As a nation of animal lovers, it’s only right that we shower our furry friends with the affection they deserve, especially as 11th April marks National Pet Day. “But how?” we hear you ask, and the answer is simple… with your knitting and crochet skills! After all, our favourite fibres aren’t just well-suited to us humans but loved by cats and dogs too. Our precious pets are the perfect recipients of our crafting talents and the best part is, they can repay us with cuddles. Believe it or not, there are businesses dedicated to providing patterns for pooches – and rightfully so! We chatted to a few of the founders to hear their thoughts.
Redhound For Dogs
Debbie Humphreys is the founder of Redhound for Dogs, a savvy store that helps keep pooches of all shapes and sizes snug and warm… “My whippet Bruno came into my life in 2003, and changed it forever,” she explains. “I owned a wedding dress shop at the time and took to the internet for a dog coat, but found that none of them fitted properly. I took on the task of knitting him a jumper and finally got there after a couple of embarrassing attempts. He was so warm and happy! I sold up in 2008 and moved to Devon where I opened a gift shop. Bruno wore his coat in the shop and it was often admired by customers, who started asking me to knit for their dogs. Before long, I started selling them there. In 2010 I sold the shop, and Redhound for Dogs was born! I realised that I couldn’t feasibly keep up with orders and instead sold my patterns in kit form, so that dog-loving crafters could share my pleasure of knitting a jumper for a shivering pooch. When knitting for a dog, you need to use a good quality yarn that will hold its shape. It also needs to be easy to care for, as this will make it more hardwearing. My patterns are breed specific because one shape really doesn’t fit all. For instance, a dachshund’s coat is more like a tube, whereas a whippet’s jumper has a deep chest but slim back. redhoundfordogs.com
Knitted With Love
Dog lover Jan Brown quit her day job to set up her business Knitted With Love, to sell hand-made dog coats. “I had my first greyhound Kelsco straight from the racing kennels,” says Jan. “I wanted a fleece coat for him but had to make my own as we didn’t have much money. I’d knitted since I was a young child and so decided to make a coat using a pattern from greyhounds4me.co.uk – a website that has lots of resources for greyhounds. That was six years ago! Since then, I’ve developed my own range of patterns. At first I knitted for all breeds but got so busy that I decided to focus on whippets and other sighthounds. They get cold easily so need them more. I didn’t have the time to both knit and work my part-time job in a café, so decided that if I didn’t do my own thing then, I never would. I’ve not looked back since! “I’m my own boss now and have more time to help rescue centres too. I collect blankets and make coats from them to give to local greyhound rescues. It’s something to do during the summer months when nobody wants knitted coats. I’ve also been able to foster and adopt more dogs since I’ve worked from home. My husband and I blame Kelsco, our first greyhound, for the fact that we had nine dogs at one stage. He is such a loving dog and showed us what the breed is like – they are so affectionate and all deserve a sofa of their own. I like jazzy colours for my greyhounds, as do many owners. As long as the pattern is warm and fits well, it can be any colour you want. I’m not making so many jumpers at the moment (although people do get in contact and I try to accommodate) but in the future I still want to keep my business going and keep helping the rescues when I can. We only have five dogs at the moment and our house seems empty. Fostering really does save lives!” You can get in touch to enquire at knittedwithlove.co.uk Need an alternative? Visit Greyt Sweaters for more knitted dog outfits.
Seller and maker Avril Staple of CraftSisters decided to branch out into making comfy cat beds. “The inspiration for my Millie cat bed came when my daughter wanted a bed for her cat,” she explains. “The original bed was made out of yarn – we all know how much cats love the feeling and warmth of this material, and it can easily be popped into the washing machine too. He, (yes we thought Millie was a she), absolutely loved it! It was a no-brainer to start making them for friends and family, and to market them from there. “I’ve recently started making the beds in T-shirt yarn, because it is more durable. It has the added bonus that it’s eco-friendly and uses leftovers from the fashion industry. I crochet the beds myself and am always thinking of different ways that I can tweak them. “My cat beds are now available as kits. These were born out of a wish to assist those who are learning to crochet, and are well within the capabilities of a beginner as they only use the basic stitches. In the end, you’re left with something useful that has helped you master this craft.” Make sure you browse Avril’s selection of craft products at Craft Sisters.
Merion Willis, blog editor at LoveKnitting, shared the company’s latest brush with fame… “Simon Cowell, media mogul, impresario and king of The X Factor, has three beloved yorkies named Squiddly, Diddly and Freddy,” she says. “We received a phone call to say those little dogs needed jumpers, and we couldn’t resist!” Alice Neal, one of Love Knitting’s favourite designers, is the proud owner of two waggy pals. In between looking after her five sons, two dogs, husband and business, she produced three stunning jumpers complete with Swiss-darned initials. Go Alice! The yorkie Jumper pattern is available to download for £3 from loveknitting.com.
Inspired by our pet-based makes? Read about 16 people who knitted with pet hair right here!