A Tale of Two Swarfs

dear Ann,

I have big news on Swarfalong: My Swarf is over. Right, I did the stitched-on neck fixation about an hour before I started my Swarfalong augmentation with Cecelia Campochiaro last Friday. Where would I be without deadlines?

I also have a little news from Swarfalong: I made Swarf for Olive. It’s a Swarf, just right — but with two short seams and a rugged, rustic wool spread, I’ve turned it into a super tough little dog coat for my best friend.

This is one of those thoughts that come to you while letting your mind wander as you love something soulful and satisfying like Swarf.

The front of a Swarf is a long piece of sweater fabric – like the back of a dog’s coat. And the back of a Swarf is a smaller, shorter piece of ribbed fabric – like the chest/front of a dog’s coat! So just by following the Swarf pattern, with stitch count adjustments for doggy proportions – I was almost all the way!

The only modification would be two short strips to secure the front and back, leaving holes for the front olive legs. I had to give it a try!

From Swarf to Swoof: How to do it

I would never write down a dog sweater pattern. Dogs are extremely variable in shape and size!

But for keepers who think Olive’s Swarf, aka Swoof, would work with a dog they’re considering, I’ll draw how I did it, and answer any questions in the comments as best I can.

My starting point was Cecilia Campucciaro’s Swarf pattern for humans, so it would make more sense if you knew Swarf, and probably make more sense if you were knitting a Swarf for yourself. (Look at all of Ravelry’s beautiful Swarfs.)

Vital olive statistics

For a frame of reference, here’s Olive’s details.

Chest: 16 inches / 40 cm

Length from collar to tail: 16 inches / 40 cm

Weight: 11 lbs wet

Size in store-bought dog clothes: Small.

Pattern: If Ms. Maisel were a dog.


I love Olive, but I wouldn’t allocate sleek, soft yarns like Woolfolk Tend for this project. I wanted something heavier and more cohesive. [whispers] She is a dog.

I recently searched my Léttlopi stash (I wonder why), so the lamp lit up in my brain. I chose five colors that suit olive. It’s fall, it looks good in warm tones and also in jewel tones—we’ve discussed this one, Ann.

Quantity: I used less than half of the total yardage in the five decks. If you don’t do a lot of coloring, you can have two to three skeins (for the size of an olive).

I used a $9 needle and two Léttlopi threads for the marling. Did this give me a very strong texture? Yes, on purpose. Note that I wear loose knits, so if you’re not, you’ll want to increase the needle size or two.


dog back coat

Cast on 36 stitches. I’ve broken the Swarf stitch sequence to break it down into 3 groups of 12 stitches, alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette.

Each section is 10 rows long.

I followed the pattern, changing the colors of the marl as I went and as I wanted, until I got close to the collar.

Then I made a hole for the leash/belt attachment by threading 4 stitches in the center of the center section, then in the next row, pour 4 stitches on top of those restricting stitches.

Then I finished the last 10 rows of the repeat, cut the yarn, and left the back stitch on the needle while making the front piece.

front dog coat

I cast over 36 stitches again and worked into K2 and P2 ribbing. I worked out how long I was going to do the front by starting with the sequence of marl in the middle of the back of the coat and copying those 10 rows of marl down to the collar. This wasn’t necessary but it made it easier to match the pieces to the small seams.

dog coat collar

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

I didn’t do any of the yoke cuts that a human Swarf style calls for, nor did I work the neck on a plain stock like a Swarf. I just started wearing the collar straight away, and I ribbed it for style and easy on/off.

You’re done sewn, because olives deserve a sewn lock. This is not her first dog coat, she has standards.

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

Here’s our girl, heartily sarcastic.

What I would like to change

I was so impressed with this theoretical project that I raced it. Olive isn’t one to sit still for multiple combinations, and I thought I could treat the first Swoof as a wearable gauze, and make any adjustments to the next.

My modifications to Olive would be:

Keep the fit warmer, mainly by narrowing the ribbed front, perhaps to 24 or even 22 stitches. It might make her 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 to promote belly warmth.

Reduce 8 or so stitches before you start ribbing the neck, so the front of the collar isn’t completely open. (It should be fairly open to slip easily over her head, but it can be a bit snug.)

The way I did it, it’s almost a cowl neck. It’s easy to get over its head, and great for city walks, but it can stick to sticks when the brush is torn.

self evaluation

No false humility here: this is one of the best ideas I have ever had.

Olives will be wet, as is the coat she was born with.

Dog sweaters are tough. Although the jackets I wore for Olive were quick to knit, at times they were too complicated for me. Swoof Easy Knit – Two flat and straight pieces that are easy to change for fit – a functional and comfortable dog coat.

I made Olives Swoosh in a matter of hours, and finished in minutes. No buttons! No formation! No guessing where to put the leg openings!

I definitely wouldn’t change the yarn. Léttlopi, doubly, dense and warm. I bet it’ll have some wear, and Olive loves that grumpy Icelandic flavor—she lays her head on the surfaces while knitting.

hashtag association

If anyone else does Swoof, would you please tell me so I can like it? Pinky swear?

Our Instagram hashtag is #MDKswoof, and please tag @kaygardiner. I’ll also see Swoofs (Swooves?) posted at MDK Lounge, in our Marlalong thread. Please and thank you!

the love,


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