Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mochimochi Land Interview and Giveaway

This winter I had the pleasure of meeting Anna of Mochimochi Land. If you don't know of Mochimochi Land yet, where have you been? Anna makes some of the most cleverly cute knitted creatures I have seen to date. From Tubby, to the Luvgun to Pepto, she has something for everyone. The best part is, for $5.00 you can get one of her patterns and make one of your very own and occassionally she has a FREE pattern up on her blog. And what's even better than that is if you leave a comment here you have the chance to win a $15.00 gift certificate to Mochimochi Land! I will be meeting up with Anna again in NYC in a few weeks so I think we will choose the winner on March 31st.



S- How long have you been knitting and when did you start designing your own toys?

MmL- I first learned to knit in high school, but I really picked it up again about five years ago in college, when I met my then-boyfriend, now-husband's mom, Bonney. She is an expert knitter, and encouraged me to try all kinds of projects. She also gave me tons of free yarn from her gigantic stash, so I couldn't refuse!

The first knitted toy that I made was my own design -- it was in late 2006, when my coworkers and I were getting ready to open our new gallery. The gallery logo looks a little creature-like, so I thought it would be fun to make toy versions of it to give as gifts to my coworkers. They were so much fun to make (and so well received), that I soon had a shelf full of all kinds of knitted toys.



S- How long does it usually take you to come up with a new design? What's your process?

MmL- The longest part of my design process is coming up with an idea. I like for each of my toys to have something a little unexpected about it, and good ideas are not always forthcoming.

When I finally do come up with a concept, and it seems do-able, the actual making of the toy design doesn't usually take me so much time -- anywhere from an evening to a week or so. I do a combination of writing out a pattern in advance and writing things down as I improvise. I often have to rip everything out and start again a few times, but since all of my toys are relatively small, that's not so heartbreaking.



S- I know you have at least one job, working at Gallery Hanahou, do you have any other jobs or do you get to spend the rest of your time concentrating on Mochimochi Land?

MmL- Working at gallery hanahou and CWC-i (the illustration agency that produces the gallery) is my only job. I used to work there full-time, but I started working part-time in early 2007 so that I could have a good amount of time to devote to Mochimochi Land. Not because I had a very specific plan for Mochimochi Land, but because I was excited to see where it could go with some dedication. I'm really happy with the way I divide up my days now -- I think I have a very good balance of the gallery and Mochimochi Land. And the two are also mutually inspiring!



S- You launched Mochimochi Land a little over a year ago now. What have been some of your fondest moments since you began?

MmL- I have so many great memories already! Probably the best ones have to do with the amazing photos knitters have sent me of their finished Mochimochi Land toys. I held a photo contest last year in my Flickr group, and I received the funniest, most adorable, most artistic entries, all featuring toys people had made from my patterns. I'm definitely going to hold another contest this year.

Another wonderful memory was the day that I tentatively stepped into a yarn store in Tulsa called Loops to introduce myself. I was visiting my parents in Oklahoma over the holidays, and on a day when there wasn't much going on, I decided to meet the staff at Loops and let them know that I make patterns for toys. When I mentioned my website to them, all of them instantly knew who I was, and they gave me the warmest welcome ever! One of ladies there had just bought a pattern off my site, and she asked me to autograph it. I couldn't believe it. Now I have plans to teach a class at Loops in June, with a new pattern that I made with them in mind.



S- Unfortunately part of being an artists is that you have to promote yourself and be a business woman. How do you approach these aspects of your art?

MmL- I think I've had a lot of luck with getting my patterns exposed to the right people without doing so much promotion, largely because the online knitting community is very supportive and sharing, so once I caught the attention of a few people, word of mouth really worked for me. I've also found that Flickr and Ravelry (a new-ish networking site for knitters and crocheters) are very helpful in helping more people to find my work.

The business aspect of my work is also pretty simple, at least for now. Because most of my sales are of pdf patterns, I have virtually no overhead, which is great. However, I'm starting to sell more printed patterns at wholesale, and I'm also contemplating selling kits for my patterns, which will mean a little more budgeting. But that aspect of a craft business is also a little exciting to me at the same time.



S- I have seen so many patterns being sold for great prices on etsy and other sites such as your own, obviously. How often do you try to update your patterns and site?

