Thursday, December 17, 2020

Square knot dog toy

Somehow we got on a square kick. Anyway. 

Like my easy arm-warmers, this a no-sew project.

There's an artisan fair we like to visit every November (except this November) at Heritage Prairie Farm. One year there, I saw a woman selling -- and making, as she sat in her booth -- these cool dog rope toys. She was tying strips of fabric in knots, resulting in a nicely solid but also kinda stretchy tug toy. 

Just like this writer, my first thought was, "I could make that." And, for the next 24 months I thought about what a great Christmas gift it would be for the dogs in my life. Finally, this year, I did it. I made the square rope described on Create Laugh Grow (the writer referenced above), which turns out skinnier than the dog toys I saw at the artisan fair, but I think the basic concept is the same, with variables like fabric type and width giving you different sizes and textures of rope.

I found Create Laugh Grow's instructions very helpful, but I still didn't make the square rope correctly the first time. A closer read revealed that the instructions were perfect; I just didn't read far enough down the page to get the crucial clarification. because I misunderstood the important trick of keeping each of the four strands always on its own side.  

Using four different colors is one way to keep track (and results in neat stripes). So, let's pretend you have red, lavender, teal, and brown strips of fabric. For the two vertical strips, being folded top down or bottom up, let's say the red strip is always on the right, and the lavender strip is always on the left (top down, bottom up), and for the two horizontal strips you're weaving left and right, teal always on top and brown always on bottom. 

Now, if you want a round rope, with your different colored strips making a spiral pattern, just do what I mistakenly did the first time: No matter what strip is on top, fold it down to the right, always from the top down to the right. Whenver folding a strip up from the bottom, to the left. Weaving from right to left, always on the bottom. From left to right, on top. 

So here are those instructions, with my notes.

  1. Cut 4 lengths of fleece fabric. About 2" wide and 45" long is ideal for a medium-sized dog. NOTE: 45 inches seems long, but all the knot-tying compresses the fabric significantly. My 35 inches of fleece made a rope about 8 inches long with barely enough leftover to tie the end knot. I also tried this with old jeans, which make a nice, solid rope but lose more length because they don't have the stretchiness of fleece. Already making the rope shorter is the limit of the jeans themselves -- unless you're very tall, you won't get 45 inches from your old pants legs.
  2. Tie a regular overhand knot at one end, leaving a few inches of fabric as a tail. Pull the knot tight.
  3. Tie your square knots:
    1. Open your 4 strips into a plus sign shape.
    2. Fold the top strip towards the bottom, a little to one side, always the same side as you progress. NOTE: I misunderstood this step to mean whenever folding the top strip down, it should always go down to the right. Not so! It means this particular strip, whether folding it down from the top or up from the bottom, should always stay on the right. The other vertical strip, whether folding up or down, always stays on the left. 
    3. Fold the bottom strip towards the top, a little to the other side, always the same side as you progress. NOTE: Same as the vertical strips.
    4. Fold the right strip towards the left. Pass over the first strip, then under the second.
    5. Fold the left strip toward the right. Pass over the first strip, then under the second.
  4. Pull all of the strips nice and tight.
  5. When you've got about 5 inches left, tie off the end with another overhand knot and pull tightly. NOTE: If you're using old jeans or other scap fabric that does not stretch like fleece, you need more than 5 inches to tie this end knot. At least, I did.
  6. Trim off tails to make them even. Snip the tails into a fringe if you like.
Two last notes on using jeans instead of fleece:
  1. If your old jeans are too ratty and wearing thin, they might tear when you pull the strip tight to knot. Obviously, such fabric will not work so well for a semi-sturdy dog toy.
  2. The jeans made a thicker rope (larger in diameter) than the fleece. That same lack of stretchiness also equals less ability to compress into a small knot.

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