Black Dog Syndrome is a common phenomenon in which black dogs (or cats) get passed over (for no real reason) for adoption, in favor of animals with lighter fur colors. There are several theories for this odd pattern. First, black pets are difficult to photograph. They also often portray evil, vicious animals in films and books — and black cats, of course, are believed to cause bad luck.
In 2010, Alex Tinsley experienced Black Dog Syndrome firsthand. She and her husband traveled to a rural town in Ohio to adopt a dog. When they arrived, they found two dogs — the first was Rupert, who they had come to adopt and the other was a darkly colored dog named Pog. Alex recalls that in online pictures, Pog had just looked like a dark blob but, upon meeting him in person, they quickly realized that they just couldn’t leave Pog behind. The rescue was so desperate to get rid of Pog, they even waived the adoption fee! Alex shared, “As it turns out, Pog is one of the sweetest and goofiest dogs we’ve ever known and now we can’t imagine life without her.”
Alex was looking for a way to get more involved with dog rescues. After some time, Alex decided to put her talents as a knitwear designer to good use. Although many of her designs feature bright colors, she herself actually wears a lot of black. Alex explained, “Even though black is a classic and a staple in many people’s wardrobes, you don’t often see black in knitting patterns because, very much like a black dog, a black sweater is hard to photograph.” And thus, her idea was born!
She created a Kickstarter on August 2, 2015 with the goal of raising $3,000. Alex pledged that “a portion of every sale of Knit it Black will be donated to animal rescue charities who specialize either in black pets or another tough to rehome pet population.”
Alex already had a decent-sized following on Instagram and Ravelry, but this could not prepare her for the overwhelming success of the project. By September 1, 2015, the project had 313 backers who donated $8,744, nearly tripling her original goal!
Alex had already designed and knitted much of the project prior to the Kickstarter. Therefore, the project moved along quickly and was released on November 20, 2015. She collaborated with knitting photographer Vivian Aubrey to document the collection. And if you’re also the crafty type, all of her patterns are available on Ravelry.
As for future projects, Alex plans to add more blacks and neutrals to her collection of patterns. But for now, she is enjoying the opportunity to pick a dog rescue and make a meaningful donation each month.
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