Well, it's happened. I've become one of "those people."
I always swore I would never put clothes on a pet. It seemed so humiliating for the poor animals, who, my fantasy went, had evolved to be functional, self-regulating beings equipped by their native-grown pelts to withstand inclement weather. The problem with this theory is obvious to anyone with half a brain: humans. Humans have bred dogs to be weird yet lovable little monsters, and while some of them shed so much that you can spin up the fiber they leave on your couch and have enough for a sweater in no time, others run around practically naked and shiver pathetically even when the thermostat is turned up to 72 degrees. I'll leave you to guess which type of dog we have.
Ever since we adopted Mr. Bingley, all my friends and family have been predicting "an entire wardrobe" of knitted garments for him springing from my needles. In actuality though, dog knitting, like baby knitting, holds little appeal to me. Much of what inspires me about designing garments is fit - and elements like drape and tailored details? Not so relevant to someone whose body is basically a tube or a beach ball. So I procrastinated all summer on dog knitting, and then when it started getting cold, and Mr. Bingley was shivering more pathetically all the time, I was caught amongst a million different projects and decided we should just go to the store and buy a fleece for him so that I wouldn't have to worry about it. Which is when reality set in. Do you realize how much pet stores charge for those dog fleeces? It's ridiculous! You can pay upwards of EIGHTY DOLLARS! I may not be excited about knitting for dogs, but I have a ton of leftover wool and a strange attachment to paying my mortgage this month. Good grief. I would think twice about spending eighty dollars on a jacket for MYSELF.
So I ended up knitting for my dog after all. And you know? I have to admit that I think this turned out adorably. I reverse-engineered it from a pretty useless little cotton sweatshirt that the shelter threw in when we adopted him. It didn't do all that much to keep him warm, especially in Portland's rainy climate, but it proved very useful in making him something more substantial. I decided not to keep track of the pattern as I made it up, which was glorious while I was knitting but which I may regret as soon as next month, when this sweater is all grody and pill-infested.
You can see the general construction a bit in the photos above and below: the body and button band segments are all knit in one piece, with a bound-off buttonhole type opening toward the top of the back piece to let his tags come through. Short-rows form the semi-circular back, and the tiny raglan sleeves are knitted separately and seamed in. Then the giant neckband is picked up and knitted from the tops of the sleeves and body, and narrowed with centered double-decreases about two-thirds of the way up in order to fit around his neck. Oh, and p.s.: I find this photo hilarious.
We picked the buttons up last, and figured that this was our big opportunity to get cutesy and silly. Surprisingly, I think they kind of bring the whole "look" together. And I'm sure Mr. Bingley is hugely relieved to have a coordinated, accessorized outfit going into winter. Even more important, he seems to have stopped shivering.