Good news: the tiny alpaca pattern is coming next week!
As I prepared to preview this pack of alpaca, it occurred to me that alpacas naturally lend themselves to tongue twisters. Right, IRL alpaca?
So leave an alpaca-themed tongue twister in the comments to this post (one per person please). We’ll pick a favorite on Monday, and that person will get the pattern early and for free!
Giant gnome is sorta done!
I’m not much for selfies normally, but I just had to take one with my new friend.
He’s so big, it took me exactly 40 attempts to squeeze the both of us in the frame together. So that was how I spent five minutes of my day. It was the only time I’ve ever really considered the merits of a selfie stick.
Giant gnome (yes, he needs a proper name) is sitting in my living room right now, as big as a very big person. I wouldn’t say that his eyes follow me, but he’s pretty much always either staring at me dead on, or else he’s got me in the corner of his eye. This was especially creepy at night before I gave him a beard.
The beard was also crucial to get right. There was a lot of holding it up to the face and eyeing the progress as I was making it.
The beard is now much bigger than this, of course, but looking at the whole assembled gnome, I think it should still be a touch bigger, so I’ll probably make that change. But he’s essentially finished, and that feels like a big accomplishment.
So this is how many balls of yarn it takes to make a giant gnome, at least one with a smaller-than-is-ideal beard.
Before I get completely sucked into a beard vortex, I have a fresh box of yarn from Lion Brand that needs my attention.
That’s right, giant gnome no. 2 is happening. He will have a green shirt.
Why again am I knitting giant gnomes? Because I’m a weirdo, and also because they’re destined for an all-gnome-themed Mochimochi Land show at Everyday Mooonday gallery in Seoul this May. You too can be a part of this event—check out Project Gnome Diplomacy to find out more!
Thanks again to Lion Brand for providing yarn support for this project!
Joan is a friend of Mochimochi Land who lives in Canada and always surprises me with her witty spins on patterns. (Check out her bathing snowmen, for one!)
This week she surprised me with mochi-fied versions of me, John, and our cats Soupy and Nipsey!
How cute are we!! And the glasses! And kitties!
I don’t know what compelled Joan to make us in tiny knitted form (“I swear I do not have this much free time,” she said half-apologetically in her email), but it really brightened my day.
As you’ve heard here, lately I’ve been working on lots of gnome-related things for an upcoming show in Seoul. It’s the type of big project that has me feeling like I’m making very slow progress and there’s tons more to do, and it’s not really profitable work, and why was I even doing this again?
Getting gnome diplomats in the mail every day is helping keep me going, as are the happy comments I’ve been getting here and on social media in response to my gnome-related posts, and also a few very kind and encouraging emails like Joan’s.
Thank you, Joan!!
I’ve mentioned it here and there, but now it’s time for the official announcement: My next book comes out June 9th!
Adventures in Mochimochi Land will contain 25 knitting patterns for all-new mochis, most of them of the teeny-tiny persuasion. But there’s a lot more to this book than patterns—it’s also a storybook with three fantastical tales from Mochimochi Land! Your guide through the adventures is an explorer named Ichigo, a mochi who actually talks.
Say hello, Ichigo!
I met Ichigo at the farmer’s market, where he was trying to steal a single strawberry for his lunch (because no one would sell him just one). After chatting over a basket of berries, I found out that he had seen more of Mochimochi Land than just about anybody else. He promises that everything he says is true, which is a probably an exaggeration, but at least it makes for good stories. (I’ll be sharing some sneak peeks of the stories here soon!)
Ichigo couldn’t make a book completely on his own, of course, which is how I found myself making storyboards for the first time about a year ago.
But I’d like to back up a bit and tell you how this book came about.
When I was a kid, there were lots of things I wanted to be when I grew up (science museum director and lady who rides the elephants in the circus, to name a couple), but as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to write storybooks. I wanted to create worlds and draw people into them, and make everything up as I went. By time I graduated from high school, I was pretty sure this was not achievable, I guess because I’d never met anyone who wrote books or created worlds. So I studied Japanese instead, which seemed cool too.
Japan and exposure to the world of art and design lead me to make Mochimochi Land, my big passion for the last eight years. But even as I was building this world in knitting, and writing books of patterns, I still didn’t really think I could make a storybook—fiction publishing just seemed like such a different (and much more competitive) world from crafts. It was my luck that my editor, Caitlin Harpin, was open to the idea of a nontraditional craft book when I brought it up, and she and the rest of the team at Potter Craft worked hard to make it happen.
I hadn’t really expected everyone to go along with it, so I was surprised that all of a sudden I was writing a storybook. It was my own adventure in Mochimochi Land! And it was way harder than I had expected: Not only did I have to come up with the stories, but I also had to invent all-new characters for them that could work as patterns, and I had to figure out what the whole thing would look like from start to finish too. That’s what storyboards are for.
Nobody taught me to make a storyboard, or how to write a story, or how to design a toy and write a knitting pattern, for that matter. But often that’s the best way to learn how to do something—by just doing it. And that process shouldn’t stop when we’re grownups. I had a lot of help in making this book, and for everyone involved it was something new, which is scary but exciting and definitely worth the stress and hard work.
I hope that this book will be a fun read for all of you, kids and adults alike. I also hope that the patterns and DIY spirit that I’ve tried to infuse in it will inspire you to try something new and make worlds and stories of your own!
Adventures in Mochimochi Land is now available for preorder from Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and from Powells, among other places. Signed copies are also available for preorder from me in the Mochimochi Shop. Or if you have a local bookstore or yarn store that you support, please ask them if they’ll carry it!
More previews and other fun book stuff are coming soon!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Could it be…?
Yes, our first gnome diplomat for Project Gnome Diplomacy has arrived!!
It comes from Beth in Des Moines, Iowa. Thank you Beth! For sending the first gnome, you win this Christmas Sonny Angel that we had tucked away in a closet.
(I’m going to try to throw in a few other fun random prizes as gnomes arrive!)
Get all the info on this participatory art project here. I can’t wait for more of your gnomes!
Previously: Project Giant Gnome
The cool thing about knitting a giant gnome is that at some point, you get to knit standing up!
But most of the time I’ve been sitting.
(Thank you Audrey Peck for this photo!)
And now, giant gnome has a body!!
I can now say exactly how tall he is: three feet, four inches (a little over one meter). Pretty big for a gnome!
I’m feeling good about the project right now, but let me tell you, over the past week there were at least two points at which I was very close to ripping out the hat and the face, or the face and the shirt, or the face and the shirt and everything else, and starting all over again. I think I could have done more planning in advance, but there’s also just an unpredictability when working with very large, soft things. Even though all the increases and decreases are uniform, from different angles the gnome can look plump and perfect or cylindrical and not-so-perfect.
My method of judging the progress was to stuff the body and take a photo, then overlay some roughly-drawn shapes to get an idea of what the proportions will look like.
The black area under this guy’s pants is where I cut the pants in Photoshop and nudged them up under the shirt. Because the pants were looking way too tall! But in the end, instead of frogging back to the point where I could make the pants shorter, I took a shortcut and gathered them at the bottom and stitched them in place.
This seems a little like cheating, but I’m OK with it—backtracking at this point would mean less time to make other things for the show, a compromise I don’t want to make right now. (And the reason these stitches are so sloppy is because I’m going to have to undo them to remove the stuffing for shipping anyway.)
It feels like the hard part is over now that the body is finished, but many questions remain: Do I have enough yarn, or do I need to request more? What should I make giant gnome eyes out of? Could I pull off a second giant gnome in time for the show? Is there a treatment for gnome addiction? How about gnome burnout? Check back to find out what happens!