The Making of Pass the Apple

Last week I posted an animated GIF of the woodland mochis having fun with an apple in the woods. If you’ve followed Mochimochi Land for a while, you know that I’ve been making these little stop-motion animations for a few years, but this particular project was a little different, because I had help from a real live animator!

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This is Maureen. She’s been helping out Mochimochi Land in a several ways over the past couple of months, but to be honest, most of those ways are a vast underuse her talents. (There’s just SO MUCH YARN that always needs winding for kits!) Maureen is finishing up a degree in animation at the Illinois Institute of Art, so it’s been at the back of my mind for us to work on something together. Last Thursday I mentioned to her that I was thinking about making some kind of animation with my newest mochis, and four hours later we had one! Here it is again:

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Having three different characters moving in different directions and at different paces at the same time is a real challenge in stop-motion animation—just keeping track of where everybody is going in each shot is tough, so if I’d been on my own, I probably would have way simplified the action involved in Pass the Apple. But since there were two of us, I could move the fox and owl and Maureen could move the hedgehog and also keep track of what needed to happen in each shot overall.

Several people have asked how we got the owl to fly. No fancy camera tricks—just a toothpick in the back!

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(We switched it out with some long, skinny DPNs when the owl needed to be farther away from the backdrop.)

Maureen has all the slick animation software skills, but since we were working with a tight deadline, I put the shots together in Photoshop like I usually do.

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It turns out it takes 47 frames to pass an apple.

An unexpected issue was the constantly changing light—we were using artificial lights as I always do, but as we were shooting it suddenly turned into a partly-cloudy, partly-sunny day, and every time the sun came out it blasted through our makeshift blackout poster boards…

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So I made some adjustments in Photoshop, and then we decided that the flickeriness is just kind of charming. Lesson learned: next time, pick a more solidly overcast day, shoot at night, or get some actual blackout curtains!

I had a blast working with Maureen on this, and I hope we do more together before she’s snatched up by a production company! See her own work at boyleanimation.com.

NYC Gnomes

I got to return to NYC over the weekend! It’s been a bit less than a year since John and I moved from there to Chicago, and we couldn’t have picked a better early fall weekend for a visit.

On Monday I found myself with four spare gnomes and a few spare hours in the city, so I decided to revisit four places that are meaningful to me and set a gnome free at each spot. I may no longer live there, but there’s no reason why a few of my gnomes can’t be New Yorkers!

Gnome #1 started his NYC adventure in Columbus Circle, which was my main hub when we lived in midtown Manhattan.

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Gnome #2 got was set free on the High Line, which to me represents everything cool and beautiful and ambitious about NYC.

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(It also happened to be the second day that the newest portion of this park in the sky was open to the public—it’s really something to experience!)

Gnome #3 was content to be left hanging out at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, which I visited almost every day during the four years that I lived next to it.

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And finally, Gnome #4 found a new home on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan, where I got my first job out of college.

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I liked the idea of leaving these guys around the city for anyone to stumble upon and take home. I didn’t attach any kind of tags to the gnomes—I wanted the people who found them to just enjoy the discovery and the mystery. (I did share each of these photos on Instagram and Twitter in real time as I left each gnome behind.) This gnome release was partly inspired by the Tiny Bunnies Movement, which I’m happy to see is still active on Ravelry!

When I mapped it out, I see that the gnomes and I covered some pretty good ground in eight hours!

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A part of me will probably always miss living in NYC, but it’s neat to think that the city and I will continue to have a connection via my little bearded ambassadors of Mochimochi Land.

Have YOU ever purposefully left a mochi behind somewhere for someone to find?

Pass the Apple

Tiny hedgehog’s got a date! His plan is to impress his lady hedgehog with this delicious apple he found. Tiny hedgehog is going to be late for his date.

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Thanks to Maureen for the help with this one!

Donna’s Chicken Owl

There’s more than one way to knit a tiny owl. With just a few tweaks, Donna made one out of a chicken!

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That is, she used the tiny chicken pattern from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi as a base to make a very respectable little owl. I’m especially impressed by those hypnotic eyes!

For those of you who don’t have a copy of the book, the tiny chicken pattern is actually available for free! And of course, if you’re not up for modifying your own owl, there’s always the new tiny owl pattern in PDF and kit form.

I spotted Donna’s owl in the Mochimochi Friends Flickr group—please share your mochi photos there so we can find them!

Tiny Woodland Patterns Now Available

Wow, thank you for an awesome pattern launch last night! Even with an initial glitch with the pattern page (that had John and me freaking out for a few minutes—thanks to those of you who alerted us to it), we had a terrific response!

And now for the official-official announcement: The Tiny Woodland pattern collection is now here!

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Tiny fox, owl, tree, and hedgehog can be knit up in a matter of hours with minimum yarn. Have a free weekend? You can knit a whole forest! The pattern collection is available as a PDF download for $6 in the shop. (Want them on Ravelry? Just send me a quick email when you check out with your Ravelry name, and I’ll add the patterns to your library when they’re available, in about a month.)

These projects are great for scrap yarn, or pick up a kit to make three owls, hedgehogs, or foxes for $12 a pop.

Because woodland creatures have a tendency to be some people’s all-time favorite animals, I put extra work into getting the designs just right. I also wanted the photos to be just right, so when it was time for the photo shoot I called in Soupy to do what he does best: Soupyvise.

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It’s like supervising, but it’s nonverbal, and he might destroy what you’re trying to do without warning.

Here’s something else I tried as a main image.

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I liked the idea of shooting down on the projects, kind of in a Wes Anderson style, but I just couldn’t get the lighting right, and the burlap texture (which is the same as the background in the top photo) was too distracting and also made the image look slightly crooked.

And yes, I did have to hot glue the tiny owl to the twig. Oh, the sacrifices my mochis make for their art!

Anyway, I think the world is becoming a little more adorable this weekend thanks to all of you who are getting the patterns. Thank you!

Tiny Woodland Caption Contest Winners

Thank you to everyone who submitted cute and silly captions to our week of woodland creature caption contests! It’s been such fun reading them all this afternoon.

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John and I really hate picking favorites, but we’re willing to do it for you cool people. So here we go!

Our favorite tiny owl caption is by Sadie:

Tiny owl doesn’t give a hoot about practicing for his flying test; he knows he’ll be able to wing it!

Our favorite tiny fox caption is a tongue twister courtesy of Devon:

What’s a knit kit without a kit to knit? ;)

Cristina’s tiny hedgehog caption gets props for being both weird and cool:

Day 32 of secretly integrating myself into pinecone society, and they’ve yet to become suspicious.

And Salla came up with a tiny tree caption that is sweet and understated:

Tiny tree is always well-grounded and his Woodland friends would describe him as being down-to-earth.

Congratulations to these worthy witty wordsmiths, each of whom wins the new Tiny Woodlands PDF pattern collection, which—yes!—is now available in the shop.

But wait, we have one more winner! Of all the lovely poems we received, one stood out for its fun story and clever rhymes:

There once was a spiffy wee fox,
Who took pride in his vermilion locks.
He ran this way and that
To avoid becoming a hat;
Oh that sneakily stylish li’l fox!

That was authored by Sophia, who wins the PDF pattern collection, PLUS tiny kits for the fox, hedgehog, and owl!

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If the above image looks a little familiar, that’s because these were the mystery preview kits that we were sending out in July. So many reveals in one blog post!

Thanks again to those who participated in our little contest. I hope you all enjoy the patterns!

Tiny Tree

Update: Congrats to our caption contest winners! Also, the tiny tree pattern is now available!

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If you’ve noticed a theme to this week of caption contests, you might have guessed that a tiny owl, a tiny fox, and a tiny hedgehog could use a tiny tree for a friend. You would be right!

Hurry up and give us your best tiny tree caption, because we’ll announce all of the caption contest winners later this afternoon, in conjunction with the release of the Tiny Woodland pattern collection. Keep it to one caption per person in the comments, please, then check back later for the winners and the patterns!

Tiny Hedgehog

Update: Congrats to our caption contest winners! Also, the tiny hedgehog pattern is now available as a PDF download and as a kit!

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It’s day three of our week of caption contests, and that means we’re just one day away from new tiny patterns!

Today this tiny hedgehog needs a caption, one that sums up what it means to be a tiny hedgehog in a way that is both adorable and profound. Or you can win us over with anything that rhymes with “hedgehog.”

Our favorite hedgehog caption (along with our favorite owl and fox captions) will be announced tomorrow, and the author will receive the new patterns for free!

As always, please keep your captions to one per person per post.