03 December 2006

"Doggy's Got Style" Sweater

I designed this sweater for my Pembroke Corgi, Riley, when we moved from Virginia to Rhode Island in November. Riley’s getting older now, and the New England winter could be harsh on his arthritis. So he needed a little added warmth to protect him from the cold and snow.

The Corgi is a classy dog, very “British” in style – so I wanted to create a sweater that would reflect that innate quality. This dog sweater is knit in a modified Mosaic Garter Stitch, giving it a classic look, with a background of understated dark colors accented by a bright blue, adding cheerfulness on dreary days. It is knit in machine washable wool, for utmost warmth combined with easy care.

Because dogs come in all sizes and shapes, the following is much more of a formula than a pattern, per se. In fact, I’m not even going to give any of the numbers I used, because a corgi is a very strangely shaped dog – and even if you’re making this for another corgi, well, Riley’s a bit of a “chunky” little guy, so his dimensions likely won’t match your corgi’s. So, while this sweater is a cinch to knit, it can be a bit of a chore to plan. Don’t worry, though; I’m including a few diagrams and (hopefully) pretty detailed instructions to help guide you along. I’ll break down the math parts as much as I can, for those knitters who aren’t mathematically inclined.

Update 1/31/10: This pattern is available as a Ravelry download, if you prefer PDFs. The download includes the pattern instructions minus the photos seen in this blog post, as well as a second PDF that is a worksheet where you can enter your calculations.

- KnitPicks Swish Superwash (worsted weight, 100% superwash wool, 110 yds/50 g ball)
*any worsted weight washable wool should work just fine, but KnitPicks is both soft and inexpensive*
- 2 skeins “Capri” = CC
- 2 skeins “Truffle” = C1
- 2 skeins “Dark Navy” = C2
- 3 skeins “Dublin” = C3
(The number of skeins of each color suggested in the pattern is the amount used for a medium sized dog of about 50 lbs. If you have a much larger or much smaller dog, your required amounts of total yarn will vary.)

- 4 buttons, at least 1” diameter, to match your colors and style. Make sure they are washable!
- Size 7 needles, preferably circular. (Note: For the trim, which is added at the end, I used several circular needle cords from an interchangeable set, connected together, PLUS an additional size 7 circular, but alternatively the trim may be worked in sections and seamed together.)
- Large-eyed needle for sewing up ends.
- Sewing needle & thread for attaching buttons.
- Measuring tape.
- Calculator.
- The following diagrams: feel free to print them out, or, draw your own:

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Basic Construction:

The sweater is worked in two pieces – back (in pattern with contrasting color) and belly (in modified pattern without contrasting color).

These two panels are joined around the neck, then a ribbed trim is picked up first around the body (in one piece if you have several pairs of circular needles, or in several sections and joined if you prefer to work with straight), then a matching trim is worked separately around the neck.

Note that around the legs, the trim is meant to stick out and sit along the front and sides of the legs, but to lie flat against the body behind the legs (so as not to irritate armpits when walking).

Buttonholes are added when working the trim, and buttons are sewn on at the end. Therefore the trim pieces overlap along the ribs.

Stitch Pattern:

This pattern, adapted from Sarah Bradberry’s “Mosaic Garter Stitch” pattern, is very thick and warm, and sturdy enough to hold up to lots of doggy romping. The back and belly differ slightly, in the color changes and the right/wrong side.

Back – Odd rows are RS, even rows are WS.
Rows 1 & 2: w/ C1, k across
Rows 3 & 4: w/ CC, *k1, sl 1 p-wise* rep across
Rows 5 & 6: w/ C2, k across
Rows 7 & 8: rep rows 3 & 4
Rows 9 & 10: w/ C3, k across
Rows 11 & 12: rep rows 3 & 4

(Back Detail)

Belly – Odd rows are WS, even rows are RS. (Colors are in reverse order because belly section is worked neck to tail instead of tail to neck, as in back section.)
Row 1: w/ C3, *k1, sl 1 p-wise* rep across
Rows 2 & 3: w/ C3, k across
Row 4: w/ C3, *k1, sl 1 p-wise* rep across
Rows 5-8: rep rows 1-4 w/ C2
Rows 9-12: rep rows 1-4 w/ C1

(Belly Detail)

*Yarn may be carried/stranded along WS of work when not in use to reduce the number of ends to weave in; just be mindful of corners when stranding.*


It is VERY important that you CHECK YOUR GAUGE. I cannot stress this enough. This from a knitter notoriously bad about swatching. This pattern will NOT work if you guess! Calculate your stitches per inch (from now on, this number will be referred to as “X”) and your rows per inch (“Y”) in the stitch pattern given.

