Category: Awesome Things

Let’s Knit a Ball Pit!

ANOTHER UPDATE! We have a printable flyer now available—you can download it via the Ravelry pattern page. This is an easy offline way to spread the word to your crafting communities. And we do thank you for helping spread the word!

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

UPDATE! I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve arranged to donate all of the balls to the American Foundation for Children with AIDS after Vogue Knitting LIVE. And we have a new sponsor to thank for helping make this project possible: the lovely yarn shop Cheers To Ewe! located in Huntersville, NC!

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:

Mochimochi Land
4044 N Lincoln Ave
Ste 407
Chicago, IL 60618-3038

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.

You can DOWNLOAD the pattern here: download now

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!

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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.

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.

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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.

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!

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!