How to Knit for Dogsby Melissa Harr
Keep your furry friend warm and stylish with a handknit sweater.
You love knitting and you love your dogs. Combine your two interests by creating accessories and outfits for your four-legged friend. Whether you’re making items for functionality or to express your personality, knitting for dogs is similar to knitting for humans, so you can get started even if you have minimal experience. If you’re able to skillfully create items, you may find that other dog owners will pay you to craft knitwear for man’s best friend.
From books to free online websites, there’s no shortage of patterns you can knit for your dog. Popular items that knitters make for dogs include sweaters, hats, booties and blankets, and patterns are available for dogs of all sizes, from teacup poodles to Great Danes. A few places you might look for patterns include your local library, websites such as Knitting Pattern Central or Ravelry, or newsstands that carry knitting magazines.
Choose Your Yarn
Because many items made for dogs, including sweaters and booties, are designed to be worn outside, choose a yarn that is durable yet comfortable. After all, there’s a good chance your knitted item will become dirty often, so it needs to stand up to repeated washing. Avoid pure wools, which can shrink; opt for super-wash wool blends instead, which can be thrown into a washing machine. You also might consider acrylic yarns, but as with knitting for babies, be careful not to select yarns that are highly flammable.
Measure Your Dog
Once you have settled on a pattern and yarn, you should measure your dog carefully. Most knitting patterns for dogs give a range of sizes, from small to large. To determine which size you’ll knit, you’ll need exact measurements to compare to your pattern’s instructions. Common measurements you’ll need to take include length, from neck to base of tail; width, around the widest part of the dog’s chest; and height, from shoulder to ankle. Before you begin to knit, you’ll also need to get gauge to ensure that your item comes out the size indicated in the pattern.
Consider Your Dog’s Safety
Knitted items for dogs are often necessary; short-haired or hairless breeds can need an extra layer of warmth to protect them from the elements. Making sure that your dog is safe, however, is the No. 1 concern. Don’t affix any small pieces, such as buttons, to your knitted item, in case the dog chews them off and swallows them. Be careful about knitted clothing that is too tight or too loose, which could introduce the risk of strangling. For complete safety, don’t leave your dog unsupervised while it's wearing knitted items.
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