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Thursday, 17 April 2014

ERIK the Charmer Bunny

We all know that our Erik is quite the charmer, but this week has seen him out and about with more than one lady friend! He's been seen at the art shop with Tanya, enjoying some delicious ice cream with Maja and had a romantic liaison with a very pretty bunny in the park . . .

Erik is sure that taking Tanya to the local art shop to buy her some fancy art supplies will impress her . . . hmmm . . .


Erik certainly knows the way to Maja's heart - delicious gelati from Oddono's - yum!!

Finally, Erik has fallen head over bunny tail for sweet Erika and on their trip to the park wooed her with carroty chocolate. Well, what else would a rabbit give his sweetheart for Easter?

Erik Easter Bunny is a FREE pattern available to download from the website - there's still time!!
(posted by Max)

Friday, 11 April 2014

A WEEK in the life of Erik

Our favourite bunny has been very busy this week. He took an eggs-iting trip on the tube, found some eggstraordinarily good food at the farmers market and had an eggsellent time meeting his namesake - Erik!

No-one wants to sit next to Erik on the tube

Erik kept bugging me to lift him up so he could see out of the window

Erik's got his head buried deep in his diary, figuring out when he's going to have the time to eat some chocolate Easter eggs

Erik is checking out the MillaMia yarn at John Lewis - which colour is your favourite? Erik said he likes Limited Edition cobalt best

Erik working hard at his desk today

Erik meets Erik! I think baby Erik approves

Knitted Erik is looking more like a snack now in the eyes of baby Erik!

Erik diving in to find the best carrot!

Back from his dive! Erik has managed to choose 3 favourite carrots to munch on!

I need more eggs!
(posted by Max)

Friday, 4 April 2014

INTERVIEW - Nikki Gabriel

Nikki Gabriel is a knitwear and textile designer with a passion for unusual construction and a deep love and appreciation of beautiful artisan objects. Her abiding love of the handcrafted sees her more as a curator of unique pieces - collecting these exquisitely beautiful items from makers and designers across the globe, and selling them in her shop, Gather. This emporium of making is situated in the New Zealand seaside town of Napier, in a 'shabby, art deco building', a backdrop against which her collection sits perfectly.

Nikki describes herself as having a 'gatherer's instinct' - something she attributes to a childhood spent in South Africa, gathering material from all around her to create and make.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and the inspiration behind Gather.
Gather sprouted on the side of my studio as I had a couple of extra rooms in a new space that I had moved into. I have filled the shop with beautiful yarns including (MillaMia), natural dyes, books, handmade knitting needles including giant 35mm ones that you knit rugs with; and a range of objects from other designers such as the fluorescent macramé from Spoonful Design, the Helvetica cross stitch kits from Tamara Maynes, the doily bowls by Lightly, Textiles from Sophie Digard (Paris). I wanted to create this shop to be an inspiring and creative space, for knitters and non-knitters alike.
Inside Gather
2) You are well known for your "construction" patterns – how did you come to this style of design and do you have any new construction patterns planned?
The Construction Patterns began as a design project to engage a wider audience into knitting by making patterns that are simple to read with diagrams and basic knitting techniques to make shapes such as squares, rectangles and triangles. The patterns show how to make several garment combinations in stages by joining these shapes together, so the maker not only learns how to knit but also participates in garment construction through a logical and step-by-step design process. Projects are quick and creative, and accessible.

Construction pattern No.4

3) You have collated an amazing array of incredible designers, yarn and handmade pieces. How do you go about selecting who to stock?
I choose items that reflect a modernism to craft, rather than nostalgia. I don’t really do vintage in the shop. Knitting is not an old-fashioned hobby, it's actually very current. The knitting patterns and yarns I choose is a reflection of this. The made objects such as the ‘Lightly by CL Davies’ product in store; Davies is an industrial designer who has dubbed the term ‘nanna-technology’ where there is a cross-over of craft and industrial technique in her practice. Craft plays a very pivotal role in the design industry, and good design is crucial to the survival of the wool and knitting industry. For those who have missed the relevance of craft in everyday life, my shop is way of showing how it fits and can actually enhance everyday life.

