May 3, 2013 at 11:02 AM ET
Should you ever stumble upon what appears to be a doily with legs — perhaps lurking in a patch of grass — don’t be alarmed. It's probably just a tortoise all dressed up in one of Katie Bradley’s crocheted "cozies."
The Vancouver artist and illustrator with a self-described “tortaddiction” started knitting clothes for her seven pet tortoises in January as a family joke. But Bradley's hobby morphed into a full-fledged Etsy business soon after she posted a few delightful photos of her own bedecked brood on her tortoise blog. That's when the Internet caught on to the full potential of tortoise sweaters (beanies, if you prefer) and the orders started rolling in.
"The response has been overwhelming, but so fun!" she told TODAY.com. "I would never have thought that my funny little idea would have become such a popular fad online. Most people think tortoises are cute, and the cozies are funny, adorable and quite odd. [It's] just the right mixture to make people smile, and maybe shake their head a little."
Now she’s outfitting creatures big and small across the globe in designs that emulate dragons, sharks, pumpkins and more.
"Thankfully, it's easy to take a skein of yarn and a crochet hook to various activities throughout the week," she said.
Bradley’s tortoise obsession runs deep. A Russian tortoise she purchased on Craigslist began it all; then she rescued another, and another, and soon enough a (rather healthy) addiction was born.
While tortoises don’t exactly need sweaters for warmth, there are so many reasons why shell cozies make perfect sense. Well, there are at least a couple: First, your tortoise won’t get lost in grass should you want to take him out for a little sunshine (they can be surprisingly speedy chaps). There's also the sheer joy that comes from watching your pet channel Mr. Rogers.
Another bonus: Our scaly friends also get something out of the project, since Bradley donates 10 percent of her proceeds to International Reptile Rescue every month.
Take a look at more tortoises all sweatered up below: