Harness-friendly dog sweater

Raii's growth can be documented in the array of sweaters I have knit for her since bringing her home just under a year ago. I first met her when she was a 6-week-old puppy, and since I couldn't take her home until she was 9 weeks old, I knit her a sweater in the meantime, sizing it based on my memory of holding her in my hands.

Raii's first sweater on top of the harness-friendly sweater — she has grown so much!

Raii's first sweater on top of the harness-friendly sweater — she has grown so much!

For a pattern, I used the Perfect Fit Dog Sweater, a brilliant, infinitely customizable pattern that I continued to used again and again as she grew, which also taught me how to think about the construction of a dog sweater. The one thing I don't like about this pattern — the same thing I've found I dislike about most dog sweater patterns, actually — is that it isn't really meant for a dog with a harness. Yes, you can put the harness over the sweater, or you can make a buttonhole in the back of the sweater (which the pattern does suggest), but I think this hole makes the sweater look sloppy, especially when the dog isn't wearing the harness or the leash isn't attached.

And so, before Raii and I went on a summer trip to visit my sister in San Francisco, I thought she needed a new sweater that would look sharp with or without her harness. I liked the look of the "Good Boy Gansey" sweater in the Woolly Woofers book (although overall I am not thrilled with the quality of the patterns in this book), and I thought I could modify it to put the harness hole right below the cabling on the neck and shoulders.

The trick to this sweater (and, in my opinion, the trick to achieving the perfect harness-friendly dog sweater) is this: You knit the neck and shoulders first and bind off, so you have a separate, fitted dog cowl. You pick up the purl bumps several rows in on the inside edge of this cowl to knit the body, leaving holes for the legs and harness. When completed, the bottom edge of the cowl will then hide the harness hole if the dog isn't wearing its harness. 

PATTERN


Gauge: 22 stitches and 36 rounds = 4 inches
Yarn: About 200 (250, 300, 350, 400) yards of a DK weight yarn. I used Claudia's Exuberance, which is washable, comes in gorgeous colors, gives great stitch definition, and wears beautifully.
Needles: US 4 16" circular needle (move to a 24" needle for larger sizes)
Sizes: To fit dogs with a girth of 15” (18” 22”, 26”, 30”)

See pattern on Ravelry here.


This sweater is knit in the round from the neck down. The neck and shoulders piece is knit seperately first with cabling detail on the top and bottom. The body is picked up and knit in the round from the cast-off edge of the neck and shoulders piece.

NECK AND SHOULDERS

Cast on 60 (74, 90, 104, 118) stitches. Place marker for BOR.
Round 1: Purl all stitches.
Round 2: Knit all stitches.
Round 3: Purl all stitches.
Work in K1P1 ribbing for 5 (6, 8, 10, 12) rounds.
Repeat rounds 1-3 once.

Round 1: (Setup round for cables and increases) Work first row of cable chart A over 16 (20, 24, 28, 32) stitches, P1, PM, K5 (7, 10, 12, 14), PM, P1, work first row of cable chart B over 30 (36, 42, 48, 54) stitches, P1, PM, K5 (7, 10, 12, 14), PM, P1
Round 2: Work second row of cable chart A over 16 (20, 24, 28, 32) stitches, P1, SM, M1L, knit to marker, SM, P1, work second row of cable chart B over 30 (36, 42, 48, 54) stitches, P1, SM, knit to marker, M1R, SM, P1

Continue in this manner, repeating the rows of the cable charts as needed, until you have 17 (22, 28, 33, 38) stitches in the stockinette blocks between markers. You should have 84 (104, 126, 146, 166) total stitches around.

Work 3 rounds in garter stitch, beginning with a purl round. Bind off knitwise.

BODY

On the inside of the shoulder piece, find the third round of purl bumps from the bind-off edge. It should be the round right after the second knit round from your garter stitch edging.

Pick up and knit 16 (20, 24, 28, 32) purl bumps, cast on 10 (13, 15, 18, 20) stitches using cable cast-on, skip 11 (14, 16, 19, 21) purl bumps, pick up and knit 21 (25, 31, 35, 40) purl bumps, cast on 6 (8, 10, 12, 14) stitches using cable cast-on, skip 6 (8, 10, 12, 14) purl bumps, pick up and knit 21 (25, 31, 35, 40) purl bumps, cast on 10 (13, 15, 18, 20) stitches using cable cast-on, skip 11 (14, 16, 19, 21) purl bumps. Place marker for BOR. You should have 84 (104, 126, 146, 166) total stitches around.

Work in stockinette stitch, slipping BOR marker, until piece measures 4” (5”, 6”, 7”, 8”) from edge of shoulder piece (or until it is the length you want it for your dog*).

*Note about sizing: You should feel free to adjust the pattern for the length you want for your dog. Try it on your dog as you go, and stop knitting or keep knitting according to what you think is a good length for your dog (rather than whatever I say in the pattern).

The following rows are worked as short rows to increase the top of the body:
Row 1 (RS): K80 (100, 120, 140, 158), W&T
Row 2 (WS): P60 (74, 90, 104, 118), W&T
Row 3: K to one stitch before wrapped stitch, W&T
Row 4: P to one stitch before wrapped stitch, W&T
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until 36 (44, 54, 62, 72) stitches remain unwrapped. Ending on a RS row, knit to marker, knitting each wrap with the stitch as you come to it.

Continue working in the round once again:
Round 1: Purl all stitches, purling each wrap with the stitch as you come to it.
Round 2: Knit all stitches.
Round 3: Purl all stitches.
Bind off knitwise.

CABLE CHART A

Note: For each size up, you will need to add 2 stitches to each end of the basic 16-stitch chart, as shown here with the different colored lines. If the line splits a cable, just knit the stitch that would have been part of the cable as a knit stitch. See this chart online at Stitch Fiddle.

Note: For each size up, you will need to add 2 stitches to each end of the basic 16-stitch chart, as shown here with the different colored lines. If the line splits a cable, just knit the stitch that would have been part of the cable as a knit stitch.

See this chart online at Stitch Fiddle.

CABLE CHART B

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