Joan Mochi-fied Us!

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!

joan_minime

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!!

Adventures In Mochimochi Land is Coming June 9th!

I’ve mentioned it here and there, but now it’s time for the official announcement: My next book comes out June 9th!

adventurescover

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!

adventures_ichigo

Close enough!

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.

adventures_storyboard

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!

Too Much Clover Juice

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

gnomeclover_sleep

Funky Fleece

There are many uses for wool in Mochimochi Land! (Too many, maybe.)

Made with help from Maureen Boyle. Funky music by William Steffey.

Our First Diplomat!

Could it be…?

gnomediplomacy_1stgnome1

Yes, our first gnome diplomat for Project Gnome Diplomacy has arrived!!

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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.

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(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!

Giant Gnome Update: Three Feet Tall

Previously: Project Giant Gnome

The cool thing about knitting a giant gnome is that at some point, you get to knit standing up!

giantgnome_standing

But most of the time I’ve been sitting.

giantgnome_sitting
(Thank you Audrey Peck for this photo!)

And now, giant gnome has a body!!

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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.

giantgnome_photoshop1

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.

giantgnome_underside

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!

Thanks again to Lion Brand for sponsoring the yarn for this project. And don’t forget to send me your tiny gnomes!!!

Looong Gnome!

Project Gnome Diplomacy

Update: 86 gnomes and counting as of April 1!

Update: Check out all the arriving gnomes on Instagram!

Earlier this week I shared the giant gnome that I’m working on for an upcoming art show in Seoul. Now I have an announcement about a group project for the same show that I hope all of you will take part in!

gnomediplomacy

Mochimochi Land is going to Korea in May, and we want YOUR tiny gnomes to be our ambassadors! In the spirit of craft and community, these gnomes will be unique creations gathered together in a delightfully diverse group of beards and hats for the public to see and be inspired by. They will be part of an art project for a Mochimochi Land show (running late May to late June) at Everyday Mooonday, a gallery in Seoul dedicated to character art.

Why gnomes? Gnomes are big players in Mochimochi Land—some even say that they’re the glue that holds Mochimochi Land together. And while gnomes are familiar characters to us in the West, they’re relatively unknown in Asia, so we want to introduce the idea of the gnome, which to us represents tradition, mystery, and playfulness. (Just like knitting!)

How you can participate:
• Knit or crochet or needle felt ANY gnome (see pattern links below) under 4” (10cm) tall
• Mail your gnome(s) to: Mochimochi Land, 4918 N Oakley Ave #2, Chicago, IL 60625
NOTE: Your gnome(s) MUST arrive by April 21st, 2015. Gnomes that arrive after this date may not be included in the project and will not be returned.
• If you’re in the Chicagoland area, stop by the Gnome Creation Station at YarnCon (April 18-19, 2015) – patterns, needles, yarn and stuffing will be provided!

Please Gnote: Your Gnome will not be returned to you, so be sure you have said a proper goodbye before sending him on his journey!

Gnome-approved patterns:
• Tiny gnome from Tiny Mochis Collection 3 (Pattern also appears in the Tiny Gnome Kit and Teeny Tiny Mochimochi) Get $3 off the pattern collection with code GNOMEDIPLOMACY through April 15th
Crochet Amigurumi Gnome (free)
Knitted Pocket Gnome (free)
Knitted Traveling Gnome (free)
Simply a Gnome (free)

There’s a prize!
Each gnome mailed in will be entered in a grand prize drawing for a “box of fun” from Seoul! (Please enclose your email address in the package to be entered.)

Check back for more information about the show and inside peeks at the preparation for it!