Thursday, January 04, 2007

Shandy’s doggie “sock” sweater

I finally made Shandy, my aging Maltese, a sweater. The decision on how to make this sweater was arrived at in a rather odd matter, but “odd” is typical for me. After looking at a number of knitted sweater patterns and trying to decide which direction to go in to loom knit a doggie sweater, I was doing laundry yesterday when I picked up a stray sock, looked at the shape, and the “doggie sweater light” came on in my head. When I was a child I would dress dogs and cats in “clothes” since I had no one else to play with (poor baby). One of the outfits my kittens or puppies wore was an altered sock sweater. Just imagine the toe end cut off the sock, small circular holes added on either side of the heel area and the ribbed top of the sock becoming a “turtleneck” on the doggies new sock sweater. The bend in the heel part of the sock fits the animal’s body perfectly.

For Shandy’s sweater, I used two different looms: the blue Knifty Knitter loom for the black ribbed turtleneck and the first 4 rows of the variegated brown/black/tan sweater neckline. The yarn was transferred at this point from the KK 24-peg blue loom to the KK 31-peg red loom where I had to increase 7 stitches spaced evenly throughout the row. I’ve worked out a method for transferring projects between looms using Susan Bates Split-Lock Stitch Markers so this is not as difficult as it once was. (These same stitch holders have also proved invaluable when frogging.) Anyhow, the remainder of the doggie sweater was made like a very large sock without a toe. The heel section which is the doggie sweater chest section was formed using short rows worked on 16 pegs, decreasing down to 8 pegs, increasing back to 16 pegs and resume knitting on all 31 pegs. The openings created by the short rows became the front leg openings. When the body of the sweater (which is the foot portion of the sock pattern) reached the length of the bottom of Shandy’s ribcage, I bound off 8 stitches on the underside of the sweater, knitted 2 rows and began decreases on every other row until 16 pegs were left with loops. These 16 peg rows were knitted back and forth until the back length was about 2 inches from the tail, and then I decreased end pegs on every other row until 8 pegs were left. I purl stitched for two more rows and did a bind off.

Since this is the proto-type sweater there are some things that need to be tweaked, but all-in-all I am happy with the results. I originally planned on doing about 1.5 inches of black ribbing for the leg openings, but decided to save that for the next sweater. Also, I will probably decrease the turtleneck to a ribbed neck edge opening and do the entire sweater on the red loom next time around. Curling doesn’t seem to be a problem with this sweater, but just to keep the edges neat I plan on doing two purl stitches at the end of each row on the flat panel back area. When I get the pattern worked out, I’ll add it to my pattern box on the right for those who might be interested in the “Doggie Sock Sweater” pattern. I designed this pattern for Shandy, who has a chest measurement of approximately 14 inches, but it can easily be adapted for a larger (or smaller) dog by using the same sock method on either a larger or smaller loom. A good rule-of-thumb when using Knifty Knitter’s is to select the large gauge loom with at least twice as many pegs as the number of inches you need for the dog’s chest measurement. For example, the light blue Knifty Knitter 62-peg long loom would produce a doggie sweater that would fit a dog with an approximate chest size of 30 inches, but you would probably need to use a smaller loom for the neckline on a dog this large.

Update note on 4/17/07: I've discovered that I'm not the only one who uses socks for dog sweaters. I just recently discovered someone who has made a whole outfit for their Yorkie from an Argyle sock. Check it out: Yorkie Outfit Project.