There will be a brief posting break next week (Easter and ANZAC Day) from our usual weekly Monday posting cycle. We'll still be around on social media, and doing behind-the-scenes site work here on the blog. :) See you soon!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Twisted Box Knot vs. Circle Twist DIY Fleece Dog Tug Toys

Humphrey can't see the difference, can you see the difference?  Me neither. :)  In fact, when weaving with soft cooperative fleece, I can change seamlessly between the two different weaving methods within the same toy without seeing any visible difference whatsoever! Not that you'd have any reason to, but I did it anyway as part of my comparisons. Natural variations like subtleties of strand size/position, tightness of the weave, etc. (which are factors no matter how I make fleece tug toys in any shape/method) have a far greater effect on the finished tug than which of the two methods I use. So how do you weave with each method, which should you choose, and why?

The materials and craft supplies used in making the tug toys shown are:
  • Polar fleece fabric
  • Scissors

In the Twisted Box Knot method (detailed post with additional step-by-step photos here), you simply rotate each strand a quarter turn and weave exactly the same way as a basic box knot. Side strands become the top/bottom strands, and the top/bottom strands become the sides, as shown below. As you then tie with the same method as a basic box knot (detailed post here), each layer includes a quarter twist along with the box knot. This quarter turn rotates the colours on a diagonal, which makes for a pretty multi-coloured toy with four strands or a diagonal stripe when made with two colours. It also softens out the square box knot into a more rounded tug toy. Caution: This is an easy way to create a spiral using the basic box knot, but control is essential for a tidy pattern. Keeping your tug steady and secure as you weave is vital for this "cheat" method of creating a spiral since you are capturing the strand movement in your knot without actually altering the weaving approach. 

In the Circle Twist method, you are altering the box knot itself.  The tug weave starts with a single Basic Box Knot to establish strand position, and then you weave on a diagonal corner-to-corner instead of straight.  If your starting configuration is top strand left (as shown in the diagram) as you prepare to tie the loops, top left bends to bottom right, bottom right bends to top left, then left bottom weaves to the top right (over then under) and right top weaves to the bottom left (over then under). Repeat the exact same sequence to weave the tug.

Alternatively, if your starting configuration position is top strand right (as shown in the photo collage) it's the opposite sequence.  As you prepare to tie the loops, top right bends to bottom left, bottom left bends to top right, then left top weaves to the bottom right (over then under) and right bottom weaves to the top left (over then under). Repeat the exact same sequence to weave the tug.

Which method should you choose?  For a basic four-strand tug toy, I find it makes no difference to the look/style/quality which method I use to weave the twist. Personally, I often default to the Twisted Box Knot method as it's a little more set-and-forget (no thinking required, weaving on automatic) for someone like me who is very used to the Basic Box Knot, but both are quite easy once you have the hang of it.  So, for a basic tug, whatever method you find easiest for you. :)

When does it matter?  If you're weaving with a less cooperative material, the Circle Twist is better as you may not be able to capture the natural twisting while you knot as you can with fleece when using the Twisted Box Knot method.

Why try? I have some slightly fancier tugs in the pending post pipeline to share with you that use the Circle Twist method to weave interlocked spirals, including the DIY double spiral Valentine's tug toy that we'll be sharing next week. It's a little easier if you to see the method in its simplest form and (if you'd like) try it out on the basic four strand style of tug toy first before graduating to the fancy stuff.

And what was Humphrey's expert assessment of the two different tugs? Equally fun and impossible to tell the difference!  Why choose one tug when you can have and hog both?

Remember, toys are for supervised interactive play.  Know your dog before giving him or her any new toy. Some dogs would rather eat their toys (whether store bought or handmade), and that's dangerous. Toys are for playing and playtime is safer (and more fun!) with you involved.  You can read more about dog toy safety here.

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