Monday, March 31, 2008

hello monday

I took the weekend off from my email inbox. I really needed the break. If you emailed me and haven't heard back, I am trying to get through everything either today or tomorrow.

What do you think of the pattern for April? I am super pleased with it. The leotard is very different from anything I've designed before, and it turned out so well. You can knit the leotard in 3 different sizes, depending on how big your toy is, so make sure to read the instructions at the beginning to know which size you want. I knit the tutu from both alpaca and mohair blend yarns, and it looks so sweet in either (the one in the photo is mohair). I think it's a great way to use up any bits of fingering or lace weight you have left-over from some other project. I included instructions for the picot edge, which gives a nice finish to the tutu.

I don't think I've mentioned it for a while, so in case you don't know, in May all the feature patterns from the last 5 months will be offered together. It will be similar to the clothes bundles already in my Lulu shop. This bundle of patterns will be available permanently in both shops. At the moment I'm not sure if I will continue with the feature patterns. I want to work on some new toy patterns, and have time to knit toys for a craft fair this summer.

I hope I'm delusional right now, because if I'm not, it really is snowing outside.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

test knitters

Thanks so much to everyone who volunteered to test my patterns. I didn't expect quite so many! My plan is to put all your names on a list, and each time I need a new pattern tested, I will pick 3 people from the list. I will contact those people to find out if they have time to help me. I can't afford to pay you for the help, but you will get a free copy of the completed pattern. I'll let you know what kind of yarn I used, although you will be free to use what you like. Basically what I need for you to do is knit up the pattern, and report to me any mistakes, confusing bits, or places where more instruction is needed. I'm not sure yet what sort of deadline I will set, it will probably depend on when I get the draft ready, and when I would like the pattern to come out. I will try to give you at least 2 weeks. Is there anything I forgot?

All that said, I don't expect to have a new toy pattern ready to test for a couple of months. There's a lot of stuff going on right now that I need to concentrate on, and unfortunately, new patterns aren't my top priority. There will be a new clothing pattern for April, but there isn't time left for testing that one.

This whole week has been a little crazy and overwhelming, to the point of having a mini break-down and crying while trying to wash the dishes one night. I love what I do, but it isn't always easy to be happy when I'm being pulled in a dozen different directions. Running your own business doesn't really leave you any time to yourself, even though I try to take breaks a few evenings a week. But I don't even get holidays to myself -- I had people bugging me on my honeymoon! While I can't take a bit of time off right now, hopefully I can figure out a way to manage things better so they don't drive me so crazy. Reading all your lovely and supportive comments always cheers me up, too.

Friday, March 28, 2008

quietly busy

I guess things have been a little quiet here this week. I should be sending patterns to Etsy customers right now, but thought I would take a moment to say hello.

I'm busily working on my last big order of toys for the spring, and having lots of fun. I have more creative leeway with this bunch, and I'm trying to give them as much character as I can. This afternoon I put the finishing touches on a pair of lederhosen for a big teddy. Basically just knit the overalls, omitting the bib and replacing it with braces. Looks pretty good, I think.

I'm house-sitting for some friends this week, looking after their two siamese kitties. I must say, they have such different personalities from my two. They also make my kitties look, how shall I say, buxom? But I like that my girls are so cuddly.

There's also been a new development this week that is taking up a bunch of my time and concentration. Something that I won't be able to talk about for months and months. I hope that it soon fades into the past, so I stop wanting to tell people. That will also make it exciting again when the time comes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

hippo correction #2

I feel like a dumb-arse. I keep telling myself that even experienced knitters make mistakes. Heck, I have published pattern books with mistakes in them. But it doesn't make me feel much better for selling you a pattern with problems. I put it down to poor note-taking and too much hurry. I will try to do better for you in future.

Here's the correction:

Knit mouth with pink yarn.
Cast on 7 sts. P 1 row.
Next: k1, m1, k5, m1, k1. (9 sts) P 1 row.
Next: k1, m1, k7, m1, k1. (11 sts)
Work 5 rows in st st.
Next: skpo, k7, k2tog. (9 sts) P 1 row.
Next: skpo, k5, k2tog. ( 7 sts) P 1 row.
Next: k1, m1, k5, m1, k1. (9 sts)
Work 5 rows in st st.
Next: skpo, k5, k2tog. (7 sts)
Next: skpo, k5, k2tog. (7 sts)
Next: p2tog, p3, p2tog tbl. (5 sts)
Cast off 5 sts.

