I recently had the pleasure of interviewing amigurumi artist and pattern designer Mevlinn. Her business is MevvSan and you can find her designs on her website, Ravelry, Craftsy, and Etsy.
I met Mevlinn in the pattern testing circle (we have both tested a pattern for each other) and continue to keep in touch. She is a talented designer and a good ami friend. Hope you enjoy learning more about her!
Me: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Mevlinn: I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania with my mom and younger brother. I had crocheted as a child but didn’t pick up the hobby again until I was 18 and in college. I’ve always found joy in creating something by hand so I decided to earn a BFA, majoring in painting. After college I moved to Portugal and married my amazing husband, who I had been in a long distance relationship with for at least 6 years prior. It was then that I realized painting might not be so practical where I was living now but all the support I gained from crochet made me take my hobby seriously and it soon took over my life. And this is how MevvSan came to be, a combination of art, education, and some unexpected events.
Me: When did you start designing amigurumi and why?
Mevlinn: I first started designing amigurumi when I was in college majoring in fine arts. It was pretty boring waiting between classes with not much to do. My aunt was the one who suggested taking up crochet as a hobby. Things really took off from there. I initially purchased a few patterns off Etsy but due to my own creativity none were ever exactly what I wanted and this drove me to make my own designs.
Me: What inspires your designs? How do you choose what to design?
Mevlinn: My first designs were created as gifts for family and friends. That’s how I created my nyan cat scarf, teddy bear, whale, and panda pouch, just to name a few. But you’ll also see a lot of bird themed patterns in my shop and that’s because I love birds. I’ve had at least one bird at any given time in my life since I was 5 years old. One of these birds was a little cockatiel I had who lived for 14 years and I hand raised her myself from a tiny chick. This is why birds play a big role in my artwork, not only amigurumi but most of what I paint as well.
Me: I noticed you crochet your amigurumi with the “wrong side” on the outside. What is the story behind this technique?
Mevlinn: I was a bit frustrated in the beginning that when I would make a single crochet decrease a slight bump would form on the surface of the work. I’m sure the average person wouldn’t mind these kinds of things but that’s what happens when you’re an artist, you become your own worst critic. I began experimenting for several days with ways of eliminating these tiny “flaws” and finally I noticed that working with the wrong side facing outwards pretty much eliminated this problem.
Me: What is your design process like? Do you sketch out your design first?
Mevlinn: Very rarely do I create a sketch ahead of time. No matter how well I draw something it’s never quite what I see in my mind. When I tried to keep my designs authentic to the drawings it felt like my amigurumi were being stifled instead of improved by this process.
Everything I have learned about amigurumi came from my own experiences, none of it was taught to me and I never purchased a book that explained even the basics of crochet. It was the volunteer testing of other crochet patterns that taught me how to write my own patterns and it was also my way of learning new techniques that were later used in my own designs.
I love looking at what others have created and applying the laws of design taught to me in school to improve shape and form. This is very important to me, there is nothing worse in my eyes than seeing a limb poorly attached or a head that might fall over from it’s own weight due to a narrow connection between it and the amigurumi’s body.
This brings up the question of what is an amigurumi’s purpose? Some may see amigurumi as only a comfort object for a small child and created with love. This is completely fine, but because I also see amigurumi as an art form I’m constantly considering the design, shape, and even negative space around an amigurumi while creating one. It is this consideration that has caused many people to congratulate me on my work. That’s because many of my amigurumis can stand up on their own and this is due to all the considerations I made while making the design.
Me: What is your favourite pattern that you have designed? Why?
Mevlinn: Picking a favorite pattern is really hard to do. There isn’t a single pattern that I’ve made that I didn’t enjoy making or wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. You get so attached to each one as it’s being made. It’s hard to pick just one. If I had to pick one though, it would have to be my Mama Hen pattern.
I created this design for the first ever amigurumipatterns.net design contest. I was so excited to be contacted after the contest and asked if the pattern could be published in a book. It was the first time I felt acknowledged for my hard work and by the online crochet community. To this day I think back to that time and it still encourages me to keep on going.
Me: What is your most popular pattern?
Mevlinn: My most popular pattern would have to be my Nyan Cat scarf. I made it as a cute joke for a friend and shared some photos of it on my deviant art page.
In a few days I was getting hundreds of requests to make this scarf for other people. I had just started my first semester in college at the time so I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand. That’s when I made the pattern available. Sales from this pattern helped me pay for my school supplies and really motivated me to keep on crocheting.
Since then the nyan cat craze has slowed down a bit and other patterns in my shop have picked up in sales instead like my little flamingo, bats, and sloth pattern.
Me: Which of your patterns have surprised you the most in terms of how popular they are?
Mevlinn: My dinosaur patterns were the biggest surprise to me.
I created all the dinosaurs at the same time, not releasing the first pattern until the last was already completed. It was a lot of work but I did it this way to keep them all similar in size and in design. This turned out to be a great idea. I was told afterwards by many people that their children loved the dinosaurs and they would play with more than one of them at a time. That could be difficult to do if you had to purchase different patterns from separate designers. The sizes of the amigurumi might not match up. This showed me how much my buyers loved patterns that relate to one another. It’s also why I’m working on a second series now called Woodland Critters.
Me: Any advice for those that are thinking about starting to design themselves?
Mevlinn: Crochet testers are your best friends. Always get your patterns tested by multiple people before publishing them.
Testers can help you create a printer friendly layout, catch spelling or grammatical errors and of course any mistakes in the pattern itself. When I first started making patterns I didn’t know about pattern testing and this forced me to reedit all of my old patterns. This took over six months to do and it all could have been avoided if I had only known how many amazing people were out there online who are willing to help designers in need.
Me: Do you have a tip for those just starting to learn to make amigurumi?
Mevlinn: Try not to overdo it. Start simple and work your way up. You might see an amigurumi with 30 different pieces and it blows your mind, you just got to make it! Chances are it won’t end well and then you’ll feel sad about it and maybe even give up. I know because I’ve been there. My first amigurumi was a cat and I messed it up so badly.
My first designs after that weren’t much better. I wasn’t using a small enough hook and I wasn’t filling my amigurumi with enough stuffing. But if I had given up then I wouldn’t be where I am now. Just takes things one step at a time, read all the tips and tricks that you can and you’ll see yourself improving bit by bit.
Me: Why is your logo an octopus and what is the story behind your shop’s name “MevvSan”?
Mevlinn: MevvSan started off as part of me. Mev was my nickname growing up and I would have to add an extra v to it when I registered to online forums. Four characters was the minimum most online websites allowed for usernames at the time. San comes from my middle name, Suesan. Many people see this name and assume that because amigurumi is a craft that originated in Japan that the San part of MevvSan is suppose to be the japanese honorific put at the end of some people’s names. This isn’t true, it’s just a coincidence.
One of the very first patterns I made was an octopus. At that time I asked a designer to create a cute image based on one of my designs that could later be used as a logo for my shop. The person picked my octopus pattern and since then the logo has stuck and remains a cute mascot for the shop and a reminder of how things began.
Me: Where can people find out more about you?
Mevlinn: I have my own website at www.MevvSan.com. There you can find all my designs with detailed pattern information, a list of materials needed, and completed sizes listed for each and every one of them. It’s all a work in progress right now so I hope to add more content in the future. MevvSan is also on Etsy, Ravelry, Craftsy, Facebook, Instagram and Deviant Art.
Thank you Mevlinn for sharing your story with us!