Both small dogs and large dogs get cold in the snow of winter or the mists of autumn and spring. Exercise your crafty skills by knitting your dog a sweater. To knit a sweater, you must know how to execute the knit stitch and purl stitch. You should also know how to cast on, bind off, increase and decrease. This is a simple tube-style sweater with sleeves to cover the dog's front legs. It is economical, with a small- to medium-sized sweater requiring 130 to 260 yards of yarn, or about one to two skeins. The perfect project for intrepid advanced knitters, knitted dog sweaters are practical gifts for the canine companion in your life.
Measure the dog who will wear the sweater. Measure around the dog's collar and from the collar to the base of the tail. Measure around the widest part of the dog's body, usually just behind the front legs. Measure the distance along the chest of your dog from his collar to his front legs. Measure around each leg. Record these measurements on a piece of paper to reference later.
Choose a yarn suitable for knitting a dog sweater. Acrylic is affordable and washable. Wool is warm and allows the body to breathe naturally, and newer "superwash" wools can be laundered in the home. Cotton is absorbent and ideal for a lightweight or spring sweater. Pick a colour that looks good on your dog.
Choose knitting needles according to the recommendation on the yarn label. Medium, or worsted weight yarns, work well with a size US 8 knitting needle or 5mm diameter.
Cast 30 stitches. Knit for approximately 4 inches. Bind off your knitting and cut the yarn. This is what is referred to as a "gauge swatch". Measure the number of stitches and rows in a 4-inch square. Record these numbers for later reference.
Divide the measurement around the dog's widest part by the number of stitches per inch. This is how many stitches you will need to cast on to begin your sweater. Cast on the required number of stitches. Knit until your piece of knitting measures the same measurement you recorded from the dog's collar to her front legs.
Divide your number of stitches by five. Place a stitch marker on your knitting needles to delineate the separate sections.
Knit through the first section of knitting. Slip the stitch marker onto the knitting needle. Cast off all stitches on the second section of knitting. Knit through the third section of knitting. Cast off all stitches in the fourth section of knitting.
Knit the fifth section as delineated by your stitch markers. Knit this section back and forth until it matches one half of your dog's front leg circumference. It is better to make this section larger than smaller, so err on the side of caution.
Slip the stitches from the fifth section onto a needle holder. Break the yarn or cut it using scissors, leaving a 2 inch or longer tail to weave in later. Knit the third section of knitting, as delineated by your stitch markers until it matches the length of the fifth section. Place these stitches on another stitch marker.
Break or cut the yarn, leaving a two inch tail to weave in later. Knit the first section of knitting as delineated by your stitch markers. Knit until it matches the length of sections three and five. When you are done knitting, make sure the front, or right side, of the sweater is facing you.
Knit until the edge of the first section of knitting. Use a provisional or "e" cast to cast on the number of stitches you cast off previously. Knit the third section stitches onto the needle and remove the stitch holder.
Cast on the number of stitches you cast off for the fourth section. Knit the fifth section stitches and remove the stitch holder. Continue knitting your sweater back and forth until it matches the length of your dog from her collar to the base of her tail.
Bind off all of your stitches and weave in any loose yarn ends using a tapestry needle.
Use a set of double pointed needles to pick up an even number of stitches around the holes in the sweater meant for the legs. Knit two stitches and purl two stitches. Work in rounds until the sleeve is approximately 1 to 2 inches in length, or as desired. Repeat for the other hole.
Cut a length of yarn approximately 1 foot in length. Use a tapestry needle to sew up the centre seam of the sweater. The seam goes on the bottom of the sweater when worn. Weave in any loose ends from the yarn used to sew up the seam.
Pick up a number of stitches corresponding to your stitches per inch and the measurement around your dog's collar at the top of the sweater. Knit in garter stitch (knitting and purling alternately in rounds) or in a knit two, purl two ribbing pattern for an elegant collar, if desired. Bind off, cut the yarn and weave in any loose ends.
There are multiple variations on dog sweaters. Basic stitch patterns can be substituted for more advanced ones. Stripes or colorwork patterns can be added. For those who are not math-inclined, there are a variety of free and for-purchase dog sweater patterns on the market. Speak to an employee of your local independent yarn store for guidance on choosing needles, a pattern and the right yarn for your knitted dog sweater.
Different sized sweaters have different yardage and skein requirements. A sweater for a German shepherd will require much more yarn than a sweater for a chihuahua. Err on the side of caution and buy an extra skein if you are unsure of how much yarn your sweater will take. Extra yarn can be returned to some stores, or used for repairs to the sweater later.