Playing with Clay

Last year I blogged about trying wheel pottery for the first time in a class I was taking at the Lillstreet Arts Center in Chicago. It was very eye-opening to be a beginner at something again! I’ve got a small collection of ugly vessels around my apartment now, which have proved to be great for yogurt and also cat food (for the cats, not for me.)

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I’ve since moved on the handbuilding, which is definitely more my speed. After a day of typing and knitting, it feels so nice to get my hands into some clay and just push things around! I attempted a few slab cups and coil bowls early on, but I guess you can’t keep me from making creatures for too long, because when I started giving things eyes the ideas came much more quickly.

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This time I’m working with porcelain, not because I’m hoping to create anything fine, but because I figured it gave me the most options for surfaces, like starting with a blank canvas. But I still haven’t figured out what I like in terms of surfaces, so that’s why none of these guys are finished yet.

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I’m thinking these last guys could be nice all in white, and then making some out of different colors of clay to add to the mix could be neat too…

So I’m still really trying to figure out what I’m doing, but sometimes that’s a good feeling. If I ever get around to finishing something, I’ll share it here.

So that’s what I’m getting up to lately when I’m not knitting!

Adventure Time Crafts Winner

It’s time to choose a winner for our giveaway of Adventure Time Crafts: Flippin’ Adorable Stuff to Make from the Land of Ooo by Chelsea Bloxom!

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Last week I asked you all to leave a comment telling us your most adventurous crafting story, and I was delighted that 80 of you chimed in with stories of all kinds of challenging crafts and “make it work” moments! I’m just about to choose a winner, but first let’s look at one more cool spread from the book.

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How cute is that Peppermint Butler Pillow?!? So if you entered the giveaway and you don’t win, maybe you’re convinced that you need to buy the book anyway!

Now for our winner—Random.org will choose for us, and it chooses…

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Commenter number 11, Dibrotica Virgifera!

It’s not particularly adventurous but, when I learned how to crochet it was because my grandma got me Twinkie Chan’s book for Christmas, and I was already a knitter, but had never picked up a crochet hook. My first project was the cupcake scarf.
My boyfriend recently learned how to knit (from me :3 ) and his first big project was a Game of Thrones-inspired double-knit scarf. I think that makes him pretty badass.

Anybody who likes the designs of Twinkie Chan should enjoy Adventure Time Crafts, and vice versa, so I’m glad that we have a winner who will clearly appreciate this book!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway! And if crafty prizes get you excited, check out the details for the Mochimochi Photo Contest!

Adventure Time Crafts Giveaway

Update: Congrats to our winner!

Now that you’ve had the weekend to spend contemplating just how much you want those lotion bars from Milk+Honey and planning just how awesome your photo contest entry will be, I have a whole other cool giveaway for you today!

About a year ago, my editor, Caitlin Harpin, mentioned to me that she was working on a book full of Adventure Time-themed crafts. My first thought was how can I suddenly become the author of this book?, but Caitlin assured me that she was working with a very talented crafter who specializes in felt toys. A year later, I have Adventure Time Crafts: Flippin’ Adorable Stuff to Make from the Land of Ooo in my hands, and it’s way cooler than I imagined! And that author was none other than Chelsea Bloxsom of Love & A Sandwich! (Or, more specifically, the book was written by Princess Bonnibel Bubblegum with Chelsea Bloxom.)

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If you’re not familiar with Adventure Time, it’s a Cartoon Network show that’s in the genre of “sort of for kids but also really for adults.” Finn the human and Jake the dog get up to wild adventures in their magical land of Ooo, where adorable creatures can take on surreal and psychedelic aspects at any moment. It’s a must-see for anyone who likes cute and strange stuff—like me!

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Adventure Time a show that inspires its fans to get creative, so a craft book seems like a no-brainer. And Chelsea does such an excellent job of presenting a wide range of projects using different materials and skill levels that it seems like anyone can find something to make. My favorites are definitely the super cute felt projects!

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These crocheted cozies reminded me of the Great Cozy Debate we had here last year. (I think these confirm the “cozies are awesome!” side.)