Construction pattern No.4

4) What are you currently designing and or knitting?
I am working on a book-publishing contract with an international publisher (can’t say who), to extend the construction knitting pattern project and concept for a wider readership. This is a 2 year project, so a lot of knitting, experimenting and pattern design development for this book.
I am also completing a Masters of Design Degree at Auckland University investigating the role of craft in the knitting industry and how to translate the Construction Knitting Patterns into procedure for industrial knitting machines. There is a lot of design development for this research project.

5) Who are the up and coming knitwear designers on your radar?
The Issey Miyake studio, Walter Van Beirendonck, Sandra Backlund, as even though they are established designers, they're always pushing the boundaries of our perception of knitting. I exhibited alongside all these designers in 2010, and what was important about this exhibition is how the hand-craft of knitting plays a very important role in fashion, and the development of knitting technology. It’s valuable for the wider public to understand the craft of technology too, the materiality, how yarn is made, where it comes from, etc, and designers like this highlight this process.
Beautiful knitted homeware available at Gather

6) Tell us your most interesting/awkward/embarrassing knitting story?
Kirsten, my whole career is awkward; I’ve given up trying to explain what I do at dinner parties. For most people, knitting is still associated with their grandmothers and outside of economy, as their grandmothers were never paid to knit.

7) What is the one thing you think should NEVER be knitted?
Anything can be knitted.

 (posted by Kirsten)

Friday, 28 March 2014

HANDARBEIT AND HOBBY - report from Cologne

Helena and I in Cologne
It is always exciting for us to travel to Cologne for the annual Handarbeit and Hobby trade show. Drawing such an international audience really does make it THE trade show of the year and attracts a huge diversity of exhibitors and visitors. We had the opportunity to meet with buyers from as far afield as Korea, Russia, the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium, as well as catching up with a few of our stockists from Germany.

We were rather disappointed with the location of our stand this year. As you can see from the picture below, there was an enormous pillar right in the middle of the stand which wasn't at all what we had expected! Although next year we are hoping to be much closer to Christphorous Verlag, the German publishers who are currently translating Wonderland into German - an exciting development for us and one that our prospective German stockists were so thrilled to hear.

Before and after - what a transformation!
 That pillar . . .

Aside from the vast array of stands with everything from fabric, yarn and crafting accessories this Show excels at putting on an excellent fashion show and Saturday night entertainment. Helena went along to the fashion show but was stopped in her tracks outside by a flashmob dance group organised by the Boshi Boys - see the short video below . . .


The Boshi Boys proved to be really on trend at this years' Show - a crochet concept for cool, colourful hats that has filtered through to other brands. I imagine that the trend for these fun beanies straight from the snowboarding slopes will last for a good while yet.

As well as a business trip, this was a great excuse for Helena and I to spend some time together. We thoroughly enjoyed the Saturday night dinner and music entertainment, which I'm sure the organisers won't mind me saying is rather like being transported back to an 80's Eurovision extravaganza! We were lucky enough to be on the Rico table with Ellen and Yvonne and the rest of the Rico team - as you can see from the pictures, we had a very enjoyable evening.

From left: Yvonne, Ellen, Helena and I

For me, one of the most rewarding things this year was meeting the German stockists that signed up to stock MillaMia last year at H & H. You may remember that I was unable to attend as I'd not long had Johan, and so building on our existing relationships with them was invaluable for me. Thanks to Garnwelt and Wolle Roedel for stopping by the stand - it was lovely to meet you!
(posted by Katarina)

Friday, 21 March 2014

ERIK and Erika

Once I had completed Erik's head last week, I pushed right on and began knitting the rest of him - well, he looked a little embarrassed without a body! This part was surprisingly quick and easy - just a little bit of simple shaping in order to make his bottom half nice and plump - all in stocking stitch, except for his bobtail which is knitted in garter stitch.

I blocked the main pieces and the tummy panel overnight and then using mattress stitch I seamed all of the pieces together. The legs are constructed in such a way as to make them bend slightly to the front, so it's a good idea when you are seaming these main pieces together to bear in mind that you will need to ease the smaller front section into the larger back half of the legs. This is actually where mattress stitch is invaluable - I picked up one bar from the top/smaller front section and 2 bars on the larger back section and it worked out pretty much perfectly.

