Monday, 27 May 2019
Textual description of firstImageUrl

FAQs, Tips, and Troubleshooting: Common Pattern Problems

Woven fleece dog tug toy with an accidental shift in colour pattern due to weaving mistake

We introduced our FAQ posts last week, exploring some of the questions we get most often here, on social media, and via email. The first FAQ mini-series covers one of the most popular topics here on the blog: DIY woven fleece tug toys.  We've talked about choosing and using fleece for DIY tug toys, and today we're looking at one of the most common questions we get about making tugs, and that's why a finished toy might have an uneven shape or irregular pattern. Here are some of the common culprits for problems with weaving uniform looking patterns.  To help with visuals, I intentionally made some of the most common weaving errors in a multicoloured square/box tug and multicoloured spiral/circle tug. Let's take a closer look:

Square/Box Knot Tug Toys


In a tidy basic square/box knot tug toy, woven from four strands of four different colours, the finished tug will have a squarish form, with even lines of colour up the length of the tug. During weaving the working end is kept secure so that there is no accidental movement of strand position and the strands move straight back and forth (up/down, left/right) as each layer is woven. 

Woven fleece dog tug toy with an accidental shift in colour pattern due to weaving mistake

If at some point the strand positions are accidentally mixed up so that a layer is woven on a diagonal instead of straight back and forth (i.e. injecting a spiral/circle tug toy knot), the lines of colour seen on the sides of a square/box knot toy will rotate position causing a shift in colour positionThis can be used intentionally on a recurring interval as part of special colour patterns - more in a future post!

Because fleece is soft and pliant, you can accidentally create similar shift(s) in colour position if the strands are moved back and forth (up/down, left/right) but not kept straight and/or if the working end isn't held securely. These position irregularities are caught in the layers as the strands are pulled tight. Fleece is so good at trapping the movement, that you can use this intentionally to create a cheater's spiral for a DIY tug toy

Both of the mistakes above can also cause the body of square tug to have rounded areas.

Woven fleece dog tug toy with inconsistent knot tension creating an uneven shape and pattern

Applying inconsistent tightening and tension as you weave each layer can result in gaps, bulges, and tug thickness variations down the length of the tug toys. In any given layer of the weave, not pulling all strands sufficiently tight will create bulging (or loose loops). Pulling a strand too tightly can cause it to be pulled so tightly into the body that it's barely visible (pockets or gaps).  The colour pattern and general square shape is still there, but may not be as clearly defined due to these issues.

Applying tension that is relatively even on all strands for a layer but varies between layers over the course of weaving the full tug will cause areas of the tug to be larger (looser tension) and smaller (tighter tension) down the length of the body.

Weaving "perfectly" but with significantly different weights of fleece or sized strands can cause uniform anomalies in pattern. Depending on position and colours, this can can be similar to the gap/bulge issues above, just in a more consistent pattern. It may also affect the tug's squareness and/or straightness. 

Spiral/Circle Knot Tug Toys


In a tidy basic spiral/circle knot toy, woven from four strands of four different colours, the finished tug will have a roundish form, with uniform speckling of colour in an even pattern. If only two colours are used in alternation, it becomes a diagonal spiral of colour up the length of the tug.  During weaving, the working end is kept secure so that there is no accidental movement of strand position and the strands move the strands move corner-to-corner on a diagonal as each layer is woven. 

Woven fleece dog tug toy with an accidental shift in colour pattern due to weaving mistake

If at some point the strand positions are accidentally mixed up so that a layer is woven straight back and forth instead (i.e. injecting a square/box knot), it will create repeat colour layer(s) breaking the pattern. 

As noted above, because fleece is soft and pliant, you can also accidentally create shift(s) in colour position if the strands are shifted and/or if the working end isn't held securely. These position irregularities are caught in the layers as the strands are pulled tight. 

Both of the mistakes above can also cause the body of round tugs to have square or flat areas.

Woven fleece dog tug toy with inconsistent knot tension creating an uneven shape and pattern

Applying inconsistent tightening and tension as you weave each layer can result in gaps, bulges, and tug thickness variations down the length of the tug toys. In any given layer of the weave, not pulling all strands sufficiently tight will create bulging (or loose loops). Pulling a strand too tightly can cause it to be pulled so tightly into the body that it's barely visible (pockets or gaps).  The colour pattern and shape may not be as clearly defined due to these issues.

Applying tension that is relatively even on all strands for a layer but varies between layers over the course of weaving the full tug will cause areas of the tug to be larger (looser tension) and smaller (tighter tension) down the length of the body.

Weaving "perfectly" but with significantly different weights of fleece or sized strands can cause uniform anomalies in patternDepending on position and colours, this can can be similar to the gap/bulge issues above, but in a more consistent pattern.

Other DIY Dog Tug Toy Weaving Patterns


The pattern problems above may present similar issues in other weaving patterns, especially more complex multi-strand weaves built from basic square or circle shape.

Minimising the Risks of Weaving Pattern Problems in DIY Tug Toys


  • Use similar weights of fleece and equal strand widths, unless intentionally using a variation for a special project design.
  • Start your tug with a secure working end and keep it secure as you weave. You can secure the starting/working end to something, if you wish, but personally I prefer to be seated with it nipped between my knees.
  • Take care to maintain the correct position and pattern for your strand movements as you weave. 
  • Maintain an even tension for the strands in any layer and across all layers as you weave.
  • Look at the body of the tug periodically for a quick visual check and confirm so any mistakes are caught early and layers can be unpicked to correct with limited effort.
  • Being interrupted or needing to pause mid-project is one of the points where it is all to easy to make a mistake.  If at some stage you need to stop weaving, take time to double check the starting position of your strands is correct for the previous layer and pattern you're weaving before you resume
  • And last but definitely not least, if you make a mistake or two, no worries! Your dog isn't judging on looks.

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 some helpful links for safer playtime. Have fun and play safe!

Looking for more? Explore the DIY Fleece Tug Toy FAQs, Tips, and Troubleshooting Mini-Series: 


Ready to try making tug toys? We have lots of ideas and inspiration in our archives! If you are a beginner weaver, the easiest place to start is probably with a square/box knot tug toy and then move up to a circle/spiral twist tug toy (I'd recommend learning the corner-to-corner circle twist method for spirals so it's easier to advance to other methods later, if you wish). If you're already into weaving, boondoggle, or macrame then many of these weaves can be adapted for toys, like our fat cobra knot dog tug toy. For added safety, I prefer using weaves that involve some form of knotting over braiding or free looping when making tugs for my pets. You can explore all of our toys using the DIY Dog Toy page or hop straight in via the linked post labels in the footer below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We love comments almost as much as treats! 💌 Say hello and share your thoughts.