5KCBWDAY2 – It’s all about Marvin!

Well, it’s the second day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 and today’s post topic is a ‘Dating Profile’ for a project you’ve made.  Again, this topic takes me out of my comfort zone, but it does provide me with an opportunity to re-introduce my blog’s unofficial mascot……

Marvin!

Marvin!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Dapper Meerkat, 16 months, GSOH, would like to meet similar…….

Hello, my name’s Marvin and I’m a 16 month old meerkat and Knitwear Design Advice Guru.  I was knitted at my owner’s home in the UK and I spend my days providing her with invaluable inspiration and advice on her designs (when she’s not abandoned me to work at a yarn shop).

I’m 5″ tall, medium build, cute and fluffy with a glint in my eye 😉 (it must be the little glass beads)!

I’m interested in meerkat fashion, especially knitwear and I’m working on getting my knitter to expand my wardrobe.  It’s the least she could do after I helped her to get a design on the front cover of Let’s Knit magazine, but no such luck yet.  That design started life as a motif on my Nordic style jumper – a bespoke design just for me!

I also like Doctor Who.  In the words of the Doctor himself:

‘It’s a fez.  I wear a fez now, fezzes are cool!’ 

I also have a bow tie.  I’m quite the style icon in the meerkat world.  I just need a sonic screwdriver, a TARDIS and an adventurous assistant!

It's a fez, I wear a fez now, fezzes are cool!

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

As for my dislikes, well, I don’t like being mistaken for an insurance salesman*, or being compared to other meerkats online.  I also hate the cold, but that’s what my jumper is for!  With that on to keep me cosy I can even stay out long enough to built a snow meerkat!

Marvin in the snow

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

In the long term I would like to meet other small meerkats and be given more responsibility in my role as Knitwear Design Advice Guru.  Perhaps I could become a knitwear model or international trend setter?  Anything but selling insurance!

*In the UK, meerkats have become popular due to a character in a well known insurance comparison website advert, a campaign based entirely on the idea that ‘compare the market’ sounds a bit like ‘compare the meerkat’.  Though Marvin is understandably grumpy about this, he should probably accept that without the rise in popularity of meerkats due to this the pattern for him would never have been published, I would never have been given a copy of the book containing it for Christmas and he would never have existed.

Back tomorrow with another post!  Looking forward to reading yours 🙂

Lottie x

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Tian – A rather unusual design story!

Yesterday, I showed you my latest design, Tian, a pair of fairisle mittens that (to my great excitement, as this is a first for me) made the front cover of Let’s Knit! magazine:

Let's Knit Issue 76 February 2014

Copyright Let’s Knit! 2014

At the end of the post I mentioned that Marvin might be involved in the rather daft design story behind these mittens.  Perplexed?  Well, prepare to be less perplexed (and quite possibly think I’m completely mad).

Marvin, for those of you who might be new to this blog, is a rather dapper little meerkat:

Marvin the Meerkat!

Meet Marvin the Meerkat!
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

I made him about a year ago, after my brother bought me a particularly amusing knitting book for Christmas called ‘Knitted Meerkats’ by Sue Stratford (if you click that link and look at the projects on Ravelry you’ll see that Marvin has many little knitted cousins around the world).  Anyway, meerkats are desert creatures, used to warmer climes than chilly, wet and generally dismal Britain in winter, so Marvin was clearly going to need something to wear.

The book has a section of different meerkats that you can make, each with it’s own outfit, some of with are separate and some sewn on.  One of these is the skiing meerkat who wears a sweater and bobble hat along with his knitted skis.  In the book, the sweater is a fairly simple affair, striped with a small band of fairisle dots in white mohair yarn against a pale blue background, but I had a different picture in my head of the sweater I wanted to make.  To be a true skier, Marvin needed a proper, Nordic style fairisle sweater:

Marvin's Nordic sweater

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I wanted to put a snowflake on the front, but the area to play with was too small, so I charted out the size of the original sweater and fiddled about with the stitches until I had something I liked.  I had to alter the shape of the sweater quite a lot to make it fit, as the stranded pattern changed the tension compared to the original.

It’s so cosy, Marvin even went out in the snow last March:

Marvin's Nordic sweater

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

After I’d finished the sweater, my Mum mentioned that she liked the motif, and did I think it would work as an all over pattern?  Never one to refuse a challenge, I started charting, and after a few alterations I knitted a swatch:

Tian Swatch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Once I’d knitted this, especially after adding the folded picot hem at the top and the corrugated ribbing at the bottom edge, it was clear to me that the swatch wanted to be mittens.  So it was time to sketch:

Tian Mittens Swatch

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

I sent it off to Sarah at Let’s Knit and she liked it!  Before I knew it my first choice of yarn (and a personal favourite), Manos Del Uruguay Fino (70% wool, 30% silk) in #2440 Lapis and #2800 Cream had arrived, so last summer I got started and knitted them up!