MmL- Lately, I've been trying to update my website with a new pattern about once a month. Maybe that doesn't sound like so often, but it usually takes at least a month to get a pattern tested by a few people, so I have to plan ahead, which isn't easy! I also try to update my blog a few times a week.



S- I have to ask about your Martha Stewart appearance. How did that come about and what was it like?

MmL- That was the craziest thing! My mother-in-law Bonney signed us up to be in the audience for the taping of Martha's "knitwear" show, and they had asked all of the audience members to bring something they'd made. Before they brought us into the studio, they looked over everyone's creations, and picked mine out along with some others to be on the show. The actual moment of talking to Martha on her show was kind of a blur (you can see it on my blog), but the coolest thing about the whole experience was meeting the other knitters in the audience, along with Martha's production crew, who were all super nice and complimented me on my designs.



S- Gallery Hanahou had the Luvable and Hugable show several months ago and has really amazing art shows to boot. Were you very implemental in having the plush show? What is your job at this gallery?

MmL- The original "Luv-able and Hug-able" show was held in 2006 at Gallery LELE in Tokyo, which is also produced by the CWC Group. I didn't have anything to do with the organization of it, but they let me put some of my toys in the first show in Tokyo and also the recent one at gallery hanahou, which was awesome. Both shows were big successes, so we're planning to do the show annually now.

At gallery hanahou, my job is mostly pr-related -- I write our press releases and the copy for our invites and websites, among other things.



S- What are your goals for Mochimochi Land this year?

MmL- Since so much of my interaction with knitters is over the web, I'd like to start doing some in-person events and workshops for people to get together and knit Mochimochi Land toys. Maybe some pattern debut parties? I haven't started organizing anything yet, but that would probably happen in New York, where I live. I'm also starting to put together some ideas for a possible book of patterns, though I don't have a publisher yet.

I'm also thrilled to be participating in Plush You again this year along with the show at Double Punch. It's a lot of fun to make some more complex, one-of-a-kind pieces, and that way my toys can reach some non-knitters as well.



S- Any other exciting news you might like to share with us?

MmL- I just released a new pattern on my website for Butterfull, the world's fattest butterfly! He comes with a pattern for dead flowers (whom he's inadvertently squished), and he's been well received already.



Thanks Anna for the awesome interview! Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a $15.00 gift certificate to Mochimochi Land!

44 comments:

pomly said...

I just bought the Butterfull pattern! Love him! Count me in for the drawing! :)

TankGirl said...

Anna is great.
I'm still a newbie but I've already bought some Mochimochi patterns: they're very cute!!!
Have a nice day!
Rossella

karrie said...

My love for Mochimochi patterns grows every day! I am in love with the slugs I made the other day. I've been carrying them around in my pocket showing them to everyone!

Kounting Sheep said...

I love Anna and Mochimochi Land!!! I found her through Knitty when her pattern for Woodins was published and I have fallen in love with all of the toys she has designed and have visited her blog daily ever since.

I've made Sleepy Snake with Mischievous Mouse, Grass, Reindeer, and I'm currently test knitting a pattern for her that I absolutely love! I want to make all of her designs and she is a great inspiration for aspiring designers. Thanks Anna!

Nyx said...
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Nyx said...

I love the way she creates such cute patterns. They are well designed and I wish her all the best with her business! Though I am sure she doesnt need it :D

My favoritea are the bathtub, the sheep + haystack and the hungry snake :D

apocaknits said...

Thanks so much for the interview, I love Anna's designs. Hopefully she gets a sweet book deal!

Ren said...

oooh, i cam over here from MmL and i would love to win a gift certificate to Anna's store! her designs are just so adorable. : )

Sheri said...

I am awed by Anna's creative ability! Everything is so adorable and well thought out. Everyone has loved all the MochiMochiLand patterns I have knit and I really get a kick out of telling someone I'm knitting a white picket fence or a slug. :)

BTW, the link to Ravelry in the interview is not working... :(

Sharon Hurlbut said...

What a great interview! I love learning more about Anna and how she comes up with her fantastic designs. Thank you!

Brayden's Mom said...

Mochimochi Land ROCKS! I read Anna's blog (and yours) everyday! I want to win! ;o)

Suzi said...

I love Anna's designs also!! She's very creative - love her sense of humor. Thanks for the interview-
Suzi

Stellina said...

I have been a Mochi-Mochi fan for quite some time now.

Please count me in for the drawing :)

Thank you!