It's always a good idea to take some time to stuff these knitted softies well. Too firmly and you can see the stuffing through the stretched out stitches - not enough and your Erik will be rather limp! I found, much to my dismay, that I hadn't really got enough stuffing to plump out mine quite as much as our original Erik, and as a result my bunny looks rather skinnier! Slightly more delicate, not so butch perhaps and now that I look at the face, even this seems to be a little more feminine than our original Erik, and so the lovely Erika - companion to Erik has been born! Not that this is a bad thing - we had great fun with Erik and Erika yesterday who made their debut on Instagram - you can follow the adventures of Erik @millamia_sweden or see my own Erik Easter Bunny project on Ravelry.

If you are keen to knit your own Erik, then this pattern is completely FREE from our website or on Ravelry. More excitingly though, we have launched a Competition over on our Facebook page where you can win the yarn to knit your very own Erik Easter Bunny! As a seasoned traveller, Erik is sending postcards from renowned destinations across the world, and all you have to do is guess correctly which city and country he is in and then post your answer in a comment under the picture, Simple!

There will be 4 chances to win over the course of the next 2 weeks, so hop on over and have a go!

(posted by Max)

Friday, 14 March 2014

'E' IS FOR Easter and Erik!

With Easter just around the corner, we at MillaMia HQ have been busy bringing a sweet new knitted character to life! Erik the Easter Bunny knitted in our Naturally Soft Merino in putty and snow is due to make his debut this week in a series of adventures and in conjunction with an exciting competition, but more about that next week . . .

I have been lucky enough to sneak out an early copy of the Erik pattern ahead of launch next Friday 21st March and have already started to knit him! He is simple enough, with much of the shaping achieved by basic increasing and decreasing but I thought it might be useful to show you how I put his cute little head together as I know that putting faces on knitted animals is very often the most difficult part to get right.

As you can see below, I have already knitted the head which is a flat, heavily shaped piece and therefore a little difficult to manipulate at this stage. I started by seaming the back of Erik's head with mattress stitch - yes! you already know that this is my favourite method of producing an almost invisible seam. I used a separate length of yarn to stitch the seam so that I can use the long ends to sew up the hole on top of the head and the other end to attach the head to the body.

Next the head needs to be stuffed firmly. Too little stuffing and you will find it difficult to achieve a nice round head shape, too much and you will begin to see the stuffing through the stitches. It is important that you leave the largest hole open at the moment so that you can position all the elements of the face easily.

I recommend a 'try and see if you like it' approach to positioning the face! Taking time at this point to make sure that you are completely happy with the features will save you much heartache later - the face, above all is what gives any knitted animal it's character. I have used safety eyes which can be purchased very cheaply at most haberdashers or craft stores. Remember to keep the seam at the back of the head and push the eyes through the knitted fabric approximately 1" apart. This can be tricky with the stuffing in but I find that seeing the head in its correct shape helps me to place the eyes much more effectively. Once you are happy with the position of the eyes, pull out some of the stuffing and turn the head partially inside out to expose the stalks of the eyes. Secure the 'washer' type backs and re-stuff.

The mouth and nose are a simple cross stitch with a double strand of snow yarn. Position this centrally and make sure to fasten off securely.

Next stitch up the end rows of the ears and tuck in any stray ends (I blocked these before stitching up to make it  little easier). The purple thread indicates the fold line - these ears have a little tip of grey. I used mattress stitch (of course!) to seam the inner white ear to the outer grey part.

Finally, position the ears on the head. I always pin them in place so that I can see if the whole face and head are visually symmetrical and most importantly, have the cute factor! Whip stitch the ears in place and the head is complete.

All Erik needs now is a body . . . !

Keep an eye on the Blog, FaceBook and Instagram next week to enter the Erik competition and find out where this rabbit about town has been visiting - he's quite the adventurer! Oh, and did I mention that this fun pattern is FREE?? Available next Friday from or Ravelry, get your needles at the ready and knit up a colony of eggstatic Erik's for Easter!

(posted by Max)