Monday, December 10, 2012

Instant Dog Sweater

It was cold and snowy yesterday, and while I was looking for sweaters to bundle up in, I found several that were just too old and hideous to wear any longer. Some were even cashmere, from my pre-vegan days, and even though I've worn them into holey rags, it felt wrong to throw them away. Then I noticed the two little shivering dogs huddled up on my bed, and thought, Aha! I know what to do! Ten minutes later we had four new dog sweaters, made from the sleeves of my old sweaters. This is my kind of project, because there's no sewing at all. And the dogs like these better than some of the bulkier sweaters I've knitted for them, because they're slim and sleek and add a layer of warmth while keeping them looking sexy too.

What makes these vegan? Well, to many of us, being vegan isn't just about food. It's also about being as green as possible - in the environmental way, not the eat-your-kale way, although you know that's important too. Using things to their very last bit of usefulness is something we all need to get better at, no matter what our diet may be. And to me, repurposing a beloved cashmere sweater extends its life, thereby honoring the animal the yarn came from. I avoid buying animal products of any kind now, but I don't throw out things I already have. That would be disrespectful.

Heidi looks so good in black.
To make a sweater or two for your own little friend, simply cut the sleeve(s) off of an old sweater. I think a sweatshirt sleeve would work well too. The cuff will become the neck of the dog sweater. You can either follow the shoulder seam when you cut, or just go straight across. Better to start too long. you can always take more off later for a smaller dog. 

Now turn the sleeve so the underarm seam is centered on what will be the tummy-side of the dog sweater.

Measure about 8 inches from the edge of the cuff, along the side crease, and make a little chalk mark or small snip with your scissors. Make another mark 2-3 inches below the first mark (toward the shoulder of the sleeve), depending on the size of your dog's shoulders. These will be the leg openings. Heidi the dachshund needs about a 2 1/2 inch opening, while Chia the chihuahua needs a smaller leg hole. Start smaller than you think will fit. You can easily make the openings a little bigger if they're too tight.

Once you've cut the leg openings, you're done. Have your dog try it on for size, and adjust the length or leg holes as needed. A long cuff will fold over into a jaunty turtleneck. Very stylish, yes? 

Chia is camera shy, but he looks so hip in his grey turtleneck.
Now what to do with the remainder of the old sweater? One of these was so bad it went to the rag bag to become a dust cloth. But the black one, which was all frumpy and saggy in the shoulders, suddenly took on a new shape once I'd cut the sleeves off. I trimmed the sleeve edge a little closer to the shoulder seam, de-pilled it a bit, and it became a cute vest, suitable for workday wear. How green can you get? I found myself wanting to cut up perfectly good sweaters so the dogs and I could have more spiffy new duds, but I restrained myself. Maybe a trip to the thrift store is in order though...


Jean said...

love this entry! and your photos are darling!!! xoxox jean

Anonymous said...

Just found your site through Smith's Vegan Kitchen. :)

What a wonderful idea! Your dogs are adorable and it looks like the craftiness made them very comfy!