Sunday, January 31, 2010

adventures of a house elf

One of Mr. Mitten's hobbies is to write subtitles for Russian films. Having watched him work on many different films now, it's certainly not as straightforward as it might seem. Recently I asked him to translate a cartoon I particularly liked, because I couldn't figure out the story just from the actions of the characters. All I could tell is that the main character, Kuzya, is quite the mischievous brat!

As it turned out, the story is based on several folk-tale characters, and they use rather a whimsical way of talking. Since this was too difficult to translate, Mr. Mitten had to simplify things a bit. However, I don't mind missing out on a bit of subtext, now that I know what's going on! I thought you might enjoy watching too. (I promise to have some knitting-related stuff to share very soon!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

winter walk

We had beautiful weather this past weekend, and took the opportunity to get out for a walk in a local park. I'm so glad we remembered to take the camera.

Mr. Mitten showing off the gloves I knit for his birthday a couple weeks ago.

Daddy and munchkin, all cozy to keep out the cold.

The snow was just right to show how busy the squirrels have been.

The sky was the most perfect shade of blue.

I loved the contrast of golden dry grass, dark brown trees, blue sky, and white snow.

I enjoyed wearing my Russian valenki (they're very comfy and easy to walk in,
once I take the rubber galoshes off).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

sleepy puppy

One of the most popular toys I've ever made was the Sleepy Puppy. Many people have asked for a specific pattern for this toy, but the truth is he was made from my Pupster pattern. I think it was just a combination of the yarn and his sweet face and pose, that made him seem so special. I thought it might be useful if I gave you a few more details, in case you'd like to make a sleepy puppy too.

First, simply ignore the colour changes in the pattern, and knit the toy all in one colour. The yarn I used was Pakucho Organic Cotton, in the chocolate colourway. This yarn is closer to aran weight, so the toy ends up a bit chubbier than when I use a regular worsted weight yarn. Also, you will probably need slightly more than 50 g to complete the toy. The yarn is lovely: soft with a nice texture, and you can feel really good about giving the finished toy to a baby (who will certainly chew on it). There are several brands of organic cotton available, and I think others would work just as well. I've used Estelle Cloud Cotton Eco (Ravery link), which has a different texture than the Pakucho, but is the same weight.

The face is actually very simple. You make the nose and mouth as I show in this tutorial. The eyes are just shallow V's (go here to see the photo in more detail). I used a superwash wool in black for the face of this toy, but you could also use cotton if that's what you have. Last but not least, the bellybutton! This definitely adds to the cuteness factor. It's just a small 'x' stitched onto the puppy's tummy. A satin ribbon around the neck is a nice finishing touch, if the toy will be a gift.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

silly duck, new edition

If you've noticed that it's been a little quiet around here, that's because we've all been down with colds for the last week and a half. Nothing like having the whole family sick at once! Anyway, we're on the mend, and managed to get a little work done over the last few days.

Finally, the new edition of the Silly Duck pattern is ready! You can find it on Ravelry and Etsy (if it's sold out, don't worry as I'll list more copies as soon as I notice). You can also get it on Lulu - there was a problem with the cover editor over there, so click the preview link below the cover image to see what the pattern looks like.

Here's the tricky part: if you bought the old pattern, and want a copy of the new one, there are 2 options. 1) If you bought it on Etsy, just email me, I will look up your receipt, and send you the new pattern. 2) If you bought in on Lulu, you need to forward your receipt to me, because I don't see who buys patterns on Lulu.

It is quite different from the old pattern, which is why I couldn't post part of it here on the blog, like with the Mouse and Panda. The beak is now knitted, so you don't need to worry about finding felt or doing any hand-sewing. The feet are now much more duck-like, as is the body shape. The whole toy is knit flat on straight needles, except for the hat which is knit in the round on dpns. If you've been wanting to learn how to use them, though, a little hat might be a good place to start.

I used Elann's Bamboo Fusion for the main colour of the duck, and I think the shine of the bamboo makes the knit fabric look just a bit like shiny duck feathers. The beak and feet are in plain worsted wool, and the hat and scarf and knit in a bit of variegated wool I had in my stash (I don't remember the brand).

Somebody is cranky, so I have to go. I hope you all enjoy the silly pattern!

Monday, January 4, 2010

new year's list

Seems like everyone in the crafty-blogosphere is writing up some sort of list this week. Maybe I should get in on the challenge? I took a break from Fuzzy Mitten work over the holidays, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to do this year. I want it to be a year of changes, even if that is a little scary. Below is a list of some of my thoughts for the coming year, although I like to remain flexible, so I won't feel guilty if something on the list doesn't get done.

  1. Finish the Fuzzy Knits second edition by the beginning of March - this hinges on Mr. Mitten having time to help me, and me getting the quality of photos I want
  2. Finally finish the secret project I've been working on for over a year, so it's ready for Spring - I have some lovely yarn for it, so hopefully that will be the incentive I need
  3. Over the course of the year, rewrite all the most popular patterns into our new format - if I'm feeling really ambitions, I will also take new photos, which in many cases will mean I have to remake the toy
  4. Time permitting, work on 1 or 2 other ideas I have for new patterns - these are a departure from my usual toy style, so hopefully more exciting to design
  5. Help Mr. Mitten get our own shop up and running - this is the most ambitious project, and will even require hiring someone to design a bunch of it, but it's way overdue (bye-bye Lulu!)
  6. Make time to knit more toys for sale - I really missed making custom toys last year, and I hope to manage a few more from now on
I think that's quite enough for the moment! Now you have a few things to look forward to, and have some idea of what will happen around here this year.  Obviously, the new edition of Fuzzy Knits and the new shop are the most important, so that's what we'll concentrate on most.

I have some ideas of other crafty things I want to do this year, but I think I'll save those for another post. I hope you're all feeling optimistic, and looking forward to a new year of fun and challenges!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

projects of 2009

1. Pop, 2. polar bear, 3. Zlotnik, 4. Pug with Anorak, 5. chipmunk, 6. primrose, 7. Tootsie, 8. panda, 9. aliens visit, 10. hugo, 11. huckleberry, 12. owl hat, 13. peter, 14. molly, 15. violet yarn, 16. leva, 17. petya, 18. puppy, 19. daniel, 20. bernice, 21. baby mitten socks, 22. vanya, 23. nathalie, 24. Pip, 25. aliens visit

There are several other toys I've made, but which have not been photographed yet. I'll have to do another one of these once I can include everything.