Next, get out your measuring tape and MEASURE YOUR DOG. Figure 1, above, will help with this stage. The measurements you need (i.e. write this down), which correspond with the numbers on the diagram, are as follows:

1 = Length along back, base of neck to base of tail – where you want the sweater ends to lie. Measurement 1 is divided into 2, 3, 4, and 5:

2 = Distance between base of neck and front of leg.

3 = Length front to back of leg.

4 = Distance from back of leg to navel.

5 = Distance from navel to base of tail.

6 = Circumference around dog at chest or widest part. Measurement 6 is divided into 7, 8, and 9:

7 = Distance across shoulders from outside of one front leg to outside of the other.

8 = (Times 2) Width of each front leg, from frontal view.

9 = Distance between front legs, armpit to armpit.

10 = Circumference around neck below collar, where you wish the neck of the sweater to lie.

Now that your dog is sufficiently concerned about what exactly you have planned, use the diagrams and a calculator if necessary to plan your sweater’s dimensions, beginning with the belly in Figure 2. The letters below correspond to the letters in the diagram; numbers refer to your measurements from Figure 1, except when an inch indication (”) is given, in which case numbers refer to actual inches. (Inches are given to account for an inch-wide trim.)

A = #2 + #3 + #4 – 2”
B = #4 – 1.5”
C = #3 – 0.5”
D = #2 – 1”
E = #9
F = #8 + #9 – 2”
G = #8 + #9

Use these calculations in addition to your Figure 1 measurements to help you find the dimensions for the back of the sweater, Figure 3. Letters refer to the above calculations; numbers are the same as before.

H = #1 – 2”
I = D (or #2 – 1”)
J = C (or #3 – 0.5”)
K = #4 – 0.5”
L = #5 – 3”
M = 2”
N = #7
O = #6 – G (or #8 + #9)

*From now on, any time in the instructions I mention a letter A-O, it refers to these calculations. If I mention X, that’s stitches per inch (remember?) and Y, that’s rows per inch.*

Once you have all of this worked out and written down on your printed-out diagrams or your own drawings, you are JUST ABOUT ready to start knitting! All you have to do now is calculate stitches.


Knitting begins with the sweater back, at the tail. First you need to calculate stitches for the widest part – multiply O x X (rounded up to the nearest whole number). That gives you the number of stitches you need for the K section – I’ll call this the Target Number. Write it down somewhere. Now you have to work backward a little bit to get your CO number. You’ll notice that the L section of the sweater is an increasing section. Increasing is done by 2 stitches per row on knitted rows, with no increases on the sl st rows – averaging an increase of 4 stitches every 4 rows, which works out to one stitch per row. Your calculation Y will therefore tell you how many stitches you’ll increase per inch. Multiply Y x L to get the total number of stitches you’ll be increasing in the L section. Then subtract this number from your Target Number, and you find your cast on number! Yay.

Cast on this number of stitches in CC.

Work even in pattern (as given for the back) for 2 inches or Y x 2 rows, ending with a WS row. (M section)

Increasing: (L section)

Increases are worked on knitted rows (with C1, 2, 3) only – not on CC sl st rows.

Increase rows are as follows: k2, k2 in same st, k across to last 3 sts, k2 in same st, k2.

Work increase rows in pattern for L inches or Y x L rows, until you have reached your Target Number of stitches, ending with a WS row.

Work even in pattern for K inches or Y x K rows, ending with a WS row. (K section)

Leg holes:

To calculate the number of stitches to bind off, first multiply X x N, then subtract this number from your Target Number.

At the beg of the next row, BO ½ of the number you just calculated.

At beg of the following row, BO the same number – you should now have X x N sts.

Work even in pattern for J inches or Y x J rows, ending with a WS row.

At the end of the next row, CO the same number of sts that you bound off at the beginning of the leg hole.

At end of the following row, CO that number of sts again – you should be back to your Target Number of sts.


The neck involves decreasing; decreasing, like increasing, is worked only on knitted rows, not the CC sl st rows, decreasing 2 sts per row. You can work all your decreases as k2tog, since the stitch pattern will obscure the slant.

Decrease rows are as follows: k2, k2tog, k across to last 4 sts, k2tog, k2.

Work decrease rows in pattern for I inches, or Y x I rows.

With CC, BO.

The back is done! Rock on.


Not as much calculation needed to cast on here. The belly section is worked from the neck down, in the opposite direction of the back, for a change of pace. Just multiply F x X to get your stitch number.

W/ CC, CO this number of sts.

Work even in pattern (as given for the belly) for D inches or D x Y rows, ending with a WS row.

Leg holes:

Works just like before. To calculate the number of stitches to bind off, first multiply X x E, then subtract this number from the number of sts you worked in F.

At the beg of the next row, BO ½ of the number you just calculated.

At beg of the following row, BO the same number – you should now have X x E sts.

Work even in pattern for C inches or C x Y rows, ending with a WS row.

Section B is 2” wider then section D, because a little added tightness before the front legs will help keep the sweater in place. Therefore you cast on an additional inch on each side when you switch from section C to B.

In other words, at the end of the next row, CO the number of sts you bound off at the beg of leg hole PLUS X.

At the end of following row, CO this number of sts once more.

Work even in pattern for B inches or B x Y rows.

W/ CC, BO.

Seam together the two pieces around the neck, joining D to I.


The trim will require patience and some inventiveness. Basically, I picked up sts evenly around all edges in CC with as many circular needles as it took, then switched to C3 and worked in a 4x2 rib for an inch all the way around, and then w/ C2, BO. (You don’t have to do the crazy color changes if you don’t want, I really did that to conserve yarn more than anything.) I did the body first, then the neck.

There are a few twists though. First, you may not have enough length of circular needle cords to get all the way around. In that case, rather than run out and buy more needles, you may choose to work the trim in sections and then seam together. Good luck.

Second, the corners require increases or decreases in order for the trim to lie flat. My corners aren’t perfect, and if you would prefer to use a different method, that’s fine, but at each corner I used 2 M1 increases, or 2 k2tog decreases, 1 st away from the corner on either side, doing my best to keep up the ribbing. EXCEPT – I worked even around the corners at the top and bottom of the front of the leg (not the back, I decreased at the back of the leg) so that the trim would stick out and act like a little bit of a sleeve.

Third, the buttonholes. Determine where you want the buttons – I suggest right behind the leg and at the end corners of the sweater belly. On the 2nd row of the trim, BO 1 or 2 sts fewer than you think you need to (depending on the tightness of your gauge and the give of your yarn) to accommodate your button. Do this 4 times, since you have 4 buttons. On the next row, CO that many sts again. Ta da, button holes.

Fourth, you will probably have to work decreases in the neck trim to accommodate the shape of your dog (unless your dog has a really thick neck!). Eventually you’re trying to achieve that #10 measurement you took of the doggy’s neck. I recommend you actually measure the neck of the sweater as it is before you begin the trim, and subtract the #10 measurement of your dog’s neck where you want the trim to end. You may want to go back and double check how many sts and rows the body trim took to get to 1” because it will likely be different from your original X & Y measurements, since the stitch pattern is different. Multiply the sts per inch by the difference in neck measurements to get the number of sts you need to decrease total, then divide that number by the rows per inch to get the number of sts you need to decrease per row. (Sound complicated? It is, a little, but you can do it - you're a knitter!) Anyway, you will likely want to do 2/3 to 3/4 of your decreases on the lower half of the neck, since most dogs’ bodies vary more sharply between chest and neck than between back and neck. Otherwise work them as evenly as possible, keeping in pattern as much as you can.


Once you’ve fought your way through the trim, you’re practically done – you just have to weave in any leftover ends and sew on those buttons with a needle and thread.

Then stuff your dog into the sweater and tease him/her to pieces.

(This is Riley unappreciative of all the teasing.)

(And this is how relieved you'll feel when it's over!)

***By the way, if you ever make this or any other pattern that may appear on my blog - send me pictures and I'll post them here!***


Anonymous said...

I love the pics of your dog he is so cute. He should be so lucky to be loved so much to get his own sweater!

meowdancer said...

Oh, yay for his cute little sweater. Tahnks for the pattern because I have a roly-poly dog and this sweater might actually fit her!!!

MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

I'm way to math-challenged and OCD to even read through the entire pattern, so it's safe to say I won't be knitting this any time soon, but it is a GORGEOUS sweater. It really is lovely, and I love the colors and I love your dog and I hope the cold weather isn't too tough.

Hope that's not to stalker-esque, but I just finished my tea and am a bit caffinated. :)

Anonymous said...

hey I should be able to measure my dachshund and make a better fitting sweater for her . . . if those darn numbers will stay in the right spot and she would quit wiggling!

katrinkles said...

Riley is so cute in his new coat! Hopefully someday i'll have a dog who i can dress in such an adorable sweater. and hey, we're neighbors! you should come to stitch and bitch in providence some time.

Geo said...

I can't wait to try this out on my Izzy! Thanks—that was a generous post.

Meg said...

OMG! I've been looking for a dog sweater pattern to fit my little luna who happens to also be a corgi. Yeah Riley! A pattern I can be excited to finish and know was made especially for doggies like mine!
P.S. I'll send a pic of Luna in her new sweater when it is finished.

Clevelandgurlie said...

That is the cutest doggie sweater I have ever seen. I too have two corgis - Toby and Gizmo. Gizmo looks like he could be Riley's brother. Take a look at mine at http://www.clevelandgirlie.blogspot.com Aren't corgis cool!!!

I really am trying to learn to knit and would LOVE LOVE LOVE to make this sweater for my Gizmo!!

You are an amazing fiber artist!

DaniDo said...

I make dog sweaters too, so I'm always on the look out for a cute new pattern. This pattern is adorable, however, your dog is MORE ADORABLE than anything else on the planet. Ever. Seriously. And I have some seriously cute dogs.

Lizardknits said...

This is a great sweater, you should submit it to knitty.com. Riley is adorable! I'm definitely going to make one of these for our new mini dachshund - Red. Thanks!

Xeric Maid said...

I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback. I wonder if the sweater could be adjusted to fit her ticked-up waist?

kgoldin said...

What a great looking sweater! I don't have a dog, but I love the stitch pattern and colors. I think it would make a great jacket for one of my little "animals" (re 3 year old boy). Great job on the doggy coat pattern. I'll forward it to my "doggy mommies" friends.

Cass said...

I love this sweater. I was so thrilled to find a template that would allow me to fit my odd-sized dog. My girl is a Blue Heeler/terrier cross (probably Jack Russel) and no standard patterns fit her. I have made two of these so far, and am working on two more. Not only is she warm and cosy in the sweater, but we regularly get complimented on the beautiful jumper and asked where we got it. People are always hugely impressed when I say I made it.

Cass said...

One more thing. I'm not sure if xeric maid will see this, but I wanted to say that because of the structure of the sweater it should adapt to narrow-waisted dogs fairly easily. My girl has a bit of a tucked waist and I was able to get a very good fit by just moving the two back buttons more towards the centre of the rear edge of the belly piece.

Pixie said...

I love this pattern. I teach classes at YarnArts of Parker (yarnartsofparker.com) and we've had so many people ask about dog sweater patterns. I am also a volunteer with Ho-Bo Care Boxer Rescue in Denver, Co (www.hobocare.com). We currently have a sweet boxer girl, Breezy, who is in the process of getting a very expensive surgery to correct a badly injured leg and I was wondering if you would allow me to use your dog sweater pattern to have a "knit your dog a sweater class" as a fundraiser for our Breezy? You can respond to me at pixie AT hobocare DOT com.

Cat said...

Oh my god, you are so clever! I really want to knit my dog a sweater but I think maybe its too hard!! I've never really knitted before... is there a beginners version? (don't tell me thats it!) It looks absolutely gorgeous. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

This is my first attempt at making a dog sweater. I measured my rat terrier and with the measurements I have made a paper grid. I want to use material and make a sample of the piece first. She was so squirmy that I don't know if I got the measurements right or not. A stretchy material will probably work best. Will see. Thanks for all the instructions.

kev said...

After a log search I finally found an on-line dog clothes store ( http://www.lolaandrocky.com ). Now after another long search I finally found a useful dog sweaters pattern. I've already started my work, so if I'll succeed to finish my first sweater I'll let you know.