Thursday, October 30, 2008

more bats for Halloween

Hey there. I hope you're all doing well, and getting ready for Halloween (those of you who celebrate it, anyway). Here's another adorable bat, knit by Dani. I really like how fuzzy he is! I'm glad I have a few photos of these bats in the flickr group, so maybe more people will get inspired to post photos of their own.

Autumn is progressing steadily here. We've had our first bit of snow, and most of the leaves are down now. I've got a new coat (which actually fits over my growing belly) and wear a hat, scarf, and mittens to the train every morning. I love this part of the season, because the arrival of snow is still exciting and beautiful - the fluffy, thick blanket of snow that you know is going to stay and is the first sign of winter. Year after year, it never grows old, and I never feel like complaining about it (unlike some people, but they're probably the same ones who always complain about the weather, no matter what it is). Maybe I can convince my hubby to get out this weekend, and we can get some photos. We haven't done that in ages.

I guess I haven't talked about my pregnancy in a while, have I? Everything seems to be going as it should. I get bigger every week, and the baby is so active, he tires me out most days (and he's not even born yet)! We've hired a doula, so now I need to start looking forward and planning for the birth. Funny enough, I've just been trying to get through each day as it comes, and haven't given much thought to the conclusion of all this! But it's reassuring to have someone so experienced to help us, since most of my family is so far away, and my doctor is too busy to really support us as much as we might like.

Monday, October 27, 2008

new fuzzy knits kits

I've been working on a batch of kits over the past month or more, and I'm glad they're finally done and up in my shop. I seemed to only ever find a few hours at a time to work on them, but I get tired so easily now, I really couldn't have pushed myself to get them done sooner. They are all offered with the Fuzzy Knits book, but as before, if you already have the book but want the kit please contact me! It's important to do this before buying the kit, so I won't have to pay extra fees on the cost of the book. They generally don't sell too fast, so don't worry about missing your chance.

Some of the kits have hand-dyed yarn again, since it's so much fun to do. I particularly love the variegated blue yarn I made for the lamb kit, and wish I'd thought to make another skein for myself. The way I dye the yarn, every skein is unique, but I rarely get to see what people make with them. I know I could get truer colours with proper acid dyes, but the food colouring has such interesting reactions with itself and the yarn, I often get really lovely marbling and heathering in the yarn.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

nearly ready

After a few late nights, and some agony with a bug in the software, my wonderful hubbie finally finished the draft version of the new book. Having worked on it so hard, for so long, it's strange to think it might be nearly ready. We've ordered the test copy, which should be here in a week. My fingers are crossed that it all looks good, because that will mean we can put it up in the shop!

I thought I should mention one thing about the Festive Knits book: it's a different size (6x9") from the old one (8.5x11"). We decided that a smaller book would be easier for you to carry around, or have sitting in your lap or on the arm of your sofa. It has the coil binding, though, which makes it easy to keep open at the right page. However, this smaller size means that it would be a real pain for you to print, so for now the book will not be available as a download (also, the quality of the pictures makes the file too big to download easily). Mr. Mitten will be working on a different format which will be download-able, but it probably won't be available until after Christmas (he has a few other projects to work on before he can get to it).

This has made us curious if we should change the size and format of the Fuzzy Knits book, so I've put up a poll with a few possibilities. Whatever the popular opinion ends up being, I doubt we'll be able to work on it anytime soon. We just want to find out what you think, so we can make plans.

Also, I've gotten really behind on my email the last few weeks (both my business and Ravelry messages). Between babysitting, working on the book, knitting, and everything that needs to get done at home, I just haven't had time to sit down and reply to everyone. However, I have a half day off tomorrow, so hopefully I can take a couple of hours to get back to you. I'm sorry if you've been waiting a while to hear back from me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

holy cuteness, batman!

(I actually used to watch the original Batman show with my younger brother, but I'm pretty sure Robin never used that line. Anyway...)

I thought I would share one adorable little bat I found in the Fuzzy Mitten flickr group. This little guy is knit by Claire, and I think she did a great job! I know there are a few more finished bats on Ravelry, although not quite as many as I hoped to see so close to Halloween. But if other knitters are anything like me, it can take a while to get around to taking photos.

In response to a few questions from the comments, the patterns from my new book will be sold individually. I just haven't decided yet exactly when. I want to make sure I keep enough in reserve to spread out over the time of my maternity leave next year. Also, I will probably be sticking around on Etsy for now, but I'm still thinking of closing that shop once I have my baby. I still feel that a new shop somewhere else, plus my Lulu shop, will be best for everyone.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

mamas and babies

Most of the photos for the Festive Knits book are now in the set. I'm really pleased with them, and hope you like them too! I seem to have a slight mama and baby theme going, but who can blame me for having that on my mind these past months? I especially like the mama bunny - she's the same size as the big teddy, and so cuddly! She does take a lot of yarn, but because it's thick yarn, she knits up really quickly. Plus, the big polar bear's sweater and the big teddy overalls will fit her, so now you have more clothing options for the bigger toys.

Okay, I need to go do some proof-reading before my niece wakes up from her nap. Hope you're all having a lovely day!

Monday, October 20, 2008

getting there

The new Festive Knits book is taking it's time coming together, but with hard work and some luck, we will be ready to order a test print by the end of the week. We've been trying to find a few spare hours in the evenings and on weekends, but with so many other things happening this time of year, the book is taking longer than we planned. Oh well, it should still be ready for you by early November. We have photos of most of the patterns now too, and I'll be getting them up on Flickr in the next day or two. That way you'll have a better idea of what's coming!

I'm feeling a bit better today (hooray!), but I get tired so easily. Although, that could have as much to do with my pregnancy as the cold. Unfortunately, I've made my niece and my hubby sick, so I now have two sick people to look after. I better get well soon! The big bowl of home-made chicken noodle soup I ate for lunch should help. Having a sister who went to cooking school is great!

We've had frost here the last two nights, and the colourful leaves are starting to fall. As much as I enjoy the colour of the season, it just makes me think of all the gardening that must be done soon! I'm so happy that I'm not working as a gardener this year. It was fun and interesting, but I think fall is definitely the hardest part of the year for gardening. It's cold here, and often damp or raining, so you're always waiting for break time and your thermos of hot tea, hoping your gloves will dry on the air vent on the way to the next job. Last year we also had snow early, so many days I worked in that, trying to get the last of the plants out or tied up for the winter. I'll go back to gardening some day, perhaps, but for now I'm happy to settle down to being a mom, and designing toys for you to knit.

Friday, October 17, 2008

geek viewing

I've been fighting a cold all week, but finally had to admit defeat this morning, and call in sick to my sister. I have a feeling she doesn't mind getting to play with her baby all day. I rarely get sick, so when I do I go rather overboard with grumpiness, because I'm not used to the mucus, aches, and exhaustion.

But, moving on from the whining...

I think today I'll curl up on the sofa with a commission I just started (a polar bear in a red cardi), several cups of tea, and watch Mary Poppins. I can't remember what the video service is called in the US, but up here it's Since we don't have cable (in fact, we don't even have a TV, just a large computer screen) this is how we get our entertainment. I love being able to choose what we should watch from such a huge list, and it's always a surprise what we get next.

Our list is pretty evenly split between movies and TV shows, so we have both evening and weekend viewing. We have pretty similar taste in movies, but my hubbie draws the line at musicals and Shakespeare, so I get to watch those on my own time. As for TV shows, we've already made our way through the original Star Trek series and the animated series. Now we are now on season 2 of TNG (can you tell we're geeks?). I think TNG is my favourite, though, since I remember watching it as a kid/teen with my dad. We almost never missed an episode :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

time to move on?

I've been thinking about leaving Etsy for a while now. It was a great place for me to get started and noticed, but I'm feeling crowded out. There's just so many plush makers on there, that as soon as I list something, it seems to be 3 or 4 pages deep. Besides, I think that by now lots of people have heard of me, and I'd rather have people going through my main web page than through Etsy. It also costs me a lot to keep all the patterns listed there, and I think it's simpler and faster for everyone to use Lulu anyway.

I think what I'll do is check out my options, and when I have the next batch of kits ready I'll list them in the new shop, and see how it works out. I'll do my best to choose somewhere that is just as convenient for you, and I can slowly let my Etsy shop empty, and then eventually close it altogether. I think this will also help with my up-coming maternity leave, since I would have had to close the Etsy shop temporarily anyway.

Sorry for all the business talk in this post. I won't make it any worse by talking about politics (I have nothing good to say anyway). How about a cute photo of a toy I just finished?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

pei vacation

Finally, here are some photos from our trip. Most of them are from our day at the beach, since it was the only non-rainy day of the whole holiday. The first photo is of a beach on the north shore of PEI, at the national park. The beaches there were beautiful, and I can imagine they are full of swimmers and surfers in the summer (the swells looked great for surfing, although I've never tried it). It was pretty chilly that day, although we did our best to enjoy ourselves.

We took a lot of video on the trip too, and Mr. Mitten put it all together the other day. It's not exciting, I must admit, but does chronicle the trip nicely.
One of the days we were there, we stopped at Rossignol winery, which is the only winery on the island. I only got to have the tiniest of sips to taste, but we brought home 3 bottles of different wines, which will hopefully last long enough to me to have some!
P.S. If you have a question to ask me, asking in the comments is great (and encouraged) if the answer might interest a bunch of other people too. But if you have a specific question, could you please email me (barbara @, because blogger doesn't allow me to email replies to comments. Thanks for understanding :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

about to be eaten

So, the next attempt at formatting was done through a Google application. It seemed to work fine, and would even post for me directly (no copy and paste required) but Blogger decided it needed to add a whole bunch of extra empty lines. Back to the drawing board...

I tried to do too much today. I'm still not used to the way I get tired so easily. A list of tasks that would have normally been a busy but fun saturday had me worn out and grumpy by early afternoon. I made bread and cranberry chutney, with a quick run to the grocery store to pick up the extra stuff I needed for the chutney. I took a bunch of photos for the new book, and I even fit in some knitting. The bread and chutney are for two Thanksgiving suppers we're going to this weekend (read: I will not be eating anything on tuesday!) I'll have to share the recipe for the cranberry chutney, since it turned out fruity, tangy, spicy and so good!

In case you didn't know, Thanksgiving is in early October in Canada, because this is harvest time. The end of November is winter for most of Canada (with the exception of Vancouver Island, and a few other mild spots). I think it's a bit sad that Thanksgiving is just a North American holiday - if you ignore the slightly fictional pilgrims and natives story, it's really just about celebrating the harvest time with your family. I'll take any excuse to roast a big turkey, cook loads of yummy veggies, and eat pumpkin pie!

And to give you a good laugh, here's a photo I took a while ago while we were goofing around with our kitties. Greta seems quite unconcerned that she's about to be eaten. The photos of Mila were too silly to show to the public, poor thing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

time to get sewing

My brother-in-law is working from home today, so I get a break from babysitting! Although, I've really enjoyed being around other people during the day, and my niece is a very good baby (when she's not teething). I even manage to get a reasonable amount of work done most days. Well, maybe not yesterday - I spent the morning making mincemeat and the afternoon finishing a toy for my niece's first birthday. I have to take some photos of the toy before I give it to her this weekend, because it turned out extra cute!

So, today I'll finally have time to sew the bags for the next set of kits. It will be nice to sit down in front of the sewing machine after just knitting for so many weeks. Hmmm, I just realized I'll have to cut the fabric on my kitchen table, rather than my sewing room floor as usual. Bending is not much of an option now with the size my belly is getting! I probably won't get time to dye the yarn and take photos for another week or two, though, so the kits will be ready closer to the end of the month.

Oh, and we also got the computer back, so hopefully there will soon be some photos of our trip to share! Thank goodness getting a new hard-drive was only a minor problem, unlike for some people - we've known it was going to die for quite some time, so we did back-ups every other day or so. Yay for no lost data!

Oh, and for those who were confused about the mysterious photos comment, I meant the photos of the owl and baby, the squirrel, and polar bear. The bat will also be in the new book, but I'll wait to share the rest until I get photos of them. I can hardly wait, though, since I'm super pleased with how they turned out!

P.S. I tried writing this in open office, then copying it here. Let's just say it didn't work as planned, and I'm tired of messing with it so there are no links or photos.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

post editing

I need to find some better way to write posts, as the formatting on the final post never looks the way I want, and they give you such a tiny window to work within. In fact, the editing window is often smaller than the photos I want to use, which makes it really tricky to get the photos moved around to where I want them, let alone get the paragraphs in the right place around the photos. Any bloggers out there who have any suggestions? I guess the fact that I use linux, rather than MS, makes things slightly different too.

plush you! 2008

Here are my entries for Plush You 2008. My stuff is at Fancy this year, rather than Schmancy, and it was awesome to be accepted a second year in a row. The toys I made this year are a little different from what I sent last year, and I'm so glad I got a second bat done in time for the show. I wanted to send more of a range of toys this time, rather than just three similar toys like last year. I know my stuff is a lot more traditional-style, compared to most of the other designers that will be participating. Hopefully there will be some people there who like my style.

I wish I could be there when it opens tomorrow, but Seattle is an awfully long way from Montreal, and a holiday with my sweetie was hard to pass up for a trip to Seattle by myself. Maybe I'll get into a plush show next year that's close enough to get to, although I'll have a little tag-along then, which makes travelling more complicated. Maybe I could get myself motivated enough to organize one here, but I'm not much of an organizer, and I don't know how many people I could actually find to participate.

Monday, October 6, 2008

big surprise!

What can I say about our holiday? It was a nice, relaxing break. The weather could have been warmer and drier, but we made the best of it. The scenery was very pretty and autumn-ish, with plenty of rolling hills, farms, colourful trees, and an occasional glimpse of the sea. I won't have any photos to share until we get our regular computer back (it's off getting a new hard-drive), but hopefully we managed to get a few good ones. We shot lots of video too, so at least some of that should turn out well. I even managed to find myself some yarn, although I wasn't sure the shop-owner was going to let me escape without talking off both my ears.

So, I think I promised to reveal a surprise? Well, the project that has kept me so busy for the last few months is a new book! It will be called Festive Knits like our very first one, but most of the patterns are different, and organized on a seasonal theme. Some of them are animals you have seen before but with different outfits, some of them are new toys altogether. I wanted to work up a bunch of new patterns to have for next year, and it seemed like a good idea to put them all together and reuse the book name. We're hoping to have it ready for the first week of November, so there will be plenty of time to order for Christmas. If you don't want to buy the whole book, though, most of the patterns will be released separately later this fall or some time next year. (I'll let you know more details about the book as we get closer to finishing it)

Now you know why I've had so many mysterious new toys in my flickr photos lately :)