Saturday, May 31, 2008

special deal for yarn shops

Over the last year and a half that I've been selling patterns, I've been approached many times by various yarn shops interested in carrying my patterns. It always seemed like too much trouble and expense to keep handy stacks of printed patterns for those who ask. Also, I'm really too shy to want to call up a bunch of stores that have never heard of me, and try to convince them to buy said stack of patterns.

I tried once to have some nice pattern booklets printed, and a handful of shops bought some. I never heard from them again, though, so I guess they didn't go over so well. While I really liked the booklet format, it was rather expensive to have them printed.

This evening my sweetie and I came up with an alternative plan, and I'm testing it out to see if there's any interest. I've put a couple of listings in my Etsy shop for bulk orders. Shops could order 5 or 10 copies of whichever pattern they want, and I'll get them printed locally, and then mail them off. I don't make too much money per pattern, especially after paying for the printing, but if it's even slightly successful I think it will be worth it.

I'm not sure how to advertise this to get the attention of yarn shop owners. Maybe I can mention it on Ravelry somewhere. For now I'll just wait and see how many views I get on Etsy, and think about my options.

Friday, May 30, 2008

photos for friday

Happy Friday! Here's a bunch of photos for you to enjoy!

A little sweetheart of a monkey, helping Raynor to raise money for charity.

If you look closely, you'll see one of these hens is not like the others.

Jacqui has kindly let me design a jumper based on the pink lamb one. I have a lovely diagram drawn up, now I just need the courage to attempt the intarsia!

Finally, a wee cow by Grace of Kathryn Ivy, proving that a cow is not made of spots alone. (Whatever that means... I just ran out of clever things to say, but I do love this little guy!) Here's the post about how to make the cow's nose pink.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

shop update

I spent all day taking photos and listing everything in my Etsy shop. I didn't think it would take so much time! I didn't get to do anything else today, except run by the post office so I have packing stuff to mail the kits, once people buy them. I wonder if they will sell as quickly as the last ones? I even gave up some of the yarn I dyed for myself for a few of the kits. One of the kits has some lovely green/blue/lavender variegated yarn that turned out so pretty. I've already knit one little sweater from it (which is waiting for a toy now), so someone gets the rest.

I wrote some stuff in my shop announcement, but I don't know if anyone reads it. So, if you really like one of the kits, but don't want the book and/or yarn, please send me an email. I'll refund the difference to you, and just stick the left-over book or yarn into another kit. If I sell a few kits over the weekend, I'll sew some bags next week and list a few more. The awesome green bag with the giant trees on it sold super fast, but luckily I have more of that fabric.

I'm interested to see how my fabric toys will sell. Comparing them to similar toys on Etsy, I think they're just as cute and well-made, and a reasonable price. I'd really like to make more, because they're so fun. Plus, I have more ideas on changes I want to make. I'll just have to be patient :)

I swear, tomorrow I'll post about something totally not Etsy related! I think I should post a bunch more of your toy photos, since I've skipped a couple weeks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Etsy shop update

I've decided to do my Etsy shop update in two goes. It's so tiring writing out all the descriptions, and waiting for the photos to upload. Plus, I don't have all the yarn yet, and no yarn can be dyed until it gets here. So, tomorrow I will list toys, and some kits, and a few tote bags. Some of the tote bags will be made of these cute fabrics from Super Buzzy. I ordered it especially for the craft fair, but now you lucky ducks get a chance at the adorable tote bags I made from it. I don't know how people are so hesitant to cut into beautiful new fabric - I could hardly wait to use this stuff (and I'm already wishing I could order more, but don't tell my husband!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

about meme

Besides winning my contest, Catie tagged be for a meme a few days ago. So here goes...

The rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1) What was I doing ten years ago?
I was 20, and in my second year of university (UNBC in Prince George) studying Plant Science. If I remember right, I was taking courses like Invertebrate Zoology, Ecology, and Plant Biology. At this point I was still very shy and dressed kind of nerdy, although I had finally gotten rid of my huge ugly glasses.

2) What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:
One: read blogs
two: plant herbs
three: read a book (Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett)
four: make supper (use parsnips and jerusalem artickokes from the farmer's market)
five: watch a movie (either Blade Runner or Much ado about Nothing).

3) Snacks I enjoy:
Popcorn, fresh and dried fruit, chocolate, extra-yummy and fatty yogurt

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
This would be a combination of practical and charitable. First, buy a house near the ocean or a lake with enough land to start a farm so we could be self-sufficient (meanwhile learning how to farm). Next, invest enough money to keep us comfortably and help out family. Last, invest in organizations that I think will really help people, such as providing clean water and sanitation, developing drought-resistant crops, producing clean-burning cooking fuel, stuff like that.

5) Places I have lived:
I grew up in Fruitvale, BC. I went to university in Prince George, BC, spending some summers working in places like Crawford Bay and Fort St. James. I lived in Pyongchang, South Korea, for 2 weeks (I was supposed to be there a year - long story). I lived in Sidney, BC, for a few months, then went back to Prince George for graduate studies. Finally I made it to Montreal, and I've been here about three and a half years.

6) Jobs I have had:
Babysitter; prep cook and dishwasher in a summer camp, Chinese restaurant, and a golf resort restaurant; greenhouse worker at garden centres; research assistant; teaching assistant; gardener; and now a toy designer.

7) Peeps I want to know more about:

I know I should tag more, but I don't comment often enough on other blogs. I'm afraid they'll think I'm a weirdo for tagging them.

Monday, May 26, 2008

unbirthday contest winner

The winner of my unbirthday contest is Catie! Hooray! I've emailed you already, Catie, so you can tell which toy you want. Thanks so much to everyone who commented! I had a lot of fun reading your stories about past birthdays. If any of you need a pick-me-up, please have a read through some of them. These contests are a lot of fun, and I'll be sure to have others in the future :)

I know it's been a couple weeks since I posted any photos of toys made by you. I've had some trouble contacting people to find out if I can use their photos. So from now on, I'll just assume that if your toy photos are in my flickr group, I can use them here (and give you credit, of course). That way I don't have to wait to post about a toy I really like.

I could write tons more, but I think I'll save it for later in the week. Happy monday, everyone!

Friday, May 23, 2008

fuzzy farm!

The Fuzzy Farm pattern is now available, in both my Etsy and Lulu shops. The pattern testing went really well, and hopefully now everything is clear, and you can all have fun knitting these little animals! My original set has also been drool-tested by my niece, and approved. I think it would be fun to design more little animals to go with the set, but I'm planning something else to work on next. Perhaps eventually I can design a rooster, goat, and maybe a duck, to expand the set, but I'm also open to suggestions.

The new version of the Fuzzy Lamb is all done too. You can find it at Lulu and Ravelry. My wonderful husband spent 2 days figuring out a new editing program, so the pattern formatting also looks different. The main changes are arms with elbows, a small change to the placement of increases on the body, and a change to the head so it is wider with chubby cheeks. I really like the diffence these changes make to the appearance of the toys, and I hope you do too!

I'll be spending most of today getting ready for a crafty party with my girl-friends tomororw. We'll be making paper, although these parties are mostly about chatting, eating, knitting, (and sometimes a little drinking). Then next week it's back to work! I need to start working on the next new pattern, so I can keep all of you interested!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Etsy shop update coming soon

Wow, I can hardly believe how many people have entered my contest already! I guess everyone likes gifts, especially when they're cute and cuddly, right?

Thanks so much for all the birthday wishes! It was a quiet and relaxing day, as the weather was terrible and we had to put off our original plans. Even though I had to make my own birthday cake, it was delicious and well worth the effort. I made orange-almond cheesecake, and there is still more than half left :) I even had my sister and brother-in-law there to sing me a very silly birthday song, and my niece to make funny noises and faces (7 months is a very cute age).

Taking a look at my completed poll about the Fuzzy Knits kits, I now have a much better idea of what people would like me to offer. I think I will take the votes as an indication of the relative amounts of each type of kit I will make, rather than just offer the most popular kind. I will also be making a few tote bags to sell on their own, for those people that already have my pattern book. Looks like I still have some work to do!

As for my Etsy shop update, I'm waiting for the contest to be over, and my orders of yarn and books to arrive. I hope it doesn't take too long, but the wait also gives me time to make more tote bags and finish off a few toys I have sitting around in pieces. I'll be sure to let you know when I have a more firm date in mind.

Monday, May 19, 2008

happy (un)birthday!

So here's the big surprise: another give-away contest! In celebration of my birthday, and the un-birthday of everyone not born on this day, I'm giving away one of my toys. If you win, you get to choose one of the twelve cuties in the photo (but not the cake, it will shortly be consumed).

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post, telling my about a very special birthday present you received. It could be something you got as a kid or as an adult - anything that really sticks out as a gift that was super awesome, made you smile or cry (in happiness), or was just exactly what you needed at the time. Don't think too hard about it! I just thought I would ask, because I think good things are better when shared :) For example: my most special birthday present ever was being asked to marry my sweetie, which happened just after my birthday last year.

Also, please leave your name with your comment, and email address if you feel safe doing so. It would be difficult to give something to "anonymous." The contest will end next Sunday (May 25) at midnight. The winner will be randomly chosen, and announced here the next day. I'll also send the lucky person an email (if I can).

Good luck!

P.S. I am now on Twitter as fuzzymitten. Please add me to your list, if you feel like keeping up with what I'm doing. Also, the pdf file for the Fuzzy Knits cover is now available from my website. I thought this method would be much easier than emailing it to those who remembered to ask.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

yummy things

I made the yummiest salad dressing tonight, and want to share the recipe before I forget how I made it. You could use this on any green salad, especially spinach.

Buckwheat honey and mustard dressing

2 tbsp buckwheat honey
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Whisk together well, or put lid on jar and shake well. Make sure honey is dissolved. This should be enough for 4 servings of salad.

I used the buckwheat honey because that's all we had, but it was so much tastier than just regular honey-mustard dressing! These are all ingredients I usually have around the house, and I'm not sure how substitutions would taste, but I hope you try this.

We also tried some jerusalem artichokes we picked up from the organic farm booth at the farmer's market. I peeled and boiled them, then after draining, mixed in some butter, tarragon, salt and pepper. They have a very unique but nice flavour. We'll have to get some again.

onto new projects

I'm silly and should have checked the blog of the place that's holding the craft fair. Looks like we didn't make the cut. I'm disappointed, as I think my work is professional enough; but it looks like they wanted stuff that is more edgy and trendy, rather than cute and cuddly. However, I hold firm to my desire to make things they way I want, and not give in to trends. Maybe next time I will have better luck.

What this means is that I will have more time to work on new projects. The fuzzy farm animals are almost done with their testing, so that pattern should be ready soon. I have one new animal I want to start working on right away, and nearly every week someone asks me to add another to my list! Also, I have a special surprise planned for my birthday, so remember to check in next week so you don't miss out!

Edit: I'm a terrible friend. I forgot to link to my friend Allison, who was going to share a table with me at the craft fair. She also has an Etsy shop, where she sells lovely cards and photo prints.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I was supposed to hear by now if I got into the craft fair. Maybe my partner was just busy today, and didn't forward the email. I haven't totally given up yet. On the other hand, it means I wouldn't have to work like mad over the next 6 weeks in order to make enough toys. Well, I'll keep busy tomorrow so I don't worry too much.

I made another fabric toy today: a denim coloured bunny with a dark green vest. He's very chipper looking, and was named Sven by my husband. He has no explanation for the choice, but it stuck. I have come to the conclusion that my choice of fabric determines the final shape and character of the head. It something useful to know, so in future I can choose the right fabric for the toy I want to make.

