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Knitting and Woolly Woofers Q&A with Debbie Bliss

(33 Posts)
LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 27-Aug-14 11:35:25

Debbie Bliss is one of the foremost designers and authors of hand-knitting patterns in the UK, the US, Europe and Asia. She's the author of hand-knitting bestsellers including Simply Baby and Essential Kids and her books have sold over a quarter of a million copies worldwide and been translated into 11 languages.

Her latest book is Woolly Woofers which, in her own words, "combines two of my great loves; knitting and dogs. I am not interested in a snooty pet who can take you or leave you (fellow dog-lovers, you know who I mean). I want unconditional love. I want a pet who, when you pop out to the kitchen for a few minutes, will behave as though you had been gone for months on your return. Surely all doggy devotion should be rewarded with the best possible wardrobe, lovingly knitted by their owner."

Woolly Woofers is a collection of over 20 knitwear designs for dogs - "an irresistible mixture of cosy, cute and comic canine outfits" - and will be published on 11 September.

Add your knitting/doggy/yarn-related (or any combination of...) questions for Debbie by Wednesday 10 September when we will be sending them over to her to answer. Plus a signed copy to be won by someone who posts.

rubysong Thu 28-Aug-14 00:24:22

I love knitting and would like to knit a stylish outfit for my son's lovely English Bull Terrier. I am concerned that she might try and scratch to remove it as she isn't used to wearing a coat. What kind of fastenings do you find are the most secure and the most comfortable for the dog. P.S. I don't like circular needles or knitting on four needles. Will there be patterns for traditional two needle knitting?

janerowena Thu 28-Aug-14 11:31:32

I have a friend with four rescue greyhounds. She is always knitting them daft outfits, she would love this. So I hope they is a pattern that would fit greyhounds!

Their jewellery is better than mine! I love the collars she buys them.

Galen Thu 28-Aug-14 17:05:15

I don't knit, I crochet. My darling daughter insists on natural, (but machine washable) yarns for the children.
I love the feel of your yarns, but find they keep on splitting. It's probably me, but do you have any tips to stop it happening?
Also can you reccomend any VERY SIMPLE dress patterns for a 3year old child?
Thankyou.

Buddie Thu 28-Aug-14 18:37:33

My query involves yarn.
I have inherited an almost completed cardigan which was knitted in yarn bought over twenty years ago. The garment would be too big for me so I would love to unpick it and knit it up into a cosy jumper but there are no ball bands to tell me what the yarn was although I suspect it may be Sirdar. Is there any way of finding out what type of pattern I need to look out for? I wondered about knitting up a square and taking measurements but would this be sufficient do you think?

Iamnotanapple Fri 29-Aug-14 01:51:40

How do you design patterns yourself. Its always seemed so terribly complicated to me about as complicated as rocket science. I have been knitting for years and can follow patterns but just can't see how people actually make them up themselves!.
Your book looks fabulous I am definitely going to get a copy I already have quite a library of books dedicated to dog and cat knits although I don't like dressing my dogs up to look like fairies etc I do like cute patterns for the less furry covered pooches to keep them warm in the winter.

RoseBlossom Fri 29-Aug-14 07:56:03

My yarn especially baby cash merino has a habit of splitting I use good quality needles bamboo or knit pro any tips to avoid this please thank u

Grannyknot Sun 31-Aug-14 13:42:54

Hi Debbie, I have been bought knitting pattern books (including some of yours) by my children over the years as gifts. However, although I would say I am a relatively experienced knitter, sometimes I struggle like the clappers with the patterns, because too much knowledge by the knitter is assumed. So ... I tend to gravitate towards buying patterns online, or even sourcing free ones, because often there is the opportunity of a dialogue with the pattern designer if you are stuck, and/or because it is an electronic version of the patterns, updates can be readily made if errors are picked up. (I print them out of course, but often revisit the website to check for comments when I am struggling).

So my question is - do you test your patterns on "ordinary" knitters? And what do you think about online sites being more suitable for sourcing knitting patterns than books (which are often expensive to buy)?

Soutra Mon 01-Sep-14 09:02:00

Present cimpany excepted i.e your own patterns, I find that UK patterns for babies and tiddlers are still rooted in the 50's- fussy matinee jackets, hideous bonnets, and so on so I need to look further afield. When DDs were small I used to love Phildar patterns- simple, fun and striking and using some lovely vibrant colours. Do you think I am beung unfair or can you point me in the right direction? I do love the feel of your Baby Cashmerino by the way.

glammanana Sat 06-Sep-14 14:51:00

I would say I have an average grasp of knitting and do enjoy it,I made countless jackets etc for my own children & grandchildren and have used your Cashmerino wool.
This time my knitting task is for Poppy our little rescued Lhasa do you have some easy patterns I can follow so she stays cosy this coming winter she likes to be out quite a lot and with living close to the River the wind chill does affect her.

GraceG Mon 08-Sep-14 15:21:14

I love your woollywoofers patterns featured in the Saturday Telegraph this last weekend. Such original 'on trend' ideas as are all your patterns. We have our own brown and white alpacas whose fleece we saved for 5 years till we had enough to be spun into double knitting wool. I now have the urge to knit Wolf in Sheep's Clothing for our wire haired dachshund, it would look perfect in the brown and white! My question is how did you get the dogs to pose for your fabulous photographs?

neena Mon 08-Sep-14 15:45:00

Hi Debbie, your new book sounds great. I have a couple of questions, related to knitting in general.

Which type of yarn do you most like to knit with? And why?

What would you recommend I make with my granddaughter (she in 14) for her first attempt at knitting and what style should I teach her first?

Thanks very much! neena x

Twostep Mon 08-Sep-14 16:39:03

I recently picked up my knitting needles again after many (many) years of not having done anything. I feel as though I'm starting from scratch! Are there any patterns in your book that a complete beginner (for the second time) could try?

annamay Mon 08-Sep-14 16:51:51

hello Debbie. Any plans to branch out into patterns for cats?! My granddaughter has a house cat (she lives in a flat) and because he doesn't go out she maintains that he can't be embarrassed by the neck ties she puts on him in front of the neighbourhood cats!

Do your dogs enjoy being dressed to the nines?! I'm feeling a bit envious now...I shall have to borrow a dog to knit for.

marbless Tue 09-Sep-14 16:40:28

I'm a fellow dog lover - how many do you have? Your book sounds fabulous. Do you have any tips for outfits for very wet or snowy weather - I worry knits will get so soggy that the benefits will be lost

ktth0 Tue 09-Sep-14 16:42:24

Dear Debbie

I would love to knit something special for my darling baby granddaughter - but she suffers from severe eczema and I have been asked not to use wool and I would like to find something soft that's not too synthetic feeling. Any ideas?

Thank you in advance

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:13:36

rubysong

I love knitting and would like to knit a stylish outfit for my son's lovely English Bull Terrier. I am concerned that she might try and scratch to remove it as she isn't used to wearing a coat. What kind of fastenings do you find are the most secure and the most comfortable for the dog. P.S. I don't like circular needles or knitting on four needles. Will there be patterns for traditional two needle knitting?

My advice would be to make the styles that cover the back for warmth and have straps that go under the chest and around the neck. This style would be ideal for a dog not used to wearing a coat. I use Velcro on the straps as this secures the coat but comes apart should the dog get hooked on a twig on a walk! Most of the dog coats are worked on two needles. I love English Bull Terriers!

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:14:29

Galen

I don't knit, I crochet. My darling daughter insists on natural, (but machine washable) yarns for the children.
I love the feel of your yarns, but find they keep on splitting. It's probably me, but do you have any tips to stop it happening?
Also can you reccomend any VERY SIMPLE dress patterns for a 3year old child?
Thankyou.

If you are having problems with splitting yarn you may be using needles that have too sharp a point or knitting rather quickly without checking that you have put the tip of the needle completely in the stitch, also see my reply to Rose Blossom.

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:15:47

Buddie

My query involves yarn.
I have inherited an almost completed cardigan which was knitted in yarn bought over twenty years ago. The garment would be too big for me so I would love to unpick it and knit it up into a cosy jumper but there are no ball bands to tell me what the yarn was although I suspect it may be Sirdar. Is there any way of finding out what type of pattern I need to look out for? I wondered about knitting up a square and taking measurements but would this be sufficient do you think?

I am afraid that you may find that as the fabric of the cardigan was knitted twenty years ago that when you unpick it the yarn may not be usable - but it would depend entirely on the yarn. I would recommend that you unpick a bit and knit up a square as you suggest, it will give you an indication of the weight of the yarn, an aran or double knitting for example.

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:16:21

Iamnotanapple

How do you design patterns yourself. Its always seemed so terribly complicated to me about as complicated as rocket science. I have been knitting for years and can follow patterns but just can't see how people actually make them up themselves!.
Your book looks fabulous I am definitely going to get a copy I already have quite a library of books dedicated to dog and cat knits although I don't like dressing my dogs up to look like fairies etc I do like cute patterns for the less furry covered pooches to keep them warm in the winter.

Some patterns can be very tricky I have to admit, especially when grading different sizes . Also there is not only the look and design to juggle but also often some very complicated maths ! Experience does build up over the years and I often think it is a shame that there is nowhere where up and coming designers can learn pattern compiling
I am so glad you like the book, rest assured it is a fairy free publication!


DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:16:46

RoseBlossom

My yarn especially baby cash merino has a habit of splitting I use good quality needles bamboo or knit pro any tips to avoid this please thank u

I am sorry to hear that you find that Baby Cashmerino splits when you knit . It may be that you are a fast knitter like myself which can sometimes lead to splitting when the point of the needle is inserted wrongly into the stitch or that you need to change to needles that have a slightly blunter point. Also some yarns are more loosely wound in order to create a softer fabric so care must be taken when knitting.

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:17:15

Grannyknot

Hi Debbie, I have been bought knitting pattern books (including some of yours) by my children over the years as gifts. However, although I would say I am a relatively experienced knitter, sometimes I struggle like the clappers with the patterns, because too much knowledge by the knitter is assumed. So ... I tend to gravitate towards buying patterns online, or even sourcing free ones, because often there is the opportunity of a dialogue with the pattern designer if you are stuck, and/or because it is an electronic version of the patterns, updates can be readily made if errors are picked up. (I print them out of course, but often revisit the website to check for comments when I am struggling).

So my question is - do you test your patterns on "ordinary" knitters? And what do you think about online sites being more suitable for sourcing knitting patterns than books (which are often expensive to buy)?

In a collection of designs I always try to have a range of patterns that suit a range of skills, so that within a collection of say 12 designs there are ones that will be suitable for a beginner or inexperienced knitter and some that will be enjoyed by the more experienced knitter. I sometimes struggle when reading other designer’s patterns if they are worded in a way that I find ambiguous so I try to make my patterns read in as simple a way as possible.
However, knitters can sometimes misread instructions, for example they may not understand the way that brackets or parentheses work. Sometimes there simply isn’t space to include everything, such as writing out row by row increasing into shaping such as on a sleeve. All my patterns are knitted by “ordinary” knitters, and they will point out if they have found something confusing.
If a knitter has a query about one of my patterns, they can contact me through my website. I love to work on a collection of designs in book form because it allows me to tell the “story” behind the pattern and the theme that has been inspired by the yarn. However, there is definitely a trend for single patterns.

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:18:16

Soutra

Present cimpany excepted i.e your own patterns, I find that UK patterns for babies and tiddlers are still rooted in the 50's- fussy matinee jackets, hideous bonnets, and so on so I need to look further afield. When DDs were small I used to love Phildar patterns- simple, fun and striking and using some lovely vibrant colours. Do you think I am beung unfair or can you point me in the right direction? I do love the feel of your Baby Cashmerino by the way.

I am delighted to hear you like my designs and I was a fan of the Phildar patterns too ! I think there is a lot more choice now in pattern designs for babies and children and also the there is a greater range of shades. If you like the style of my designs I could point you in the direction of my Baby Cashmerino booklets - there are five of them now- or the books I have published with Quadrille, including the Ultimate Book of Baby Knits. Look them up on my website

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:19:02

glammanana

I would say I have an average grasp of knitting and do enjoy it,I made countless jackets etc for my own children & grandchildren and have used your Cashmerino wool.
This time my knitting task is for Poppy our little rescued Lhasa do you have some easy patterns I can follow so she stays cosy this coming winter she likes to be out quite a lot and with living close to the River the wind chill does affect her.

Most of the patterns in the book are for the average knitter so I am sure you will find that you are able to tackle most of them. There are different styles too, some which are ideal for smaller dogs such as Puppy Polo, Man’s Bee Friend or the lined Give a Dog A Bone coat.

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:19:52

GraceG

I love your woollywoofers patterns featured in the Saturday Telegraph this last weekend. Such original 'on trend' ideas as are all your patterns. We have our own brown and white alpacas whose fleece we saved for 5 years till we had enough to be spun into double knitting wool. I now have the urge to knit Wolf in Sheep's Clothing for our wire haired dachshund, it would look perfect in the brown and white! My question is how did you get the dogs to pose for your fabulous photographs?

