Book Review: Knit Your Own Dog by Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne

This book caught my eye a few weeks ago, when patterns and projects from the UK edition started popping up on Ravelry. A quick perusal revealed that there was in fact a Border Collie pattern included in the book, and it was charming! I pre-ordered the US edition on Amazon and was delighted when it arrived this week.

Of course, I immediately cast on for my very own Border Collie, using left-over Palette (a heathered dark brown, and cream) and Size 1 Addi Turbos.  In one evening, I was able to finish all four legs, both halves of the body, and begin on the neck and head.  As you can surmise from this list of parts, the Border Collie (and is worked in a series of bitty parts, worked flat. Some intarsia work creates the classic Border Collie markings — as with all amigurumi knitting, it is vital to knit tightly to ensure the finished toy keeps it shape and does not reveal too much of the stuffing.

The listing for this book on Ravelry is incomplete.  For this reason, I’ll provide a comprehensive list of the breed patterns here.

Hounds: Afghan Hound, Whippet, Dachshund, Basset Hound

Terriers: Wire-haired Fox Terrier, Jack Russell, Scottish Terrier, West Highland Terrier, English Bull Terrier

Sporting: Cocker Spaniel, Red Setter, Labrador, Portuguese Water Dog

Non-sporting: Dalmatian, Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pug

Working: Rough Collie, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Corgi, Siberian Husky

I’m especially impressed with the clever shaping at the beginning of each leg to create a proper foot.  I’ve only just begun the head, and already I can tell some thoughtful shaping will make a very pretty head there as well. The selection of breeds is fantastic — a smattering from across the spectrum, including many of my personal favorites. The details that make each breed unique are fantastic: the Afghan’s flowing coat, the Basset’s floppy garter-stitch ears and jowls, the Scotty’s fringe and beard, the upright stance of the Poodle, the smooshed face of the Bulldog, the Collie’s exuberant mane … all will ring true to lovers of each breed. The authors provide helpful tips in selecting yarns that will best create the coat of each breed (boucle for the Porty! genious!), in addition to all the detailed shaping and design.

I do have a few minor quibbles.  Because the directions are written line-by-line, the knitter must follow along and trust that the color changes and shaping will lead them to the finished product.  It reminds me a bit of the first time I made a Baby Surprise Jacket — take a deep breath, dive in, be precise in following directions, and it will all turn out all right in the end.  That said, I find myself wanting to make charts, especially with the color changes, so I can more easily adapt the pattern to match my own dog. It would have been lovely to have a bit more explanation about the purpose of each shaping section, and charts to make customization easier.

1151 Gromit CL3After I make a toy Gromit, I’ll probably make toy versions of some of my agility-friends’ dogs.  I’m thinking a Scottie or two would be well-received, and I think I could adapt the Dalmatian pattern to make a big brown-spotted Pointer mix. After that … we shall see.

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23 thoughts on “Book Review: Knit Your Own Dog by Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne

    1. Aha! I think those are color abbreviations. Look at the materials section for the dog you’re making, and you’ll see a two-letter abbreviation for each color. For example, the Basset Hound has Cream (cr), Walnut (wa), and Black (bl). The “incwa” means “increase using walnut-colored yarn” etc.

  1. Need help with the bulldog in “Knit YOUr Own Dog”.
    Anyone finish one of these yet? Would appreciate any help. Thank you.

  2. After being really excited about the Knit Your Own Dog book and attempting the bull dog as a gift for my daughter with a 10 week old puppy, as a fairly experienced knitter, I was disappointed with what in my experience is inadequate instructions, difficult to interpret directions, hopelessly sketchy overall details for assembly. No pics, no diagrams, great idea, needs an updated version before I could recommend this or try again. Very disappoining, frustrating. Sorry to say.

    1. I’m sorry that you had such a disappointing experience. These patterns definitely aren’t for the faint of heart. I’ve only knit the Border Collie and the Scottie, of course, but as far as I can tell the patterns all follow the same basic scheme. I have to say, I don’t agree with your opinion — for me, the instructions were adequate, reasonably easy to interpret, and not “hopelessly sketchy.” But, I have some previous experience with amigurumi, so perhaps that plays in as well.

    2. Hi Ellie,

      I have knitted a couple of other ptterns from knit your own dog and cat which hav worked well but I agree with you; the english bulldog is a nightmare with inadequate instructions etc. I am hoping someone out there will be able to advise me how to put the head together before I go completely mad.
      Jackie

      1. Yes! I totally agree! I am having such a hard time trying to figure out the head!!!! If anyone has any idea about what to do, please help!

  3. I’m stuck on one of the patterns. The Lab. I’ve reached the “head and neck” section but am confused. It says:

    Row 1: With US 2 knitting needles and ba (bark yarn), and with RS facing k11 from spare needle of Right Side of Body then k11 from spare needle of Left Side of Body. (22 sts)
    Row 2: Purl.

    What am I supposed to do on row 1? That’s not very clear! Am I supposed to put the 11 stitches from each spare needle onto one needle and count that as row 1? Both RS?

    1. I think you might be over thinking it … you have the right idea already! You should have 11 stitches on old from each of the two sides. With the RS facing you, knit 11 from the right side, then 11 from the left side. You’ll then have 22 stitches on your needle, with the two sides of the dog dangling below.

      1. Thanks!! I think I get it… but do I need to cast-on somehow? Both sides were bound off…

        And I assume since I am knitting with the RS facing me of the right side of the body, I knit with the RS facing me of the left side of body, right?

        1. Ah, and now we know the problem! The last direction for Right Side is “K11 (hold 11 sts on spare needle for right neck), bind of rem 16 sts” — Left Side is mirror image. You should only have bound off 16 sts and kept 11 “live” for the neck.

  4. the pattern for afgan hound is wrong , you end up with either too little or too many sts all way through and i have ended up with two sides -right body and head and left body and head so if i sewed them up one would be facing inside? and by the pattern there is no loopy st which takes you to the top of the back?

    1. You might try asking for help on Ravelry. I haven’t made the Afghan hound, so I can’t help you directly. The right/left/head setup is common to many of the dogs — it took a friend of mine several tries to get the head put on the right direction :). The loopy st directions are in the back of the book.

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