“If you want to destroy my sweater / Hold this thread as I walk away / Watch me unravel, I’ll soon be naked / Lying on the floor, lying on the floor, I’ve come undone” – Undone – The Sweater Song, Weezer
“I love to go to the thrift store and I love sweaters. I always found so many cool sweaters that were just not good for wearing, but they called to my heart in some way or another, whether it was the color or the softness or simply the work put into them. It seemed sad that they wouldn’t all get worn. I know it is ridiculous, but it made me sad,” Amanda Katzenmeyer shared. “I started buying them to unravel and use the yarn but my crochet skills are limited and so is my attention span, so that was a no go. I then thought I would make purses from them, but I am not really a purse person. The things I like are faces. They are all different and they all have such personality. I just wanted to make faces and personalities.”
Katzenmeyer is the chief sweater deconstructor and designer behind Oregon-based Sweet Poppy Cat, which handcrafts upcycled plush animals. “I love the fact that these creatures are inspired by the sweaters and I want the sweater to shine through. I don’t ever want it to look like it was just fabric from a bolt that anyone could buy yards and yards of,” she explained. “I like to incorporate the pockets, buttons, seams, really anything that let you know it was a sweater. If I come across a darned hole in a sweater, I like to incorporate that as well because a darned hole is a symbol of either love or thriftiness, both things that we need more of.” As a result of the creative materials involved, no two Sweet Poppy Cat plushes are ever identical. “I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there are not really strict patterns involved. A lot of it is just doodling with scissors.”
Since 2009, the shop has created thousands of fuzzy friends, like dogs, bears, whales, sharks, monkeys, bunnies cuddle bugs, and of course, cats. “My favorite things to make are cats. I have just always been a cat person,” she said. “Probably the most popular design I ever made however was a pug. I have not made one in years though because I just got burned out on them. I made a pattern to make it easier and that took all the fun out of them.” Katzenmeyer’s cat companions inspired the shop name as well. “The name came from my sweet friend Poppy. He’s a very large lilac point Siamese that is sitting on my lap right now. He loves me so and I love him. He and his brothers, Rory and Toby are always handy, but not helpful,” she laughed.
Her favorite part of the design process is using color. “Whether that is a bright color or pale, unassuming color, it really doesn’t matter. I just love color,” Katzenmeyer exclaimed. “I spend way too much time sifting through my boxes and mountains of scraps finding what I think are just the right color combinations.” It is Sweet Poppy Cat’s mix of fun color combinations, warm fabrics and unique creations that help the small shop stand out. “I think that all handmade shops struggle to stand apart from one another. I mean, one of a kind is always going to stand out as far as being unique, but getting the public to recognize and appreciate you is simply a matter of opinion,” said Katzenmeyer. “Over the years, I have had a lot of copycats, but I think none of those shops has become popular because a love of what you do, and doing what comes from your own head and not someone else’s, is always going to shine above the rest. At least, that is the hope.” I strongly agree with this.