter’s selection was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

If you haven’t read it, do. Even if you don’t have a child in your life, it’s a sweet read. This charming book from 1974 sits with you like a warm bowl of soup on a cold day. We decided to make rat cupcakes to celebrate the kind-hearted rats in the book. Knowing how kids love this kind of thing, we sent out word to the kids involved that we’d “be serving rats for the snack.” We had some extra buttercream frosting in the freezer that I tinted to the right colors.

Sophie used the pastry bag to pipe the mouse bodies, eyes and nose and used Rice Krispies for ears and chow mein noodles for tails.

The meeting was held in a well-furnished fort under the dining room table (using the fort cozies described in an earlier post) that Sophie spent all afternoon Sunday constructing specifically for the meeting. Although the book discussions are brief I tell myself that she read one more book than she would have had she not been part of the club and there’s something to be treasured that the first words out of her mouth this morning at breakfast were, “I can’t wait for the book club after school today!”

Long live the rats I say!