Designer Spotlight: Mari Chiba

Today we feature an interview with Mari Chiba from Mari Knits, and her new Mystery Knit-Along and pattern. Mari re-learned to knit in the Peace Corps in Armenia, started designing while teaching English in China, and now designs in Raleigh, NC. She spends every waking moment working with yarn and fiber in one way or another. Her designs have been featured in Interweave Knits, Knitscene, Knitty, Twist Collective and other publications. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, Ravelry, Pinterest, and Twitter; you can also visit her website

Can you tell us about your MKAL?
I hosted a Mystery Knit-A-Long last year featuring Mountain Colors Perspectives Kit, and it was a huge success! I got a lot of really wonderful feedback about it, and lots of people asked me to host another one, but using the sport weight yarn. I was happy to oblige! Fun side note: I actually designed and knit this cowl in 2 days. I was a week overdue with my son last September, and really grumpy. I needed a positive outlet for all that energy, and this pattern is the result!

The pattern is for a cowl, featuring some lace. I can't tell you too much, it's supposed to be a surprise! You can purchase the pattern on Ravelry here: 2016 Perspectives MKAL, and join the knit-along in the Mountain Colors Ravelry Group here.

The MKAL starts on April 8th, and until then you can purchase the pattern and select yarn. If you purchase the pattern by April 1st you'll automatically be entered to win a River Wash Sport Perspectives Kit! You can also learn about more prizes for participating in the MKAL in the Ravelry group.

Who taught you to knit, and how did you become a designer?
My mom tried to teach me to knit when I was young, maybe 8 or 9? I remember knitting what was supposed to be a headband out of neon acrylic variegated yarn. It had a lot of holes, and I never finished it. Fast forward a bunch of years to when I was newly graduated from college, and living in a small village in Armenia as a Peace Corps volunteer. There wasn't a lot to do in the winter, so I re-learned to knit. I got some help from online tutorials I would download to my flash drive from the internet cafe and some other volunteers, but mostly learned myself through trial and error. 

I started designing not long after I started knitting. It started by just adjusting other patterns because I didn't (and still don't) like to follow directions. That then went into making up my own patterns. Then eventually I started writing them down. 

What are your favorite patterns you've designed?
I'm not sure, I can tell you the one that has brought me the most attention has been Ginny's Cardigan from The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits. 

The one I wear the most is probably Chibi Maruko. I have three of these cowls in different lengths, and I like the simple texture! 

The one that took the longest to come to fruition is the Canted Pullover from Knitscene Fall 2015. I originally sketched this idea back in 2013. I submitted it as a sketch to Blue Sky Alpacas, Brooklyn Tweed, Manos del Uruguay, and at least one other place that I can't remember. I was excited for it to finally become a real pattern and published for all to knit! 

Head over to Instagram and follow @mariknits for a chance to win a Marblz Interchangeable Needle Set! Mari is also taking over the Knitter's Pride Instagram account, and you can see behind-the-scenes photos of her home office, design process, and her stash of Knitter's Pride tools!

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