Two Fave New Apps: Monument Valley and Petting Zoo

It’s been a long time since I talked about something besides knitting on this blog, so let me tell you about two apps that have been making my iPhone fun lately!

The first is the puzzle game Monument Valley, which is an all-around beautiful experience. You play a silent little princess navigating a surreal landscape of Escher-like towers and blocks that work in mysterious ways.


The mechanics of it reminded me a little bit of the game Fez, but Monument Valley differs greatly in its approachability and ease: the puzzles start without the delay of a boring tutorial, and build in difficulty to something challenging but not frustratingly so. It’s a game that I think has a calming effect on most people, which is something I always appreciate my phone doing. Really, I enjoyed Monument Valley so much that I didn’t want to “waste” it by playing it while waiting in line at the grocery store. I played it at the end of the day when I could let myself get drawn in by its strange little world.

The other app I’m digging lately was recommended to me by Kay Gardiner of Mason Dixon Knitting, of all people.


It’s called Petting Zoo, and it’s an “interactive picture book” by Christoph Niemann, the illustrator responsible for some amazing features on the New York Times website, among other things. I suppose the primary audience for this app is young children, but I’m not ashamed to say that I find it delightful as an adult. Its simple concept: line drawings of animals that you poke and prod to make them respond in amusingly elastic ways. The actions start with simple concepts, like “pet the stretchy dog”, then get gradually more surreal and unexpected. (The melting panda is a favorite of mine.)


I’m enjoying this app so much that I’ve been using it sparingly, trying to delay the end (which I haven’t seen yet) as long as possible. I’m looking forward to sharing it with my 3-year-old niece the next time I see her, but in the meantime I’m happy to enjoy it as a 33-year-old.

Both of these apps cost money, but are extremely worth it. Oh, and why am I talking to Kay Gardiner about apps? Because I was telling her I was thinking about making one. How fun would that be???

Bonnie’s Rainbow of Frogs

If you’ve been visiting this blog for a long time, you know what these colorful tiny frogs are all about!


For the past four years, Bonnie of Catharticink has made it a tradition to knit a hand-dyed spectrum of tiny mochis in the colder months—she started with a torrent of snowmen, then followed that with a zipper of Santas, a cloud of bats, and a bunch of birds.


So every year now when it starts getting cold, I start wondering if another brightly-hued herd is on its way to help cheer things up. As you can see, Bonnie really came through with this flotilla of frog gins. They even appear to be forming molecules!


Or they can just be a high-fiber froggie snack.


Bonnie’s beautifully shot groupings have really been a big inspiration to me over the past few years. In fact, I’m working on some soft sculptures right this moment that are heavily inspired by what she has done with this annual series. (More on that a bit later.)

I spotted Bonnie’s frogs in the Mochimochi Friends Flickr group, which is where I find a lot of the knits that I share here. If you’ve taken photos of your toys made from Mochimochi Land patterns, please share them in the group!

Bat Buddies for Biodiversity

This is making my week: The Biodiversity Research Institute, a nonprofit organization in Portland, Maine, that conducts research and promotes awareness about wildlife conservation, is raising funds by selling hand-knitted bats made from my Boo the Bat pattern!


Because they are scientifically-minded people, BRI’s Bat Buddies are available as three different species: Northern Long-eared bat, Red bat, and the Gray bat. Let’s learn more about them with the descriptions provided on their website!

Northern Long-eared Bat

The Northern Long-eared bat is a medium-sized bat distinguished by its long ears. Medium to dark brown fur covers its back while its underside is tawny to pale-brown. This species is one that is most impacted the White-nose Syndrome and has recently been proposed for listing as an endangered species.

Gray Bat

The Gray bat is a small bat with grayish-brown fur. It is approximately 5 inches long with a wingspan of 11-13 inches. Gray bats live in caves year round with only rare occurrences outside of caves. They are a federally endangered species mainly due to human disturbance and habitat loss. However, the gray bat population has also been affected by White-nose Syndrome.

Red Bat

The Red bat is a medium-sized bat, about 4-5 inches long, with reddish-orange fur. Adult males are more brightly colored, while females and juveniles are more grayish. The fur of both sexes may be tipped white, giving this bat a frosty appearance. They are known as a “tree bat” and can usually be found roosting in the foliage of trees and shrubs. Like other tree bats, they will migrate from the northern part of its range to the southern part of its range for the winter. The Red bat is not currently listed as endangered or threatened.

The Bat Buddies are available for $20 each and are knitted to order by Catherine of Laughing Lab Designs. I hope they prove a popular item!

