Meet the Fellows: Brittany Garber

I’m Brittany, the maker behind KnotBadBritt. I am a self-taught crocheter and I’ve been crocheting for the past 6 years. During that time, I have become a dedicated pattern tester for leaders in the field. My love for testing has led me to begin creating my own designs and establishing KnotBadBritt, while highlighting BIPOC makers at The Makers of Color Collective.
I am a stay at home mother of 2 two brilliant girls with another one due in November and a standard schnauzer named Caprica – they keep me very busy. When I’m not crocheting, I’m cooking large meals for my family and friends.

How did you get into crocheting & designing crochetwear? I started crocheting 6 years ago as an attempt to make a blanket for my soon to be born daughter. I made the most ridiculous blanket for her in blanket yarn. It’s oddly shaped but she loves it and still carries it with her to this day. As my interest in crocheting grew, I became a pattern tester. I learned so much from the designers I worked with and gained quite a few friendships. It was with their encouragement that I begin designing.

What does your design process look like? I like to work on graph paper and my iPad to sketch out ideas. I’m a terrible artist so sometimes I’ll import a sweater shape in and add detailing to what I’m trying to accomplish! My mind often runs at a million miles an hour so when something pops in I have to write it down.
I use stitch dictionaries often and am constantly learning through testing patterns. This way, when I want to create something, I’m able to more quickly construct it in my head before even picking up a hook. I would say my most valuable resource is my group of friends I’ve made in the fiber community. Their honest feedback is invaluable.

What type of project do you like to crochet most? I love to make shawls. There are so many different styles, shapes, and techniques you can use. The options are endless. Especially when you incorporate Tunisian Crochet.

What are you (or hope to be if you’re just starting out!) best known for as a designer? Since I’m just getting started, I’m hoping to be know for approachable designs that elevate one’s already acquired skills. I love how modern crochet has become and I want to help propel that along with clean lines, interesting textures, and creative design elements.

What yarns do you prefer? I love designing with DK yarn. I think it provides an excellent drape to speed ratio! I tend to gravitate towards merino and merino blends. I have also been known to grab some super bulky yarn and make cozy accessories.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? Outside of crocheting, I enjoy curling (yes, the sport with the brooms), cooking large meals for friends, and craft beer.

Connect with Brittany on Instagram as @knotbadbritt or on her Ravelry designer page!

Meet the Fellows: Victoria Zhong

Artboard 5In the online spheres, I’m Semicolon or SemicolonExpected. I’m currently pursuing a master’s degree in Computer Science in my little hometown of NYC, a home I never intend to leave. My aesthetics is basically: if Dungeons and Dragons took place in a period drama, with a little pinch of Lovecraftian Horror. I believe that the best treasure is the friends we made along the way because the magic of friendship is the most powerful magic of all.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I had an on & off relationship with knitting when I was a teenager; my grandmother taught me how to cast on and make knit stitches, and I used them to make weird scarves, or tiny square panels for Minecraft animals. I soon grew bored of little garter pieces and then began the off portions of my relationship with knitting. I didn’t get serious until college, where I discovered a knitting subreddit: r/knitting, and I saw all the wonderful things I could knit, all the wonderful stitches, and finished objects I could make. I was hooked – is there a more knitting appropriate pun I could use instead?

For a while, I loved knitting other people’s designs, but there was this hunger inside of me; I wanted to create my own! I want to share what I find to look pretty or cool! So, I just tried. I found that my Computer Science/programming background meshed perfectly with knitwear designing, as pattern writing is comparable to programming and there was a fair bit of logic & math behind shaping the fabric. It all just fell perfectly into place.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? This is really dependent on the time of year. Sometimes I love sweaters, other times shawls, sometimes socks (usually that’s out of my system by the end of Sock Madness). I’m a fickle knitter, I don’t really have a type of project I love the most. I think the best estimate is one that has one or two difficult areas, but it’s mostly a mindless knit with an easy to remember repeating pattern.

