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February 20

A Sweater for Ernie

It’s quite rare that I knit for other people.  I’d love to make for those I love, but I’ve had such bad experiences of people not really wearing what I made.  And what’s almost worse is that some never appreciated the time it takes to make a handmade knit or sewn garment that I just stopped altogether.

Last year a coworker of mine had asked me if I could knit his dog a sweater.  Being in the middle of my no-knitting-for-others angst, I chuffed and offered a sewn one instead since that would be much quicker.  He  didn’t bring it up again after that so I thought I’d gotten out of it.

But…. this year he kindly asked again.  I succumbed to the peer pressure of it and had him choose his yarn colors.  In all honesty, he’s not really one to ask for anything which is in part, why I gave in.  That and it was the second year that he asked me about it.

I fully realize I sound a bit snotty about knitting (or not knitting) for others.  But really, I’ve just gotten my feeling hurt way too much in the past; I’d rather attempt to prevent that from happening again is all.

What was most surprising is that he’d gone to the trouble of pre-purchasing a knitting pattern that he wanted me to use.  I have no idea how he got a hold of the pattern, but it’s the wurstwarmer dog sweater that is up on Ravelry, which is the perfect dachshund knit.

Not wanting to take up any of my precious sewing time in the evening that I was spending on my Macaron Redux dress, I knit this little sweater during my lunch breaks at work.  I don’t even have any progress shots since I was at work the whole time with it, just the finished ones.

The underside of the sweater.

I bought a 100% superwash wool, but it was a scratchy wool from Joann’s, not at all pleasant to work with.  But I knew it would hold up well on a dog which would need many washings over the course of the winter.

The one super awesome tip I learnt from a knitting buddy (Maria I’m talking about you) is to soak your scratchy knit in hair conditioner.

Wool is, after all, an animal fiber.  We wash & condition our hair, so why not wool too?!  I used my husband’s conditioner and swished it around in the bathroom sink for a few minutes.  I then rinsed it out a few times and laid it out to dry on my tailor’s ham.

Anyone with a dachshund: tailor’s hams are perfect for forming the sweater for their bull-chests.

In the morning I had the softest yarn, you’d never know it was an icky, scratchy one in the first place.

“E” is for Ernie.  :)

I think the “E” is what turns this sweater from functional into cute!  I used a crochet chain technique I saw on Purlbee.  It’s tricky because you have to hold the yarn on the inside of the sweater and pull the loops through to the top of the sweater.  But once I got the hang of it, it went relatively easily.  (The “E” took me about 45 mins to an hour to complete).

What’s more is that it fits Ernie.

Doesn’t he look like he got in trouble here?!  heh

I went back and forth a few times with adjusting the armholes and chest-girth for the Ernie.  I put thread into the live stitches and sent the sweater home with my coworker, Tracy on several occasions to be sure of the fit.

While it does seem a bit snug in the waist for Mr. Ernie, I’m sure it will loosen up a bit over time.

Ernie looking contemplative… or perhaps…. Squirrel!

All in all, I think this is one of the cuter projects that I’ve made and I’m happy I took the extra time to personalize it for him.  I think it looks like a little letterman jacket/sweater, don’t you agree?!

How do you guys fare at gift making for others?  Do they usually love it or have you been caught in the negative-aspect of it like I have been in the past?

  1. Di / Feb 20 2013

    Ernie is adorable in his new sweater! I love that he’s long haired too.

  2. Tasha / Feb 20 2013

    Awwww that sweater and Ernie are absolutely adorable!

    I rarely knit for others and I have no qualms about it. I’ve done plenty of crafting for others in the past (mostly before I knit, but a little during too) and have also had experiences where it was under-appreciated or unused. I just don’t do it very often anymore. Also, knitting is something that relaxes me, and it stresses me out to work on deadlines for others. At that point it ceases to be fun, which defeats the whole purpose for me. :)

    But I totally get that others (like my mom) LOVE creating for others. My hat’s off to them!

  3. Michelle / Feb 20 2013

    Awe. Adorable! I totally get where you’re coming from with the giving of knitted gifts. There’s nothing worse the unappreciative recipients. :-(

  4. Rachel / Feb 20 2013

    He looks adorable and very warm! I have been the lucky recipient of several handmade gifts and have given a few myself (only to close friends and family who I know either sew themselves or appreciate handmade gifts) The one thing I have to say about giving is that it should be something you know they would want/like just as much as you enjoy making it, often I get excited about a potential gift I could make someone and then I think wait, would that person actually prefer an itunes voucher? In which case I am probably more creating the gift for my own satisfaction than theirs and that is not in the spirit of giving! Not everyone values homemade like I do and that is their choice, this is what I try to keep in mind :)

    • Liz / Feb 20 2013

      Thanks Rachel! This is really good to remember… the gifts I’ve made it’s because they have everything already and I have no idea what they would like. Perhaps that’s part of the issue… :)

  5. Rochelle New / Feb 20 2013

    Oh my gosh sooooooo cute!!! ….squirrel!! (that made me smile lol) I busted both my wrists like a dumb dumb trying to crank out a cowl for my Mister that he’s only worn like, once. So yeah I don’t think you’re snooty AT ALL. p.s. I don’t think the size of the sweater is the uh, root, of the fit issue on little Ernie lol. Regardless, he is in fact adorable in his letterman sweater! I need to make Lucille a sweater some day.

