Saturday, November 21, 2015

holiday pattern round-up

Instead of a new holiday pattern this year, I wanted to share with you all the free patterns I've made in previous years. Perhaps you missed something in the past, your knitting skills have improved and you want to try new things, or you'd like to see an old project in a new way. Whatever the reason, I hope you find an hour or two to try out one of these adorable patterns. 

(Links are below, not on the individual photos)

From left to right, along to top row:

1. My most popular holiday pattern, these Mice are easy and quick to make. They can be toys to tuck into a stocking, tree ornaments, or even a gift topper. Knit them from bits of left over yarn, in any weight from fingering to worsted.

2. A close second, Mini Pookies are quirky and sweet. They're the perfect size for a Christmas tree, a child's hands, or even add a bit of cat-nip for your favourite kitty.

3. If you'd rather knit an accessory, this free hat pattern is easy and fast. Two 50 g balls of worsted yarn in your toddler's favourite colours, a few hours of knitting, and you'll have a toasty warm gift!

From left to right, along the bottom row:

4. If you know someone who loves pandas as much as my little boy, this toy is perfect. You can make a little pocket friend, or a finger puppet!

5. This reindeer finger-puppet is very similar to the panda, and more seasonal. If you don't mind a bit of hand-sewing, you can make the antlers from felt.

6: A special ornament set for those who love the North, this pattern makes an adorable baby seal and a little Inuk (person). Dress your Inuk in your favourite colours, and make the hair long or short. You can also have fun with a bit of embroidery on the coat.

And if these ideas are not enough, here's a few more:

7. One of my oldest patterns, these little stuffed trees are a great way to use up little bits of left-over yarn.

8. Have you wanted to try felting, and have some bits of wool yarn you're not using? Try making some felted star ornaments.

9. Finally, for those friends or relations who don't appreciate seasonal decorations, maybe you could knit some Mini Aliens!

For even more ideas, have a look at this similar post from Knitted Bliss.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wee Panda Toy and Finger Puppet

In honour of my birthday today, I'm sharing a new free pattern with you! This one was originally published in Knit Now magazine last year. I've made a few small changes to that version, and added a finger puppet body. These tiny toys are great as a last minute gift. You can turn them into back-pack accessories, a key-chain, or just give them as a special pocket-friend. (Tip: you can also ignore the colour changes, and so make the toy a bear or hamster instead. Or, if you own the Wee Wuzzies pattern, you can add their heads and tails to the finger puppet body, and make a whole handful of cuteness!)

I hope you all enjoy making a Wee Panda or three! 

9 g of white (MC) and 6 g of black (CC) DK weight yarn, pair of 3.25 mm (US size 3) knitting needles, pair of black 6 mm safety eyes or beads, polyester stuffing, tapestry needle
5.5 sts and 8.5 rows = 2.5 cm (1") measured over st st
5.5 cm (2¼”). The finger puppet will fit a child or small adult hand.

Use a long-tail, or similar, cast on. Leaving a 25 cm (10”) yarn end when casting on will give you a convenient length of yarn for seaming and assembling the toy.
Intarsia colour changes are marked by the yarn colour preceding each set of stitches. Use mattress stitch for seams, and whip stitch to assemble toy pieces.
If you don’t want to work the intarsia eye-patches, they can also be embroidered with duplicate stitch on the finished head.

Toy Body 
Begin at bottom. With MC, cast on 6 sts.
Row 1: Purl.
Row 2: K1, [m1, k1] to end. (11 sts)
Row 3: Purl.
Row 4: K1, [m1, k1] to end. (21 sts)
Row 5: MC p7, CC p1, MC p5, CC p1, MC p7.
Row 6: MC k7, CC mb, MC k5, CC mb, MC k7.
Continue in MC.
Row 7-12: Work 6 rows in st st.
Break off MC, change to CC.
Row 13: Purl.
Row 14: K7, mb, ssk, k1, k2tog, mb, k7. (19 sts)
Row 15: Purl.
Row 16: K2, [ssk] x 3, k3, [k2tog] x 3, k2. (13 sts)
Row 17: Purl.
Bind off. With a length of MC yarn (or the ends from working instaria) sew down the edges of the bobbles, then knot yarn ends tightly together and trim short. Sew together cast-on edge, then sew up back seam, leaving bound-off edge open. Stuff body (you'll need to be careful when stuffing the body, so the black yarn ends from the bobbles don't show).

Finger Puppet Body 
Begin at bottom. With MC, cast on 16 sts.
Row 1-2: Beginning with a P row, work 2 rows in st st.
Row 3: MC p5, CC p1, MC p4, CC p1, MC p5.
Row 4: MC k5, CC mb, MC k4, CC mb, MC k5.
Row 5-7: Work 3 rows in st st.
Row 8: K5, ssk, k2, k2tog, k5. (14 sts)
Row 9-10: Work 2 rows in st st.
Break off MC, change to CC.
Row 11: Purl.
Row 12: K4, mb, ssk, k2tog, mb, k4. (12 sts)
Row 13: Purl.
Bind off. With a length of MC yarn (or the ends from working instaria) sew down edges of bobbles, weave yarn ends through the bobbles a few times, and trim ends. Sew up back seam, leaving cast-on and bound-off edges open.

Begin at back of head. With MC, cast on 7 sts.
Row 1: Purl.
Row 2: K1, [m1, k1] x 5, k1. (12 sts)
Row 3: Purl.
Row 4: K1, [m1, k1] x 10, k1. (22 sts)
Row 5: MC p8, CC p1, MC p4, CC p1, MC p8.
Row 6: MC k8, CC kfbf, turn, p3, turn, sk2p, MC k4, CC kfbf, turn, p3, turn, sk2p, MC k8. (this rows makes tiny bobbles for the ears)
Continue in MC.
Row 7-9: Work 3 rows in st st.
Row 10: MC k6, CC k4, MC k2, CC k4, MC k6.
Row 11: MC p6, CC p4, MC p2, CC p4, MC p6.
Continue in MC.
Row 12: K2, [k2tog] x 4, k2, [ssk] x 4, k2. (14 sts)
Row 13-15: Work 3 rows in st st.
Row 16: [k2tog] x 7. (7 sts)
Cut yarn, thread end through loops of rem sts, and pull tight to gather. Weave in yarn ends from intarsia sections. Attach safety eyes. Sew seam towards back of head, leaving an opening. Stuff head, smoothing and shaping as you stuff. Sew closed. Embroider nose and mouth. Sew head to the open bound-off-edge of the toy or puppet body.

[ ] x N = repeat sequence in brackets N times ("to end" means to repeat until the end of the row)
K = knit
k2tog = decrease 1 by knitting 2 together
kfbf: increase 2 by knitting into front, then back, then front of next stitch
m1 = increase 1 by picking up loop between stitch just worked and next stitch, and knit into the back of this loop
mb = Make bobble: increase 5 sts into next st (knit, purl, knit, purl, knit into this stitch), turn. P5, turn. K5, turn. P5, turn. Ssk, k1, k2tog, then, one at a time, pass first 2 sts over the last st on your right-hand needle, to get 1 rem st.
P = purl
RS = right side
s2kp = decrease 2 by slipping 2 stitches as if to k2tog, knit the next stitch, then pass the 2 slipped stitches over the knit stitch
ssk = decrease 1 by slipping 2 stitches purl-wise, slip back onto left needle, then knit slipped sts together
st or sts = stitch or stitches
st st = stockinette stitch
WS = wrong side

Kyr very kindly modelled the toys for me, 
so you can see how big they are compared to a 4-year old.

Friday, December 5, 2014

reindeer finger-puppet pattern

Here's a cute little project that you can make in those little bits of time you always have during the holidays: chatting with family at parties, waiting for a school pageant to start, watching Christmas specials with your kids for the 12th time.

It's a fairly easy knit, so if you can knit, purl, increase, decrease, and change colours, you should be fine! I've made the antlers from felt, but if you hate hand-sewing, and your kids are a bit older, you could use pipe-cleaners (chenille wires) instead. Wouldn't your children be so pleased to find one of these in their stocking?

Please note, this is a free pattern, and I haven't had time to get it test-knit. If you find a mistake, or have a question, please email me (barbara at fuzzymitten .com).
15 g of worsted weight yarn in light brown (MC), 5 g of worsted weight yarn in white (CC), pair of 4 mm (US size 6) knitting needles, two 4 mm (US size 6) double pointed needles (dpns), pair of 6 mm safety eyes or beads, stuffing, yarn to embroider the face, tapestry needle, brown felt plus hand-sewing needle and thread
22 sts and 32 rows per 10cm (4˝) in st st
8 cm (3”)

CO 34 sts with MC.
Row 1: P6, bind off 8 sts, p6, bind off 8 sts, p6. (18 sts, the bound off stitches make the legs)
Row 2: K5, ssk, k4, k2tog, k5. (16 sts)
Row 3-7: Work 5 rows in st st.
Row 8: K5, ssk, k2, k2tog, k5. (14 sts)
Row 9-11: Work 3 rows in st st.
Row 12: K4, k2tog, k2, ssk, k4. (12 sts)
Change to CC.
Row 13-14: Work 2 rows in st st.
Bind off. Using a length of your MC yarn, sew the tops and bottoms of the feet together with a few whip stitches.

Arm (make 2)
With dpns and MC, cast on 3 sts. Work in I-cord for 5 rounds. Cut yarn, thread end through remaining stitches, and pull tight to gather.
If you don’t want to work the arms as I-cord, cast on 4 sts, and work in st st for 5 rows. Cut yarn, thread end through remaining stitches, and pull tight to gather. Then sew arm seam towards cast-on edge.


Start at back. CO 6 sts with MC.
Row 1: Purl.
Row 2: k1, [m1, k1] x 5. (11 sts)
Row 3: Purl.
Row 4: k2, [m1, k1] x 8, k1. (19 sts)
Row 5-9: Work 5 rows in st st.
Row 10: k3, ssk, k1, k2tog, k3, ssk, k1, k2tog, k3. (15 sts)
Row 11: Purl.
Row 12: k4, k2tog, k3, ssk, k4. (13 sts)
Change to CC.
Row 13-15: Work 3 rows in st st.
Row 16: [k2tog] x 3, k1, [ssk] x 3. (7 sts)
Cut yarn, thread end through remaining sts, and pull tight to gather. Attach safety eyes or beads, or embroider eyes with black yarn. Sew seam, leaving an opening. Stuff head, then sew closed. Embroider a nose and mouth.

Ear (make 2)
CO 3 sts with MC.
Row 1: Purl.
Row 2: K1, m1, k1, m1, k1. (5 sts)
Row 3-5: Work 3 rows in st st.
Row 6: K1, ssk, k2. (4 sts)
Row 7: [p2tog] x 2. (2 sts)
Pass first stitch over second. Cut yarn, pull end through rem st, then thread yarn end along side of ear to cast-on edge. Sew cast-on edge of ears to head, then weave in yarn ends.

Sew cast-on edge of arms to body, then weave in yarn ends on WS of body. Sew body’s back seam from cast-on edge to bound-off edge, leaving the bound-off edge open, for sewing to the head.
Make antlers from felt: cut out 4 pieces of felt using the photo below as your pattern*. Matching 2 pieces together, sew around outside edges with a blanket stitch. Sew antler base to the head, just above one ear. Repeat for the other antler. (Another method of making antlers is to use pipe-cleaners or chenille wire, but this is not recommended for young children)
Sew head to open bound-off edge of body. Weave in yarn ends. If you like, add a bow and jingle-bell.

*You should be able to click on the photo above, and then print it. I have tried to make the photo so that it will print at the correct size to use as a pattern for cutting out your antler pieces. But if it's not the correct size, just use it as a guide for the shape. All reindeer have different antlers anyway!

P.S. If you want to make a whole family of finger puppets, the body from the reindeer will work with any of the heads from my Wee Wuzzies pattern. You'll just need to knit it in the appropriate colours.

[ ] x N = repeat sequence in brackets N times ("to end" means to repeat until the end of the row)
CO = cast on
K or k = knit
k2tog = decrease 1 stitch by knitting 2 together
m1 = increase 1 by picking up loop between stitch just worked and next stitch, from front to back, and knit into the back of this loop.
P or p = purl
p2tog = decrease 1 stitch by purling 2 together
ssk = decrease 1 stitch by slipping 2 stitches purl-wise, then knit slipped stitches together
st or sts = stitch or stitches
st st = stockinette stitch WS = wrong side

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

change of pace

Thanks for joining me! Are you comfortable? Have you got a nice cup of tea or coffee, or maybe some hot chocolate? I have a bunch of news to share with you.

First, I recently updated my much-loved Owl Tuque pattern. It now includes 6 sizes, from newborn to adult large, so you can knit one for anyone on your gift list. The pattern works well in a variety of yarns, as long as you choose a solid or heathered colour that isn't too dark. I knit one for myself from Cascade Eco-Duo (undyed wool/alpaca) and I get compliments on it all the time!

Yes, that's me. It's hard to photograph a hat on your own head.

Second, I had another pattern published in Knit Now magazine last week: Ursula the Polar Bear. I took advantage of the different venue to try something a little different. She's knit all in the round, and while her shape is a bit unusual, she's really very cuddly! Plus, her cozy red pullover is the perfect attire for this cold season. If your local shops carry the magazine, it comes with the yarn to make her. 

Third, I have a new pattern coming soon, hopefully next week! As many of you probably guessed, the new design is for a yeti and big-foot (sasquatch), with a couple of really cute accessories. They look quite different from my other designs, but are still a fairly easy knit. You make the toy with chunky/bulky yarn on 5 mm needles, so the knitting goes really fast. Even the assembly is somewhat easier than my usual toys.

Buddies :)

I've also started work on a little holiday pattern, which will be offered free here. That should be ready around the beginning of December. If you can't wait, try one of my patterns from previous years: mini pookies, inuk and seal, or holiday mice.

You need to knit these, right?

And about some more personal news: my older son, Lev, started kindergarten this Fall. He loves school, and seems to be doing well so far. However, his new schedule and the demands of school have reduced the time I have to work. In addition, I've decided that my younger son, Kyr, would benefit from some extra time at home with me (and maybe I want to enjoy these years before he goes off to school too). So he's only attending pre-school 3 days a week now. Both of these together mean that I had to rethink what I want to do, regarding work on new designs, blog posts, tutorials, and everything else that goes into keeping Fuzzy Mitten going. 

My boys

So, once this year's holiday pattern is published, the pace of things is going to change over the next year and a half. I've decided to use this time to work on a longer-term project I've had in mind for a while: a third self-published collection of patterns. This will (mostly) free me from the pressure of deadlines, as well as allowing me to share my work with you as it progresses. The book will feature my Scraps Chaps designs, which have always been some of my favourites. The original three will get an update, I'll add 3 more animals to the 9 already published, and I'll design a range of outfits and accessories for the toys to wear. I hope you're as excited about this as I am!

Has it really been almost 6 years since I made these guys?

While the book will be my main project over the next 18 months, occasionally there will be new designs to anticipate. My work for Knit Now magazine will continue, with a new pattern every few months. As well, there will be another mystery knit-along next Spring. The mystery knit-alongs have become one of my favourite parts of this job, and I'm really looking forward to doing another one!

I hope you can understand that this change of pace means I will have less time to write here. When I started this blog several years ago, so many crafty people were writing about what they were making, their family life, their thoughts and challenges and dreams. But blogging has changed since then - I don't feel like I fit into this new version, and it's too hard for my little voice to be heard. I'll still write when I have exciting news, or a new tutorial, but I think that's it. However, I do hope to make time to reorganize things, so it's easier for you to find the most useful posts. If you want any other news about what I'm up to, try following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

It's been lovely, all of you, and I hope you stick around to see where this new path takes me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

recipe - autumn squash stew

As soon as the weather gets cooler, all my husband wants to eat is soup! Although he's not picky, I like some variety to our suppers, so I have a pretty good collection of recipes that I can pull out as the season changes. This stew is very easy, tasty, and filling, making it one of our favourites. It's also a nice change from the more common spicy or curry squash soups.

Autumn Squash Stew

Makes about 4 adult servings
Prep and cooking time: approx. 45 minutes

2 lbs squash
2 medium yellow potatoes
2 medium tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 bay leaves
4 fresh sage leaves (or 1 tsp dried sage)
1/4 cup dry white wine (if you want to be fancy)
chili flakes, salt, pepper (to taste)

A note about selecting squash: most grocery stores now carry a variety of squashes, and farmer's markets will have even more. I like this stew best with 2 kinds of squash in it, so it has more depth of flavour. Usually I'll pair a paler, milder tasting squash (such as acorn or delicata) with a darker, stronger squash (such as butternut or sugar pumpkin). Whichever you like, make sure you pick ones with thinner skins that can be peeled.

1. Peel the squash and potatoes, and dice them into bite-sized pieces.
2. Place your soup pot on a medium-heat burner and add the olive oil. Once the oil is warm, add the squash and potatoes. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes just start to turn golden (they may stick a bit to the bottom of the pan, but don't worry, they'll come off later).
3. While the squash and potatoes are cooking, dice the tomatoes. Add them to the pot and sauté for 1 minute.
4. Add the broth and herbs (and wine) to the pot. Also add the chili flakes, if you're using them. Once the soup is simmering, turn the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the squash and potatoes are soft.
5. Remove the bay and sage leaves. Transfer about 2 cups of soup to a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth. Add this back to the pot. Taste the stew, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.

