Dog's Life: DIY
Cozy, Comfy Dog Sweaters
Knit Picks

Recently, a bark reader turned us on to Ravelry.com, an incredible online community for knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers and those who simply need a dose of inspiration to get started. Beginners can find instructional videos, and numerous groups and forums offer personalized advice, expertise or just enjoyable crafting chat.

A search for “dog” returns a long list, ranging from “Dog Rescue Knitters” and “Big Dogs Need Love Too” to “Spinning Dog Fiber” and “Gone to the (Small) Dogs.” The Snuggles Project, with its mission to make comforting blankets for shelter animals, has a group there too. There are also patterns galore; some are free, while others are available for a modest fee.

When we visited the site, we came upon these fabulous, eye-catching designs for three adorable doggie sweaters. Knitwear designer and knitting maven Lorraine Hearn created the patterns for her charity e-book project, which helps raise funds for her daughter’s school, the Aspley Guise Lower School in Bedfordshire, UK. The human models are students at the school and the Pug pup, beguiling Gladys, is now the school’s mascot.

All of Hearn’s charity e-book designs, including those she created for the children, are made with Cascade Yarns’ Ecological Wool (Cascade, along with Rico Design, supports Hearn’s cause).

Karen Parker took these charming photographs. Catch the video and slideshow of the photo shoot on mypdfpatterns.com, and while there, be sure to purchase an e-book and sign up for Ravelry.com.

Dog's Life: DIY
DIY Silhouettes
Make a silhouette in six easy steps
DIY: Silhouettes

In Profile
We love a good DIY art project, especially one that helps us celebrate the unique form and personality of each individual dog. Kathryn Flocken (paperportraits.com), professional silhouette artist, gives us a sneak peek at the process behind cutting a profile silhouette of your dog and shares samples of her very special results.

Sharp scissors
Silhouette paper (or black construction paper) cut to 5 x 4"
White construction paper cut to 5 x 7"
Rubber cement
A profile photo of your dog
5 x 7" frame

1. Prop a photo of your dog about three feet in front of you. You may also pull it up on your computer monitor, if you prefer.

2. With the scissors in your dominant hand and the silhouette paper in the other, use the scissors as your drawing tool instead of a pencil, pen or paintbrush. It’s best to keep the scissors nearly stationary, while guiding the silhouette paper to make precision cuts that reflect what you see.

3. Begin in the bottom corner that shows the chest area of the pet. Start cutting, going up the dog’s body, making small snips as you go along. Be sure to include the texture of the fur, while following the contours of the body carefully to get an accurate likeness. Make your way up the profile, looking at each shape, one by one, and then cutting out that shape. You may want to follow this sequence: the chest, moving upwards to the lower part of the snout/chin area, the bottom lip, the muzzle area, then the nose. The next areas you will draw with your scissors are the eye area, eyebrows, the forehead and the top of the ears.

4. Stop at the top of the black paper, and now move to the opposite lower corner. Cut an s-curve along the bottom of the dog’s neck toward the left edge of the paper. This is the traditional cameo shape at the bottom of a silhouette.

5. Then focus on drawing the back of the dog. Work with the same approach, cutting up the back of the body of the pet, following the contours of the body. If you have measured correctly, the cut will meet perfectly at the top of the 5 x 4" paper.

6. Apply rubber cement to the back of the portrait, then center on the white paper and glue it down. Place silhouette in frame and you’re done!

Culture: DogPatch
Whittling Dogs
Whittling / Painting

Whittling is a great pastime, and it’s easy to get started—all you need is a knife and a piece of wood. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be on your way to a satisfying summer project.

Soft woods are the best—white pine, sugar pine and basswood are good choices for beginners. Find a piece of wood with straight grain that can fit comfortably in your hand, avoid wood with lots of knots.

Your knife should have a sharp 1-1/2 to 3 inch blade, a standard pocket knife will do in most cases. Keep your knife sharp throughout your project. A dull knife is more dangerous because you will need to push harder to make a cut, with less predictable results—if you slip the added force can do some damage. You can also use a special woodcarving knife, specifically designed for whittling, available at most hobby stores.