I love it when knitters use my patterns to raise funds for a good cause. If you have a fundraising project like this that you’d like to do, just get in touch at info [at] mochimochiland [dot] com.

Group Show: WonderWomen at University of Minnesota

As it happens, I have work in another group show that starts with a W this month!


WonderWomen, at the University of Minnesota’s Katherine E. Nash Gallery, is a show of works by female artists who are influenced by comics and other pop culture. I sent them some animations from the past year and this assortment of tiny mochis.


But I’m burying the lede here: I’m in a group show that also contains work by Alison Bechdel! Along with others whose work I admire, and others whose work I look forward to exploring. Here’s a closer look at the show information:


January 20 – February 14, 2015
Katherine E. Nash Gallery
405 21st Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Another Great VK LIVE

I just had the best weekend at the 5th Anniversary Vogue Knitting LIVE! It seems strange to return to NYC and spend the entire three days in Times Square, but I loved every minute of it (except for the black ice on Sunday—whoa that was a weird way to start the day). So much fiber excitement, so many familiar faces and friendly new ones too!

And this year, Mochimochi Land was back in classic form.


I brought back elements from the display that I showed at the first VK LIVE (which itself had been a modified form of my 2010 show Greetings from Mochimochi), and added new scenes and characters. Setup on Friday was an intense seven hours of arranging, pinning, and stitching, but maybe there’s nothing I love more than to dump out a big pile of mochis and figure out what they’re all going to do with (and to) each other.

See more after the jump! More >

Je Suis Charlie / Ahmed

I want to live in a world where making art can’t get you killed. Perhaps there isn’t a more appropriate response to last week’s attacks in Paris than to make more art, and I’m grateful for the cartoonists and others who have done so.

That includes Circé, a knitter and designer living in France, who made this pencil from one my patterns.



And Lorna of Knits for Life, who shared this yarn bombing on Facebook the other day.


When I was a freshman in college, one of the first classes that I took was named “Offensive Art.” I thought the name was kind of dumb, because who cares if there are still people out there who are offended by art? Then we learned about the Taliban and how they were destroying ancient Buddhist art in Afghanistan, and that answered my question.

I know that the attack on Charlie Hebdo was, at its roots, about more than art. But I also believe that art and other freedoms of expression are the way forward for us all.

Rebecca’s Legs the Penguin

Speaking of Vogue Knitting LIVE, Rebecca took my toy design class at the October VK LIVE in Chicago, and she just sent me an update about her new toy, which is finished!


This is Legs the Penguin. Isn’t he funny? And good news: Rebecca is sharing him as a free pattern on her website ChemKnits!

Legs isn’t the first toy that Rebecca has designed—in fact, she has quite a lot of patterns to her name. I hope the VK LIVE workshop opened up some new ideas for her. I also love how Rebecca is an actual biochemist, and still she chooses to spend her spare time designing a googly-eyed penguin with extra long legs.

If anyone else from that design class is reading this: you are all late with your homework! But really, I’m always interested in talking about toy design. There are just so many different approaches to it, and the possibilities are endless. If you’ve thought about designing a toy before but haven’t actually done it yet, why not get started today? Just start somewhere and see how it goes!

See you at VK LIVE NYC

For the fifth year in a row, Mochimochi Land is coming to Vogue Knitting LIVE in NYC!


That’s right, next weekend’s event is the 5th anniversary show, and I believe it will be my 9th overall VK LIVE. How time has flown since that first show!


For this VK LIVE, I’m actually going to reprise the Mochimochi landscape that I brought to that first show. Mochimochi Land is getting packed up to be shipped out right now, in fact! This year’s display will be updated with many newer characters getting up to cute and strange mischief, including a sneak preview of what’s in store from my forthcoming book.

And here’s an idea I thought would be fun: this year you can be a part of Mochimochi Land by adding your own tiny mochis! Bring a creature (about 2″ or smaller) that you’ve made from a Mochimochi Land pattern, and add it to the scene.*

Also, we’re bringing back the Sunday hunt! This year we’re celebrating 5 years of VK LIVE with tiny balloons.


Ten tiny balloons will be hidden around the marketplace on Sunday, and everyone who finds one wins a copy of Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi!


I’ll also be signing books, and tiny kits will be 2 for $20. So I hope to see many familiar faces and many new ones next weekend—find me in the 6th floor art gallery!

Vogue Knitting LIVE NYC
January 16 – 18
New York Marriott Marquis
1535 Broadway, NYC

* You can either take your mochi home at the end of the day/weekend, or just donate it to us (we can’t ship it back to you after the event is over). Also, don’t bring one that is too precious to you, as there’s always a small chance that it could escape into the world!