What yarns do you prefer? I don’t have a real preference weight-wise so long as it’s between fingering and worsted. If every fiber could work for every project, I think I’d have to say I like working with silk and cashmere the most. Second to that would be something with Stellina or Lurex in it because I like sparkles. I think a sparkly Cashmere would be my favorite.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? What aren’t my hobbies? I love video games, Dungeons and Dragons, collecting fountain pens and stationery. Magic the Gathering, I dabbled in embedded systems like Arduinos and Raspberry Pis — it was a bit of an expensive hobby to maintain.

Connect with Victoria on Instagram as @semiknitting or on Ravelry!

Meet the Fellows: Tiffany Pendleton

Hi there! I’m Tiffany and my Ravelry favorites list is nothing short of extensive.  I spend most of my free time plotting color options for many things and sending color ideas to friends. I am a social worker by trade and work with veterans with traumatic brain injuries at the VA in Atlanta. When I’m not at work, you can most often find me somewhere with yarn in my hand. Once upon a time, I’d knit on patios with friends, and now I zoom with them instead. I love cookies & cream ice cream and things that are just a little bit ridiculous, like Barnaby, my navy-blue acrylic bison head on the wall in my bedroom. 

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear? I am pretty sure that I became a designer by accident. Due to my proportions, I was often modifying patterns to work for my shape. I did this more and more once I had a better understanding of construction, why certain techniques are used, and when. My very first piece was my Rhinebeck ‘sweater’ last year, a one-piece jumpsuit. It was also my first swatch, but that’s another story.

What does your design process look like? My design process, for the most part, consists of me obsessing over an idea, tearing it apart and putting it back together. And don’t get me started on choosing colors. Gah! I can stay wrapped up in color options all day.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? I have found that I am almost entirely a sweater knitter. To be honest, I learned to knit to make clothes and I rarely pick up the needles to make anything else. Though, I have made a few hats…maybe 3?

What are you best known for as a designer? I am hoping to be known for garments that are a little bit unexpected but very wearable. I want my pieces to incorporate well into daily life. I want the pieces that are made from my designs to be something you just toss on and go about your day in. I don’t want them to be ‘knitwear,’ I want them to be just ‘the pretty dress I decided to put on today.’

What yarns do you prefer? So far, I find that I prefer a wool/nylon blend. For me the addition of the nylon minimizes the sag around the, ehrm, bum to be sure that the garment keeps its proper shape. Because no one wants a saggy bum, amiright?!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? In general, I am a pretty crafty person. I always have been. I get it from my mom, though she’d rather die than knit or crochet. Since I just bought a house, I think I am mostly preoccupied with decorating. I love it! Time I would have spent obsessing over yarn colors, most recently has been spent picking paint colors and furniture choices. My downstairs is mostly done, and I have been saving the craft room for last. Chartreuse anyone? Because what is a craft room without chartreuse?

Is there anything else you’d like our crafters to know about you? I am a collector of things. Probably much more than I need to be. At the moment, my collection of owls and elephants can almost compete with my stash, almost.

You can find Tiffany on Instagram @theobsessiveknitter or on Ravelry as theobk!

Meet the Fellows: Shana Cohen

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My name is Shana, I live outside of Denver, CO with my husband and son. I am an architect by training with an extensive background in college design education.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear?
I started knitting while studying for my architecture licensing exams in 2008. At the time, I was spending all of my free time preparing for the multi part exam, and decided I needed a study activity break that was portable. I took a 2-week class at a local yarn store and made my first scarf. I joined Ravelry a few months later, and I have enjoyed knitting ever since.
My first design was a collaboration with my son in 2018: a superhero cape! We talked together about the design, and I created a version he loves. I worked through several iterations, experimenting with color and construction technique. The design comes with a blank coloring page, something that many of my subsequent patterns also include. Over the next year, I created a few simple hat designs. In early 2019, the spark of an idea to create a multi-fit poncho came to me, and through several iterations, I created Moduloncho. I reconnected to a creative problem-solving part of my brain. The design was met with open arms and lots of excitement when I released it at the Zombie Knitpocalypse retreat in 2019, and through that experience, I gained some confidence to try to execute other designs that up until that point were just ideas and quick sketches in my notebooks.

