5KCBWDAY3 – Marvin v spammers!

So today’s blogging challenge is all to do with creative photography.  Eek!

Well I tried faffing about with some yarns that made me think of the coast and beaches etc:

Seaside yarns Seaside yarns

But that seemed a bit dull.

Then I remembered something irritating that keeps happening whenever I tag a post with the word ‘blogging’.  I get some likes, follows and spammy comments from people who clearly don’t care about knitting, with preachy ‘How all the blogging you’ve ever done is wrong – and I can tell you how to do it right with my boring generic tips!’ type sites.  Urgh.

I’m not bothered about getting lots of blog traffic if it’s from spammers.  I want to read other knitting and crochet blogs and for the lovely people who write them to perhaps read my blog if they enjoy it.

One of these ‘blogging guru’ type sites even ended every post title with the word ‘REALLY???’ all in capitals, just like that, with three question marks.  Who are these people?  How do they expect me to respect their opinions on blogging if they can’t even think of decent titles?  Maybe it’s just me.  I can’t pretend to understand the technicalities behind blogging, or know what the SEO is or how to get more organic traffic, but I just want to write posts that you’ll enjoy reading.

So here’s Marvin’s take on it all with a very poor attempt at a photo comic (enjoy it spammers!):

Marvin Comic

Marvin Comic

Back tomorrow with another post!

Looking forward to reading yours too 🙂

Lottie x

 

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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

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!)

Marvin Needs YOU!

Marvin Needs YOU!

Are you looking for a speedy stash busting project?  Do you have a little bit of extra time to check the pattern while you’re knitting it?  Then Marvin Needs YOU!

Ok, well I need you actually, Marvin can’t knit or type, so he’s basically nonplussed about it.  But he did agree to a pose for a photo.  You might remember that earlier this week I did a mini photo shoot and there were some photos that I couldn’t show you yet.

Well, I’ve made this cowl (I’ve knitted two of these now) and the pattern is written up and ready to go up on to Ravelry as a pre-Christmas treat for you all, but first I need to be absolutely sure that it is correct, so I need some pattern testers 🙂 if you’d be interested in testing this for me, full details can be found on Ravelry in the Free Pattern Testers group here.  You don’t need to be an experienced tester, just willing to have a go!

If you want to know what all the fuss is about, here’s a couple of little teaser pics:

Hadlow Cowl

Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Hadlow Cowl

Photo Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

If you can’t get on to the test, don’t worry, there will be a KAL when the pattern goes live so you can get a cowl made in time for Christmas 🙂

Hope you like it!

Lottie x

In which all will be revealed……..

Ok, so maybe that is a little ambitious…….don’t expect the meaning of life to be revealed or anything like that, but…………

………………..I’ve finished my mystery knitting!  Yay!

So, meet Marvin the Meerkat!  (Yes, that’s his name….he seemed to acquire a name even before I’d finished making him…..don’t ask)

Marvin the Meerkat!

Meet Marvin the Meerkat!

Marvin is made from the meerkat pattern in the irresistible book ‘Knitted Meerkats’ by Sue Stratford (published by Search Press) and my version is knitted in two strands of Rowan Kidsilk Haze in shades #652/Mud and #658/Fudge for the body (one strand of each, held together to give a slight marl effect), which is a darker colour than the Debbie Bliss Angel in the book, because I thought it looked more realistic.  As a result I chose a darker brown for the eyes, ears and tip of the tail (Debbie Bliss Angel#15024/Mocha) to contrast with his sandy coloured body.

I knitted him pretty much as per the pattern, although I did swap some decreases for alternatives in the interest of symmetry (I’m fussy) but this is by no means necessary.  I also used little silver lined beads for his eyes rather than black, simply because that was what I had to hand.

I spent ages trying to get his features right and sew on his legs evenly (not my favourite bit) but it was worth it.  His eyes were a bit of a faff though and I think if I made another I would knit little circles for the eye patches, rather than the squares that the pattern instructions give you, as you only have to make them look circular when you sew them on later.

Isn’t he cute?  I think all the faffing was worth it 🙂

Marvin the Meerkat!

Have you got my best side?

So, to the winners of the competition.  Thank you all for entering!  As nobody guessed correctly I have decided to give the prize to the two people who guessed that it was an animal before I revealed that was the case in ‘Can you guess what it is yet – final clues’ those people are andresue (who has a lovely blog here) and woodlandknitter (who has a lovely blog here) – you should both receive an email soon, congratulations!

Lottie x

Hmmmm……..Marvin looks a little cold……..perhaps I ought to make him a jumper?