2014 Mochimochi Highlights

As another busy year of Mochimochi Land comes to a close, let’s take a look back at some of the fun stuff that happened!

In January, I shared some inspirations and began a series of posts about my work and business.

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In February I shared some progress on my design for an arcade mochi, the Ann Arbor District Library started offering Mochimochi Land patterns as digital downloads to their cardholders, we got to see ice-skating giant squids

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…and two lumberjacks fell in love.

March was kind of unremarkable, but April brought inspiration in the form of View-Master dioramas.

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In May I interviewed Julie Lindsey of Happy Go Lucky Yarn, my photographer Brandi Simons ironed a wall, Super-Scary Mochimochi got published in Korean, and I came out with the pattern for my arcade machine—now known as Quarters!

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June started with the winners of our springtime photo series contest, the world got a knitted flying narwhal with an Italian name, and some tiny gnomes ended up in Nintendo concept art.

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In July I learned how to make pom-poms and the gnomes had a firecracker that was extremely slow to go off.

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We saw Soupy try out a mustache in August.

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In September I got busy wrapping a branch in yarn, you all came up with silly captions for tiny woodland creatures, and I set some gnomes free in NYC.

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In October the Chicago Tribune discovered Mochimochi Land, people hunted for pumpkins at VK LIVE, and an unexpected guest won the costume contest at the Halloween party.

I shared a mochi-fied Don Quixote in November, Soupy showed us how to make a cat bed in 4 easy steps, and we wondered what this bag from my Mother-in-law’s yarn stash was all about.

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December started with hat-wearing walruses, you all did some amazing things for our annual photo + video contest, and for the second year in a row, mochis could be seen on Nickelodeon all month long!

Anna Hrachovec for Nickelodeon: Holiday 2014 IDs from Anna Hrachovec on Vimeo.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we squeezed in some singing walruses just in time for Christmas.

I’d say that was a pretty good year in weird knitted toys. Thank you all so much for being a part of it! Here’s to another magical year together in 2015!

The Bulletin Board

As of Friday, I’m the proud owner of a new bulletin board!

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This is actually my first-ever bulletin board. I was getting tired of all the loose papers and other small things that I’m constantly shifting around on my desk (for like the past six years), and recently it dawned on me that I could mount all of this flotsam vertically on the wall. Obviously that hasn’t happened in full yet, but I’m mighty pleased with my progress. I have the notion that people with bulletin boards get stuff done and are never far from new inspiration, so there are a lot of high hopes contained in this piece of cork and wood.

Also, I’m not so experienced with drilling holes into walls, so getting this baby up was an exercise in using power tools. It turns out that drilling through drywall makes me feel like a real can-do lady.

We have tons more stuff that we still need to put on our walls—it’s been 9 months since we moved, so it seems like about time to get on that—but at least this is a start!

Peace

A couple months back my sister gave me this 1960s-era peace symbol magnet that she received at an event organized by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. It has an interesting story to go along with it, and with all the heartbreaking conflict going on in the world in recent days (and months, and forever) it seems like as appropriate a time as ever to share it.

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The following was printed on a card that came with the magnet.

After being released from an internment camp for Japanese Americans, Chiyoko and Goro Otagiri returned to Japan in 1947 to found the Otagiri Mercantile Co, which later produced these colorful, hopeful hand-made peace symbols as part of their housewares and giftware products. The symbols were shipped to San Francisco and then taken to showrooms in Los Angeles and Dallas. In 2011 a member of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship discovered 23 shipping crates of the peace symbols in the estate of the Dallas showroom manager. Coming from the only nation to have experienced nuclear weapons to the only nation to have used them, the peace symbols had never been opened.

Rediscovered unopened vintage products are always fascinating (especially when they’re from Japan), and this one is especially enigmatic to me since it was produced at a time when WWII was still in the very recent past, in a country that experienced some of the worst events of the war. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with it yet—it seems like a waste to just stick on my fridge—so it’ll stay on my desk for now, its bright orange color never letting me ignore it for too long.

You can learn more about the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, which was originally started in the 1940s as an organization that gave support to conscientious objectors to World War II, on their website.