IMG_0937What does your design process look like?
My process is heavily analog, involving pencil sketches and words, then experimenting with scaled models and later full-sized mock up pieces. My years of architecture teaching and practice experience guide my process, which often gets messier before it gets neater. I find inspiration in shapes and colors.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?
I love knitting shawls and lately ponchos with interesting styling. I also enjoy knitting hats and cowls for quick palette cleansers!

Shana CohenWhat are you best known for as a designer?
Within my work, I strive to create designs that are easy to follow and allow for multiple styling options. I create designs that fit many body sizes without needing lots of extra yarn. I bring an architectural sensibility to my designs, paying careful attention to the amount of yardage in a skein, for example, just as one would pay attention to amounts of building materials. I work diligently to maximize yardage without needing to add extra. I love being able to showcase the work of my test knitters and others that create their own versions of my designs. I always enjoy working with others to help them create the best creative versions of themselves.

What yarns do you prefer?
Lately I’ve been using a lot of DK weight yarn. I enjoy working with superwash merino DK, and I also really enjoy combining 2 strands of leftover fingering weight yarn to achieve a DK gauge.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?
I love hiking and socializing with friends over a cup of coffee or a craft beer.

Is there anything else you’d like our crafters to know about you?
I am a textbook extrovert, I laugh at my own jokes, I have no poker face, I love iced coffee and most snacks from Trader Joe’s, I like hiking, Zumba, and knitting garter stitch, and I have difficulty saying no to helping friends.

Shana is super active on Instagram so follow her there and check out her designer page here!

Meet the Fellows: Olya Mikesh

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I am a stay-at-home mom of 5, living in Milwaukee, WI. My fiber journey began in childhood, when I learned to knit and crochet from my mom. I have been creating most of my life, and studied Art in college. I am ethnically Russian, having lived in US all my adult life, enjoying discovering the rich heritage of fiber arts of Eastern Europe.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear? A couple of years ago, I was challenged / inspired by the Fruity Knitting podcast to knit and modify an adult garment. This challenge helped me to overcome a fear of not following a pattern exactly, as well as knitting an adult garments, something that I was still reluctant to do, even after decades of knitting! I also became a test knitter for other designers, and have knit 28 garments before taking the plunge of designing my own.
image1 (1)What does your design process look like? I love to study stitch dictionaries, looking at interesting textures, lace, and colorwork patterns. This is especially helpful if I am designing for a particular theme/mood board, in a pattern submission to a publication. But occasionally, I just pick up the yarn and “play” with it, creating something that is inspired by the colors, or an idea I had, developing design as I go.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? I enjoy variety of projects, sometimes alternating between a smaller and larger project, but my favorite category would have to be garments.

What are you (or hope to be if you’re just starting out!) best known for as a designer? I hope to be known for designing wearable garments, that are enjoyable to make, with interesting details or embellishments. I love color, and like to play with bold designs for accessories. I am also interested adding embroidery to knitted, or crochet projects.

image2What yarns do you prefer? I believe that there is a place for all types of yarns in a maker’s world, and finding the right project is a key for a successful outcome. I have yet to come across a yarn that I would not use in some way, be it a man-made fiber for a home decor project or a toy, or a luxury blend for a special accessory. I am probably
a lot like my mother in this regard, practical and frugal. I just love yarn!

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? I love to learn alongside with my kids. Homeschooing them over the last 9 years has been a very enriching experience. It also helped me to become a better communicator, which is important for pattern writing. I also love to sew, garden, and do some painting.

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Is there anything else you’d like our crafters to know about you? I have done some natural yarn dying in the past, and hope to do more of it in the future.

See all of Olya designs on her designer page or see what she’s up to on Facebook!

Meet the Fellows: Jennifer Parroccini

I live in Portland, Oregon, with my husband, my daughter, and my Great Dane, who is approximately 1 billion years old. I grew up creating handcrafts (I think I could sew a running stitch before I could tie my shoes!), and am one in a long line of fiber artists.

How did you get into knitting & designing knitwear? I’ve always toyed with the idea of designing and I improvise on my projects all the time, but I hit a tipping point last winter when I couldn’t find the perfect colorwork hat. I found designing to be the perfect marriage of knitting & spreadsheets and was immediately hooked.

What does your design process look like? My design process is very nonlinear. I am constantly swatching new yarns and patterns, just to see what comes out. At the same time, I’m often thinking about how a line could lie across the body, or a feeling I’d like to evoke, or browsing/creating mood boards. Eventually, some mix of the perfect texture, feeling, and shape comes forward.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most? I’m a sweater girl! I love knitting sweaters, and I love designing sweaters. Right now ,I’m really engaged in skill-building children’s sweaters and size-inclusive wardrobe staples for adults.
What are you best known for as a designer? I’d like to be known for writing patterns for garments with maximum wearability, and for writing patterns that create high impact with low complexity. I want knitters to finish my garments and think ‘that looks really amazing, and it was actually super easy!’

What yarns do you prefer? I gravitate towards DK weight wool. I love solids and lightly tonal yarns and tend to lean towards either neutrals or deeply saturated colors.

J Parroccini

 Sharing a design space with a three-year-old means that my swatches get tons of use!
They play frequent and important roles in many, many games.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community? I work as a nonprofit CPA by day, and I have a preschool-aged daughter, so a lot of my time has to do double duty. If I’m not working, you can usually find me trying to squeeze in a bike ride, grubbing around in my garden, listening to non-fiction audiobooks, making soup, or endlessly reading out loud about the solar system.

Is there anything else you’d like our crafters to know about you?
For me, all the hard work that goes into wring a pattern is worth it when I see someone knit up one of my patterns and show it off with joy. I want to see as many people as possible find the joy and satisfaction that comes from creating – and wearing – knitted garments, and for that reason, inclusion is really important to me.
In my design practice, that means I grade all sizes as I write the pattern so that I know before I even pick up the needles that every element will work perfectly for every size. It means being intentional on how I source my yarn, notions, and services. Finally, it means creating testing spaces and other groups that are intentionally welcoming of people of all races, sizes, and incomes. There’s a lot I’m still learning in all of these areas, but it’s important to me that I’m explicit and vocal about these values.

See all of Jennifer’s designs here and check her out on instagram @JP_Knits_Things!

Meet the Fellows: AkLoriDesigns

I’m Lori of Aklori Designs. I live in sunny Arizona. I’ve always loved making things and working with my hands and tools so turning yarn into new designs is really enjoyable to me (and cheaper than home renovation projects).  I live with 3 cats, 1 shiba and my amazing (stash enabling) partner.

How did you get into crocheting & designing knitwear? 

I started crocheting when I was a child, but it wasn’t until I discovered Tunisian crochet in my late 30’s that my love for crochet really blossomed. I started designing when I ran out of patterns in Tunisian crochet that I wanted to do.  I felt the craft had so much untapped potential and much to explore.

What does your design process look like?

It really depends on the design.  Most begin with a rough sketch on whatever paper is handy. I have notebooks and pads of paper scattered around my house with all my ideas.  Sometimes I love an idea so much, I have to start working on it immediately.  Sometimes I need to just let the idea marinate for a while to figure out how to make it actually work. Then depending on the design, I either start with swatching or writing up a chart then swatching. I typically am working on 2-3 designs at once.

What type of project do you like to knit/crochet most?

I love shawls; they can be all sorts of shapes, and, living in Arizona, they get more use than sweaters, etc.

What are you best known for as a designer?

Modern designs with clean lines and fun shapes.

What yarns do you prefer?

Fingering is my favorite yarn weight because Arizona is too warm for anything heavy.  I love working with merino/silk blends from indie dyers.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of the fiber community?

I enjoy hiking and nature photography. I’m also a huge foodie and love cooking.

Is there anything else you’d like our crafters to know about you?

About me … probably not. About Tunisian crochet? Yes!

If you are interested in trying Tunisian crochet, it is really important that you use a hook 2 sizes bigger than the yarn suggests. Otherwise, you’ll get a fabric that is way too dense and difficult to work with.  You can learn the basics with a regular hook and rows of 10-20 stitches.