    • Liz / Feb 20 2013

      I love that cowl you made! The buttons were amazing on it!

      A sweater for Lucille would be very cute. I bet she’d look adorable in a little hood with holes for her ears. I bet she’d LOVE it. hehe

  6. Pennie / Feb 20 2013

    I have discovered after much heartache that you should only make things for people who also make things…people who don’t make things think you are being cheap, people who also make things realise that actually you are giving a greater gift because if you make a present you are sharing your time with people, and we are all time poor, buying presents are actually the easy and cheap option.

    • Liz / Feb 20 2013

      Thanks Pennie! I couldn’t agree more. :)

  7. Maggie / Feb 20 2013

    I agree with the rest. Making things for people who don’t sew or knit can lead to our own heartbreak and it has happened enough to me to know firsthand. I think the sweater for Ernie is adorable, and I am sure your co-worker was extremely happy! At least he better be ;)

    • Liz / Feb 20 2013

      Heh He was quite happy with the result if I can say so myself. I hope Ernie liked it just as much. :)

  8. Kat / Feb 20 2013

    Omg earnie is so cute!!!! Love the little jumper.

  9. Shannon / Feb 20 2013

    I don’t think you’re being snotty at all! Knitting is a huge time investment and most people don’t realize how big of a deal it is to have something handmade. There’s an entire comm on Ravelry dedicated to selfish knitting. Personally I only make things for people I love dearly, and if they aren’t appreciative I won’t make anything else for them. It’s way too hard to look at something that you spent days and days working on and see it gathering dust. Especially when you could use the time to make something for yourself that you know know you will love and use!

  10. KWu / Feb 20 2013

    I totally agree as well, these days the only person I’ve knit for more than once is my grandma because she’s so much on the side of treasuring everything that I have to nudge her to be willing to wear the items at all instead of lovingly preserved and stored away. I guess there’s a point to the “are you doing it more for you or for them” but even so, people who don’t make things themselves just don’t really get it and I’d rather not waste energy feeling any sense of wanting to make them get it, you know?

    Anyway this sweater is ADORABLE, it really is a little dachshund letterman sweater! The chain stitch technique is a great idea, I’ll have to keep it in mind instead for personalizing things since other post-knitting methods I’ve tried look pretty amateur-ish.

  11. Lithia Black / Feb 21 2013

    I only give handmade gifts to other people that do crafts.
    Recently 3 of my sisters had babies. Two of them almost assumed that now I would knit/sew baby clothes for them. I got a bit irritated, because me being a professional seamstress, I work on commission projects most of my time. On my free time I want to make things for me or things that I feel strongly for.

    On the other hand, I have one friend that really appreciate my home made cookies. So she often gets a big batch in a pretty container for gifts and she loves them. My boyfriend thinks its cheap, but I know that the time and love I put in baking them for her makes her appreciate them more than a bought gift.

    /L

  12. Meg the Grand / Feb 22 2013

    I cannot begin to handle all the cuteness in this post. That dog sweater is definitely like a tiny Letterman jacket and Ernie is totally rocking it! Well done ;)

  13. Tracy B / Feb 24 2013

    I totally understand about not sewing for others. A couple of friends who live interstate had babies, so I decided it would be a lovely idea to make a couple of cute home sewn outfits for them. Hand made with love and all that!
    Now I’m not saying that they weren’t appreciated, but despite asking several times, i was so disappointed that they never emailed photos of the kids wearing them. Even when i flew in on a visit, I never saw the outfits being worn. I’m hoping that they did appreciate the thought & effort that went into these gifts; and that they were worn – & that they just, being new parents & all, never got around to sending photos.
    My flat mate at the time even asked why I didn’t just buy outfits for them from
    Target – totally missing the whole hand made point entirely! I think some people still think of home made items as being ‘becky home ecky’ and ‘cheap’ – rather than them being hand crafted, time intensive & made with love.

  14. Erin / Mar 3 2013

    hehehe this is too cute I wish I could knit this is the first thing I would make!!!

  15. Ginger / Mar 5 2013

    AHHHHHHH!! This is so cute! I love it! Ernie– what a sweetpea!

    Funnily enough, most of my knitting is for other people! I taught myself to knit after a rash of baby showers– I wanted to be able to make something special for new babies but not spend lots of money. I’ve had a couple of friends not even mention the handmade gift after I sent it, which hurt my feelings, but most people are pretty appreciative.

  16. Nicola / Apr 7 2013

    I am not a knitter, but I know exactly where everyone is coming from on this. I love hand knits, and after I bought a cardigan on E bay I contacted the seller asking if she would knit for me. She was so happy to do so (for payment) as she said she longed to knit, but was frustrated by the fact that none of her family wanted hand knitted items, and she was fed up with knitting for charity, where the items just disappeared without trace.
    She knits around four or five garments a year, and often we discuss an item and she will make it without any pattern.
    Making something for someone takes a huge amount of time effort and love, and to knit something with it being worn once or twice before being put at the back of a cupboard must be heartbreaking.

  17. Allison Harcourt / Apr 9 2013

    Aww. I feel terrible I don’t have any pictures of Taylor wearing the sweater you made him. It is something I will keep forever and am so thankful you took the time to do it. It meant so much to me and I hope I can one day return the favor, with something probably a lot less difficult. We can’t all have your amazing talents. :)

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