Delighted to hear that you like the designs! Would love to see the pic of your daschund in it if you do decide to knit the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
I had a brilliant photographer Richard Burns who I work with a lot on fashion shoots. He is a dog lover too and his English Springer Spaniel Millie also modelled for the book. Dogs love him so a combination of his calming influence and some brilliant owners with well behaved pooches made for some great shots. The only misbehaving dog was my Parsons Russell Smiffy (featured on the cover of the book) who got bored and kept wandering off.


DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:20:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:22:18

neena

Hi Debbie, your new book sounds great. I have a couple of questions, related to knitting in general.

Which type of yarn do you most like to knit with? And why?

What would you recommend I make with my granddaughter (she in 14) for her first attempt at knitting and what style should I teach her first?

Thanks very much! neena x

My yarn of choice tends to be influenced by my mood, sometimes I feel like picking up the needles and knitting something small and delicate like a baby garment in Baby Cashmerino. Other times I want to work with something chunky and quick to knit like Paloma or my new yarn Roma.
How lovely to get the opportunity to teach your granddaughter to knit! There is nothing better than starting with something simple which is also on trend to interest a teenager. There is going to be a lot of chunky scarves around this season so a garter stitch (all rows knit) scarf in a chunkier yarn would be ideal. Normally I wouldn’t recommend the thicker yarns for a complete beginner because the larger needles can be a bit awkward to handle initially but I think it is important that your granddaughter can see the knitting grow quickly for a bit more “instant gratification”. Look out for a free pattern for a beginners knit scarf on my website soon.

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:23:03

Twostep

I recently picked up my knitting needles again after many (many) years of not having done anything. I feel as though I'm starting from scratch! Are there any patterns in your book that a complete beginner (for the second time) could try?

Welcome back to knitting! There are some plainer knits in the book, the moss stitch Give A Dog a Bone Coat or the stocking stitch Mod Dog which has a bullseye motif which can be left off or the simple Puppy Polo. You will probably find that you will pick up the techniques quickly, rather like riding a bike, but there also some excellent tip books available now or very helpful You Tube videos.


DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:23:38

annamay

hello Debbie. Any plans to branch out into patterns for cats?! My granddaughter has a house cat (she lives in a flat) and because he doesn't go out she maintains that he can't be embarrassed by the neck ties she puts on him in front of the neighbourhood cats!

Do your dogs enjoy being dressed to the nines?! I'm feeling a bit envious now...I shall have to borrow a dog to knit for.

I have to say that one of the things I love about dogs is their ability to look embarrassed at almost everything! I am passionate about dogs so I am afraid that there isn’t enough love left over for cats. I would recommend some rather lovely knitted kerchiefs in the book, the bone or paw motif can easily be replaced by a fish skeleton or whiskers!

DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:24:09

marbless

I'm a fellow dog lover - how many do you have? Your book sounds fabulous. Do you have any tips for outfits for very wet or snowy weather - I worry knits will get so soggy that the benefits will be lost

I have two, Monty a beagle and Smiffy a Parson Russell Terrier. I would recommend the outfits in the bog that are lined to prevent stretching. This includes the Give a Dog a Bone Coat which has a smart tartan lining and the Pirate Pooch which had a rather snazzy skull and crossbones lining!


DebbieBliss Mon 15-Sep-14 11:24:42

ktth0

Dear Debbie

I would love to knit something special for my darling baby granddaughter - but she suffers from severe eczema and I have been asked not to use wool and I would like to find something soft that's not too synthetic feeling. Any ideas?

Thank you in advance

I am so sorry to hear your granddaughter suffers from severe eczema, it runs in my family too so I know how miserable it can be. My sister uses my Eco Baby, which is an organic cotton ,for her granddaughter Tabitha who also has severe eczema and she wears the knits very happily with no bad reaction. I also have a 100% cotton called Cotton DK which I love to knit with and is very soft.

EmilyGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 15-Sep-14 11:48:03

Thank you to everyone for posting your questions to Debbie, she really enjoyed answering them all.

And congratulations to grannyknot you have won a copy of Debbie's new book, 'Woolly Woofers,' please check your emails for more details.

Best,

GNHQ

Susiep1 Mon 01-Apr-19 12:59:50

Hi Debbie, I have made Catherine Sweater but I'm having problems connecting crochet flowers to main body, I have made 12 flowers and have correct number of stitches on main part, but when I connect them up I am left with about 5 inches of back spare. Can you help me please. I don't usually have problems.