Thursday, June 07, 2012

Yarn Tail Tutorial

With permission to post from Chinburd - for the instructions and photos

A photo montage of about 4 evening's worth of work towards a commissioned grey cat tail.

After wearing for multiple hours, the fur that contacts your body most consistently begins to flatten down.

Expect to have twigs and branches snare in your tail if you make it overly long! Bring the wire bristle brush with you to game if you think that'll bother you.

The materials!
- 3 colours of bulky yarn,
- zip ties
- web belt
- 2ft length of chain - preferably metal
- scissors
- wire bristle brush - fine wired cat or dog brush works well
- patience


I think one of my favourite perks about this tail is that there's the potential for it to be vegan! I have a wool allergy, and I used 100% acrylic yarn.

 Throughout construction, you're going to want to be able to keep the tail taut. I used a lanyard and a zip tie to change the length. I would sometimes loop the tie over my big toe and go from there, but it's also possible to use a coat hanger + doorknob :)
Cut the yarn into 10 inch lengths (length can vary, depending on how much FOOF you want. You'll lose about 2 inches in the combing process)

I've started laying out the markings. This is a striped kitty tail, so I've designated approximately where the bands of black and grey will be, as well as having indicated the bottom links where the pale underside will be.

Taa daa! There's the underside.

Starting to show the alternating markings. 

It's starting to look pretty good, right? If you like this look, you could probably stop here.

If you want a smooth, fluffy look, this step is very important (and time intensive): unravel every piece of yarn. Every piece.

If you don't, your tail will look less foofy, and more like dreads.
If you WANT dreads, then by all means! They also look awesome!

...o wait
That's just the fibre that's combed out.

(Kiera-Oona's side note:  If you know someone who will take the recycled floof you comb out, you can always give it to them as acrylic stuffing, or to use as spinning fiber for their next yarn batch)  

Here it is! Stripey kitty tail that moves and swings!  

I use nylon web belts and a zip tie to fasten the tail to them. These belts are thin and adjustable, and you can wear them under your clothing to make the tail look like it's actually attached to you

Kiera-Oona:  Thanks again Chinburd, for such an awesome tutorial!

Kiera-Oona's Tips:

A note or two about the chain tails.  After making one ourselves (me and my hubby that is), be sure to pick out a lightweight chain. Especially if you have a few back issues.  Secondly, my hubby's tail has been larp tested, but we noticed it picks up alot of leaves and such, but we might have found a remedy for this.  The potential remedy is 'leave in hair conditioner'  It helps keep it silky, it doesn't take more floof out of the tail when you brush it after you apply the hair conditioner. It also makes brushing out leaves and dirt a lot easier.

Update 2.0

If you want to make a tail that is noticeably lighter, braid a chunky centre of yarn to work with as your base instead of a chain.  You can knot it at the top and bottom and use a clip, or macreme a loop for a belt at the top of your tail.

Update 3.0  - Cleaning and care tips from Kiera-Oona

After wear and tear, especially outdoors, I've found that you'll get all sorts of leaves, grass, and possibly burrs in your tail.  I highly recommend for caring for your tail is spray in some leave in hair conditioner, then brush out the grass and burrs, fluff it out and let it hang to dry.  This will help prevent pulling more fluff out of your tail, it will help make it smell great, and the stuff they put in the leave in hair conditioner will make it a bit easier for the grass n' stuff to slide out.  

If your tail gets really dirty, you can soak it in cool water with a bit of laundry soap (or possibly even shampoo), squeeze it out, comb the major knots out with your fingers, and hang to dry, then use the leave in hair conditioner and your fine brush to gently brush it all out. 

To make your leave-in hair conditioner go a bit further, you can thin it down a bit with water before putting it on your tail.

Try to avoid shampoos or laundry detergent with tea tree oil in it.  It could melt or degrade the acrylic yarn.


Juls987 said...

Whoaaa that looks awesome.

Anonymous said...

so after i untwine the wool do i comb it then? or before?

Alex R said...

What kind of leave-in conditioner did you use?

Kiera-Oona said...

In response to Alex R, I have been using Garnier Fructis double care leave in conditioner. However I tend to thin it down a bit so it goes a bit further.

For my other posters, Im sorry I didnt get back to you earlier, but you want to untwine, then brush

Jon Neumann said...

How do you attach the yarn to the chain? Sorry, it was rather difficult to discern from the pictures, do you just tie it to the chain? If so, do you tie the yarn in clumps or singularly or something else? Thank you for your time

Jon Neumann said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kiera-Oona said...

I generally tie them on one at a time, but you could probably get away with 2-3 yarn pieces at a time

Jon Neumann said...

Ah, thank you! And sorry for the double comment, not sure what my computer was doing..

Kiera-Oona said...

that's ok, sometimes the internet double posts from time to time.

Kiera-Oona said...

you tie them in from the middle. make sure the ends of the yarn are even when you tie them on

M. Watson said...

I've made this 3 times! First a plain white tail, then a wolf tail, and last, a black tail with a white tip. Thank you SO much for this tutorial!

Painting the Roses Red said...

Do you think that its possible you could make a tutorial showing how to make the baraided cored tails?

Kiera-Oona said...

@painting the roses red

I wont have time to set up a tutorial in the immediate future, as it takes a fair bit of yarn to make a braided core, and don't intend to make another tail any time soon. However, you might be able to find a similar tutorial on the internet, or another option is look up macreme tutorials on how to set up a loop. you might be able to work from there.

Echo Pscythe said...

When you tie them on you looped the piece of yarn and matched the ends and put them through the loop?

Kiera-Oona said...


You can either tie it on by doing a simple square knot, or you can loop it on as if using a latch hooking technique.

I find doing the square knot tends to be more secure. Everyone has their own preferences.

Kayne McGinley said...

Would I be able to zip tie some zip ties together to simulate a light weight chain?

Kayne McGinley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kiera-Oona said...

@Kayne, You might be able to, but I see the nobby/tabbed ends possibly snagging on the yarn or causing it to look weird. The other thing is if there's sharp cut plastic edges on it, it could scrape or cut your legs (or your butt if you sit on the tail weird).

If you know how to make a braided friendship bracelet with a loop to tie it on, the same can go for making a tail core. You could also use basic rope as well for the core. I find that doing a braided core out of the same yarn you make the tail from also helps it to blend in, and it has a decent weight and movement to it. The black striped rainbow tail I made has a braided core. You might also want to try getting a Knitting nobby, and make a knitted core. There are tonnes of options. You just have to be careful of what material you use.

Example, if you get a chain that is too heavy, you could throw your back out from the weight, or if you get a chain link that is made from wire, you could have scratches or cuts if the chain's ends are exposed. You should use a closed/welded/plastic chain that cant come undone that is lightweight, or try a rope/yarn/braid alternative.

Megan Sutton said...

How many pieces of yarn per link did you use for this tutorial? I don't want to tie on too few (or too many, for that matter).

Kiera-Oona said...

@ Megan Sutton

I honestly don't remember. As long as you have the chain/link covered, you should have enough. If you want more floof, keep adding more till you cant put on anymore. You kinda have to use your best judgement for that.