Yoshi’s Wooly World Concept Art

If my Twitter feed is any indication, knitters and crocheters are pretty psyched about Yoshi’s Wooly World, the new game Nintendo just announced that’s coming out in 2015.

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Adorable, right?

This is the second yarn-themed Nintendo game in recent years (Kirby’s Epic Yarn came out in 2010), so I take this as a good sign that knitting and crochet still have a solid pop culture presence, and there is plenty of crossover between gaming and crafting. Awesome!

Just a few days after I first heard about Yoshi’s Wooly World, a couple of nice people on on Twitter let me know that a little piece of Mochimochi Land made an appearance in Nintendo’s public announcement about the game. When discussing the game’s development, the Nintendo presenter showed this image, among others.

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They added yarny Yoshis to Gnomes vs Snowmen! The photo looks like it came from my display at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago last year, so someone must have taken it from the event’s website.

I don’t have any more information than that, but I just had to share this fun discovery! It’s very cool to think that my art may have had some small influence on how the game designers envisioned the wooly world of Yoshi. I’m looking forward to playing the game next year!

Petit Lapin Love

If you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve been working on a new book (look for it in 2015!). I turned in the manuscript on Monday, and as much as I enjoy writing books, it felt like the last day of school. Freedom!

I celebrated by visiting Rotofugi, a designer toy store and gallery here in Chicago, where I was excited to find an exhibition of works by mr clement, one of my favorite artists and vinyl toy designers.

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mr clement is most well known for his rabbit character Petit Lapin, who appears in most of the pieces in the show. Lapin’s simple design makes him easy to fall in love with, but what I most love is the way his minimalism cuts both ways—it hides a darker side that peeks through in many of mr clement’s paintings and sculptures.

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Many of the paintings were sold, but I was really tempted by those that hadn’t. The show is up through June 14th, so I guess there’s still time!

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I also had the pleasure of hearing mr clement speak at last year’s Pictoplasma Festival in Berlin. It was fascinating how much the artist resembled his character in his modesty and shyness. Check out the show if you’re in Chicago! (You can also see all the pieces from the show on the Rotofugi website.)

Things Learned on the Set

Week one of my book photo shoot has been quite a whirlwind of knitting and photography and some strange decision making! Some of the things I’ve learned in the past 7 days:

• Sometimes the best thing to do is iron the wall.

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• Pipe cleaners have really come a long way since I was a kid, and I seriously have a whole new respect for them.

• In a pinch, a ball of yarn can be a pretty great reflector holder.

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• My dad is a hero. (But I already knew that.)

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• My photographer is a hero. (I knew that too!)

• Wrapping a plastic ferris wheel in yarn is harder than it sounds.

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• Even the cutest toys have to get ugly sometimes. For the sake of art.

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• It’s probably best not to start out a photo shoot with the most difficult shot in the entire book.

There’s plenty more work to do and I’m sure lots more to learn along the way. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for behind-the-scenes updates as we enter week two of the photo shoot!

Vintage View-Master Magic

Happy Friday, everyone! If you’re wondering where my Shop Talk posts went, I’m putting the series on hold for a bit while my design and knitting work is insane for the next few weeks. It will definitely return later with more tips and stories from my work as a designer!

Today I have wonderful vintage cuteness to share. Earlier this week, while I was in the middle of knitting dozens of characters and props for an upcoming photo shoot, I got some unexpected inspiration from the blog of Lance Cardinal, a set designer whose finely detailed models always blow me away. He had scanned TONS of vintage (1960s-’80s) View-Master reels featuring the coolest 3-D scenes of popular cartoons.

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Maybe I saw some of these as a kid, but either way I’m blown away by the style and level of detail in the carefully constructed scenes. Lance actually scanned each slide, so the complete stories are on his website. He’s also got a post with several photos taken on the sets of these stories.

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These are so amazing to me, I have to share more.

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OK, some are cuter than others. But I love the knitting in that one!

Seeing all these cool slides on Lance’s blog led me to find the a website called View-Master World, which introduced me to tons more weird vintage Vew-Master goodness, including this scene in which Barbie is climbing a pyramid in Egypt.

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This might sound kooky, but all of this was just the inspiration I needed this week. Back to knitting!