Sometimes the most fun creations come from our failures. I bought some pawesome pink cotton rope on crazy clearance and had every intention of using it for a heart chevron patterned tug toy, adapted from the super cute embroidery floss bracelets of our youth. It was a total failure - too big, sturdy, and stiff to hold pattern in the detailed weaving (see the end of the post for our re-approach with another material). Left with a pile of pretty pink rope, I decided to weave a few Celtic hearts and turn them into easy interactive tug toys.
- Cut your rope to a workable length, and secure the ends to minimise fraying while you work. The length of rope needed will depend on the flexibility and diameter of your rope and whether you want to leave the hearts as solo toys or combine them into a double tug as shown. I used a soft 10mm 100% cotton rope, and found 1m to be workable for the heart knots with plenty of playful ends after tightening; however, it would be beneficial to use a longer rope for the double tugs so that you have ample rope ends for connecting them together.
- Weave a Celtic heart knot (as shown in images 2-6 above), noting that that the left ends are static and the right ends are the working (moving) ends of the rope whilst you tie this knot. If you are using double ropes as shown (a good way to beef up your toy and it looks nice too!), it helps if you take time to ensure you don't cross them during the knotting so that things stay nicely patterned, flat, and pretty. The bottom rope will be the outside edge of your heart.
- Make a counterclockwise loop.
- Weave back through, tucking the working ends under then over the loop (image 2).
- Make a counterclockwise loop. Weave back through, tucking under then over (image 3).
- Make a counterclockwise loop. Weave back through, crossing under (image 4), over (image 5), under and over (image 6).
- Tighten your heart knot incrementally.
- If you wish to play with the toy as a solo heart, trim your ends if/as needed and play away!
- If you want to create a two sided tug, tie two hearts together using a self-tightening knot (e.g. a reef knot or similar), ensure they are very securely knotted, and trim the ends if/as needed.
Remember, these toys are only for supervised interactive play. Rope (or string, ribbon, thread, and other linear bodies) can be particular dangerous if swallowed. Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy, check toys for safe condition before and during play, and always play together. Some dogs would rather eat their toys (whether store bought or handmade), and that's dangerous. Toys of any and all varieties are for playing and playtime is safer (and more fun!) with you involved. You can read more about dog toy safety here.
BONUS DIY: As for the toy I had in mind when I bought the bargain bin rope, I didn't give up. :) Needing something strong enough for the dogs but better suited to weaving, I turned to my trusty fleece. I've had my eye on this pattern ever since discovering the heart friendship bracelet at Creativity Unmasked's Random Crafts of Kindness. The bracelet tutorial is on the crafty lifestyle blog Honestly WTF, with great images and step-by-step instructions for weaving a chevron heart pattern. To adapt for a fleece dog tug toy, you will need eight extra long strips of polar fleece (the longer the better!). I suggest making them a touch narrower than you would use for a typical woven fleece dog toy so that the weave is a little tidier and also so that you can get a good string of hearts before you run out of length. The result isn't quite as pretty as the bracelet, but that's to be expected given the nature of fleece vs floss. On the upside, it is great to play with - a nice subtle stretch and lots of knotted security. Our dogs really enjoy it! Follow the DIY at Honestly WTF to create your own.