Troubleshooting DIY Tug Toy Pattern Problems

Troubleshooting common pattren problems in DIY fleece dog tug toys
Link to Disclosure Policy - Posts may include affiliate and/or referral links from which we receive a commission when you make a qualifying purchase. They may also display third-party advertisements. These programs are part of how we support operating Dalmatian DIY as a free access site. For more information, you can click here to read about these programs and how they work in our detailed site disclosure. Woofs!
Link to Disclosure Policy - Posts may include affiliate and/or referral links from which we receive a commission when you make a qualifying purchase. They may also display third-party advertisements. These programs are part of how we support operating Dalmatian DIY as a free access site. For more information, you can click here to read about these programs and how they work in our detailed site disclosure. Woofs!

One of the questions we often get about making DIY dog tug toys is why a finished toy might have an uneven shape or irregular pattern. In this post, we’re troubleshooting DIY dog tug toy pattern problems and weaving issues. To help with visuals, I intentionally made some of the most common weaving errors in a multicoloured square box knot tug toy and a multicoloured round spiral tug toy. Let’s take a closer look at some DIY dog tug toy pattern problems and their potential causes.

Weaving Pattern Problems in Square Box Knot Dog Tug Toys

Weaving Pattern in a Square Tug Toy

In a tidy square 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.

Detailed instructions, diagrams, and step-by-step photos for this weaving method are available in our comprehensive post on making square knot dog tug toys

Tug Toy Colours are Out of Pattern Position

If at some point the strand positions are accidentally mixed up so that a layer is woven on a diagonal corner to corner instead of straight back and forth (injecting an accidental spiral tug toy knot, or other accidental weave), the pattern of the weave will be thrown out of position.

The lines of colour seen on the sides of a square/box knot toy are built up as each layer is knotted. Accidentally changing the way a layer is knotted will change the position of the strands, causing a shift in colour position. This can also be used intentionally on a recurring interval as part of special colour patterns. Check out our DIY colour block dog tug toy for an example of using interval rotations.

Because fleece is soft and pliant, you can also accidentally create similar shifts in colour position by accidentally rotating the strands or the working end of the tug while you weave. 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 even use this intentionally to create a cheater’s spiral for a DIY tug toy.

Weaving error pattern problems in DIY dog tug toy

Body of the Tug is Rounded in Areas Instead of Square

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

Gaps and/or Bulges in the Tug Toy

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 issues above, just with a more consistent pattern to the irregularities. It may also affect the tug’s squareness and/or straightness.

Weaving Pattern Problems in Round and Spiral Dog Tug Toys

Weaving Pattern in a Round Spiral Tug Toy

In a tidy spiral knot tug 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.

Detailed instructions, diagrams, and step-by-step photos for this weaving method are available in our comprehensive post on making spiral dog tug toys.

Tug Toy Colours are Out of Pattern Position

If at some point the strand positions are accidentally mixed up so that a layer is woven straight back and forth instead (injecting a square box knot), it will create a repeat colour layer, breaking the pattern. Other accidental weaving patterns can create similar disruptions.

As noted above, because fleece is soft and pliant, you can also accidentally create similar shifts in colour position by accidentally rotating the strands or the working end of the tug while you weave. These position irregularities are caught in the layers as the strands are pulled tight.

Weaving error pattern problems in DIY dog tug toy

Body of the Tug is Flat or Square in Areas Instead of Round

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

Gaps and/or Bulges in the Tug Toy

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 be similar to the issues above, just with a more consistent pattern to the irregularities. It may also affect the tug’s shape and/or straightness.

Uneven tension pattern problems in DIY dog tug toy

Other DIY Dog Tug Toy Weaving Patterns

The DIY dog tug toy pattern problems above may present similar issues in other weaving patterns, especially more complex multi-strand weaves built from basic square or round 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 too 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.

Additional Tug Toy Making Help and Information

You can find all of our tug toy related posts under the DIY Dog Tug Toys tag. Helpful information is also available in the full collection of tug toy FAQs, tips, and troubleshooting in this mini-series:

🚨  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 or her any new toy. Some dogs try to eat toys or 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 in our dog toy safety post, including tips and helpful links for safer playtime. Have fun and play safe!

Troubleshooting common pattern problems in DIY fleece dog tug toys

You Might Also Enjoy: