How to Make a Square Knot Dog Tug Toy
Last Christmas my sister bought my fur-babies a square-knot tug toy made of fleece (Thanks, Sissa!). My first thought, of course, was "I could make that." So, when it was time to retire that toy, which was a sad day...
One of my favorite things about this toy is that even after they tore it in half, it didn't completely fall apart because of how it's knotted. We just kept tying off the end and kept going. Works MUCH better than a braid!
I decided I would make a replacement.
I mean, how hard could it be? I was pretty sure I didn't even need a tutorial for this one. I had some leftover fleece so I cut a few strips, made a knot and started tying the strands into place. This is what I ended up with.
Which is great. Really. The dogs love it and play with it just like they did the original. But it isn't square. I wanted square. So, I read some tutorials and tried again. And again.
The old adage comes to mind that says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again, expecting different results. *sigh*
At this point, I was ready for a white coat and some padded walls. It was time to reverse engineer to the original toy. (Yes, in hindsight I could've started with this.) Almost immediately I found the problem. I was crossing the strips to the wrong side. Once I figured that out, it was smooth sailing!
First let's talk about the right way to do it, then check out my lessons learned at the end.
- Fleece fabric, or other slightly stretchy material like t-shirt fabric
- Fabric ruler or other way to measure the fabric
- Cut 4 lengths of fleece fabric. About 2" wide and 45" long is ideal for a medium-sized dog.
- Tie a regular overhand knot at one end, leaving a few inches of fabric as a tail. Pull the knot tight.
- Tie your square knots:
- Open your 4 strips into a plus sign shape.
- Fold the top strip towards the bottom, a little to one side, always the same side as you progress.
- Fold the bottom strip towards the top, a little to the other side, always the same side as you progress.
- Fold the right strip towards the left. Pass over the first strip, then under the second.
- Fold the left strip toward the right. Pass over the first strip, then under the second.
- Pull all of the strips nice and tight.
- When you've got about 5 inches left, tie off the end with another overhand knot and pull tightly.
- Trim off tails to make them even.
- Split each of the tails in two to make the ends a little more festive.
- Smile a knowing smile that you are a dog-toy making genius.
LESSON LEARNED: The key to the square-knot being square, is that each piece of fabric always folds back on itself. If you were to trace any one of the strips of fabric, it would follow this path, never crossing over to the other side of the square.
LESSON LEARNED: If you have a bigger dog, pull each knot tight. When I made the first one, I intentionally eased up a bit on pulling the knots tight because I thought they were too tight. The first time Calli gave it a tug, there were huge gaps of space in-between the knots. It still works as a toy and if you have a small or older dog, it might be perfect. But if you're planning to play tug-o-war with a bigger pup, make those knots tight.
LESSON LEARNED: Fleece is washable. Okay, I already knew this one. And now you do. When it gets nasty and slobbery because it's their favorite tug toy, just toss it in the washer and give it a refresh.