Please note that you need to cross out the third to last row (the faded one), as well as changing the stitch counts.

There is another spot in the head where my directions aren't wrong, but they might be a bit confusing:

Next: k8, k2tog, k4, skpo, k8 (22 sts) P 1 row.
Next: k1, m1, k4 - place these first 6 sts on
holder, k2, [m1, k1] nine times, k1, k4, m1, k1 -
place these last 6 sts on holder.
Break off yarn. Attach yarn to sts still on needle.
(21 sts) This next part makes the nose.

I think I wrote it this way to keep track of which stitches are for the top of the nose, and which ones are for the jaw. If it's less confusing for you, write in k5.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the last of the mistakes.

For any new patterns, I will definitely ask people to test-knit them for me. It might mean the patterns take longer to release, but hopefully there won't be mistakes in them. If you want to volunteer, leave a comment. When I need people, I will select 2-3 of you, and contact you by email.

- EDIT -
Murphy is out to get me... one more little change, and hopefully, please God, let this be the last one! This is in the instructions for the head, right at the bottom of the left column on page 3:

Work 4 rows in st st.
Next: skpo, k7, k2tog. (9 sts) P 1 row

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

long weekend

I had a delightful, lazy weekend with my sweetie. We didn't celebrate Easter, but managed to fit in a bunny, some chocolate ice cream, and things made with eggs, so I think we did okay. And, I have photos to document some of the best parts!

Before the weekend got started, I made a big batch of borscht. It does look nice in photos, being such a lovely red colour. I'm not posting the recipe, because borscht is one of those dishes that is made differently in every family, and I make it differently nearly every time, so just find a recipe that sounds good to you and go for it. Just because the main ingredients are beets, cabbage, and potatoes, doesn't mean it has to taste like bland and over-cooked peasant food.

On friday, I decided to take a break from work and do some sewing. I've been planning this quilt for our living room wall for ages, and finally had all the necessary bits, and time to make it.

I spent saturday putting together some toys I had knit over the past week or so. I had already made a super bunny names Clark, so this one was dubbed 'Wonder Bun.'

On sunday, I spent some time mending clothes. My most comfy pair of jeans got patches to cover up the holes in the knees, but I had to concede that my most favourite red angora sweater is on it's way out. No amount of darning will fix all the holes and thin patches. I think it may have to gain a new life as some kind of plushie...

Yesterday, we went for a long walk in the sunshine. Although we took the camera, the huge snow banks were too depressing for us to bother taking photos. Instead, I will show you a peak of the April feature pattern I'm working on.

And in case you thought I was busy and industrious all weekend, we did watch some Lord of the Rings, 5 episodes of Red Dwarf, eat nachos for supper, and drink some very nice beer.

Monday, March 24, 2008

problem at lulu shop

I seem to be unable to send replies to any messages on Lulu. I will try and report the problem to them (making my way through their maze of forums which have nothing to do with my problem... argh!) In the meantime, if you need to contact me, please send an email to barbara (at) fuzzymitten (dot) com. In fact, it's always easier to contact me this way, although if my inbox is really stacked, I might take a day or two to reply.

hippo correction #1

Someone found a small mistake in the hippo pattern, in the instructions for the leg. I haven't written out the full instructions, but you should be able to locate this section in your pattern. You will find the correct stitch count in bold:

Next: P 3 rows.
Next: k2, skpo, k15, k2tog, k2. (21 sts) P 1 row.
Next: k5, [k2tog] twice, k3, [skpo] twice, k5. (17 sts)
Work 7 rows in st st.

The original pattern was off by one stitch, which hopefully is a small enough error that you won't be too upset with me. I really do need to find some test knitters, or even proof-readers. None of my knitting friends are interested in making toys, so I've always just relied on myself to check my patterns, and hope I don't make too many mistakes.

I'm planning a big post for tomorrow with a bunch of photos about what I was up to this weekend. There were no eggs and only one bunny, but there was chocolate ice cream and lots of fun!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

hint #6

There's a certain way I sew together the cast-on edge of feet, arms, and the back of heads that gives them a nice rounded shape, rather than having a straight seam. I thought I would share that technique, and I've taken a bunch of photos to help illustrate. They're a little out of focus, because there isn't a lot of light and I had to hold the camera rather than use a tripod. Hopefully you can make out what I'm doing, and try it yourself.

A leg, ready to be sewn.

I use a long tail cast-on, which leaves nice loops along the edge. Other kinds of cast-on will look different, but should still work.

Thread the needle through the loops of the cast-on edge, starting from the side opposite to where your yarn end is attached to the leg.

The needle has been threaded through all the loops of the cast-on edge.

Pull the yarn through the loops, and pull tight until the bottom of the foot is gathered together. There! Now you have a nice, round bottom to the foot. You can continue sewing up the back seam of the leg with the yarn.

happy spring!

While the calendar might say today is the first day of spring, it looks decidedly like winter outside. This is nothing unusual in Canada, unless you happen to live on the west coast. I'm sure there are tulips in Victoria already.

This winter we've had a crazy amount of snow, quite a lot of it recently, so I don't expect to see any flowers by the end of this month (I believe my sister really did photograph those crocuses on March 30). When I was gardening last year, we were supposed to start on April 1. There was so much snow, we didn't really get going until the middle of the month, and even then many yards still had snow in shadowy corners.

I'm house-sitting for my sister and brother-in-law while they're in France for April (lucky ducks!) and I was planning to get her garden ready by the time they came home. At the rate the seasons are progressing, all I might get done is to clear up the dead stuff we missed in the fall, and see the green buds of crocuses peeping out of the soil. Planting the veggies will have to wait until later.

There isn't any garden at our place, although there is a tiny back yard. We're hoping to convince our landlord to let us plant some tomatoes, and set up a compost bin. I'll also have herbs on the balcony, and dahlias at the front door (if the bulbs made it through the winter). Thoughts of warmer days and green things will have to sustain me through these last days of snow, but it's getting more difficult to be content with that.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Some day I like noise around me, so I don't feel lonely. Usually a music radio station, or pod casts of CBC shows I like, sometimes a book from Librivox.

Other days I enjoy the quietness in this small town. Except it isn't really quiet, the sounds are just simpler, more subtle, more peaceful. Kitties snoring in their sleep. The occasional car on the wet street. Gulls crying from near the river. Water dripping off the roof. Starlings and chickadees on the telephone wires. Students chatting as they walk home from school.

I may miss some things from when we lived downtown, but I like it here. It feels more like a home than most places I've lived since I was a child.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

ready for sea-faring adventures!

The Pirate Hippo pattern is now available in both my Etsy and Lulu shops. It took me a little longer to get ready than I thought. I needed to take new photos, and I tried to include lots of detail in the instruction. This toy is more detailed than any before, and I hope I included enough instructions so you can make everything without too much trouble. There's even a pattern for the sword, which should print out to scale, so you can just cut it out and use it for tracing.

The only part I'm really worried about is how you attach the feathers to the parrot. I even included little photos that should make it clearer, but if you're still not sure, it's basically like making a hooked rug. (I couldn't even find any tutorials on the web to link to, not a diagram to be had!) If this doesn't work for you, you could try using some green or blue felt for the wings and tail. I really love how mine turned out, and I want to make bunches more to give to my friends, with pins on their feet, so they can ride around on your shoulder :)

Now it's back to knitting other toys. I've had a nice break over the last couple days, getting this pattern ready. Although, I do really enjoy designing and writing new patterns. There's something so satisfying about it, like turning in an assignment you know you've done really well.

Monday, March 17, 2008

and the winner is...

Eva is the winner of the super cute spring bag and pattern! Yo ho ho! I've already sent you an email about the prize, so make sure you check your inbox, Eva :) Now I have to start calling the hippos Esmerelda and Ol' Scurvyshorts, instead of Girl and Boy. Kind of funny, though, that Ol' Scurvyshorts in fact has none (maybe because they were so scurvy?). Esmerelda likes to tease him by calling him Henry, which only his mother ever called him, and only when he was really naughty.

I was feeling generous when drawing names this morning, and decided to choose two more lucky winners, who both get a copy of the new Pirate Hippo pattern. This would be Jacqui and euphoria7. I've already sent you both an email about it, and I hope it makes your day a little brighter :)

As for which pattern I will be writing up, the tally put the girl hippo a few votes ahead. So the Pirate Hippo pattern will have the smaller mouth, and slimmer arms and legs. The pattern will of course include instructions for the parrot, eye-patch, and belt. I will also try drawing out a pattern for the sword, if I can get the scale right. Then you can just print it, cut it out, and trace it to make swords for your own pirates! I should be able to get the pattern ready by tomorrow afternoon, as I'm sure many of you are eagerly waiting for it to be done. The contest winners will get their patterns first, then I'll list it in both my shops.

This has all been a lot of fun for me, and I will definitely be having more contests in the future. So if you didn't win this time, there will be other opportunities. I hope you all enjoyed my husband's little story about the pirates. All I asked him for was a story involving pirate names, and that's what he came up with. So perfectly silly and funny :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A short story

PiratesHi, everyone, Mr. Mitten here. Barbara is away visiting her friends tonight, so I'm filling in until she's back.

These two guys have been partying so hard on our bookshelf for the past week, that they have moved me to put pencil to paper, which I haven't done in a very long time. Here's the result. Hope you like it! :)

Billy was standing in the doorway with a pillow in his one hand, a swimming noodle in the other, and an excited expression on his face. Kate knew immediately that he had some sort of an idea.
"Hi, Kate!" he said. "Wanna play pirates?"
Kate gave this some thought. Her schedule for the afternoon was pretty open.
"Sure," she said, letting him in. "What do we have to do?"
Billy thumped inside and swung around, nearly knocking things down with the swimming noodle.
"Hey, watch it!"
"Sorry," he said, putting the noodle down on the couch.
"What's with the noodle?" asked Kate.
"This? It's called a 'compass,'" said Billy. "Every self-respecting pirate has one."
"Are you sure that's a compass?" asked Kate doubtfully.
"Oh, yeah."
"What does it do?"
Billy seemed less sure.
"I think it's supposed to point where you're going," he said.
Kate thought about it.
"And you brought a swimming noodle?"
"Well, yeah," he nodded. "See, when I'm at the swimming pool, it always points wherever I want to go," he explained.
"Oh... Okay, I guess that makes sense," nodded Kate. "Then what's with the pillow?"
"That's easy," said Billy. "Pirates are supposed to 'pillage.'"
"With pillows?"
"Oh yeah. Like so."
And he bonked her on the head with it.
"Hey!" Kate brushed the hair out of her face. "Well... That's not very... you know... fearsome."
Billy bonked her again, this time right on the nose.
"Ow! Okay, okay, sheesh. What else do pirates do?"
Billy dropped the pillow next to the swimming noodle and thought hard.
"I think," he said, "I think we're supposed to wear an eye-patch and a wooden leg."
"That's silly," said Kate. "Why would you wear such things?"
"I think," said Billy, "the eye-patch is for safety."
Kate thought about it. Her dad always wore eye-goggles when he worked in the shop, and always talked about safety.
"That makes sense," she said.
"Yeah," said Billy. "That's why they say 'aye' all the time.
"They do?"
"Oh yeah."
Billy screwed up his face in a fierce expression and said in a gruff voice: "Eye, mateys, watch for the eye!"
He coughed and added in his usual voice: "They also say 'R' a lot and talk about 'curvy dogs.'"
"The what now?"
Billy shrugged.
"Some kind of sea mammal thing, I'm sure."
Kate thought about it.
"Like a sea lion?" she suggested.
"I think so," nodded Billy. "That's why they need a wooden leg. When the curvy dogs attack, they take it off and throw it at them, like sticks. Then, when the dogs chase after the wooden legs, they sneak through and steal their treasure."
There was a pause while they both admired the mental picture.
"And, if someone disobeys their captain," added Billy, "they get 'tarred and feathered.'"
"How does that work?"
Billy thought for a moment.
"I'm not sure what 'tarred' means," he admitted after a while.
Kate rubbed her nose.
"I know what a 'leotard' is," she said. "I have to wear one to my dancing lessons. Is that the same thing?"
Billy looked unsure.
"Does it have feathers?" he asked.
"No, but I have a feather boa," said Kate.
Billy was still unconvinced.
"Can I see?"
Kate dug deep into her closet and took out her sparkly green leotard and her purple feather boa.
Billy nodded vigorously.
"Yeah, that's it," he said. "If you don't listen to your captain, they make you wear this stuff."
He paused, then added with horror in his voice: "Ain't nothing you can do to a pirate that's worse than that."
Kate bit her lip. She had to wear the leotard every Tuesday and Friday to her dancing practice and did not think it so bad.
"What else do pirates do?" she asked, putting things back back in the closet.
Billy breathed a sigh of relief once the offending outfit was out of sight.
"They also have to sing 'sea-shanties,'" he said.
"What are 'shanties?'" asked Kate.
"Dunno," shrugged Billy.
Kate thought for a moment.
"I have an Auntie Sheila who likes to sing," she said.
Billy looked unconvinced.
"Is she popular with pirates?" he asked.
"She used to be a known singer," said Kate. "I heard my dad say once that she was in something called The Urchin from Venus."
"Was it any good?" asked Billy doubtfully.
"I think so, it was on Oprah," said Kate. "Besides, if it has urchins in it, it's probably popular with pirates."
Billy nodded his head, cautiously.
"Do you know the words?" he asked.
Kate screwed up her face trying to remember.
"I think I've heard it once," she said. "It goes like 'Urchin, urchin! Emergency!'"
Billy nodded.
"They were probably attacking their ship."
"That makes sense," said Kate.
They stood quietly for a moment, admiring the mental picture.
"Is there anything else?" asked Kate.
"I think that's it," said Billy. "No, wait, we have to pick pirate names!"
Kate thought for a moment.
"I think I'd like to be 'Esmeralda,'" she said.
Billy nodded with approval.
"I already picked mine," he said. "I'll be 'Billy Big Bones.'"
"My mom always says that I'm 'big-boned,'" explained Billy. "That's why I'm 'Billy Big Bones.'"
"I think you should be called 'Henry,'" said Kate.
"Huh? No way, that's lame."
"Don't argue with me, I'm the captain," said Kate.
"Wait, I thought I was going to be the captain!" cried Billy.
"No, you're not, Henry."
"No way you're the captain! And it's 'Billy Big Bones!' OW!"
The pillow hit him squarely on the nose.

When Kate's mom looked in ten minutes later to check on the kids, she found them chasing each-other around the room singing 80's music. Kate was swinging around a pillow, while Billy was clutching on to a swimming noodle. He was pink in the face, and wore a sparkly green leotard with a purple feather boa.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I've never had so many comments as for the Happy Monday contest. I'm tickled, really :) In an effort to encourage more comments in the future, I've changed my blog settings so anyone can comment. You still have to solve the word puzzle, though, which will hopefully keep out some of the spammers. However, if I do get lots of nasty junk spam in the comments, I might have to tighten security again.

I just realized yesterday that the contest ends on St. Patrick's Day. I've never really celebrated this holiday, having no Irish in my family. Does this ever happen to you, that there's holidays on the calendar that you forget about because you don't celebrate them? It's a pretty big deal in Montreal, with a parade and drinking in the streets. I've attended the parade twice, and both times realized that March in Montreal is too cold for parades.

If you didn't notice it, there's a post with videos below the soup post. Check them out, as they're super cool!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

peanut butter stew

So after starting the weekly soup feature, I didn't make soup for a couple of weeks! Well, I did make some tomato soup, but it's too easy to bother about. I decided to make this stew last night because it's one of our favourites, and it almost looks good in a photo. You have to admit, bowls of soup are not really photogenic, unless it's a clear broth with colourful veggies or something.

