I heart hounds. I really do. Snoopy is my Yoda, Hong Kong Phooey is my Mr Miyagi, and when I was little I wanted to grow up to be The Littlest Hobo.
So when Battersea Dogs & Cats Home got in touch to ask me to create another free knitting pattern for them, this time for their canine chums, I was tail-waggingly thrilled to do it.
For those of you who have been stalking me for a while, you’ll know I created the scurvy Captain Cat-Battler for the home last year. The results were jaw-dropping, as Battersea was swamped by purled pirate mice from all over. (Read all about it here)
This knitting challenge would be a bit different. Battersea cares for 1000s of homeless hounds every year. With around 450 resident at their three sites at any one time. That’s a whole lot of dogs to care for and keep amused. Some of these dogs get a bit stressed out by kennel life, or need operations or time to recover from illnesses, and these dogs are fostered by kind folks for short spaces of time. And that’s where the knitting comes in.
The Purly Paw Print Patchwork Blanket is a canine comfort blanket for homeless hounds. The idea is that every blanket Battersea receives is put in a ‘doggy bag’ which goes with the dog to their foster home, and eventually to their new home when they get a new owner. It’s a little part of the world that is just theirs, when everything else is changing. A handmade hug.
The blanket is made up of simple ‘knit and purl’ squares in four different designs: a plain square, a teeny paw print square for miniscule mutts, a medium paw print square for canines of middle size, and a HUGE paw print square for bigger beasts. Sew them all together and you have one woolly comfort blanket for a canine in need of cuddles.
Each paw print represents one of the 1000s of dogs of all shapes and sizes that Battersea has helped to rehome.
My Paw Print Blanket is designed to be easy peasy, so even a beginner knitter can make it. It’s also knit in patches so you can stop and start when you like, or you can team up with friends and make one between you.
Once I had designed it, it was knit up and sewn together for me by my two fantabulous knitting friends, Frances Lee and Emmy Harrup and Frances’ fabulous mum Mrs Lee), who are both big fans of canine kind too (thanks so much, ladies!). We picked bright and sunny colours so it would really stand out.
The best part was that Battersea invited us along to the Home to meet the hounds our blankets will be helping. Frances who helped knit the blanket came too, along with my Dad in case he could steal a dog. Woo hoo!
We were shown around by the lovely Charlotte who explained every step from the hand-sewn scent bags people can donate to help calm the dogs (find the scent bag pattern here), to the classical music and talk radio the dogs listen to in the kennels, to their toys and amazing outdoor play areas, to the cats in their multi-level kingdoms.
Fancy coming along and meeting them too?
Click on the images below for a photo tour. Prepare yourself for animal cuteness in the extreme. You have been warned:
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At the end of the tour I handed the very first blanket over the a foster dog called Marcel, who was being fostered by Lauren (excellent name) who worked at Battersea too.
You can download the Purly Paw Print Patchwork Blanket from the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home website (which also have details of where to send it):
And if you want to find out more about fostering a Battersea Dog can find out more here. Battersea is also open to the public for visiting, so if you’re in the area go in and look around. It’s inspiring and the inhabitants are always friendly.
Thanks to Battersea for the terrific tour. And thanks to all of you knitters who I know will grab your yarn and needles and make handmade hugs for homeless hounds. What a marvellous bunch you are.