Do It Yourself
Meet the Author
Cheshire Author Combines Her Love Of Dogs And Knitting
by Josh Morgan
Cheshire Herald, August 21, 2008
More than three years ago, Peggy Gaffney's love of dogs and knitting clothing came together and after embarking into some uncharted territory, she has found the experience to be very rewarding.
Gaffney is the author of a handful of innovative books that teach people how to knit canine patterns into sweaters, pillows and other items. For the second year, Gaffney will be feature at the Eastern States Exposition, or the Big E as it's commonly called. The Big E runs for 17 days, starting on Sept. 12. Last year, Gaffney explained, the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association set up a small booth to meet some fans. This year, the size of the booth has doubled and Gaffney is one of 60 authors who will be featured during the Big E.
"These are all Connecticut authors that cover nearly every genre," Gaffney explained. "I'm very excited to be up there, it was a complete success last year."
Gaffney said meeting the public is "so much fun" and she can't wait to spend a few days at the booth. Sept. 17 is Connecticut Day at the Big E and Gaffney will be featured from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
"I'm looking forward to meeting people. The whole excitement comes from the fact that your meeting your reader," Gaffney explained. "It's like an adrenalin rush to talk with your public."
This Cheshire resident has bred Samoyeds for 40 years, and they have won 'everything you could win" over the last four decades. Throughout her travels and experiences, Gaffney has obtained a vast knowledge of all breeds of dogs.
She has also knitted for as long as she can remember and as a hobby, she used to make sweaters, hats, mittens and other items with canine images. Gaffney would review patterns and designs then change them and do my own thing." After retiring from the West Haven school system in 2000, Gaffney begin the trek down a new career path.
Gaffney began a custom knitting business where she would create her own designs and patterns and make sweaters for the "top dog people in the country." But after making nearly 1,000 sweaters, she said it "got old" and then a light bulb suddenly went off in her head.
People kept asking me for the patterns," Gaffney said. "There were millions of knitters in the world, a lot of who have dogs."
Gaffney said she was "wasting time" making sweaters and other items for people, so she decided to put all of the patterns in books. She founded her company Kanine Knits Books and became her own publisher. Gaffney's books, however, aren't just about knitting. They also contain 65 to 75 photos of the particular breed the book features, as well as all the pertinent information about the dog and "why it's unique."
Gaffney has already published five books in a short period of time. Her first book, of course, focused on her favorite breed, the Samoyed.
Due to its success, she published four more books about four different breeds...Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Newfoundlands.
"It gives people the freedom to design their own things," Gaffney explained. "I give them the tools so they don't have to do the hard work."
There's a large market for this type of work, as Gaffney explained, "people want to make something with their dog on it."
Her patterns are broad enough that with a few creative liberties, it could look "exactly like their own dog."
There are "thousands of combinations' that a person could create based on the 25 [sweater and accessory] designs and [25 charted] patterns inside the book.
Another interesting feature of Gaffney's books is that she provides instruction on how to brush and save your dog's hair and how to work it into a design.
"You can still have a piece of your dog when it dies," she explained. "You can keep your best friend with your forever."
Before people start to think of using more than just a little hair in a sweater, Gaffney cautions people not to make a sweater entirely from dog hair. "It's eight times warmer than wool," she explained. "You'd only be able to wear it at the North Pole.
Gaffney's new found desire to distribute books has also inspired her to teach other on the "not so difficult" task of publishing a book.
She said it "can be learned" and her new book will provide chapters on how to put a book together and instructions on how to get it published - for cheap.
"I know I can help fellow authors,” Gaffney stated. "The books are written with me guiding you through the process."
Besides working on a book to help others, Gaffney has five more Kanine Knitting projects on the way that will focus on Corgis, Poodles, Bichon Frise, Boxers and Australian Shepherds.
"I love this so much, it was a great career move," grinned Gaffney. "I've never had so much fun before."
For more information on Gaffney or to purchase some of her books and patterns, visit the Web site www.kanineknits.com.