This is a nice lunch on it's own, or make it a complete supper with some sour-dough bread and your favourite cheese.

P.S. I have some knitting news to share with you soon, so check back in a few days!
p.p.s. one of these days I might learn how to take pretty pictures of soup. Until then, don't worry about how it looks, it tastes delicious!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


The idea of designing a robot toy came to me almost a year ago, and I liked the idea so much, it was difficult to wait for the right time to work on it. But I had other projects planned that my time was committed to, so it had to wait. In the meantime, I did some research (an image search for "cute robots" was very fun). Then I drew some sketches that combined my favourite aspects of the images I found, with the basic body style I use for most of my toys. Below you can see one of these pencil sketches.

Initially I wanted to make two robots with interchangeable parts. I spent a lot of time on this idea, trying to get the different parts to work together, and trying to find a simple way to make some of the shapes I wanted. In the end, though, the second robot was taking too much time, and wasn't working at all how I wanted. Sometimes you just have to let an idea go, so you can dedicate your efforts to what is actually working. Once I made that decision, the final Spacebot toy came together very quickly. (By the way, it's called a Spacebot because that's what my older son said when he saw the sketch, and I thought that name would be better than the generic "robot").

A special feature of this pattern, which might not be obvious from the photos, is that the Spacebot's head can turn! Early in my design process, the possibility being able to swivel the robot's head seemed like too much fun to pass up, even if it made the toy a little more complicated to assemble. In the end, it actually turned out to be relatively simple, although I made sure to add some extra photos in the pattern to help with this part.

Since the final pattern wouldn't have 2 robots, I decided to make my spacebot some accessories. A rocket-pack was a necessity, but I wasn't sure about the second accessory until my husband gave me a little help. When I showed him the two sample toys, he immediately decided they should be called "Domo" and "Arigato". I told him that "Ari" was a nicer sounding name... and then we decided that I would just have to make a robot cat named "Gato" (and now you understand some of the humour you might encounter in our family).

With some good scheduling, and the help of two lovely and speedy knitters, the pattern was test-knit while I was busy getting my older son ready for kindergarten (and so didn't have time for work). Some photos, editing, and formatting happened very quickly, and now I have this adorable and fun new pattern to share with you!

I would say this pattern is intermediate level, but only because of the intarsia on the body and face. Otherwise, the knitting and construction of the toy is very similar to my other patterns. If you really don't want to do the intarsia, the toy would still be cute without it. This pattern is also a great way to play with some of your favourite colours, and to use some of those cute buttons in your stash!

I'm really looking forward to seeing some finished Spacebots, as you find time to knit one (or two!) As a little extra encouragement, the pattern is 20% off until September 19, in both my Raverly and Etsy shops.

These are the toys my test-knitters made, so you can see how well the pattern turns out (and how talented they are)! The robot above was made by Nicole (her Etsy shop), and the one below was made by Alessandra.

Monday, August 25, 2014

quiet summer

It's been a quiet summer here on this blog, but not in my real life! When my boys were smaller, I thought they took up a lot of my time. But there were always naps, and much earlier bedtimes, and overall more time to keep up with everything Fuzzy Mitten. However, this summer has been non-stop swimming lessons, day-camp, playgrounds, beach vacations, family visits, picnics, and so much more! It's been wonderful, but so, so busy.
Kyr, his usual silly self

And I think it's not going to slow down any time soon! My older boy, Lev, is starting kindergarten this week. He's been in part-time pre-school for a while now, so he's somewhat used to the routines etc. But with a new school, mostly different kids, and learning a second language (French), I expect we'll all be adjusting for a while yet. He's terribly excited, though, which is making the rest of us excited too!

Lev, mastering the monkey-bars

I haven't forgotten about you, though! As I've found a few hours here and there, I've been working on a few new patterns for you. My Space-bot toy is now being test-knitted, so it should be ready within a few weeks. There will also be another pattern coming out mid-September, and I'll share more about that when I can. I'm also trying to update my Owl Tuque pattern with more sizes, but I'm not sure when that will be ready. And I have two more designs scheduled for November and January (hopefully).

I will try to post here a little more often, about the new adventures we have at the "big kids" school, what I'm knitting, and other plans for the future (maybe some travelling!) My monthly featured patterns will continue through the next few months, and I really want to add some more free patterns or tutorials here to accompany them. If you're interested in more of my day-to-day adventures, you can try following me in a number of places: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are all places I visit regularly. My Ravelry group is also a good place to check out if you want to see what other people are knitting, or to find advice and inspiration.