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more knitted dog sweaters

The first sweater I knitted for Maggie on my knitting machine has been a huge success – the only real problem is that, with 3 snowy walks each day, I need at least 3 sweaters in rotation so I always have one dry and ready for her next walk!

machine knitted dog sweater
I vaguely remember these days before snow season began!

Next, I’d planned to knit a striped sweater for her, but I decided to refine the basic pattern (and get some more machine knitting practice) before getting too fancy.

Dog Sweater #2 (Lavender)

Did you know that the tummy cut-out on dog sweaters is only necessary for male dogs?! I didn’t, and poor Maggie’s tummy was always getting covered in mud or snow in her first sweater, so no more tummy cut-outs in future.

I also decided to make the back slightly longer, to see if it would help keep the sweater from being pushed up by her tail.

machine knitted dog sweater
It’s so comfy she fell asleep during the test fit!

Other than that, I followed my original pattern exactly (apart from the yarn colour):

machine knitted dog sweater

The new sweater (right) is 3″ longer on the tummy and 1″ longer on the back than the original sweater (left).

machine knitted dog sweater

And now for the moment of truth:

machine knitted dog sweater

So cute! The back length is better, and the tummy coverage is just right.

You may notice that she looks a little stockier now – that’s because she wears a harness under her sweaters these days (ever since the scary moment that she slipped her collar and ran straight into the road…).

The leash attachment point on the harness is further down her back than with the collar. Between that and the extra bulk from the harness, the neck opening is now a little low-cut.

To combat that I decided I should add an extra 1.5″ at the neck (and one more inch at the tail end) for the next version…

Sweater #3 (Greys)

The yarn I’d used for the first two sweaters (Bernat Satin) is very soft and I thought a firmer acrylic might be a) more hard-wearing and b) less likely to ride up Maggie’s back when she’s walking. So I raided my stash and found a couple of skeins of Hobby Lobby ‘I Love this Yarn!’ acrylic.

I made the length modifications I’d decided on above, and, as Maggie is a stylish pup, I thought I’d try knitting all the ribbing in a lighter shade of the main mid-grey colour:

machine knitted dog sweater

I crocheted very carefully around the leash slit, to make sure it looked neat even in the contrast colour. I think the result is super stylish:

machine knitted dog sweater

Sorry the colour balance is so far off between the pics above and below – it is the same sweater, I promise!

machine knitted dog sweater

I think we have a winner with this design! The fit is great now, with more coverage at the front and full coverage at the back.

machine knitted dog sweater

The fabric feels resilient, and I’m sure it’s going to wear better than the Satin yarn sweaters (which are already a little fluffy around the cuffs).

machine knitted dog sweater

And look how smart that ribbing and leash slit are! I’m really happy with how this turned out.


Is this it for tweaking the design? Well, no, I think I might also try adding an extra inch to the legs next time to give her more protection in deep snow.

But that striped sweater is still on the cards too! It might just need to wait until the lockdown ends so I can go yarn shopping…

It’s so rewarding to knit functional clothes for Maggie that are much better fitting than anything I could buy from a pet store. And she gets so many compliments when we’re out walking these days 🙂

Comments (6)

machine knitted dog sweater

After the success of my first big machine knitting project, I wanted to try something smaller so it wouldn’t take as much energy to knit, and now I have Maggie I finally have a small recipient to knit for!

(You may think machine knitting sounds easy and automated, but there’s a lot to it: pushing the carriage back and forth across the needles; remembering to move the weights up every few rows; checking no stitches have jumped off the needles, and following the pattern by counting rows and manipulating stitches to make increases or decreases. Doing all that at the same time takes physical and mental energy – and the more tired you get, the more chance you forget to do something and risk dropping a stitch or skipping a section of the pattern. No prizes for guessing how I know all this!)

I decided to keep it simple for my first attempt at a dog sweater: I drafted a basic pattern by measuring the sweater I bought for Maggie last winter – it’s just formed from two knitted rectangles stitched together, so it should be simple to make. By using the leftover yarn from my last sweater, I didn’t even need to make a gauge swatch to calculate the number of stitches and rows I’d need, so I could get started right away.

My knitting machine is very basic and only forms knit stitches, so in my last project I hand-knitted all the ribbing after machine-knitting the bulk of the sweater. This time I was brave enough to knit extra rows for the ribbing, and then drop every other column down by the length of the ribbing while the piece was still on the machine and latch them back up in the other direction to form purl columns, so there was no hand-knitting at all involved. Once you get the hang of this, I think it’s much faster than hand knitting ribbing.

