Monday, 5 August 2019
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DIY Cobra Knot Woven Fleece Dog Tug Toy

Dalmatian dog pulling on a woven fleece tug toy playing with owner

My go-to tug woven fleece tug toy knots tend to be square or spiral; however, most macrame or boondoggle knotting techniques can be adapted for toy making. For added safety, I prefer using weaves that involve knotting over braiding or looping when making tugs for my pets. This toy uses a thickened multi-strand variation of the basic cobra stitch/knot, which you often see in lanyards or paracord bracelets/keychains.

The basic cobra is woven with a minimum of three working strands, although the middle strand is often doubled for a four strand version. Doubling the middle allows for long pieces to be joined at a starting point instead of using separate lengths, which untie into longer usable paracord if needed. With stiffer cords, it also adds width to a lanyard or bracelet. The middle strand acts as a stationary core around which the side strands are incrementally looped and crossed (half knots) to wrap the core. 

For our fattened tug toy version of cobra, we're working with five strips of fleece. Pairs in the side strands and a long middle strand that is doubled over at the starting point. This gives a thicker paired core as well as thicker paired working strands for a nice sturdy fat tug where the cobra pattern completely conceals the inner core, if carefully tied. The fully concealed core is a great way to use leftover material. In stretchy play, however, the core will often still be visible, so if that bothers you, choose the same colour as your "over" strands (green in my case) for camouflage. I personally don't like rope toys (strand issues and safety), but it would also be feasible for the core to be rope wrapped in a fleece outer for a firmer tug or to weave completely with rope or other materials.

I opted for a snakey green and yellow combo, and used multicoloured scrap fleece for the core. Thankfully, toys are the only form of snakes our dogs are likely to encounter here in NZ. Eek!  Since I was working with the natural width of my fleece fabric, the starting strips used in this toy were of similar length, noting that my core is one strip, doubled from the middle. Since the core is just being wrapped, you will need more length in the working strands than the core. Lengths and finished toy sized will vary depending on the thickness of your materials, width of the strips, and tightness of the weave (read more here). 

A Strands (green in my toy) will be the visible middle colour of the tug.
B Strands (yellow in my toy) will be the visible side colour of the tug.
Core (multi coloured in my toy) will be concealed within the tug.

Prepare the strands for weaving as follows:
  • Take the side strands (A Strands and B Strands), loop and tie the starting ends in a loose knot. This will be tightened after we add the core.
  • Tuck the core strand through one or more of the looped strands on the underside of the starting knot, taking care to ensure it will be hidden below the finished tightened knot. Pull it through to its middle to create two equal doubled up pieces for the core. 
  • Tighten the starting knot securely.
  • Position the joined strands so that the working strands (A Strands and B Strands) sit on either side of the core. 
Step-by-step how to tie a starting knot for a concealed core cobra knot woven fleece dog toy

The body of the cobra is woven by the A Strands and B Strands around the core, alternating positions from side to side in a series of half knots. The over strands (A Strands) create the visible body and the under strands (B Strands) frame the sides. The weaving sequence is as follows:
  • Fold A Strands over the core and under the B Strands.
  • Fold B Strands so that they loop around to pass back behind the crossed A Strands, then pass under the core, and up through the folded loop of the A Strands.
  • Carefully pull to tighten, ensuring the knots sit tightly just below the previous knot and the the core is fully enclosed.

Step-by-step how to tie a cobra knot to make a homemade fleece dog tug toy

  • Fold B Strands under the core and over the A Strands
  • Fold A Strands so that they loop around to pass back over the crossed B Strands, over the core, and down through the folded loop of the B Strands
  • Carefully pull to tighten, ensuring the knots sit tightly just below the previous knot and the the core is fully enclosed.
Repeat this side-to-side alternating sequence until nearing the end of the strands, ensuring that there is enough of the working strands (A Strands and B Strands) remaining to allow a finishing knotTip: For a tidy pattern, keep the working end secure as you weave. I like to weave seated and nip mine between my knees. Simple and effective!

Step-by-step instructions for how to make cobra knot woven fleece dog toy

Options for finishing the ends depend on how secure you'd like the ends and if the core needs to be fully concealed. The pictured toy has a fully concealed core, which requires a little extra finishing effort; however, our dogs definitely wouldn't object if the core ends were visible. Humphrey loves a tassled tug, so the more the merrier. Haha!
  • Optional: Position one of the working strands between the core strands. Tie a small tight knot joining the core ends with the working strand sandwiched between underneath, taking care to ensure this is tied as close as possible to the middle of the tug body. This isn't necessary as the core is already tightly woven into the preceding half-knot layers, but it can help derisk core shifting with stretchy play. 
  • Trim the ends of the core.  This will be hidden under finishing knot. 
  • Loop and tie the working strands (A Strands and B Strands) tightly, taking care to ensure this knot covers the tied and trimmed core. 
  • Trim excess if/as needed. 
or leave the core visible and simply
  • Loop and tie all strands tightly. 
  • Trim excess if/as needed. 

You can use the post labels on the footer below to explore related content. Helpful information is also available in our DIY Fleece Tug Toy FAQs, Tips, and Troubleshooting Mini-Series, including more about fleece, troubleshooting common pattern problems when weaving tug toys, different end knots for starting/finishing tugs, and factors affecting finished toy size.

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!

Homemade green and yellow woven fleece dog tug toy in a cobra knot pattern

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