Whittling Cuts
Here are some common whittling cuts: The pare cut or pull stroke, one of the simplest and most common, is like taking a paring knife and peeling vegetables. The push stroke is made by pushing the blade away from you, this technique can be used in roughing out your project’s general shape and, later, with smaller shaving cuts to achieve finer detail. The V-cut or channel is used to show detail in your carving in the form of hair or scales and uses the point of the knife.

Whittling Tips
- Take it slow and concentrate. Though whittling is a relaxing, meditative activity, it requires focused attention. Carelessness can cause accidents!
- Make small cuts that you can control. Remember, it’s easier to remove wood with a series of small cuts than to add it back once it’s removed.
- You generally want to cut with the grain of the wood, for ease and best results.
- Relax your grip, holding your knife too tightly will quickly tire your hand out, and may lead to stress injury.
- Consider wearing a glove to start in order to stave off cuts and injury. If this is too cumbersome, try using a thumb pad or protector—the thumb on your knife-holding hand tends to get the brunt of the nicks and glances. A little duct tape around your thumb will also do the trick.
- Be prepared, keep a first aid kit handy just in case you need it.

For some fun patterns of dogs, see these examples from the 1945 how-to manual Whittling Is Easy, made popular by generations of Boy Scouts. When you finish your project, we’d love to see it—take a photo and e-mail it to contests@thebark.com.

Check out the wonderful, miniature world of whittler, Steve Tomashek, in this video:

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Printing as Art & Craft

A dog sprawls comfortably, relaxed despite the clatter and thump of a nearby printing press. The smell of ink fills the air as a skilled craftsperson rolls a layer of pigment onto the printing plate, then checks the position of the paper.

While this scene could be from the 16th century, it’s being enacted daily across the country as a new generation of artists and entrepreneurs embrace the tactile, handcrafted quality of letterpress printing. Similar to artisan movements in cooking, design and fashion, the craft of printing is experiencing a revival of traditional techniques. Dogs enter the picture—often literally—not only as shop companions but also as muses. At Hound Dog Press, BirdDog Press and Paisley Dog Press, canine-inspired cards, posters and stationery are carefully pulled the old-fashioned way, using a type of press that Benjamin Franklin would likely recognize.

When Johannes Gutenberg invented moveable type and the wooden printing press in the mid-15th century, he started a revolution, and the technology he created prevailed for four centuries. At its finest, the process combines metal, ink and paper to create a three-dimensional effect: metal type presses ink into the paper, depositing it only on the floor of the impression and leaving the walls clean. A rich texture of light and shadow gives letterpress printing its unique beauty.

With the invention of commercial offset lithography (the method by which The Bark is printed) in 1904, letterpress gradually fell out of favor as customers migrated to a faster, cheaper form of printing. But fine letterpress printing has never completely gone away. New practitioners, respectful of tradition, are bringing fresh aesthetics and inventive techniques to the medium, evolving letterpress into something new.

Many of their working presses were built over a century ago and are operated by levers and wheels; type is set by hand, one character and space and dingbat at time. Little has changed, including the shop dogs who keep the pressmen and women company. Like the lucky dogs they are, they remind us that sometimes, what is discarded or lost can find its way back into our hearts.

News: Guest Posts
Papier-Mâché Dog Vases
Jessi Hull takes our idea and runs with it!

Like quite a few Bark readers, Jessi Hull of New Boston, N.H., was inspired by our article on how to make papier-mâché dog sculptures. (See a gallery of reader creations.) But, she took it further than most. She made 15 canine papier-mâché vases, which she used as centerpieces for her May 21, 2011 wedding. (About the time our story on dogs in weddings came out in Bark.) How’d she do it? Jessi breaks it down:

Big idea: Our wedding was in our backyard and was children- and dog-friendly. Dogs were specifically invited, and our dogs were our wedding party. When I told my fiancé and friends of my plans to make the vases into papier-mâché dogs—no one believed I could do it. So I made three examples by myself—at which point everyone came on board.

Papier-mâché party: My girlfriends threw a bridal shower party for me, during which we made all 15 dog vases and one cat vase by my now sister-in-law. The party was filled with laughter and very messy! Our hands were covered in papier-mâché, so we had to drink wine with straws! I painted them all myself and another friend helped put on the collars and wedding-sticker dog tags.

Wedding day: It was especially fun for those guests who helped shape the dogs to see the finished products at our wedding. The vases became the centerpieces on each picnic table. We filled them with lilacs, which another friend gathered for us. Everyone loved them! Now they are proudly displayed in our kitchen, atop our kitchen cabinets.

Technique: I used a mason jar as the body of the dog, built the shape out with newspaper, and used newspaper and toilet paper rolls to form the head, legs and tail. Then I covered all with masking tape, as your article suggested, papier-mâché and painted. I used our wedding sticker as the tag for the collars on all the dogs. Total hours to make—probably about 24 actual hours of work on five different days (needed time for drying at various stages), with a total of 10 people involved.

Inspiration: Jessi and her husband are vegans, and they regularly foster dogs for a rescue group called WOOFFUN (Waiting for Our Forever Homes Up North). But they also have four dogs of their own, who served as models for several of the vases (see photos). Their brown and white Chihuahua, Pidgewidgeon (like in Harry Potter), is 8-years-old and came from the Anderson County South Carolina shelter, where she was a backyard breeder discard once she was too old to have puppies. Diego is a three-year-old tricolor mutt from a private rescue person in Manchester, N.H. Cisco, black with a grey muzzle, is 12 years old. He is being treated for and in remission from Leukemia, Jessi found him as a stray wandering the back roads of upstate N.Y. Finally, her six-month-old Beagle mix, Jeter, is their our most recent foster from Georgia. "We fell in love and decided to adopt him as a wedding present to ourselves," Jessi says.


News: Guest Posts
DIY Upcycled Dog Bed
Give your old moth-eaten sweaters a second life!

Dog and cat beds can be very expensive at your local pet boutique, and they tend to look either too generic or too froufrou for my taste. My Chihuahua, Gertie, needed a new one, and I wanted something simple and handmade that wouldn’t break the bank. So I looked around at the raw materials I had available, and my endless stash of thrifted wool sweaters called out to me. Perfect!


Here’s how to turn old sweaters into a cushy pet bed:

1. You’ll need scrap-bound sweaters­—either sweaters you know you’ll never wear culled from your shelves or find castoffs at your favorite thrift store. I pulled a pile of leftover sweater scraps from other projects in a color assortment I liked and went to town with my scissors.

  2. Cut your pieces into strips and roll into balls. Mine ranged from 1 inch to 2 inches depending on the thickness of the sweater (1 inch for thicker ones, 2 inches for thinner). You may want to make a test swatch before you cut up all of your strips to check the gauge and thickness of your fabric. Cutting thinner strips yields more square footage, but you’ll want the bed to be nice and thick so it’s comfortable. See what works best for you.   3. Begin crocheting the circle. With a jumbo hook, chain 2, then make 5 single crochets into the second chain from the hook.   Do not join but continue around, increasing every stitch for the second round, every other stitch in the third round, every third stitch in the fourth round, and so on. Work in this manner until your circle is the size you want the bed to be.   4. When working with sweaters, I join by simply overlapping two strips for a few inches, twisting them together, and continuing on with the new one.)   5. To make the sides, stop increasing, and work the next round even (one stitch in every stitch).   6. Working in the front loop only for the first round of the sides helps create a sharp turn where the bottom meets the sides.   Work several more rounds, until you have achieved your desired height (after the first round of the sides, revert to working in both loops). When the bed is tall enough, work a few slip stitches to blend into the edge, and finish off. Weave in your tails.

Optional: Make a pillow. Use some more sweater scraps to stitch up a pillow for the bed, and stuff with poly-fill or still more sweater bits. You could also crochet another flat circle piece to cushion the bottom of the bed.

Now find a sunny spot for the bed and invite your best friend to try it out. And hey, you deserve a nap, too!

  This project, originally published at CraftStylish.com, is reprinted here with permission of the author.


Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Weekend Recycling Fun
Turn your unwanted t-shirts into tug toys.

Last weekend I was cleaning out my closets and quickly created a pile of t-shirts that I didn’t need. Over the years I’ve collected my fair share of wearable memorabilia from college events, walk-a-thons, and vacations.

Before I brought the clothes to the Salvation Army, I wondered if there was anything crafty that I could do with the shirts.

