October 31, 2013

Handmade Marathon - Manda's Mittens

Editor's Note: 
We're kicking off a fantastic series about mittens and holiday traditions with a Handmade Marathon feature on Amanda's business Manda's Mittens. I've really started a love of handmade mittens, and I just adore the rich colours and the style of these thrummed mittens. Believe me when I say you will not want to miss next week's post! Stay tuned. 

Tell us about your business
Manda’s Mittens is about making mittens that are traditional to Atlantic Canada. The mittens I make are based on traditional patterns that kept hands warm and dry before waterproof fabrics were invented. My mittens are high quality, long lasting and very functional in the coldest, wettest weather.

How did you get started? 
I don’t remember learning to knit. My grandmother taught me when I was young. I’ve been knitting for wholesale since I was in university, when I would sit cross-legged on my bed knitting while reading textbooks.

I opened my etsy shop in 2012 after much prodding from friends wanting to purchase items. It took off last fall in a fantastic way. Etsy is a great medium for a seller like me to be able to display lots of colours and styles while providing customers a means of contacting me to create a custom item based on what they have seen. 

The gal/guy behind the business - Tell us about yourself, how do you spend your Saturday mornings, a little glimpse into your life, your family etc. 
I’m married to a great guy and we have three kids (ages 6, 4 and 14 months). Watching the kids grow up is amazing – seeing how they go from the baby stages to becoming independent thinkers has been a fascinating and humbling experience.

I love living in small town Nova Scotia, but do miss living in St. John’s, Newfoundland where we lived for 7 years together. I enjoy running, cycling and riding horses. In October I’ll be running my first half marathon since my now 14 month old daughter was born – it won’t be my fastest but I’m excited.

What inspires you? Where does your creativity come from?
I’m inspired by colours and textures. I’m always surprised how working with certain colours can impact my mood – red always makes me happy. Too many days in a row working with gray makes me cranky. I’ve never thought of myself as creative but when asked “what I do” I am starting to identify myself as a “craftsperson”.

What's one thing you would like to improve about your business? 
I wish I could knit faster! I really enjoy that each item is handmade by myself and that I have complete control over the quality of all my mittens.

What is the best gift you have ever given or received?
The love of my kids (ages 6, 4 and 14 months) and husband is the most wonderful gift! I couldn’t do this without their understanding.

I’d like to think that I’m becoming a better gift giver. I’m better at listening and making notes to plan ahead. As a parent I love buying gifts for my kids that I know they will love and play with! My oldest daughter turned 6 in May and I found a custom made necklace for her that spells her name. I knew she would love it, as her name is unusual and we can never find it on things. She was so thrilled!

How do you celebrate special occasions? 
Our family is pretty low key about holidays. We live hours away from the nearest relatives so often it is just the 5 of us. We try to make it family time by turning off as many distracting devices as we can and focusing on the kids. We do make lots of phone calls on holidays and use Skype too so that we can watch and share gift opening time with the kids when possible.

What do you do when you make time for yourself (you and only you).  
Alone time really recharges my batteries. I’m very fortunate to have the kids at school/preschool/daycare one day a week. I take advantage of that time to go horseback riding in the morning then either running or cycling in the afternoon. As an “at home” parent the time to myself is the best indulgence. I adore books – I have been “listening” rather than “reading” for a number of years. Sitting down for a couple uninterrupted hours of listening to a good adventure while knitting is wonderful!

You can find more Manda's Mittens here:

Photos by Jillian's Photography


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