I'm so pleased that so many people have voted in the poll! I'll wait until it's finished before making any conclusions, though. I noticed later that my choice of post title was pretty funny, and wondered how many of you read "pollo numero uno" on the first go, and thought I was going to write about chickens :D

I finished reading "Bridget Jones' Diary" this evening (I know, super exciting life I lead, isn't it? After that, we watched an episode of Star Trek) Can't understand why I've never read it before, and now want to watch the movie again (and not just to see Colin Firth). Has made me write with no nouns to start my sentences.

In other news, I turn thirty on monday. Horribly exciting, no? I had thought of planning a big birthday picnic and inviting all my friends, but chucked it to spend the day at the Montreal Botanical Gardens with my hubbie. I think I'll pack a lunch of yummy and terribly fattening food (too bad we can't have wine with it) and slide into my next decade without a worry about wrinkles, cellulite, white hairs, or any of that other horrible aging stuff. My husband loves me just as I am (am allowed to be horribly sappy when turning thirty, to take the edge off. Now look at pretty flowers)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

poll numero uno

If you look to the right there, you will see a poll. I've been thinking about the kits I make, and whether there was something else, something better, I could be doing with them. So, do you like the kits I've been offering so far, with a book, tote bag, and generally plain yarn to make one toy? I've been thinking that maybe most of you could find some plain yarn for the toy on your own, and would enjoy the hand-dyed yarn more. It would also be more fun for me, matching the yarn to the tote bags. Plus, it would make the kits a little more unique, rather than just coming with some generic brown wool. On the other hand, I could just offer the book and tote bag together, and let you get your own yarn. So please vote, and leave a comment if you have some other suggestion.

When I have a bit of time, I've been working on the fabric toys. I spent all morning one day last week, trying to design a different style of head, nearly ending up in tears. I think I'm missing some special gusset-designing gene, because I just can't get it. My new toy designing book was no help, either. Anyway, I eventually went back and modified a different head pattern.

You can see I have two more toys now. I'm not sure what the blue toy is, maybe another mouse. She doesn't even have a name yet. Neither does the polar bear. I really like him, not just because he's made of snuggly fleece, but also because I finally figured out how to make the nose wider. I also added a bit of black fleece for his nose, which actually made it slightly easier to sew in the head gusset, because I could tell where the point of the nose should be (if that makes any sense).

I really need to get started on more knit toys, though. I've used a bit of the yarn I dyed last week, and plan to make a few more outfits, and let them tell me what kind of toy I should make. Thanks, Amanda, for offering your ball winder, but I'm too impatient. Most of the yarn is already wound into balls, ready to use.

Friday, May 9, 2008


This is when I wish for a ball winder.

yarn and stuff

It's a beautiful sunny day here, so what do I have planned? This morning I'm going to dye some yarn for toy outfits, while working on more fuzzy farm animals. Dying yarn is always a big production (but fun) so I try to do a bunch of skeins at a time. I have nothing specific in mind, but I'm really low on nice colours for clothes, so I'll just make a rainbow of 25g skeins in different weights.

Then lunch! Maybe I'll sit out on our balcony with the kitties, taking in the sun and good smells of new leaves, blossoms, and cut grass (it seems too early for that, but some people are so fanatical about their lawns).

This afternoon, computer work. *yuck* :P But it needs to be done. I want to get the revisions of the lamb pattern done, and maybe a couple of others as well. I don't want people to worry about these too much! The toys will look just the same, I'm just moving around some of the shaping stitches so the finished toys will look good without so much fussing around with getting the stuffing just right etc. This is a result of not really knowing what I was about when I started writing patterns, never having them tested, and being a bit perfectionist.

If you're curious, download the new lamb pattern when it's done to see what's different. But I really can't replace old copies of bought patterns. I feel faint just thinking about how much work that would be! I really hope you understand.

Then, as a reward, I'll go to the gym! Really, that's how it feels. After sitting around on my duff all week, getting some exercise feels like the best thing I could do on a Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Well, I guess I should make up kits more often! Those sure didn't last long. I need to order more books and yarn, but perhaps I will have time to put together a few more, even with making stuff for the craft fair.

Now onto some fun toy action! Eve sent me some photos of this adorable little Westie. Apparently he started out life as a polar bear, but was proclaimed to be a Westie by her sons. Everyone say, "Awwww."

I love experimenting with different kinds of yarn, and despite the drawback of being polyester, eyelash yarn gives the toys a great effect. It makes excellent fluffy tails for squirrels and kitties. I've even used the shorter stuff to make a penguin. At the moment I'm working on a schnauzer using some fuzzy grey yarn (I'd share pics, but the camera charger is missing). If it wasn't so darned hard to make the nose with intarsia, I might consider writing out the pattern. I really should practice that technique more often!

I've even been doing some knitting for myself lately. I finished a pretty scarf, just in time for the warm weather... oh well, it will be ready and waiting for me in the fall. I've also started Lucetta, a lovely lacy sweater. I took a chance on changing the yarn, and am knitting it in malabrigo lace in the pearl colourway. I'm so in love with this yarn! I had to knit the sweater one size larger, but otherwise everything is going fine using this yarn for this pattern.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

new kits

I was planning to save these kits for the craft fair, but I won't know if I've been accepted for 2 weeks yet, and I haven't put anything interesting in my shop for ages. There are three kits with tote bags, and one with a zipper pouch. All are for different toy patterns: a squirrel, a puppy, a monkey, and a mouse. Also, the bags and yarn colours are all different, so there's something for everyone. I would have liked to make more than four, but I used up the last of my Fuzzy Knits books and available yarn to make these. Looks like I'll be placing some orders and spending money here soon!

If I don't get into the craft fair, there will be more things coming to my Etsy shop soon. If I do get in, well, I'll be making stuff like mad. But it's likely there will be left-overs, so that will all go to my shop after the fair in July.

Friday, May 2, 2008

knitting sheep

My fuzzy lamb pattern is by far the most popular. I like to think that it's not just because it's free! It does knit up into a cute and cuddly toy, and looks different every time because you can use so many different kinds of yarn for it. But who knew they might take on a life of their own, and inspired by their origins, begin to knit for themselves! I'd like to introduce Sheldon, created by Jennifer Adams.

Sheldon is really in the zone too, knitting away at that garter stitch scarf. Maybe he's enjoying a knitting pod cast, or watching a movie, or listening to his knitting buddies chat about the latest to-die-for yarns.

I'm in the process of revising all my patterns. Just little tweaks here and there, where I want to improve the shaping or make the instructions clearer. I'm also thinking of including a jumper with the free lamb pattern. Once it's all ready I'll let you know, in case you want to try the new version. But don't worry too much! The differences are so small you wouldn't notice in a photo. I guess there's just a touch of perfectionist in me.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

another new toy

Here is another attempt at a fabric toy. I changed the feet, and I really like the shape of them now. They were also easier to attach, which was nice. Her face is quite cute, and the safety eyes are so much easier than stitching on tiny circles of felt. But I think the head might need a dart or two to make it a bit rounder. Her body is very squishy and cuddly, too. I was meaning to try jointed arms and legs next, but the cuddly bodies on these toys really appeal to me. Maybe I will end up making both versions, if the jointed toys turn out well too.

I thought I would try some fabric clothes for my knitted toys. I knit up this little kitty just to go with the dress. I was putting her together while my sister and niece were visiting this afternoon. My niece just loved the kitty! She kept trying to grab the toy from my hands, and shove it in her mouth. I even tried distracting her with the chicken and pig, but she just threw them down and looked around for the kitty. At seven months, she is really starting to develop a personality, and it's so fun to watch!

clothing bundles

The new clothing bundle is now available in both my shops. It took a bit of work to put all the patterns together - the word-processor I use is slightly temperamental when you start doing complicated things like inserting photos. I'm planning to replace the individual clothing patterns in my Etsy shop with the bundles, and have two there already. I know it was probably nice to buy just the individual clothes patterns, but after all the fees are paid, I don't really make any money on them. I hope you understand. Besides, the five patterns together are a pretty good deal!

Well, that's it for now. Back to knitting!