Mochimochi Land News

Ack! Tiny Alpaca!

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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?

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Pretty tiny.

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:

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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!

Adventures In Mochimochi Land is Coming June 9th!

I’ve mentioned it here and there, but now it’s time for the official announcement: My next book comes out June 9th!

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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!

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Close enough!

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.

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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!

Project Gnome Diplomacy

Update: Thank you, everyone, for all the gnomes! I haven’t yet tallied them all up, but I’ll share the total when I do so. If you missed the deadline for this project, there will likely be another opportunity soon to participate in a similar project.

Update: 86 gnomes and counting as of April 1!

Update: Check out all the arriving gnomes on Instagram!

Earlier this week I shared the giant gnome that I’m working on for an upcoming art show in Seoul. Now I have an announcement about a group project for the same show that I hope all of you will take part in!

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Mochimochi Land is going to Korea in May, and we want YOUR tiny gnomes to be our ambassadors! In the spirit of craft and community, these gnomes will be unique creations gathered together in a delightfully diverse group of beards and hats for the public to see and be inspired by. They will be part of an art project for a Mochimochi Land show (running late May to late June) at Everyday Mooonday, a gallery in Seoul dedicated to character art.

Why gnomes? Gnomes are big players in Mochimochi Land—some even say that they’re the glue that holds Mochimochi Land together. And while gnomes are familiar characters to us in the West, they’re relatively unknown in Asia, so we want to introduce the idea of the gnome, which to us represents tradition, mystery, and playfulness. (Just like knitting!)

How you can participate:
• Knit or crochet or needle felt ANY gnome (see pattern links below) under 4” (10cm) tall
• Mail your gnome(s) to: Mochimochi Land [address hidden]
NOTE: Your gnome(s) MUST arrive by April 21st, 2015. Gnomes that arrive after this date may not be included in the project and will not be returned.
• If you’re in the Chicagoland area, stop by the Gnome Creation Station at YarnCon (April 18-19, 2015) – patterns, needles, yarn and stuffing will be provided!

Please Gnote: Your Gnome will not be returned to you, so be sure you have said a proper goodbye before sending him on his journey!

Gnome-approved patterns:
• Tiny gnome from Tiny Mochis Collection 3 (Pattern also appears in the Tiny Gnome Kit and Teeny Tiny Mochimochi) Get $3 off the pattern collection with code GNOMEDIPLOMACY through April 15th
Crochet Amigurumi Gnome (free)
Knitted Pocket Gnome (free)
Knitted Traveling Gnome (free)
Simply a Gnome (free)

There’s a prize!
Each gnome mailed in will be entered in a grand prize drawing for a “box of fun” from Seoul! (Please enclose your email address in the package to be entered.)

Check back for more information about the show and inside peeks at the preparation for it!

Project Giant Gnome

The other day a big box arrived straight from Lion Brand!

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In the big box was big squishy yarn in a combination of colors that suggest a gnome. A very large gnome.

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I can’t resist a big crazy project that pushes my knitting in new directions, so this week I find myself knitting the biggest gnome I’ve ever attempted—really, the biggest anything I’ve ever attempted. Motivating me is the gnome’s destination: a solo show this May at Everyday Mooonday gallery in Seoul, South Korea! (Official show information coming soon.)

I may have knitted some unusual things, but there’s something about knitting the biggest thing ever that has me feeling like I’m in over my head. Luckily, the nice people at Lion Brand offer really thick yarn in perfect gnomey colors, so I can maximize my giant gnome knitting time, and they were even cool enough to sponsor the yarn for this project. Thank you Lion Brand!

The yarns I’m using with a size 10.5US (6.5mm) needle:
Pants: Hometown USA in Las Vegas Gold 170
Shirt: Hometown USA in Charlotte Blue 107 and Forth Worth Blue 109
Face and hands: Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Blossom 103
Hat: Hometown USA in Cincinnati Red 113
Beard: Hometown USA in Houston Cream 098

This was going to be a blog post just about planning the project and getting the yarn, but I can’t lie—I started knitting on Friday, and I’m happy to say it’s going more quickly than I had expected.

Here’s my minimal sketch and vague numbers (The only kind of numbers I’m really comfortable working with).

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The cast on.

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Giant gnome pants, stuffed with all the soft things that were in reach of my desk.

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And the shirt is now happening.

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I think Jumbo Gnome is not entirely convinced that this is going to work out as we’ve planned. Try trusting me, Jumbo Gnome! (But yes, it’s constantly at the back of my mind that I’m doing something wrong and I’ll have to rip it all out and start again.)

I’ll continue to blog my progress on this, so check back soon for updates.

There is a lot of other stuff going into this show, including a project that I hope you all will participate in—stay tuned for that announcement next!

Mochimochi Land is Coming to VK LIVE Pasadena

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Exciting news: Mochimochi Land will be coming to Vogue Knitting LIVE in Pasadena in April!

The mochis and I will be in the art gallery (in or near the marketplace) all weekend long April 17-19 at the Pasadena Convention Center. Stop by to say hi and see a piece of Mochimochi Land in person—including a sneak preview of some of the creatures from my next book! And if you like, you can also bring a tiny mochi (3″ tall or smaller) to come live in Mochimochi Land.

I’ll be there hanging out, knitting, and selling my books and a selection of kits.

Plus! On Sunday there will be a hunt for tiny roses all through the marketplace.

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Of course, I hope tiny roses will be all over the place (knit yours from my free pattern and wear it proudly!), but everyone who finds a tiny Pasadena rose with a special tag will win a copy of Huge & Huggable Mochimochi.

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VK LIVE offers so much more—check out all the classes and other goings-on at their website.

I’ll see you and your roses in Pasadena!