This recipe is based on one I found in a Company's Coming book. I wanted something a bit different, and this fit the bill, but I wasn't sure if it would be tasty or disgusting. In fact it was delicious, with many flavours and textures in a rich broth. It's definitely better to use natural peanut butter or grind roasted peanuts yourself. And buy regular coconut milk, as the light stuff doesn't have as much flavour. This definitely isn't a low-fat soup, so save it for special dinners, or have it whenever if you don't really care!

This should make about 2L or 4-6 servings. I usually double the recipe so it will make about 5 meals for the two of us. I've always made this vegetarian, but you could add shrimp right at the end. I think they would go well with the other flavours.


2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small yellow onion, minced
1 tbsp oil

1 3/4 cups diced tomatoes (1/2 can)
1/2 medium squash, peeled and cubed (acorn squash has a soft skin that's easy to peel)
1 medium yam or sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup cauliflower florets, okra, or carrots (whatever is available)
cold water to cover vegetables (or vegetable broth)
1 cube vegetable bouillon

1 can coconut milk
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
dried chili flakes, to taste
1 red bell pepper, cut into bite size pieces
roasted peanuts

Saute garlic and onion in oil until golden.
Add all the vegetables except red pepper, cover with water (or broth), and simmer until tender, 15-20 min.

Add coconut milk, peanut butter, chili flakes, and red pepper (and shrimp, if using).
Stir well. Heat through, but don't boil (or heat until shrimp are cooked), about 5 min.
Taste for seasoning, and add extra spice or salt if needed.

Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle each with a handful of peanuts.

Can be served with rice or bread.

chicken pants

I found these films via another blog I read and contribute to. I <3 them, seriously. If someone local could help me make videos like this, they would be my BFF!

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

comments and eyelashes

So many nice comments! I guess you guys like the hippos :) I am glad. The idea just came to me last week and I decided to act on it before I got too busy. I had been thinking on and off about designing an elephant, but there are some really nice elephant patterns, and I wanted to do something different. Suddenly I could see the hippo in my head, and it just made me happy! Although, the mouth was something that just sort of happened on the way to another idea, but I love how it looks.

Okay, enough gushing.

And what's with the naughty comment about the boy hippo? Ah well, we're all adults here, right? and it did make me chuckle. In my mind they're like kids playing dress-up, as one commenter said, and I tend not to see such things :) You've all thought of such awesome names, I can hardly wait to see which ones get picked! I did want to mention that the final pattern will be such that you can make your toy a boy or girl, I just made one of each because I like to be fair.

Have I ever shared how I make the eyelashes? It's very simple really. I use a strand of black heavy-duty thread, and knot it securely around the back of the eye, then trim it to the length I want. They stay on pretty well if the toy is just for display, but I'm not sure if they would stand lots of playing. I guess you could just replace them if they come off.

Monday, March 10, 2008


If you want to join the contest and hate pink flowery things, I will consider making you a different prize, simply because I like pink flowery things and wouldn't mind keeping the bag :)

What do you think of my new banner? I've been wanting something different (and more colourful) for a while. I do wish blogger would let me make it the full width, though. Looking at my paintings makes me want to pick up my brushes again, and I just might have time soon. The sunshine in my studio is also encouraging.

happy monday contest

Sit up and pay attention, friends! Here's your chance to win something special for spring. As you can see in the photos, the new pattern is for a hippopotamus! And not just any hippo, but a pirate hippo. Let's hear you all say, "Arrr, matey!"

Here's the deal: leave a comment on this blog post with your vote for the hippo you prefer, and the names you think they should have. If your imagination is up to it, real piratey names would be awesome! In case it isn't obvious, the differences can be found by seeing the photos in my flickr stream (boy and girl). Whichever toy gets the most votes will be the one I write up for the new pattern.

The names will all go in a hat, and I will draw out the winner. The winner will get the lovely spring tote bag shown in the last photo plus a copy of the new hippo pattern. In order to make this work, I need you to include your email address with your comment so I can contact you if you win (feel free to make it more secure in whatever way you like, I'm pretty sure I can figure it out). Voting closes next monday morning (March 17) and I will announce the winner that day.

Whichever toy is chosen, the final pattern will include instructions for the parrot and basic instructions for the belt, sword, and eye-patch.

The bag is 11" by 13" with 16" handles. My Fuzzy Knits book fits nicely inside, with plenty of room for yarn etc. The fabrics are a combination of linen/cotton and cotton, and the bag is fully lined with beige cotton broadcloth. The patch is hand-stamped in acrylic paint, but I would still recommend hand-washing the bag.

Have fun with the names, and good luck!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

wow, the snow

I really wish we had a video camera, so you could see and hear the craziness outside my house. Wind and snow and ice pellets ripping down my street. Our street just happens to run the same way as the prevailing wind, so it really whips along. Also, because of where our front door is situated, the snow drifts into our doorway, and we often have to shovel ourselves out.

Today is the anniversary of our first date, and we had big plans if fun things to do in Montreal. After seeing the weather report, we opted for staying in and watching Star Trek and drinking champagne. Yes, I'm a big geek and love the original Star Trek series. The champagne was left over from our wedding reception and seemed a good accompaniment to the silliness on the TV.

snowed in

I am currently being snowed in by a crazy late-winter blizzard. Never fear, though! I am well stocked with yarn, videos, and snacks. I am working on the second of the surprise toys, and all is going very well :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Finding myself with a bit of extra time (because of a couple cancelled orders) I decided to start working on a new toy pattern! I began with the unicorn pattern, but have put it aside for the moment because I decided to try knitting it in the round, and I haven't the right size needles. So there is another new toy in the works! Similar to my other small toys, but a new animal. I have the first proto-type nearly done, but I might make a second with some small modifications.

Once they're both ready, I'll post pictures here, and we'll have a little contest! You get to vote on which version you prefer, and suggest names for the new toys. The version with the highest vote will be the one I write up. The names will all be put in a hat, and the winner will get the surprise I made plus a copy of the new pattern. Sound good?

Monday, March 3, 2008

odds and ends

I know I mentioned something last week about a surprise. Well, it's another little give-away contest. Problem is, I can't think of a good idea for a contest, so until I can think of something fun for you to do, the prize will wait. (this has nothing to do with the prize being so cute I almost want to keep it for myself)

Another things is, if you haven't found me yet, I'm on Ravelry. My user-name is fuzzymitten, and you can find a bunch of my patterns listed under my real name. If you've bought some of my patterns, please add them to your queue or projects. I love seeing what people have knit. Also, I would love to see more ratings of my patterns, so I know which ones people really like, and which ones they don't.

If it hasn't been obvious before, I have a terrible time remembering little things. Like I said I would post instructions to make longer horns for the cow? We'll just ignore how long ago that was, and get on with it.

The horns are knit as I-cord on 4.5mm dpn's
Cast on 5 sts.
Work 5 rows in st st.
Next: k2, k2tog, k1.
Work 3 rows in st st.
Next: k1, k2tog, k1.
Break off yarn, thread end through remaining sts, then secure yarn end.

The bit between the horns is knit on 4mm needles
Cast on 6 sts.
Work 10 rows in garter stitch.
Cast off.

Sew the horns to the head just above the ears. Then sew on the extra bit, putting a tiny bit of stuffing under it as you sew it on. The cow as shown is knit just like the pattern, except I changed colours for the snout.

If you were wondering how I got Wayne's nose to be pink when he's knit from white, it's very simple (but might embarrass a big tough guy like him). Use a bit of light pink blush or face power and gently brush it onto the nose until it's the colour you want. The make-up will probably wash off if you wash the toy, but you can just add more powder after washing.

hint #5

Another very talented toy maker just posted a super useful tutorial for putting toys together. She has nice clear pictures of a few different stitches I use regularly. The only comments I might make are that on the vertical mattress stitch, I leave the line of sewn stitches looser so it looks just like another row of knit stitches (I use this stitch for the tops of bunny feet). I also attach the toy limbs so they are jointed, rather than fixed in place, but the technique you use really depends on how you want the finished toy to look.

This simple diagram shows how I attach the limbs, although the stitches across the tops of the limbs are horizontal, not vertical as they appear in the drawing (drawing horizontal stitches is a little hard in 2-D). I run the yarn through each limb 2-4 times, depending on how much loving I think the toy might get :)