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Dapper Dogs: 5 Questions for Pet Knitwear Designer Debbie Bliss

To quote Charles Schulz, "happiness is a warm puppy," and Debbie Bliss couldn't agree more. She is one of the world's foremost knitwear designers, has her own line of branded yarn, and is the best-selling author of more than 35 books. In her latest project, she combines her two greatest loves: dogs and knitting. "Wooly Woofers" offers more than 20 knitwear designs for dogs that are both cute and cozy from a traditional tweed cape to a striped bee costume.

wooly-woofers-lepooch-0415.jpg
Photography by: Churchill, Alexandra
Reprinted with permission from Woolly Woofers © 2014 by Debbie Bliss, Quadrille Publishing Limited. Photographs by Richard Burns. Illustrations by Jo Clark.
Make the "Le Chien a La Mode" Outfit

1. Why knitting? And specifically, for pets?

 

I studied fashion and textiles at Art College and became interested in making "soft sculptures" out of the knitted fabric. This developed into creating knitted plants, which I sold at stores such as Liberty of London. After publicity for these, I was contacted by magazines and commissioned to design fashion knitwear. I then launched my own brand of hand-knitting yarns and eventually started a publication -- Debbie Bliss Magazine -- which is printed twice a year by Soho Publishing in New York. I also design collections for my yarn brand.

 

Since I was a child, I have always had dogs -- even when I was a student. I share this passion for pups with my brilliant editor at Quadrille Publishing., Lisa Pendreigh, and when we were brainstorming my next publication, it seemed a logical idea to combine my two great loves: knits and dogs!

wooly-woofers-bee-0415.jpg
Photography by: Churchill, Alexandra
Reprinted with permission from Woolly Woofers © 2014 by Debbie Bliss, Quadrille Publishing Limited. Photographs by Richard Burns. Illustrations by Jo Clark.

2. Where did you find the inspiration for the knitwear projects featured in your book?

 

I can find inspiration anywhere. I love the colors and energy created by the diverse ethnic mix in the part of East London I live in, but I can as easily be transported in my imagination to the Highlands of Scotland.

 

I wanted some of the outfits to be fun, but the dog is also a noble beast so I went for classic designs using tartan, fisherman styles, and a touch of tweed.

3. What should someone keep in mind when creating pet knitwear, in terms of safety, comfort, etc.?

 

Steer away from fluffy fibers such as mohair and angora, as these fibers can be ingested when licked. While knitting, keep the balls of wool out of reach, as strands can cause dogs real health problems if swallowed; also pack your knitting supplies out of the way when they are not in use.

wooly-woofers-sherlockbones-0415.jpg
Photography by: Churchill, Alexandra
Reprinted with permission from Woolly Woofers © 2014 by Debbie Bliss, Quadrille Publishing Limited. Photographs by Richard Burns. Illustrations by Jo Clark.

4. Do you have a favorite project from the book?

 

It has to be the beret and striped matelot sweater, as is it is modeled by my Parsons Russell, Smiffy. (I am also very fond of the Sherlock Bones outfit.)

5. Are there any knitters you admire?

 

Many! I have always greatly admired the work of Marion Foale for her beautiful tailored knits, Erika Knight for her great style and aesthetic, and young designers such as Anna Wilkinson who create contemporary knits whilst using classic stitch patterns such as Fair Isle.

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