PlanetJune Craft Blog

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Meerkat Design Report #3

I’ll be sharing my process as I design my amigurumi Meerkat crochet pattern – hope you find this behind-the-scenes journey through what goes into a PlanetJune design interesting! To catch up, see:
- Part 1: Research, Shape, Colour and Sketch
- Part 2: Construction Decisions

Last time, I’d decided how to approach my design, and was finally ready to start crocheting my Meerkat!

Part 3: Making the Head

Looking at the shape of a Meerkat, I know I shouldn’t try to work the head, muzzle and body as one continuous piece. As the nose is so long and pointy, the all-important nose shape would be compromised if I tried to build it with increases and decreases in a top-down shape, especially with the added complication of the facial markings. So my options are to:

  • Crochet the head from the nose to the back of the head, and crochet the body from the bottom up, as a separate piece, to meet at the neck.
  • Crochet the head and body as one piece, with the muzzle added separately.

I decided that the most elegant result will be from the latter, as it won’t introduce an artificial break at the neck, so I’m planning to build my Meerkat with a one-piece head and body.

It’s not easy to design an animal head: it always looks strange and wrong until the additional pieces (eyes, ears, muzzle) are attached. You’ll know this if you’ve made any of my animal designs! You just have to follow the pattern and trust that all the strange-looking pieces will magically come together in the end – they always do, I promise :)

But designing from scratch means I need to have test ears, muzzles, and heads all on the go at once, so I can hold them up to each other and see if they work together, or if/where the shape or colour patterning need to be modified. In my prototyping, I changed the shape of the head, and played with the shape, size and positioning of the markings:

planetjune meerkat head prototypes

Now, don’t be alarmed – I know that none of these prototypes looks anything like a meerkat! You’ll have to trust me on this; it’ll all make sense when the other pieces are attached…

To save time, I try to test a few changes at once, and then pick and choose aspects from all the prototypes and refine them to get the perfect result. I’m particularly happy that my innovations in amigurumi colourwork now let me create symmetrical patterning with smooth edges, although it takes some extra work to even things up once I’ve decided on the final shape and size of the markings. Below, you can see some of the undesirable features (asymmetry and jagged edges) in the early prototypes:

planetjune meerkat face prototypes
These ‘features’ won’t be a part of the final version!

After these 3 complete prototype attempts, and some more minor tweaks as I crocheted, I’m satisfied with the head shape and markings, and the 4th prototype will go on to become the final head. You can see how it turned out when the design is finished – you wouldn’t be able to appreciate the full effect if I showed it to you now, without the muzzle, eyes and ears :)

An aside, for a moment – this is a great example of how my failed prototypes can lead to inspiration for future designs! I can see the basis of an alien in the prototype on the right…

planetjune meerkat head prototypes

…do you see it too? I think a cute PlanetJune alien with big built-in colourwork eyes would make a good addition to my Mythical pattern collection!

Although I’m tempted to jump right into researching aliens, I don’t want to get distracted. I’ve added ‘Alien’ to my Ideas List (with a few construction notes so I don’t forget my plan for the colourwork eyes), and now I have to put those tempting aliens completely out of my mind and get back to thinking about Meerkats….

Next for the Meerkat, I have to design the final muzzle and ears, and then I can move onto the body, limbs and tail. Now I’ve completed the main head piece, the rest of the design should flow from there, as I can build each piece to match the scale of the head, following my original sketch for the general shapes, proportions and colours, and referring back to photos of real meerkats as I go.

Stay tuned for Part 4: Making the Body

4 Comments »

  1. Judy Carlson said

    I’m looking forward to the meerkat. I’d also love a PJ Alien in the future. So cute!

  2. Michelle said

    Thanks again for the share button! My Mom will love reading the third installment. :)

  3. Mathilde said

    You have so much patience!
    I’m curious to see the last part with the body :)

  4. alicia said

    It has been fun to see what you are thinking while designing the Meerkat. So many decisions to make that I hadn’t thought of. Makes me appreciate the finished product even more.

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    June Gilbank
    Hi, I'm June. Welcome to my world of nature-inspired crochet and crafting. I hope you enjoy your visit!
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