Make a Large Dog Sweater
In northern parts, cooler fall and winter temperatures are on their way. Before we hit those subzero days and nights, consider making a large dog sweater for your short-coated dog.
Buying a Sweater vs. Making One From Scratch
If you have the means to buy a large dog sweater, there are many dog apparel outlets online that offer an assortment of sizes, colors and patterns. However, if you are facing a personal budget crunch, you can make your own dog sweater much more economically. Consider taking leftover yarns and putting them together into a patchwork or tie-dye like design, or ask people you know if they have any yarn to contribute. Thrift stores sometimes have bags of miscellaneous yarns for sale at a low price as well.
How Much Time Will I Need?
Do you feel like you don’t have the time to make a large dog sweater? The trick is to get started now and you will be able to finish a sweater before your dog needs it. Simply make a commitment to working on one aspect of the project each day, such as finding a pattern or gathering the yarn and needles or hooks needed. Then by crocheting or knitting just a row or two a day, and marking your pattern to keep track, you will be surprised and gratified by your progress.
Even if you do have a lot of time, it is advisable to take breaks from your effort. Mistakes increase when you become tired or frustrated. Try to end each day’s accomplishment with praise for yourself for a job well done, rather than pushing for an extra row that will look less than satisfactory the following day and may need to be redone.
Regarding the matter of mistakes, it is better to expect that you will make them than to anticipate perfection. Be prepared to pull out stitches to improve on the sweater if necessary. The time spent will be amply repaid by the resulting superior work.
Knit vs. Crochet?
Should you knit or crochet a large dog sweater? If time is of the essence, the fastest method is usually to crochet dog sweaters rather than knitting them, unless you have a lot of experience with knitting. There is bound to be a free crochet dog sweater pattern that you can download and print out. You can find links to some free patterns at Crocheted Dog Sweaters.
If time is not so much of a factor and you like the generally closer weave, look for knitting patterns for dog sweaters from Knitting Pattern Central or view the large dog sweater I designed for our German Shepherd mix.
Even though the design for the latter project looks complicated, I created these dog sweater instructions for beginners. Each pattern in the sweater consists of a single section that is not very wide to make it easier to work rows quickly (and redo them if necessary), as well as to keep count of stitches. Only the two basic stitches, purl and knit, are used, and you will learn to increase and decrease. Once you have worked the different sections, you will sew them together and add Velcro or knit a few rows with buttonholes to fasten the pieces together under your dog’s tummy.
Check The Fit
No matter what pattern you use, make sure to check the work periodically against your dog to make sure that you will end up with a good fit. It makes no sense to work an entire pattern only to find out that it hangs on your dog to the point of tripping him or her, or else is too tight.
Although you may be able to augment something that is too tight with a crocheted edge or additional knitting, it is difficult to do so with something that is extra large since you will have to fold edges under. Not only may it spoil the look of the sweater, but it may also be uncomfortable for your dog to wear.
Go For It!
All that said, it’s time to get started. Go easy on yourself, especially if you have never, or seldom, made a large dog sweater before. Believe you can do this (after all I wasn’t born knowing how and neither was any other crafter out there). If you follow the dog sweater instructions properly from whatever source you use and throw in some common sense and careful measurements, you are likely to experience success.
If you have begun a project and get stuck, see if your community has a crafter’s group where you can ask for help, or search online. Then once you’ve learned how, why not pay it forward and help someone else?
This is a guest post by Johanna Soliday, a dog lover and crafter since childhood. Her website at Make & Build Dog Stuff contains free instructions for many of the above items and more.
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