We saw cotton-candy roving wool…
And the world’s saddest photo contest…
(Actually the photos were really good—it was just the display that broke my heart.)
And we saw a sock knitting machine at work! Of course the most interesting thing was the thing that I forgot to take a picture of, but it looked like this:
It’s made by the Erlbacher Gearhart Knitting Machine Company, which is based in Missouri. Jim from Good Karma Farm showed us how it works, and we were mesmerized. I actually saw more than one of these at the festival, so it must be a popular choice among serious sock makers.
There was a brief moment when I fantasized about using such a machine to crank out hundreds of mochis for my next installation. But that dream died when I reminded myself about all the shaping that I do, and the tiny scale that I prefer, not to mention the price of the machine. But if I ever need to make a boatload of giant snakes, I know just what to get!
If you haven’t seen one before, here’s a demo video of a vintage machine at work.
Are you sock knitters tempted?
My dad is a hero. Any of you who have ordered kits from the Mochimochi Shop, or bought them at one of my retailers, have seen how I package the different colors of Cascade Heritage yarn, wound up on little bobbins.
You may not have known (but may have guessed) that for several years I’ve been winding each of these bobbins myself, by hand. Even though the kits require only a few yards of each color, those few yards add up to a lot of repetitive winding time!
In a way, the hand-winding can be kind of meditative, but it’s still really time consuming, and it requires some planning ahead so that I’m always ready for larger wholesale orders. To me, this was an inconvenience that I could live with, as long as my business didn’t grow too much. To my dad, though, it looked like an inefficiency problem that he could help with. So he did.
This is my beautiful custom-made Mark Hrachovec Yarn Winding Contraption. Instead of winding a skein of yarn from a hank into a ball, a la your typical yarn winder, it neatly winds a skein of yarn onto little paper bobbins using a hand crank, a couple of belts, and a clever bobbin clip. It has changed my kit-making life!
It’s a little hard to see in these photos, but before the yarn winds on the bobbin, it goes around a repurposed wine cork, which turns a yard-measuring device normally used for fishing line. Genius!
Now I can wind dozens of bobbins in the same time that it previously took me to wind fewer than ten. And because the yarn goes straight from the swift to the bobbin, the whole process is neater and more organized too.
My dad’s mechanical know-how comes from a lifetime working on motorcycles, airplane engines, various home projects, and clocks. (If you live in the Tulsa area and have a clock that needs repair, look him up!) I feel pretty lucky to have a father who is so generous with his creativity, skills, and time.
Love you Dad!
Last weekend I was invited to give a talk at the NYC Pictoplasma festival, an event that brings together creators and lovers of character art for talks and screenings. It was seven hours packed with inspiration and adorable characters. I thought I’d share some of the love today!
Julia Pott lives in Brooklyn like me, and she creates animals with gorgeous detail and subtle personalities.
This is a short animation that she screened during her talk—it’s actually a bit unsettling, but also beautiful and mysterious, and it combines live-action footage with animation.
You can buy cards and prints and more starring Julia’s sweater-wearing characters from her Etsy shop.
Gemma Correll from England is another awesome lady making illustrations of animals, but hers are hilarious cartoony journal-like meditations on life.
She also has some awesome stuff available to buy, and I think we should all buy it.
Another person I was super-excited to meet was Sonni, an Argentina-born illustrator and animator who used to work for Friends With You (one of my favorite character art companies) and now lives in Brooklyn. I love his recent work, but my all-time favorite project of his has to be the Hello Kitty x Wish Come True toys that he designed while at Friends With You.
I wish these were still available, but I’m quite sure they’re hard to find now. But Sonni also has a couple of prints available from his website.
And here’s a photo of me giving my talk! (I was all nerves, but I think it went pretty well.)
(Thanks, Arkadium Art!)
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
In my last post I included a photo of the Gnomes vs Snowmen battle that I showed at VK Live last year, which was originally a larger installation at NYC’s gallery hanahou in 2011. if you missed seeing it in person, today I’m bringing it right into your living room or office, with lifelike 3D photos!
Put your red and blue glasses on now.
Don’t have magic glasses? Well, it’s really worth a look if you can find some! Or just take my word for it that it’s like you’re in the midst of an epic gnome/snowman battle.
You can see non-3D photos of the show at my art website.
It’s been another great year here in Mochimochi Land! If you can believe it, 2012 was the sixth year of this blog and the sixth year of Mochimochi knits. The time has gone so quickly!
I’d like to wrap up 2012 with a quick look back at some of my favorite happenings on the blog. Here we go!
**Favorite New Patterns**
After two-plus years of knitting teeny-tiny stuff, I was excited to try designing something with a little more heft. I just love how he turned out!
Knitting a piano had been a lofty dream of mine for a long time, so it felt like a real accomplishment to finally figure out how to get the design just right. Now my holy grail of knitting is a refrigerator. Maybe someday….
**Favorite Mochimochi Mods**
This pair is an adorable mod with its elegant horticultural twists!
I’m in love with this little guy! This knitter added just the right details to make him unmistakably Napoleon.
**Favorite Crazy Fun Project**
I had way too much fun taking photos of the naughty gnomes who had moved into my apartment in the night…
**Favorite Animated GIF**
This one was hard to choose (I’ve made over 20 GIFs this year), but I’m going with this one because it included the first scene change that I’ve done. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I think it made a coherent story, and I love it.
**Favorite Tiny Mochi**
I didn’t make as many tiny mochis this year as I have in the past, but I know I’ll never be tired of them. This guy turned out pretty cute, and you can expect a pattern sometime in 2013!
**Favorite Cat Photo**
I love how my boys snuggle up so close one minute and then are duking it out for the top of the scratching post the next.
Hine has been a huge inspiration to me for a long time, and it was a pleasure to interview her and learn more about her story and her creative process.
**Favorite Random Cute Thing**
I can only dream of making an animated short like this someday!
Those were just a few things I’m excited about as I look back on this year. But more than anything, getting to know all of you through your comments and tweets and photos of your own Mochimochi knits, and especially by meeting you at events throughout the year, is really the best part for me. Thank you for being there and helping to spread hand-knitted happiness throughout the world! See you in 2013…