The Internet and How it Works!

I just spent more than 24 hours without the internet because a couple of things got unhooked somewhere by accident. It was crazy! It was like having the power go out or breaking an arm—so many tasks had to be re-learned. Anyway, I only mention it because in the middle of this crisis, we got a very timely package from my mother-in-law.

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It was an empty cereal box. Store brand Grape Nuts. But check out the back!

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It’s as if someone at Hannaford’s generic cereal division decided that people who eat generic Grape Nuts would like to be transported to the year 1996 as they’re eating breakfast, and then at least one other person approved of that idea and made it happen. It’s visually stunning, and the text is perfectly odd too. Here’s a closer look:

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It strikes me as especially weird because, even if this is meant for the few elderly people who still haven’t acquainted themselves with the internet, I’m thinking the information provided wouldn’t be particularly helpful to them. Except maybe for the emoticons key.

I honestly thought this was an ancient cereal box that Bonney unearthed in her pantry or craft room, but no! This box’s contents weren’t supposed to expire until December 2nd of this year.

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My new theory is that Hannaford outsources its cereal box content to someplace bizarre… but where? I really would like someone (who has more spare time than I) to get to the bottom of this.

By the way, we’re now back online and everything is going to be OK. Everyone hug your internet extra tight tonight!

The Mark Hrachovec Yarn Winder 2.0

As you may recall if you’re a regular reader, last year my dad custom made for me a life-changing yarn winding contraption for my kits. Over the holidays I casually mentioned to him that it would be nice to have a backup, and three months later yarn winder 2.0 arrived on my doorstep!

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Like the original, this one works like a charm, but it’s more compact and has little rubber thingies on the bottom so it won’t damage a table. Isn’t my dad the greatest?

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So now I have TWO awesome yarn-winding contraptions. I could use two hands and double my kit output! But really, it’s nice to have a backup for this tool that’s proved so essential to my work, and it gets me a step closer to possibly someday having someone else help me wind the yarn. (Could this finally be the year for an assistant??)

And where does all that wound yarn go? In my wound-yarn drawers, of course!

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This way, the yarn is all there and ready to go for made-to-order kits.

Three cheers for my dad, a legend in Mochimochi Land!

The Reject Bag

Have I mentioned that I’m working on a new book? I’m absolutely psyched about it, although I’m not psyched about having to keep all my recent design work under wraps. It’s so hard not to share!

But it occurred to me this morning that I can share my failures! Actually, that theme goes quite nicely with my post yesterday about being a beginner at a new craft—even though I’m far from a beginner at knitting, I still have plenty of false starts with my new designs. And for the first time I’m collecting all of those “rejects” in one place. It’s the reject bag!

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I know, such a small bag. I’m going to need a bigger bag soon. This is where I’m putting all of my samples that didn’t work out for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s because the design didn’t turn out how I wanted, and sometimes it’s just because I decided to use different colors for the final design. Would you like a peek inside?

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It strikes me as strange that I never put all of these seconds in one place before. Until recently, they were just scattered everywhere and shoved into random drawers. But I think it will be helpful to have them all collected together—I’m sure I’ll be referring back to these guys occasionally. And it’s just kind of nice to have a place to put the stuff that isn’t trash, and isn’t perfect either.

This makes me wonder what other people do with their failed projects. Do you collect yours somewhere, or just frog them as soon as possible?

Beginners

When was the last time you were a beginner at something?

I’ve been thinking a lot about being a beginner lately because I’ve been a beginner myself, in a wheel pottery class that I’m taking at the Lillstreet Arts Center. (I highly recommend it to those of you in Chicago!)

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Being a beginner at something can be exhilarating—it can feel like you’re entering a new world of possibilities! It can also be one of the most frustrating experiences, because there’s no shortcut to mastery, and it’s not fun to feel like you’re bad at something.

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Without a doubt, I am quite bad at making pots, even after 14 weeks of classes, plus hours more of extra studio time. Honestly, I’m at the bottom of my class as far as pot-making abilities go. Sometimes it gets me down when, covered in clay, I have to collapse yet another wobbly disaster and start over again. (This part of the process isn’t pictured, because I’m always too busy being frustrated to think to take a photo.)

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If I keep at it, though, maybe someday it will feel like less of a trial and I’ll more often get the results that I want. Beautiful pots for everyone! But even if that doesn’t ever happen, I think this experience of being a beginner is valuable. I think for a lot of us, once we’re out of school and in jobs we forget to learn completely new things, and we forget what it feels like to be a beginner. I’m convinced that it’s good exercise for your brain and for your body—I love that I’m learning to use my hands to make something in an entirely different manner than I do when knitting.

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And as someone who occasionally teaches knitting classes (although not beginners), I think it’s good for me to remind myself what it’s like to be on that side of the learning experience. I’m reminded that what’s important in a teacher isn’t encyclopedic knowledge or some kind of undefinable presence, but patience, good communication, and enthusiasm for the material.

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I’m also reminded of just how many years of practice it took for me to get to the level of knitting and designing that I’m currently at. I’m so glad I didn’t give up when I was still a beginner!

Shop Talk: Product Photography

Ever wonder how I take those background-free photos of my toys for my patterns and shop page? It’s today’s Shop Talk topic!

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This is going to be an image-heavy post, so click to read on… More >

Hunt for Footballs at VK LIVE this Weekend

Going to Vogue Knitting LIVE in Seattle this weekend? Keep an eye out for mini footballs on Sunday!

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Ten of these footballs (five in classic “pigskin” brown, five in Seahawks colors) will be hidden all around the marketplace, and the ten people who hunt them down will each receive a free copy of my book Huge & Huggable Mochimochi!

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They can also keep the footballs.

If you’re not familiar with Vogue Knitting LIVE, it’s an incredible weekend of classes, talks, panels, tons of shopping, and knitted art like you’ve never seen before. I’m sorry to be missing it, even though my absence is for a good cause: I’m working on a new book! I’m happy that at least I’ll be there in spirit with the football hunt. And if you’re going to the Chicago show in October, I’ll see you there.

The tiny football pattern can be found in my Tiny Fall collection. (Winter may be just ending, but it’ll probably be football season again before we know it!)

Fresh Air

The warmer weather this week is one reason that the blog has been a little quiet. Yesterday this happened for the first time this year!

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Not only are Soupy and Nipsey excited to smell the fresh air, it’s like they’re getting to smell their new Chicago neighborhood for the first time, since it’s been mostly very cold since we moved here. Hooray for spring!

Bonus bathtub shot with Nipsey!

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Name That Game

I thought about keeping this guy under wraps until the pattern is ready, but it’s been such a long journey getting to the final design, I just have to share a preview!

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You guys, I am PSYCHED at how he came out. For what it’s worth, this is my favorite mochi yet. (I guess that’s not actually worth very much, since my latest design is always my favorite…but still!)

Quite a lot needs to get done before we will have reached a final pattern, but there’s no reason to drag out the process, so rest assured that I’m on it, and there will be a pattern before long. However, somehow this arcade game mochi is still nameless! Would you like to name him? Leave your suggestions in the comments—if I choose yours, you can expect to get the pattern for free when it’s ready! (No guarantee that I’ll for sure use a name suggested in the comments…but maybe!)