I have bad news: you cannot knit your own dog.
Okay, maybe that’s not fair. Maybe you can. Maybe you will have more success with this book than I have. Maybe you will check it out and start knitting dogs left and right; maybe everyone you know is getting knitted dogs this Christmas, and you can start your own knitted version of the AKC.
But I doubt it.
My first hint that this book might present the bad kind of challenge was that the patterns do not provide a gauge, which meant that, since I couldn’t find the yarn the patterns suggested, I had nothing to go on in choosing an alternative. Granted, gauge (a measure of the number of stitches in an inch of knitted fabric) is mostly important when knitting clothes, so that you’ll have some idea of what size they will be. It doesn’t really matter what size your knitted dog is, unless you are planning a miniature dog show and you want them to meet the breed standards relative to your dolls. If that is the case, hats off to you, but otherwise an inch or two probably won’t make much difference and you can use whatever yarn is on sale, as far as I can see. Then again, my ignorance in these matters may have been the cause of some of my problems, so you may not want to take my word for it.
I decided to begin with the Labrador retriever, since the book claimed this was one of the simpler patterns. This may be true, if by “simple” they mean “incomprehensible and full of errors.” After knitting the right and left sides of the body, you join the pieces together and knit the neck, and then the head, in one seamless piece. The authors have, it seems, invented a stitch to use for the head. They call it “pult” and it is basically a way to turn your work, as you would to make a sock, except that it’s impossible.
When I had finished knitting the head, I looked at it for a long time, trying to imagine how it might be sewn to actually look like a dog’s head. Because the book does not include any in-progress pictures, only pictures of the complete, assembled dog, I couldn’t be sure that what I had knit looked the way it was supposed to. In fact, I gradually realized that I had knit the dog’s head backwards somehow; it was turned 180 degrees like a canine version of the Exorcist. I had done something wrong, clearly, so I tore out the stitches and tried again. Midway through, I could tell that the dog’s head was still on backwards. I tore out the stitches a second time and spent the rest of the afternoon in despair.
The next day, I tried to knit the head again. Maybe it had been right all along, and I was just confused. Obviously, I had begun to lose my mind, and obviously, the third attempt was still backwards. Curse you, “Knit Your Own Dog!”
I have made two more attempts, without success. Sometimes as I am drifting off to sleep I think I see the solution shimmering in the distance. I have not yet returned the book, and I have not yet given up. I am like Penelope, except that instead of weaving a burial shroud, I am knitting my own dog. Metaphorically, it is much the same thing.
Also, I still have four little dog legs in my knitting basket, and they are creeping me out.
If, like me, you have no sense of self-preservation and decide to knit your own dog despite my warnings to the contrary, you might wish to check this list of corrections. Had I discovered this earlier, it would have saved me some grief, though it would not have put the head on straight–I’m still puzzled by that one.