Totoro revisited and giveaway

IMG_0040Five years ago, when I was twenty two and living in Berkeley (and going to bed early from a combination of hunger and sleepiness because I was stupid and lazy and didn’t know how to cook), I knit a tiny Totoro and wrote a cringe-worthy post about it (not even going to hyperlink it because it was that terrible why did i ever think i was funny). And according to twenty two year old (‘wait, laundry costs money?’) me, I posted that Totoro on my short-lived, overly-ambitious, now dusty and cobwebbed etsy, where it apparently failed to sell and spent the next five years in an old shoebox along with a knitted clam that looks like a bra, because that is precisely where I found it when I went home last month.

Call it luck or fate (or bad marketing i think i priced that thing at like $30), but I’m glad I still had it because I brought it back with me to Chicago and finally (five years and three square meals a day later) wrote up a pattern for it!IMG_9903My old piano teacher was this stern, Asian woman who used to keep a tiny plastic tray that I had to sweep my eraser crumbs into whenever I erased something on my sheet music, and my sisters and I were so mean because we’d laugh at her and make fun of how incredibly particular and rigid she was.

Well, I just knit eight Totoros in the span of two weeks trying to attain the perfect Totorian belly to head ratio, so I guess Fat Cat Goes Down Alley Eating Banana wasn’t the only thing I picked up after twelve years of piano lessons.IMG_9908Because I bought slightly heavier yarn than what I used five years ago, I had to downsize the original design (something i realized only after making the first two fatties #bloatoro). I struggled with proportions and eye placement a bit, and I realized duplicate stitching made things a whole lot easier, and eventually I arrived at a decent likeness to my original that still had enough semblance of the animated character!

Then I spent an hour taking various family-style portraits around my apartment. Here they all are in the order they were created from left to right, arranged in a very The Usual Suspects sort of way (@benicio del totoro).IMG_9970(i’m leaving this space empty so we all can just take a moment to acknowledge the sheer awesomeness of ‘benicio del totoro’)

But wait there’s more! Since I got such positive feedback on my Totoros (sandwiched between ‘where are their ears?’ and ‘why are you still making them please stop this is worse than your kitten phase‘), I decided to keep going and create an entire Miyazaki set, complete with a tiny white totoro and soot sprites:IMG_0225IMG_0052I lucked out on designing the patterns, which sort of fell into place, so I didn’t have to troubleshoot too much or go through iterations of really ugly versions. And since they looked so good together, I decided to collate the three individual patterns into a tome of a document (thirteen pages!), complete with pictures, diagrams, and color charts.

You can download it here from my Ravelry store!IMG_9940Oh yeah. A strange thing happened to me this past month: I seemed to have stumbled into my fifteen minutes of fame (i thought i already had it senior year of high school when I fractured my skull and people thought i died so i won a post-humous environmental awareness award). What started as a random, late-night impulse to knit an eyeball while I ate hummus in my underwear evolved into an entire set of anatomical knits–and people noticed! From alumni newsletters to a front page feature on my university’s website (a week later justin trudeau came to the university of chicago. i’m not saying i caused that, but i’m also not saying i didn’t cause that.) to legit articles like this, masculiknity is getting out there and now I literally have 25x the number of daily readers (okay mom you can stop refreshing my home page on your phone)!

I am, of course, taking in this newfound attention with a level head (if i’m not on ellen or fallon or something within the next three months there is seriously something wrong with the world), acknowledging that such a spotlight is fleeting and will soon shift to another young ingénue. But I also realize that I’m generally pretty poor at publicizing my creations and perhaps I should be using what’s happening right now to my advantage…IMG_0241…which is why I’m doing my very first ever knitted giveaway!

And this is not just because my apartment is now overrun by these things (i accidentally swiffered a soot sprite yesterday).

Okay, hopefully I’m doing this right: If you’re loving these lil’ doodles and you’re too busy with real life responsibilities to make your own, then check out my instagram (@masculiknity) and tag a couple Ghibli-obsessed friends. A lucky tagger at the end of March will get a complete set (big totoro + white totoro + three soot sprites) and others will get a hodge-podge of characters depending on how much match day stress manifests itself as compulsive knitting.

And, if this fails, I will definitely blame @figbar1, who is 50% fig bar and 50% sister and also my marketing consultant (paid entirely in soot sprites) who told me to do this giveaway. Our last business venture together four years ago was designing West Wing-themed totes and has so far produced a single mock-up of Troy the turkey on Illustrator and literally nothing else.

So, actually, never mind. Because really anything would be considered a win.

Here is the Totoro and friends pattern for those of you who saw all the text and was like nope and scrolled straight to the bottom.

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