I knitted my two rectangles on the machine, remembering to leave a slit for the leash at the shoulder, and stitched the two rectangles together (without finishing anything in case it needed to be altered). Then it was time for the first test fitting!

machine knitted dog sweater

Maggie wasn’t so sure about this monstrosity with all the dangling yarn ends, but it fit nicely, so I could weave in all those ends and move onto phase 2 of the sweater…

You see, Maggie’s fur attracts snow, and the more she walks in the snow, the more tiny snowballs form on her legs, until she ends up with snow and ice ‘boots’ caking her entire legs!

machine knitted dog sweater

By that point, it’s difficult for her to walk – that’s no surprise, with blocks of ice in her armpits – so I decided to add some sleeves to this sweater, in the hope of preventing the snow from getting too high up her legs.

The armholes in the sweater are just slits, so I knitted some teeny-tiny little rectangular sleeves with ribbed cuffs:

machine knitted dog sweater

I seamed them up and stitched them into the armhole slits.

machine knitted dog sweater

I wasn’t at all sure how this would look, as it’s the equivalent of a drop-sleeved sweater for a human – a boxy shape without a close fit – but this is a dog sweater, so I wasn’t too worried: it’s going to get dirty and snagged on twigs and thrown in the wash dozens of times over its lifetime. All it needs to do is keep her warm and stay in place on our walks.

But, flattened to the side, it looks like it should work…

machine knitted dog sweater

And it needed one finishing touch before we could field-test the sweater: strengthening the leash slit with an edging. I decided to keep it simple and single crocheted around the slit with the same yarn. It turned out to be an easy way to make a very neat-looking buttonhole.

machine knitted dog sweater

And now for the moment of truth: will Maggie like her sweater?? Let’s try it out at the park and see what she thinks…

machine knitted dog sweater
machine knitted dog sweater
machine knitted dog sweater
machine knitted dog sweater
machine knitted dog sweater

I think that happy face says it all – it’s a big success!

(By the way, it looks from these pics like the sweater might be too short, but that’s just because Maggie’s sweet spiral tail pushes it up her back so it won’t stay in place – I don’t think there’s any way around that!)

As I made Maggie’s sweater from the leftover yarn from my own, we now have matching sweaters. And while we won’t be going out in public like this (any time Maggie’s wearing her sweater, it’ll be cold enough for me to need a coat), I couldn’t resist asking Dave to take a photo of us in our matching outfits…

machine knitted dog sweater

Hahaha – isn’t that hilarious?!

I’m really pleased with how this project worked out. And I’m especially happy because, by the time I got to the second sleeve, I finished the entire piece without making a single mistake – maybe I’m actually getting the hang of this machine knitting thing!

It’ll probably take 24 hours for a wet sweater to dry before Maggie can wear it again, so I think she’s going to need at least a few more sweaters, don’t you? 😉

That gives me an excuse to try some more knitting machine experiments without having to make a me-sized sweater. I think I’m going to try some stripes on her next one, so stay tuned to see how that turns out…

 

 

Comments (14)

first machine-knitted sweater!

This is my first FO of the year, and I’m completely thrilled by it!

machine/hand knitted periwinkle sweater by planetjune

It’s a combination of machine and hand knitting, and to explain how that came about, let’s start with some backstory…

Despite having filled my wardrobe with handknits, I haven’t finished knitting a sweater for over a year now. With hindsight, I think the reason is that knitting kept me going through the worst of my PTSD. When I couldn’t do anything else, I could still move my needles, loop my yarn, and make one neat stitch after another to pass the time in a constructive way. Knitting became my therapy, and it did that job so well that it ruined knitting for me as a fun hobby.

I’d started on a simple project that should have been easy and fun – remaking my simplest sweater design in a different colour (the lovely periwinkle you see above). I got most of the way through the sleeves, and then… I stalled.

I put the project away and hadn’t been tempted to knit another sweater for ages, until I bought my knitting machine. I used the rag hems I told you about in my previous post as guides to try to match my gauge to the sleeves I’d already knitted by hand, and then got started trying to machine knit the missing parts (the front and back) of the sweater.

The back went so well that I got a little too enthusiastic (or too confident!) when I knitted the front – I got over-tired and didn’t notice I’d skipped the whole section from waist to underarms!

It’s hard to see what’s going on while you’re knitting, as the work is weighted down and completely stretched out of shape, so I didn’t notice my mistake until I’d finished and laid the sweater front out flat…

machine/hand knitted periwinkle sweater by planetjune

Bet you’ve never seen a sweater with this shape before! (Ignore the green rows at the bottom – those are my rag hem and won’t be part of the final sweater.)

Haha! Disaster! I fed a lifeline (the yellow yarn across the photo above) through the row below the point where I went wrong – there should be an extra 32 rows of knitting at that point!

