Move over tiny sheep, there’s a new tiny fiber animal in Mochimochi Land! (Just kidding, sheep, you can stay.)
Tiny alpaca have arrived in pattern form just in time for Easter or your springtime celebration of choice!
Just how tiny are tiny alpaca?
This pattern incorporates short rows (using the wrap & turn method) to get that perfectly alpaca shape, plus an inside-out technique for a purl-tastic coat with no purling required. Other techniques include I-cord and picking up stitches. All that, and you can still finish in a couple of hours!
Short rows can be an intimidating prospect if you’ve never tried them before, but they really are very simple. The Purl Bee has a clear tutorial, which might be where I learned it to begin with myself.
I find that the hardest part of short rows is just keeping track of where you are, and not losing count. This isn’t such a big deal with a small project like tiny alpaca—just don’t stop partway through doing a set of short rows to check your email, like I did. You will lose track!
As with the tiny sheep, I felt that the stakes were high with this pattern, because knitters know an alpaca when they see one. And even though short rows are pretty easy to do, I don’t totally know what I’m doing when I incorporate them in a design, so it took a few tries before I got it right. My imperfect practice alpaca:
Neck is too thick and bowed on the bottom one, neck is too skinny and weak on the top one. (But they’re beautiful in their own unique legless way, of course!)
The one thing I was certain of when I designed these guys was that I wanted to use alpaca yarn to make them. My LYS Windy Knitty came through with fingering-weight Titus by baa ram ewe, which worked great in combination with Cascade Heritage for the face and legs. Titus is not an inexpensive yarn, but if you’re really into alpaca you can make 40 or 50 alpaca with one skein, so that’s a bargain. And of course, any basic fingering-weight yarn will work great for this pattern—and you don’t even have to use fingering-weight yarn, for that matter. All tiny patterns can scale up!
I’m hoping we’ll have an animation starring tiny alpaca one of these days. For now, you can purchase the pattern as a PDF download from the Mochimochi Shop!
As of April 1st, we’ve received a total of 86 gnomes for Project Gnome Diplomacy!
I’m feeling a bit like an April fool myself today, because I had these delightful Euro candies all ready to send out to anyone whose gnome arrived today…
…and then no gnomes showed up! Silly gnomes. So the candies will go to the next three people whose gnomes arrive.
These little guys of all shapes, sizes and colors are headed for Korea next month to be a part of a Mochimochi Land art show. You have until April 21st to send us your gnomes—find out more about this project here. And keep an eye on Instagram for gnome updates whenever we have new arrivals!
Update: The tiny alpaca pattern is now available!
Thank you for all the fantastic tiny alpaca tongue twisters over the weekend! I was reading them all aloud this morning and cracking myself up at just how bad I was at it.
It turns out that alpacas are not very good at tongue twisters themselves, or at the game of Twister, for that matter.
I guess we should have gone over the rules one more time before getting started with this photo op.
It was impossible to choose a single favorite tongue twister, but John and I managed to narrow it down to three favorites. Quick, say each of these three times fast!
Black alpaca packs pack lacquer plaques.
Alvin alpaca alleged Albert alpaca altered the alpine alfalfa.
And finally, from Stitchpunk:
Pink and purple polka-dotted packs perched prettily on alpaca backs, while lazy llamas lolloped and laughed loquaciously!
Each of these clever twisters of tongues wins the tiny alpaca pattern. (Check your inboxes, winners!) The pattern will be in wide release a bit later this week, yay!
Thanks again to everyone who participated in our action-packed alpaca match!
Update: Congratulations to our tongue-twisting winners!
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!