Category: Awesome Things

Love is 2,000+ knit and crocheted balls

Final ball count: 2,383!

The Knit Ball Pit accomplished its first mission at Vogue Knitting LIVE in NYC last weekend: serving soft, squishy, massage-y experiences to all who ventured to enter it! We had many takers of all ages—check out all the #knitballpit posts for more photos and videos of this interactive exhibit. 


Anna with Tanya Weaver of AFCA

After a thorough cleaning, the balls will go on to their next adventure with the American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA). Tanya Weaver, founder of AFCA, visited the ball pit herself and shared more about the amazing work her organization is doing in Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Uganda. AFCA will use the balls as packing materials when they send medical supplies to their partner hospitals (we love this!), and the balls will be distributed to kids receiving treatment for HIV and to AIDS orphans throughout this year and beyond.

To those of you who sent in balls from all over the world, thank you for making this project such a success! If you didn’t have a chance to participate and would still like to contribute, you can donate funds directly to AFCA, or you can organize another group knitting project directly through them. (See contact info on their website.)


Tiny Ladianne, Gayle, Louis, Cecilia, and Kristy

Further big thanks go to Ladianne Henderson of Cheers To Ewe!, who connected us with AFCA and helped make this project possible. And thank you to Kristy Glass, Gaye Glasspie (@ggmadeit), Cecilia Nelson-Hurt (@creativececi), Louis Boria (@brooklynboyknits), and to everyone else who helped spread the word and organized knit-togethers. And thank you to Vogue Knitting LIVE!

This project was a success beyond my wildest expectations—it’s truly magical what knitters and crocheters can do when we put our needles to work together. I would love to do another group project again in the future, whether with a charity connection or just for fun and happiness-spreading, but first I want to take some time to celebrate this one and recover. Because of all the energy and organization (very worthwile!) that this project took, I’m probably going to hold off on doing a photo and video contest this year, but will probably bring it back in 2020. In the meantime, I’ve got lots of other fun stuff planned for the rest of 2019, so please stay tuned!

Knitting Swift from Nick Jr’s Top Wing

I recently got to work with Nick Jr to make little knit versions of the characters from their series Top Wing!

This was my first time knitting an entire project on camera. I was actually sweating bullets throughout, even though I knew it would be sped up and wouldn’t really matter if I made a mistake.

This video shows me knitting Swift—figuring out how to do the color work on his head was the biggest challenge. I got to knit all four main characters, so there are more of these to coming to Nick Jr’s social media!

Let’s Knit a Ball Pit!

FINAL BALL COUNT: 2,383!!! PROJECT RECAP HERE!

JANUARY UPDATE! We have 1650 balls in the knit ball pit and it’s still growing! If you’d like to contribute, at this point I’d like to encourage you to donate funds directly to the American Foundation for Children with AIDS if you are able. And any future group projects will be announced here, on the newsletter, and on Instagram! Thank you for the balls, everyone!

UPDATE! Check out a chat with me and Tanya Weaver of AFCAids with the ladies of Cheers to Ewe on their Facebook Live show!

I said in my last post that it would be fun to do a big crazy group project, so…

Mochimochi Land is going to Vogue Knitting LIVE in NYC this January, and we want to make a splash with a whole ball pit full of knitted mochimochi balls!

After Vogue Knitting LIVE, the balls will be donated to the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, who will send them to kids in Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. (More on that here!)

To make this squishy cuddly fun possible, we need YOUR help: Please join us in knitting hundreds of colorful character balls! Follow the pattern below (there’s a circular and a flat version) to make as many balls as you can contribute, and mail them to this address by January 3rd, 2019:

[I’ve removed the address to avoid confusion—this project is complete!]

If your package comes from somewhere outside the US, we want to thank you for your extra effort, so please include your email address for a discount code to the Mochimochi Shop!

(If you’re coming to Vogue Knitting LIVE NYC in person, you can also just bring your character balls with you!)

A big thank-you to our sponsor, Cheers To Ewe!