But I wasn’t too discouraged by my mistake – it was good practice for following my at-the-same-time armhole decreases and neck decreases, and I was encouraged by how neat the stitches looked.

I frogged all the way back to the lifeline, hooked it all back onto the machine, and tried again (without making any stupid mistakes this time).

Once I’d finished, it was just a matter of seaming the front, back and sleeves together, then picking up stitches to knit the bottom band and neckband by hand. And it seems I’ve got my knitting mojo back! I really enjoyed hand-knitting the ribbing so I could see how the sweater would turn out.

machine/hand knitted periwinkle sweater by planetjune

There are some minor flaws in my knitting, where the yarn must have caught on something and so the tension of the whole row is too tight, but I’m delighted with this as my first attempt. The gauge is exactly what I was aiming for, and it’s a perfectly cosy sweater for this time of year!

I’m so impressed with how well the stitches match between my hand knit sleeves and the machine knit body – if you didn’t know, would you be even able to tell there was a difference?!

machine/hand knitted periwinkle sweater by planetjune

Concept proven, and now I’m back in the knitting game with lots of ideas for what to knit next with my combination of machine- and hand-knitting – I think it’s the best of both worlds. So exciting!

Comments (15)

Adventures in Machine Knitting

Well yes, I seem to have picked up another new fibre-crafting hobby!

A few weeks ago, I somehow ended up on Facebook Marketplace, and noticed someone in my neighbourhood was selling something called the Ultimate Sweater Machine

knitting machine
It’s the ultimate!

I mean, how could I pass that up?! It even has the prestigious “As Seen on TV” award 😉

I knew nothing about machine knitting, but I love crafting tools and learning new skills, so I couldn’t resist.

The machine was complete but for the instruction manual and – oh! the tragedy! – the patterns for the ’90s-chic designs pictured on the box. It did come with some instructions, but I have no way to view them…

knitting machine
Yep, this is old!

I began to question the sanity of my purchase, but thank goodness for YouTube – there were plenty of tutorials there to get me started. I clamped the machine to the front of a desk and I was ready to go:

knitting machine
I got lucky – the machine matches the length of my desk perfectly

My machine is about as simple as it gets. It only knits stockinette, and there’s no motor or electronics or automation – you operate it by pushing the carriage back and forth across the row of latch hooks. One pass equals one row of stockinette.

knitting machine
Pretty latch hooks, all in a row

In case you’re like me and wondering how on earth this works, here’s a 10-second explanation: inside the purple carriage, the angled bars on the green plate direct the raised peg near the back of each hook, which pushes each hook in and out as you move the carriage along. The hook is moved forwards to grab the yarn in the open latch, and then moved backwards, which closes the latch, draws the new yarn through the existing stitch, and drops the old stitch off the hook.

knitting machine
It’s a simple but clever mechanism

It’s possible to make increases, decreases, lace and cables with the machine, but you have to move each stitch in turn into its new position (which takes ages) before you knit each row – it’s a completely manual process.

(If you wanted to do ribbing, or any other stitch pattern consisting of both knits and purls, there’s no way to do that except to drop every stitch that should be a purl, and hook it back up in the other direction with a crochet hook or latch hook – I’m not sure if you’d save much time at all after all that faffing around!)

After a few stitch-dropping fiascos, I got the hang of the machine and knitted a rag hem (a reusable provisional weighted hem). The machine is incredibly fast when you’re just knitting back and forth – it just takes a couple of seconds to knit a full row!

knitting machine
Woohoo! I knitted something on the machine!

I made two more rag hems, both for practice using the machine and as gauge swatches for my first ‘proper’ project (blog post coming soon…)

And here’s the rag hem in action as I start swatching for another project:

  • The weighted rod slides inside the bottom edge of the hem to weigh down the project
  • The pink thread temporarily attaches the project to the hem
  • The yellowish-green yarn is the first row of my project

knitting machine
Rag hem in action

Here’s the finished swatch before I bound it off. It looks pretty strange, because the stitches are hugely stretched out across the machine, and the front of the fabric faces away from you as you knit:

knitting machine
Knitting in progress (with the rag hem at the bottom)

After removing the project from the machine, the stretched stitches retract back into regular knitted fabric. Flip it over, and you have rows and rows of stockinette:

knitting machine
Looks like knitting!

I have big plans for this machine – in theory, I should be able to design a handknit sweater and knit my design much more quickly than on manual needles. You may consider it cheating, but I’ll still have to form every increase and decrease myself at the right places, and do all the assembly and knit the ribbing by hand. It’s just a different way to knit, and I think I’m going to enjoy it!


Have you ever tried machine knitting? Or do you think it’s cheating to use a machine?!

I’d love to hear about your experiences, or if you have any resources or tips to share. Let me know in the comments below!

Comments (7)

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