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Dear Ann,

I’ve got big Swarfalong news: my Swarf is done. True to form, I did the sewn bindoff on the neck about an hour before our Swarfalong kick-off zoom with Cecelia Campochiaro last Friday. Where would I be without deadlines?

I’ve also got small Swarfalong news: I made a Swarf for Olive. It’s a Swarf, all righty—but with two short seams and the deployment of a sturdy rustic wool, I turned it into a hearty and hardy little dog coat for my snarly little best friend.

This is one of those ideas that comes to you while you’re letting your mind wander as you knit something soulful and satisfying like the Swarf.

The front of the Swarf is a long piece of sweater-y fabric—like the back of a dog coat. And the back of the Swarf is a smaller, shorter piece of ribbed fabric—like the chest/front of a dog coat! So just by following the Swarf pattern, with stitch count adjustments for doggy dimensions—I was nearly all the way there!

The only modification would be two short seams to secure the front and back, leaving openings for Olive’s front legs. I had to try it!

From Swarf to Swoof: How to Do It

I will never write a dog sweater pattern. Dogs are too variable in shape and size!

But for knitters who think Olive’s Swarf, aka the Swoof, would work for a dog they have in mind, I’ll sketch out how I did it, and I’ll answer any questions in the comments as best I can.

My starting point was Cecelia Campochiaro’s Swarf pattern for humans, so it will make most sense if you know the Swarf, and perhaps it makes the most sense of all if you’re knitting a Swarf for yourself. (Look at all the beautiful Swarfs on Ravelry.)

Olive’s Vital Statistics

For frame of reference, here are Olive’s particulars.

Chest: 16 inches/40 cm

Length from collar to tail: 16 inches/40 cm

Weight: 11 pounds soaking wet

Size in store-bought dog clothes: Small.

Style: If Mrs. Maisel were a dog.

The Yarn

I love Olive, but I was not going to devote a yarn as elegant and soft as Woolfolk Tynd to this project. I wanted something heavier and harder-wearing. [whispers] She’s a dog.

I had recently rummaged through my Léttlopi stash (hmm wonder why), though, so the léttbulb lit up in my brain. I picked five colors that suited Olive. She’s an Autumn, she looks good in warm earthtones and also jewel colors—we’ve discussed this, Ann.

Quantity: I used less than half of the total yardage of the five skeins. If you’re not doing as many colors, you could get by with two to three skeins (for Olive’s size).

I used a US 9 needle and two strands of Léttlopi for marling. Did this give me a pretty firm fabric? Yes, intentionally. Note that I’m a loose knitter, so if you’re not, you’d want to go up a needle size or two.

The Knitting

Dog Coat Back

I cast on 36 stitches. I divided the Swarf’s stitch sequence to divide into 3 sets of 12 stitches, alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette.

Each section is 10 rows long.

I followed the pattern, changing the marl colors as I went and as I wished, until I was getting close to the collar.

Then I made an opening for a leash/harness attachment by binding off 4 stitches in the center of the center section, and then, on the next row, casting on 4 stitches over those bound-off stitches.

Then I finished the last 10-row repeat, cut the yarn, and left the back stitches on their needle while I made the front piece.

Dog Coat Front

I cast on 36 stitches again and worked K2, P2 ribbing.  I worked out how long I was going to make the front by starting with the marl sequence in the middle of the back of the coat and just copying those 10-row marls all the way up to the  collar. This was not necessary but it made it easy to match up the pieces for the little seams.

Dog Coat Collar

I joined the back and front to work in the round, continuing in the ribbing pattern.

I did not do any of the yoke decreases that the human Swarf pattern calls for, nor did I work the neck in plain stockinette like the Swarf. I just started right in on the collar, and ribbed it for neatness and easy on/off-ness.

I ended with the sewn bind off, because Olive deserves a sewn bind off. This is not her first dog coat, she has Standards.

Then I tried it on her for fit, sewed those two little seams under her front legs, wove in the ends, and voilà!

Here’s our girl, warmly be-Swoofed.

What I’d Change

I was so taken with this notional project that I raced through it. Olive is not one to sit still for multiple fittings, and I figured I could treat her first Swoof as a wearable muslin, and make any modifications to the next one.

My edits, for Olive, would be:

Make the fit a bit snugger, chiefly by narrowing the ribbed front, maybe down to 24 or even 22 stitches. Maybe make the back a few stitches narrower, too, but I like the way it lays like a blanket on her back.

Make the front an inch or two longer for enhanced belly warmth.

Decrease 8 stitches or so before starting the neck ribbing, so the front of the collar isn’t quite so open. (It needs to be fairly open to slip easily over her head, but it could stand to be a bit snugger.)

The way I did it, it’s almost a cowl neck. Easy to get over her head, and Fine for city walks, but could catch on sticks when she’s tearing through the underbrush.


No false modesty here: This is one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.

Olive’s Swoof is marled, and so is the coat she was born with.

Dog sweaters are tricky. Even though the sweaters I’ve knit for Olive have been quick knits, they have sometimes been a bit too complicated for my liking. The Swoof is a breeze to knit—two flat, straight pieces that are easy to alter to fit—and it’s a comfy, functional dog coat.

I made Olive’s Swoof in a matter of hours, and did the finishing in minutes. No buttons! No shaping! No guessing where to place leg holes!

I would definitely not change the yarn. Léttlopi, doubled, is dense and warm. I bet it will felt a little with wear, and Olive loves that sheepy Icelandic flavor—she lays her head on the skeins while I’m knitting.


