This Nordic Paws dog sweater by Drops Design is my 6th dog sweater and the first time I took some liberties with the pattern. My modification has nothing at all to do with the design, it was just about the construction.
The pattern is very well written and I had no issues at all with the chart and the construction instructions, the only reason I altered it at all was for best fit. Dogs, even more so than people, come in such a variety of shapes and sizes that it is hard for a pattern to fit exactly right with standard construction.
I followed the pattern exactly, which was a classic top down, in the round construction until I got to the part where you split for the arms. The pattern has instructions for moving stitches to a stitch holder, continuing to work the back part of that piece back and forth and then putting stitches back on the needle and continuing to work in the round. I have done similar patterns before, and I wanted to try something a little different that felt like it would be a lot easier. So I did!
Once I reached the part to split for the arms, (forelegs they call them, but a dog’s front legs are arms to me), I just kept knitting in the round to continue the beautiful Norwegian pattern, and since the pattern goes back to knitting in the round after the arms, I was able to just keep going in the round and follow the back shaping to get that cute little curve on the bum of the sweater.
Once that was done, and I finished the bottom ribbing, I had a perfect Norwegian inspired tube. This is where the magic happens. I measured around my dog’s back, from shoulder to shoulder, and then I also measured the space between his arms on his chest. Armed with these two measurements, I used pins to mark where the armholes should go. Then I picked up stitches on each side of the mark, crossed my fingers, knocked on wood, said a little prayer, and cut. into. my. knitting.
Steeking is absolutely terrifying until you do it, and once you do it, it’s really no big deal. Even if you miss a stitch when you’re picking them up to cut between, you can absolutely fix it if you use a friendly yarn like Paintbox Simply Aran. I say friendly, as in a little sticky, not slippery, not prone to flying off your needles. Those yarns have a time and place but a dog sweater you’re steeking the armholes in to is not it.
Once I made my snips and I had my live stitches on the needles, I knit the little sleeves and ended them with a matching rib to the one on the bum of the sweater. From here, any minor imperfections I found in my steeking were easily fixed when I sewed in the ends. A little extra stitch here, a tiny little hole patched up there.
And let me tell you, Nacho wear this sweater all. the. time. He is not gentle with it at all, he’s a little urban adventurer and this yarn/sweater has held up to both his almost daily use and to machine washing and drying regularly. Once I make a ‘how to knit a dog sweater’ video, I will edit this to include it here. I was very happy with this pattern and if the idea of knitting your dog a tube and cutting in armholes appeals to you, give it a try! If you can do an afterthought heel on a sock, you can totally do this!