To learn more about AkLoriDesigns, check out her designer portfolio and patterns or visit her Instagram @akloridesigns

 

Wander: 5 Noteworthy Notions

Curious about what I include in every knitting or crochet project bag? These are my top five favorite notions whether you are a beginner or are a seasoned yarn lover.

  1. Clover Soft Touch Crochet Hook is perfect to pick up dropped stitches or work a provisional cast on. I like the soft thumpad which means it isn’t slipping out of my hand while trying to maneuver tiny stitches.
  2. HiyaHiya Kitty Snips travel well! I have yet to have them confiscated by airport security. They have a cover so they won’t poke through your bag (or project).
  3. Knitter’s Pride Locking Stitch Markers easily mark the right or wrong side of your work, and can be attached at any point. Separate repeats, or use them as a progress keeper. I like to clip a few to the zipper pulls of my bags for easy access.
  4. Katrinkles Georgia Needle Gauge is cute and functional. No need to squint at the microprint size etched on your needles. Just try your needle in each hole, and the first one it moves all the way through without resistance is your winner.
  5. Clover Bent Tip Tapestry Needle Set is my favorite notion. It comes with 3 sizes and the bent tips make it incredibly easy to weave in ends, or put in an afterthought lifeline. 

The Baggu Dopp Kit zipper bag is a shop favorite.They’re sturdy and collapse flat when not in use. They can take a beating on your commute, playground, hike, or travel. It has an interior zip pocket, and two slip pockets.

We also love Baby Baggus! They’re waterproof and ripstop nylon. My 3-4 skein projects fit easily, and they are gusseted so they sit upright. I keep some in my car for tiny grocery runs. Working on a sweater or crochet squares? Check out the full size version

Spun Right Round Squish DK in Treasured, Pavement, and The Big Teal Wave.

What is your go-to notion? Share yours in the comments below for your chance to win a baby Baggu!

 

Wander: Where It All Began

Recently, I’ve been taking stock of my knitting life. Rearranging bins as I get ready for a move (down the road!), I remember where and when I bought particular skeins, who was with me, what was going on in my life at the time. Sometimes I don’t remember any of those facts, just that there was something alluring about those tiny speckles or the fluffy plying twist.

Eventually, I unearthed my beginner swatch made of 100% acrylic pond-green yarn. I was in college when I taught myself on a whim. Who knows if I saw a post on Pinterest or a blurb in a magazine. I sat in my room with a learn to knit book and needles, and practiced each technique until I knew it by heart. My swatch is two feet long, leans this way and that. A record of increasing, then decreasing, garter and stockinette. It was wildly soothing once I got the hang of it, I was in that state of flow.

I drove past a local yarn store and stopped in, not knowing what to expect, or realizing that I had driven past it a billion times before. I left with a skein of Malabrigo Rasta and circular needles. I went back for Blue Sky Alpaca Silk and attempted a lace scarf because I had no idea it was any more difficult than stockinette. (There’s something to be said for bold learning!). I returned for MadelineTosh Merino Light and was hooked. It humbled me, too – I always said fiber arts would be the very last art I’d be interested in, if ever. So glad I was wrong. I still love pond-green, lace, single-ply, learning boldly. And I love sharing it all with you.

I asked around at the shop for stories of how each of us got hooked, here’s what they told me:

Jenny: My best friend, Katie, bought a lesson for my birthday (Even though I never get anything for her). 3 months later I decided to move from St. Louis to Atlanta and found a job posting for an “illustrator with knitting experience”…an extremely weird combo to pop up. And now here I am! All thanks to my best friend of 27 years who I STILL haven’t knit a dang thing for.

 

Emily: My Mom taught me the basics when I was in 6th grade (1998). We sat together many nights practicing on some basic scarves and pot holders with a few loud colors of worsted acrylic on straights – it was perfect.

Tracey: I learned in the early 2000s during the Stitch ‘n Bitch knitting resurgence. I was in my late 20s and living in Boston. I went to a local yarn store in Jamaica Plain on my lunch break and the owner sat me down on the shop couch with some yarn and a pair of needles and taught me the knit stitch, and I was hooked immediately!