If anyone else makes a Swoof, would you please please please let me know so I can admire it? Pinky swear?

Our Instagram hashtag is #MDKswoof, and please tag me, @kaygardiner. I will also see Swoofs (Swooves?) posted in the MDK Lounge, in our Marlalong topic. Please and thank you!




  • I have two golden doodles who are 60 pounds each. I think two swoops would take me two weeks but I’ll let you know. Brilliant idea. I love when my creative self turns on the lightbulb. We have credenza for tv/cable boxes. Their playballs kept rolling under it and I would get down on my knees to retrieve them. Very painful. Last week I took cardboard from a box, cut it the right size, put covered it in contact paper to match my rug. No more lost balls!

  • I love how Olive refuses to look at the camera.

    • I noticed that too. Poor Olive, the paparazzi are exhausting.

  • What does Olive think about her new look? Inquiring minds want to know!

  • yes I’d like an Olive review of Knit….

  • I saw Olive strutting her swoof on instagram yesterday and thought “brilliant idea”! I love this. It reminds me of a horse blanket.

  • Using Lopi was a brilliant idea!

    • It might be time for a Skitty (Skwitty?)… there is some Lopi laying around & the kitty, he likes to be warm (and admired)…

      • I am tempted to try this even though I’m nowhere near done on my own Swarf! I have an elderly cat who seems to feel the cold more and more. She is a tuxedo so whatever colors I put on her, she will pop..

  • I don’t even have a dog and I want to knit one. I think it’s because it is called Swoof. And because Olive wears it so well.

  • This is genius and adorable, a winning combination in my book!

  • This is terrific. And you could run a line of elastic around the neck to draw it in a bit? I’ve been known to do that for arrmholes neck lines etc..

  • Oh my. This one hits ALL my hot buttons. Three dogs — many options.

  • My pup what never wear HUMAN clothes. Are you serious??????
    That Olive , she is such a precious diva!

  • This is the cutest and Olive is such a reluctant model. LOL

    • To be fair to her I picked the shots that were all about the sweater! She does occasionally look at me more or less cheerfully.

  • This is fantastic. I will be making some for my next craft fair. Unfortunately, my dog is a Sheltie living in Florida so he doesn’t need a coat.

  • This is fabulous! I would think about adding a large button and a loop on the neck. Still super easy to get it on, but then snugs it up.

    • Such an excellent idea! It’s a toggle-opportunity!

      • I had one of those Jul toggle/snap thingies (in my button box for 10 years) and I just installed it, now awaiting on her royal highness to feel like putting her sweater on.

  • Terrific idea! I have a friend with a Great Dane that needs a winter warm-up jacket … now if I could just get Hannah (the Dane) to allow measurements … 🙂

  • OMG, that is soooo cute! I knitted a sweater for my dachshund years ago absolutely on the wing (no pattern) out of some kinda fancy alpaca something something. He still sports it occasionally but he’s too elderly to be outside in the cold now. This is a perfect project for Lettlopi–what a wonderful workhorse of a yarn. And those colors!! thanks, Kay, and thanks, Olive!

  • So…since Olive looks good in both earth AND jewel tones she must be an Autumn/Winter, a legitimate variation. There’s a book about that. Your design is really elegant, Kay. I bet she struts her stuff in all the right places.

  • So smart, and Olive wears it beautifully! For bigger dogs with deeper chests that are hard to fit, it might be fairly easy to knit and attach a belly band to each side of the back (with a simple button closure) closer to the rear legs…that might help keep the back of the Swoof from shifting as the dog walks.

    • My GSD, Countess Lily Pons agrees.

  • My felt guilty for knitting my crabby chihuahua mix, Jayne, a lettlopi sweater (with colorwork yoke). Thanks for normalizing Icelandic wool sweaters for dogs! 😉 Love the Swoof.

    • Guilty, no way. All doggos deserve the best.

  • just beautiful Kay, great explanation too and funny, love your writing!

  • The Swoof is nice, but it seems the supermodel diva was in a mood. Maybe the makeup artist didn’t show up on time for the shoot. Then again, maybe Olive wasn’t paid enough for the fittings…

  • I’m not a dog person (sorry) and I don’t think my cats would be amused with this lovely knit garment. I have to say this post is one of my favorites from MDK. Thanks for the chuckle!

  • Your Swarf is beautiful. Bet those colors look great on you.

    I love Olive’s Swoof. Perfect. When she walks through Central Park, the paparazzi must follow her. She has just enough attitude. Cunningham would have lifted his lens. I bet The Canine Sartorialist knows her.

    All you makers coming up with bespoke wardrobes for your pets are making me jealous! I need a dog.

  • I am obsessed with the Swoof. I wish I had a woof to make a Swoof for!

    • How about one for your local humane/animal services/ rescue group. i bet they need one.


  • Genius!

  • Thank you. One of our volunteers has a chihuahua that really needs a swoof. I am so on this.

  • I love your Olive in her new sweater aka Mrs. Maisel style! And since she’s an “Autumn” the colors are perfect! My smile for the day!

  • That is cussin’ cute (leaps out of bed to find yarn…)

  • How sweet, a Swoof!
    I have an English Mastiff who would wear a swarf bigger than me, and a fluffy floofy Newfoundland. They’re not Swoof dogs, just in their hearts.

  • My brother recommended I woukd possibly like this blog.
    He was onc entirely right. This puut upp truly made myy day.
    Yoou cann’t considxer juist hhow much time I had spent for thiss info!
    Thank you!

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