Tian Mittens

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The pattern goes right the way round the mittens, even on the palms, and the thumbs have their own smaller complementary pattern (I love the thumbs on these!):

Tian Mittens

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

(You can tell this was in August from the flowers in the background!)  Then, yesterday, the best bit, seeing them in print:

Tian Mitts

Copyright Let’s Knit! 2014

…. and on the front cover of the magazine, something I certainly never dreamed of when I set out to make Marvin the meerkat a silly, overcomplicated fairisle sweater and wrote this:

Marvin has a sweater, but as I decided to make up a fairisle pattern for it, as the sweater in the book was too simple (i.e. perfectly adequate for anyone without a burning and unnecesary desire for fairisle) – and Marvin deserves only the best ;)

Basically I made a small stuffed meerkat an overcomplicated fairisle sweater (sanity anyone?), which turned into an idea for an overall repeating pattern (which I am swatching), I can’t show it to you, because it might become a design.  *sigh*

Yay!

Let's Knit! Issue 76 cover

Copyright Let’s Knit! 2014

Yes, I am still doing a happy dance.

No you can’t see.

It’s not very dignified.

Happy Knitting lovely blog followers!

Lottie xx

(P.S. Is it wrong for me to be just a little bit chuffed at being in the same magazine as Pauline McLynn, who played Mrs Doyle in Father Ted?  She knits too!)

First front cover!

Exciting news!

I’ve got a design on the front cover of a magazine! Look, these are my blue and white fairisle mittens!

20140116-223341.jpg

This is the latest issue of Let’s Knit! Magazine (Issue 76) out tomorrow (I can’t wait to go and get a copy!) and there is a rather interesting (if slightly daft) design story behind them, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that! The mittens are called Tian and you can see them on Ravelry here. I can’t believe my mittens are the cover picture, I’ve had small pictures of my designs on magazine covers before, which is always pretty exciting, but never as the main picture and I love the photos (more pics tomorrow). If I had more energy this evening I’d be bouncing off the walls!

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I am still here, I’ve not dropped off the face of the earth, just been really, really busy (up until half two in the morning knitting big fairisle sample/lace and cable sample/trying to get a pattern tested/doing tax return kind of busy). And by the weekend I will be again! Don’t get me wrong, busy is good, but busy is also tiring and lacking in social contact (both in person and online) and it makes you feel guilty for not working (even on Christmas Day – I am my own worst boss), so I’m sorry I’ve been off the radar for over a month!

I hope you all had a good holiday season and I’m looking forward to catching up on all your blogs!

More tomorrow (Marvin my be involved in the daft design story – if you can guess how, you can have a little prize from my stash 😉 )!

Lottie xx

WIP Amnesty: Part 3 – Runa

Next on my WIP list is this, Runa:

Runa (fairisle hat) in progress

Runa in progress
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

Runa is one of my designs for Artesano and  you may have seen it in one another guise as one of the patterns in the Artesano Nordic Collection 2011 and also in Let’s Knit Magazine (Issue 51) about a year ago.

Runa Fairisle Hat

Runa
(Copyright Artesano 2011 used with kind permission)

I started this one back in January last year, and it really should be finished by now, but various design commissions have had to take priority, and usually once I have finished those I either have more ideas to explore and swatch, or I want to cast on something new that I have never knitted before or something mindless which I will inevitably get bored of (i.e. acres of stocking stitch) because my brain is crying ‘Enough!  No more thinking, please!’.   So although fairisle isn’t that hard, I end up putting it off.

I could have taken Runa on holiday with me to finish, but as this version needs 4 balls of yarn, it just wasn’t practical, as I only have the crown left to do and I would have packed all the yarn I could fit in my case and then finished it and had NO KNITTING, which is obviously unthinkable.

Runa Superwash Merino Swatch

My original Runa Swatch in Artesano Superwash Merino DK
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2011)

Anyway, back to the project itself.  The reason I wanted to make another Runa is that originally submitted two colour schemes for this design. One in Artesano Superwash Merino DK, and one in Artesano Alpaca DK.  In the end the Nordic Collection was worked in Superwash Merino DK (in two colours), but I still wanted to make a version in alpaca as I love some of the heathered shades that are available, especially in colourwork.

Runa Swatch in Artesano DK

My swatch for the alternative Runa colourway in Artesano DK
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2011)

Runa was inspired by Viking carvings and heart shapes traditionally found in Scandinavian knitwear, so I wanted to reflect this in the two different colour schemes.

The idea with this colour scheme was to show a different side to the design.  To me, when you stripe the background in more girly colours the swirls look like little hearts, compared to the original two colour version which has a more graphic abstract look.  I like the way that with just a few changes like this colourwork patterns can take on a very different appearance.

Runa hat in progress (wrong side)

Even the wrong side has to be neat – I’m a perfectionist!
(Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013)

So as you can see, it’s not as if I have fallen out of love with Runa, we just needed some time apart.  But I want to get this finished (before summer – such as it is in Britain – arrives)!

Next time……… a finished hat!!  🙂

Lottie x