Things you’ll need

Yarn: Use any weight of colorful yarn! It can be variegated or have a funky texture or whatever, but we do want to keep it bright and happy. You’ll need less than 10 yards of yarn for one ball. (This is a great project for using up yarn scraps!) You’ll also need a small amount of contrasting-color yarn for eyes.

Needles: Use a needle that is small enough so that stuffing won’t show through the gaps between the stitches. (We recommend using size 5 US (3.75mm) needles with worsted-weight yarn, for example.)

Stuffing: We recommend polyester fiberfill, but stuffing can be anything lightweight, including yarn scraps.

You’ll also need a tapestry needle and scissors.

Please read!

• We want characters! Please make your ball into a character by embroidering eyes onto it! Don’t worry about doing it perfectly—wonky stitching just adds to your ball’s uniqueness and specialness.
• You can add details like arms, legs, hair, ears, etc by adding embellishments like I-cords. Make sure this is all attached—characters should have no loose parts, and nothing so big or dangly that it would tangle up our ball-pit fun.
• We want the ball pit to be totally soft, so no hard components, please. (No plastic eyes.)
• Crocheters are welcome to participate! There are several free ball patterns on Ravelry, like this one.
• We’re unable to return submissions once they’re incorporated into the ball pit, so your characters will be taking up permanent residence in Mochimochi Land. Make sure you say a proper goodbye before sending them off!
Please tag your character balls with #knitballpit —I’ll also be sharing submissions and updates and other fun stuff using that hashtag.

Mochimochi Ball (circular version)

Cast on 6 stitches and distribute them onto a circular needle or 3 double-pointed needles to work in a round.
Rnd 1: [Kfb] 6 times (12 sts).
Rnd 2: Knit.
Rnd 3: [Kfb] 12 times (24 sts).
Rnd 4: Knit.
Rnd 5: [Kfb, k3] 6 times (30 sts).
Rnds 6-16: Knit (11 rnds).
Rnd 17: [K2tog, k3] 6 times (24 sts).
Rnd 18: Knit.
Rnd 19: [K2tog] 12 times (12 sts).
Rnd 20: Knit.
Stuff the piece.
Rnd 21: [K2tog] 6 times (6 sts).
Break the yarn and draw it tightly through the stitches with a tapestry needle.
Weave in the loose ends.

With a contrasting color yarn, embroider eyes and any other features you like (a nose! a smile! some hair!).

Mochimochi Ball (flat version)

Cast on 8 stitches onto one needle using the backward loop method.
Row 1: k1, [kfb] 6 times, k1 (14 sts).
Row 2: Purl.
Row 3: K1, [kfb] 12 times, k1 (26 sts).
Row 4: Purl.
Row 5: K1, [kfb, k3] 6 times, k1 (32 sts).
Rows 6-16: Beginning with a purl stitch, work 11 rows of stockinette stitch.
Row 17: K1, [k2tog, k3] 6 times, k1 (26 sts).
Row 18: Purl.
Row 19: K1, [k2tog] 12 times, k1 (14 sts).
Row 20: Purl.
Row 21: [K2tog] 7 times (7 sts).
Break the yarn, leaving a tail of about 6 inches (15cm). and draw it tightly through the stitches, from right to left on the knit side of the piece, with a tapestry needle.

With the knit side facing out, use the tail you left on the piece to stitch together the seam. Use mattress stitch, making vertical stitches on the outside of the piece. Stuff the piece before finishing the seam. Then pull the yarn tightly to make the seam disappear.

Weave in the loose ends.

With a contrasting color yarn, embroider eyes and any other features you like (a nose! a smile! some hair!).

We can’t wait to receive all your squishy happy mochimochi balls!

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!

quarters_announce1

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.

yoshi

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

firecracker500

We saw Soupy try out a mustache in August.

soupy_mustache

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.

pc14_bonney3

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!

bulletin

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.

peace

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.

yoshi2

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.

yoshi

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!