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I am seriously tempted to photograph every page and share the whole thing, but just take my word that it’s all really awesome and cute.

Now for the giveaway! I have an extra copy of Adventure Time Crafts to send out to one lucky person. To enter, please leave one comment to this post telling us your most adventurous crafting story. Everyone worldwide can enter. I’ll choose a winner next Monday, November 17th!

Hearts for Play Africa

My friend Kristen (owner of the awesome plush/vinyl toy store Schmancy in Seattle) has started a multicraftual effort to support a new children’s museum that’s being planned for Johannesburg, South Africa. Read on to find out how you can help!

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Here is Kristen’s call to knitters, crocheters, and sewers:

My friend Gretchen is currently in the works to build the very first children’s museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is not only the first children’s museum in S. Africa but the first in Africa. The museum is to open on June 16th, 2016, 40 years after numerous children were brutally killed after protesting against the Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974. It’s an absolutely amazing project and I am so proud of her. Not long ago she was filmed in my apartment for a documentary about this undertaking. So much of her conversation was so inspiring, while also heartbreaking and sad. She described one woman having a hard time balancing life as a single mother saying she “just wanted more time for love”.
Seeing as South Africa prides itself on being a Rainbow Nation, an idea came to me while she was talking. I thought how amazing would it be if I could get people from around the globe to mail her hearts. 3″- 4″ hearts, in all the colors of the rainbow, that could be hung from the ceiling of the museum in garlands. After the installation they could be sold in the gift store to help raise money for the museum OR be given to the children that visit.

If you’d like to knit up some hearts for this cause, my free pattern for hearts would be great for this—just use a bulky yarn to get the larger size that is requested.

Visit Kristen’s original blog post for the details on sending your hearts, plus additional patterns for crocheted and sewn hearts.

Play is a really important concept to me, so I love this opportunity to contribute and help make Play Africa a success!

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!

The Family Monster

I think it’s time I introduced this this guy.

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He’s been a member of the family since I was a little kid, when my aunt Ruth Ann sent him for Christmas and I ran screaming from him. I was too creeped out by this furry creature with wild eyes and sharp teeth to believe that he had really been handmade for me, so he was kind of adopted by the whole family like an unpleasant but well-mannered pet. Most recently I found him waiting for me on the bed when I visited my parents two weeks ago.

Of course now I think it’s pretty awesome that I had an aunt who made a toy for me, especially since I’ve made a career of doing just that. Sadly my aunt Ruth Ann passed away before I even took up knitting, but I love that she shared her creativity with me early on, even if I didn’t appreciate it at the time. And now I get to make toys for my own niece—although I’m trying my best not to scare her with them!

What was the first handmade toy that someone gave you? I’d love to hear your stories!

Who’s Got the Button?

Remember these guys?

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I’ve been sending them out with physical purchases from the Mochimochi Shop for the past month or so, and I’ve also been giving them away at some recent NYC events. The response to these itty-bitty gnome buttons has been awesome!

So now I’m thinking that I should make more buttons with other tiny mochi characters, and have them available as a set of 4 in the shop. But which characters to buttonize?? I need your help!

Here are a few options that I’m kicking around…

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Any of these tickle your fancy? Or are there other tiny mochis that you’d like to see as a button? Please let me know in the comments!

Maybe we can make it a little more exciting too. If you are the first to list a particular four-character button combo, and if I end up making that exact set, you’ll get it for free once it’s ready! (That should be sometime before the end of the year.) Remember that you can suggest any tiny character I’ve ever designed—it doesn’t have to include the above guys (although it’ll probably definitely include the gnome).

I’d love your input—thanks!

Designing Mochimochi on Whipup

Kathreen of Whipup recently asked me to put together a guest post for her blog, for a series on designing knitting patterns. It’s always an honor to get a mention on Whipup, and guest posting is even better!

I had a new design in mind, so I thought it would be fun to take Whipup readers along as I worked on it, from sketch to finish.

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See more of this new Mochimochi design come together in the Whipup post! There are also other great entries to read in the guest designer series. (By the way, I promised a November release date for this guy, and that’s looking a little iffy now… I’ll do my best!)