Category: Events

Let’s Knit a Ball Pit!

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!

Photos from Stop-motion Workshops at ELA Area Library

I had a blast doing stop-motion animation workshops at the ELA Public Library this month!

It was inspiring to see all different ideas and stories develop in an afternoon. We had tons of crafty materials on hand, and everything from pom-poms to play-doh to 3D printed figurines got moving through pictures.

I hope these creators keep making movies. (Anybody can do it with free apps like Stop Motion Studio!)

Thank you to Becca Boland for making this happen!

Stop-motion workshops in Lake Zurich, IL July 14 + 28

If you live near the Chicago area and would like to try stop-motion animation with me as your guide, now is your chance! I’ll be leading workshops at the Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich on July 14th and 28th. See the library website for more information and to sign up! Total beginners of all ages are welcome!

(Thank you to Erin Helmrich of the Ann Arbor District Library for the photo!)

Thank You for Another Great VK LIVE

I just enjoyed a long weekend at Vogue Knitting LIVE Chicago! It’s been over two years since the last one here, and also over two years since Mochimochi Land was unfurled in public.

I was lucky enough to be placed near a ramp entrance to the marketplace, so I got this nice overhead shot thanks to that!

Many new mochis and scenarios joined the world, and this time I focused on referencing some of my animations within it. I hope people had fun checking it out—I think it was the most detailed version ever!

For most people, VK LIVE is about classes, lectures, and shopping for yarn. For me, it’s mostly about sharing Mochimochi Land and seeing knitters face-to-face for a change! On Sunday, these lovely faces found four-leaf clovers and let me take their picture.

Yes, there are only seven people, because three clovers went rogue! I hope they are bringing luck to whoever now has them.

With my limited extra time, I chatted with Nicky Epstein, picked up yarn from Handspun Hope, and got acquainted with the Committed Knitters, who knit with women in the Cook County Jail.

Thank you to the VK LIVE people and to everyone who came out and said hi!

Ann Arbor Stop-Motion Workshop Recap

Last month it was my pleasure to lead a stop-motion animation workshop at the Ann Arbor District Library. This was my first time trying such a workshop, and I was lucky enough to have a big group of enthusiastic would-be animators of all ages attend. (I could tell from the start that they would be jumping right in, because it was a beautiful July Saturday in this beautiful college town, and they had chosen to spend the afternoon in a basement with me!)

After a presentation of my various animation projects, along with some examples of approaches that were very different from mine, everyone broke up into teams to make their own animations. The library supplied iPod Touches loaded with the Stop Motion Studio app (yes, this is the coolest library, and it’s totally worth becoming a card holder even if you don’t live in the area), and they also had plenty of models and craft supplies for people to use. Many participants came with their own materials, from paper to Legos to knitted mochis!

As people finished up their short animations, we gathered around the devices to see the results, and I was impressed by just how different everyone’s projects were. The animations were both narrative and non-narrative, things shot overhead and against the wall, scenes with backgrounds and at least one that incorporated a self-portrait.

A couple of people have shared their results with me—here’s a short one starring knitted patriots that Sara made.

And here’s a cool origami animation shared by a participant named Kevin—he made this after the workshop, based on what he experimented with at the library.

Is it bad to say that this was way more fun than teaching a knitting class? Well, fortunately knitting and animating are not mutually exclusive activities. I do hope to have the opportunity to do this again soon at another venue.

Thank you to Erin at the Ann Arbor District Library and to everyone who came to the workshop!

July 1 Stop-Motion Animation Workshop in Ann Arbor

People of Ann Arbor, come take a stop-motion animation workshop with me on July 1st at the Ann Arbor District Library!


The workshop is 2-5pm and is open to everyone from 6th graders to adults. I’m going to talk about a bit of my animation work, and then we’ll all try our hand at making fun animations together as teams. We’re going to use a free mobile app, so that means you can take your skills home with you and continue making more animations on your own if you like.

Get the details at addl.org.

Hope to see you there!