Inspired by Genuine Dog Gear’s Jersey Tugmaster, I decided that I’d try my hand at making a tug toy for my pups. I picked out a blue t-shirt that I hadn’t worn in years and started by cutting it into strips.

The width you cut depends on how thick you want the tug toy to be. My dogs like thinner tugs, so I cut the strips about 2 inches wide. I took six strips and doubled them up to make three strands. Then I bunched them together, tied a knot at the end, braided the middle, and tied another knot at the other end.

The toy actually came out better than I thought. And since I had extra material left, I decided to try another version with a handle. This time I cut longer strands and didn’t double up. As I got to the end, I made a loop and wove the unbraided end into the braided section and tied a couple knots to secure the handle.

Tug toys aren’t cheap, and because I bring them with me to agility trials and to class, I’m always misplacing them. Or if I’m not careful, my pup Nemo finds them and makes the tug toy into a chew toy. This craft is an easy way to reuse old t-shirts while making an affordable toy for the dogs.

Do you have any favorite doggy craft projects?

Pumpkin carving fun for both canines and their humans.

This weekend I went pumpkin-picking to get in the Halloween mood. Unfortunately, dogs weren’t allowed at the pumpkin patch, but my pups will get to help carve by cleaning the tasty pumpkin insides, which also doubles as a healthy treat. This year, while looking for carving tips, I found patterns for dog lovers. 

Inspired by the American Kennel Club’s list of top breeds, Better Homes and Gardens’ art director, Diane Starkey, designed 13 canine pumpkin carving stencils. Best of all, they’re available for free on the BHG website, complete with carving tips.

The stencils include a Beagle, Boxer, Bulldog, Chihuahua, Dachshund, German Shepard, Golden Retriever, Jack Russell Terrier, Lab, Poodle, Pug, Scottish Terrier, and a Yorkie. Some require more skill than others. The Scottish Terrier looks like a particularly hard challenge for the novice pumpkin carver!

The website allows you to vote for your favorite design and even create your own pumpkin stencil. If your favorite breed is missing, they’re also taking input for next year. I’m hoping for a Sheltie! In the meantime, I’m going to start with the Jack Russell Terrier design.

Dog's Life: DIY
Knitted Dogs

Immortalize your pup in yarn by following the patterns in Knit Your Own Dog by Sally Muir and Joanna Osbourne. Using just simple knit, purl and loopy stitches, capture a Bulldog’s wrinkles, a Poodle’s curls or an Afghan’s flowing mane— 25 breeds in all. Download the pattern below to try your knitter’s hand at the Jack Russell Terrier pattern.

Dog's Life: DIY
DIY Dog Leashes
With a little attention, an old leash can bloom
Updated Leashes

Spring is the perfect time to get a new “leash”on life, and it is time for me to move on from the grief of losing my dog, Eloise, who was so often the inspiration for these projects and articles. What kind of “new leash”do I want for myself? Perhaps one that I can depend on so that I can depend on myself. I also want a leash for my new dog, Pippi; I want to train her so that she can be off the leash safely and be confident and comfortable when she’s on-leash. We both want to feel free and safe so that we can take advantage of what spring may bring our way. It’s up to me to find my own leash, but for Pippi—and for your dog—a new leash isn’t required. We can give renewed life to one we have on hand.

Any kind of trim or other decoration can be glued onto a leash. I use a tacky craft glue and weight it down (usually with a few heavy books) while it dries.

For the thin green leash:
I used a flower trim on both sides, and glued a tape measure onto the thicker light-green leash.

For the thin black leash:
An extra-long necklace that I found at a dollar store. With pliers, open the first ring and attach it to the leash’s hook. Then twist the chain around as you thread the leash through some of the bigger links.

Cut off the excess chain at the top and attach it by opening the last ring, pushing it through the nylon fabric of the leash and then closing it with the pliers. Any kind of light chain is suitable for this project as long as the leash can be threaded through some of the links.

For the thick black leash:
I used nailheads and buttons on one side and reflective trim on the other. You can get decorative nailheads at arts-and-crafts or bead stores. Design a pattern and then mark the spots with a white pencil.

Push the prongs of the nailheads through with your fingers and use pliers to fold down the prongs on the other side.With heavy-duty thread and a sharp, strong needle, attach the buttons; finish off the leash by adhering the reflective trim with tacky glue.