Meriden Record Journal – 10-30-10 LOOK SECTION
Knit one, woof two or three
Peggy Gaffney sits with the collection of books she has published on incorporating animal designs into knitting projects Thursday. Gaffney mostly focuses on dogs, but her latest book features cats.
By Stephanie A. O’Connell
CHESHIRE — Peggy Gaffney has idolized Martha Stewart for years, so it wasn’t her plan to make the mega-mogul bawl her eyes out when they first met.
Her plan was to show the celebrity crafter a few copies of her “Kanine Knitting” books, self-published by Gaffney, that include pages of history on the breed of dog, photos and multiple knitting patterns.
“I waited in line in 95-degree weather for two hours and it wasn’t because I wanted a signed copy of her cupcake book,” Cheshire resident Gaffney said. “I brought along the pattern I created of her dog and a picture of the sweater that was created from the pattern and she just broke down in tears.”
After the tissues, Gaffney exchanged contact information with Stewart’s company and realized she had succeeded in doing what she first set out to do, merging her two passions into a moneymaking business.
“I have two loves in life, dogs and knitting,” Gaffney said. “After taking an early retirement from teaching, I needed a way to make money. I needed a way to make a living. For me it wasn’t just about a seeing my name on the title page.”
As a young girl, Gaffney’s mother and a neighbor taught her how to knit and she began creating custom sweaters with portraits of dogs on them commissioned by competitors in dog shows before retiring from the West Haven school system. After knitting nearly 1,000 custom sweaters, it wasn’t fun for Gaffney anymore — it was becoming a job. So the entrepreneur decided to put the knitting needles in the hands of her customers.
“I worked round the clock to create the sweaters and I got tired. Carpal tunnel started to rear its head and it just wasn’t fun anymore,” Gaffney said. “I thought to myself, ‘I can just create the patterns and sell those, that way I don’t have to make the sweaters myself.’ ” Before she started writing, or creating patterns, Gaffney did market research to see what kind of knitting books were out there and took classes on publishing, book design and marketing.
“I realized that people weren’t interested in a book that just had a bunch of dogs in it. They wanted to get a book just about their breed,” Gaffney said.
So she started with the breed she had trained and
showed for most of her life, the Samoyed. She has also created patterns for golden retrievers, Labradors, poodles and Welsh corgis, with more to come.
“I have gone to so many dog shows in the past that I know what the best characteristics of each are,” she said.
Along with more than 10 patterns of the dog in different positions with complete instruction’s, Gaffney includes a history of the breed along with photos and illustrations by friend Annie Reid.
“She is very encouraging. I think if you were to use one word to describe her it would be, in every aspect, generous,” Reid said. “She is generous with her time, her compassion and even with her talents. She is generous and compassionate in everything that she does; you get that from her from the first time you meet her, that’s why people love her.”
In just five years, Gaffney has published 10 books, including a book on how to self-publish. She is working creating on patterns for llamas and alpaca lovers, after being asked by countless numbers of farms when their patterns would be created.
While she is still waiting to get a call back from Martha Stewart to form her dream partnership, Gaffney was named “Doer of the Week” by Stewart’s “Dreamers Into Doers,” a foundation celebrating female entrepreneurs.
“I am so busy that I don’t really have time to knit anymore. I do occasionally make presents for friends, but now when I knit it’s for fun and I enjoy it, it’s not work,” Gaffney said.
firstname.lastname@example.org (203) 317-2235
For more information or to order books, visit www.kanineknits.com