Stellina

Carry said...

I bought Butterfull two days ago and was finally compelled to get Tubby too (why buy one pattern when you can buy two?)! I am slowly adding to my Anna collection.

I love Anna's patterns and would really love it if she made her way over to the West Coast for some classes/presentations/whatever. And a book? Maybe a book someday? I would buy it even after already having the patterns. :)

Thanks for the great interview!

nahbois said...
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nahbois said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nahbois said...

Please count me in for a give-a-way....YAY!

Jay said...

That was a great interview! Thanks so much. I'd love to win the gift certificate...I'm still pretty new with the knitting, but the Mochimochi Land stuff is soooo adorable!
Thanks!
jay

javede said...

I've been eyeing her patterns for so long, they are just awesome! I recently got a friend to send me the latest Craft magazine issue specifically for the chicken/egg pattern!!!
So I would really love to win the gift certificate.

Jax said...

I would love to win this drawing - I'm new to knitting and this looks like just the kind of pattern that could really entice me to knit.

Amy said...

I've bought a few patterns already, and I love them. Thanks for the great interview

lynnfredd said...

I love MML so much, it is my homepage. I can't help but smile whenever all those cute faces greet me when I open up my browser. Thanks, Anna, for sharing your creativity!

Tracey said...

thanks for the interview! it was great to hear more about anna. i'm a big fan of the mochimochi patterns and blog.

Seanna Lea said...

I love all Mochiland. The patterns are so cute (and I have the Craft magazine with her chicken and egg). I'd love to win!

Amy said...

Welcome, Butterfull! Mochimochi Land is one of my favourite blogs/pattern sources. I visit frequently just so I can scroll through the photos of all of Anna's creations. She has a wonderful sense of humor.

Please enter me in your drawing!

Amy said...

Anna makes me look like a better knitter than I am, that's her genius! I have made the woodins, the hearts, the chicken and egg, Tubby and am about to start Butterfull - you could say I am a big fan of Mochimochi Land!

Long live a sense of humor in knitting :)

rose said...

Count me in! I think one of your amazing patterns a month is a lot - I'm impressed!

Anla said...

This is really really cool.
I've been knitting since I was 7 and these are the coolest patterns I've ever seen!

Anne Kaelber said...

I love Anna's work! My 15yo son and I have something in common because we both love her toys--for Christmas, I got Gargle and a gift certificate to buy more toy patterns! I'm still hopeful that her patterns will be instrumental in getting him past his "quitter mentality" when it comes to knitting!

Rock on, Anna---you're my Knitting Hero and my Knitting Idol!

Anne.

Dawn Marie said...

what amazing creativity and whimsy. I love it!

Kate said...

Mochimochi patterns are super cool - I've made the uh-oh's (which were a total hit with their new 13-month-old owner) and I'm planning to make tubby next.

Keep up the kickin work, Anna! Can't wait to see what's next!

Darcy said...

I just introduced a coworker to Mochimochiland. I sense obsessions in the making.

Carolyne said...

Thanks for sharing the interview. I love Anna's patterns and I have purchased a few. I hope hope hope she gets to put out a book.

suus said...

Thanks for the interview. It is nice to get to know Anna a little better. I just love your patterns! Buttercup had me laughing out loud :-)

Michelle said...

I love Anna's patterns! She's a wonderful designer and makes such cute things!

Debidee said...

I love Anna's whimsical and smooshable designs and look forward to seeing what each new one will be. Thanks for the interview, it's always nice to heear more about a favorite designer.

Veronica said...

What cute designs!

blakewest said...

I <3 chick+egg! Thanks for the fun interview.

Alison said...

I love your interviews! Hope you can count me in for the drawing too, I love Anna's work!

malia said...

Anna, you have the best ideas for patterns! I don't knit, I crochet, but if I win, I'll give the patterns to my mom to make. And when you publish your book, I'll get it for the eye candy... Keep on rockin'!

lunaknit said...

Mochimochi patterns are so adorable, I'd love to win this givaway! :-)

rightbrainedamoeba said...

i LOVE his headband. (if that's what it is...)

Laura said...

Go Mochimochi Land! How cute and unique are these little creations! Would love to get back into knitting and this would definitely be inspirational. A gift voucher would just be the push I need I think... ;)

Dodo Castagna said...

OMG i love your work, esp the bath tub!!!!