Friday, 20 January 2017
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Twisted Box Knot vs. Circle Twist DIY Fleece Dog Tug Toys

Dalmatian dog looking a two homemade fleece spiral dog tug toys

Humphrey can't see the difference, can you see the difference?  Me neither. :)  In fact, when weaving with soft cooperative fleece, I can change seamlessly between the two different weaving methods within the same toy without seeing any visible difference whatsoever! Not that you'd have any reason to, but I did it anyway as part of my comparisons. Natural variations like subtleties of strand size/position, tightness of the weave, etc. (which are factors no matter how I make fleece tug toys in any shape/method) have a far greater effect on the finished tug than which of the two methods I use. So how do you weave each method, which should you choose, and why?

The materials and craft supplies used in making the tug toys shown are:
  • Polar fleece fabric
  • Scissors
Making homemade fleece dog tug toys

In the Twisted Box Knot method (see detailed post with additional step-by-step photos for weaving a twisted box knot), you simply rotate each strand a quarter turn and weave exactly the same way as a basic box knot. Side strands become the top/bottom strands, and the top/bottom strands become the sides, as shown below. As you then tie with the same method as a basic box knot, each layer includes a quarter twist along with the box knot. This quarter turn rotates the colours on a diagonal, which makes for a pretty multi-coloured toy with four strands or a diagonal stripe when made with two colours. It also softens out the square box knot into a more rounded tug toy. Caution: This is an easy way to create a spiral using the basic box knot, but control is essential for a tidy pattern. Keeping your tug steady and secure as you weave is vital for this "cheat" method of creating a spiral since you are capturing the strand movement in your knot without actually altering the weaving approach. 
 Diagram making homemade fleece dog tug toys - creating a spiral by rotating strands (twisted box knot)
Making DIY fleece dog tug toys - creating a spiral by rotating strands (twisted box knot)

In the Circle Twist method, you are altering the box knot itself.  The tug weave starts with a single basic box knot to establish strand position, and then you weave on a diagonal corner-to-corner instead of straight.  If your starting configuration is top strand left (as shown in the diagram) as you prepare to tie the loops, top left bends to bottom right, bottom right bends to top left, then left bottom weaves to the top right (over then under) and right top weaves to the bottom left (over then under). Repeat the exact same sequence to weave the tug.
Diagram for making homemade fleece dog tug toys - creating a spiral by weaving corner-to-corner (circle twist)

Alternatively, if your starting configuration position is top strand right (as shown in the photo collage) it's the opposite sequence.  As you prepare to tie the loops, top right bends to bottom left, bottom left bends to top right, then left top weaves to the bottom right (over then under) and right bottom weaves to the top left (over then under). Repeat the exact same sequence to weave the tug.

DIY homemade fleece dog tug toys - creating a spiral by weaving corner-to-corner (circle twist)

Which method should you choose?  For a basic four-strand tug toy, I find it makes no difference to the look/style/quality which method I use to weave the twist. So, for a basic tug, whatever method you find easiest for you. Personally, although the twisted box knot method is very easy for someone like me who is very used to the basic box knot, you do need to be careful not to accidentally create unwanted movement errors in the strands and pattern. I'd recommend learning the corner-to-corner circle twist method both for consistency and so that you more easily move on to other more complex methods later, if you wish.

When does it matter?  If you're weaving with a less cooperative material, the circle twist is better as you may not be able to capture the natural twisting while you knot as you can with fleece when using the twisted box knot method.

Why try? I have some slightly fancier tugs in the pending post pipeline to share with you that use the circle twist method to weave interlocked spirals, including the DIY double spiral Valentine's tug toy that we'll be sharing next week. It's a little easier if you to see the method in its simplest form and (if you'd like) try it out on the basic four strand style of tug toy first before graduating to the fancy stuff.

Dalmatian dog playing with homemade fleece dog tug toys

And what was Humphrey's expert assessment of the two different tugs? Equally fun and impossible to tell the difference!  Why choose one tug when you can have and hog both?

Safety first, furfriends! Remember, no matter what a toy is made of or how it's made, toys are meant for supervised interactive play. Know your dog before giving him/her any new toy. Some dogs try to eat toys/parts (whether bought or handmade) and that's dangerous. Toys are for playing, and playtime is always safer (and more fun!) with you involved. You can read more on our dog toy safety page, including tips and helpful links for safer playtime. Have fun and play safe!

You can use the post labels on the footer below to explore related content, and helpful information on making fleece tugs is is also available in our Tug Toy FAQs, Tips, and Troubleshooting Mini-Series: 

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