Jess handspunJessica: I loved seeing so many pretty handspun yarns online, and wanted to learn how to make them as well, but thought maybe I should know what to do with said handspun yarn first. I picked up knitting and gave it a try, I had a difficult time of it and put that project away for a while, but a few months later I picked it back up again and things clicked, and I became obsessed!

Erin: I had crocheted previously and scoffed at my friend for knitting because “why are there two needles and neither of them even has a hook and wow that seems slow.” I met my now husband in college, we eventually move in together. It’s Christmastime and I get out my heirloom handknit stocking – the one my mom’s coworker knit for me and every member of my family when I was born, aka, my Number 1 Christmas Tradition – and I realized this boy who is otherwise perfectly great does not come with his own matching stocking, and there was only one way to get him one. So I taught myself how to knit with a bunch of videos from knittinghelp.com, and spent a lot of time cursing and wondering how in the heck anyone ever did this for fun, but within a few months I had a knit myself a tank top out of the worst yarn you could think of for such a project. And he got his stocking, and then eventually so did my kids.

Kinsey: One of my old roommates used to knit. After she moved out I thought “why didn’t I ask her to teach me?” It looked fun and I’m a creative person who really enjoys handmade items. So started watching YouTube videos to learn on my own. I still do that, and if I still don’t get it, I just ask the other ESK kitties!

  • cooking a big batch & freezing this hot and sour soup
  • feeling some single color brioche coming on, maybe this?
  • sitting on the porch in the evenings & loving later sunsets
  • have you seen Stitch Maps?

I’d love to hear your stories, how you learned to create with yarn, who taught you, what made you want to start. Are you teaching anyone? Share in the comments!

 

Wander: The Magic of Marling

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Marling is an engaging way to add texture, depth, and interest to your projects. Some yarns are dyed as marls: 1+ ply is a different color than the other(s). Cascade Ecological twist colors are a good example. The first color is very clearly a marl, but the second is much more subtle.

Marl

Cascade Eco Wool in #9016 – Silver Night Twist (left) and Cascade Eco Wool in #9004 – Ecru Beige Twist (right)

You can easily create this effect yourself! Just hold 2 or more strands of different color yarn together. That’s it! Take off, hold anything and everything together. This is great for stash-busting because we tend to gravitate towards a particular color palette. The odds that you have colors that will play well together are high.

  • hold different weights together, I love a lace with nearly any weight
  • hold similar colors together for subtle interest
  • hold opposite colors for intensity
  • hold a speckle or variegated with a solid
  • hold 1 color constant, changing the other as you go to fade
  • hold a mohair/silk or any silk lace with a wool, cotton, or linen to add loads of depth and texture

 I tried a bunch of marling with the swatches below. US size 7 for both.

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As far as what needle size to use, I recommend swatching. Swatching also lets you know if that yellow sock really goes with that fuzzy opal mohair. Don’t forget that the intensity of your marl will vary in stockinette and garter.

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IMG_7861Emily’s Ships & Seaside Cowl is a great example of what a single strand of mohair lace can do – check out the yellow in the white section. Here, she used Cascade Eco Wool and a single strand of Tweed Silk Cloud from Shibui, an especially sweet laceweight with the added texture of tweed!

My favorite for marling right now is Hedgehog Lace. It’s a boatload of yardage, clocking in at 1312 yards. The speckles and intensely saturated semi-solids make for easy impact. I’d pair the speckles with a neutral background to get a nice pop each time the specks show up. Remember when you first started knitting with hand dyed and would stop to stare at the perfect blip of pink on the left leg of that stitch? This will bring the feeling back.

Making Marls by Ceceilia Campochiaro, is a beautiful reference book. Loads of swatch by swatch samples and patterns. A Ravelry search will reveal plenty of patterns written as marls. Don’t forget that you can marl almost anything! Start looking at plain stockinette or garter patterns and imagine applying this technique. Our Q2 KAL is the perfect place to try it – silk or linen held with anything else – airy garter on big needles, lace with pops of color, tops with extra depth. Marling adds magic to any project! 

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Let me know what you’re thinking of marling, or have marled!