Adventures in Mochi-Mochi Land

I had the privilege of "meeting" Anna Hrachevec of Mochimochi Land when I was on Knitting Daily TV for my Tools of the Trade segment. Anna had sent over one of her mini gnome kits for review and to find something more adorable than that, you'd have to search far and wide! 51KWxmlfzaL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_

A master of all things super small, Mochimochi Land was launched in 2007 as a place where knitted toys and people can live together in a spirit of tolerance. The characters that inhabit Mochimochi Land are original designs by Anna Hrachovec, a knitter who lives in Chicago. Anna finds inspiration in characters like Hello Kitty, TV shows like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and illustrators like Dr Seuss. She has written five books of patterns, the newest of which, Adventures in Mochimochi Land, is a combination storybook and pattern book. Anna sent her latest book my way for a review and it took longer than anticipated to write because I couldn't pry it out of my 4-year-old son's hands! Anna was kind enough to answer a few questions for us...

Tanis Gray (TG:) What came first in this book, the stories or did you knit all there figures and build a story around them?
Anna Hrachovec (AH): I started with the locations, then developed the characters and the stories. One of the big challenges with this book was figuring out how to have the stories take place in Mochimochi Land, but with entirely new characters, because the patterns in the book had to be all new. So I found it helpful to start with the new realms of Mochimochi Land that I hadn’t really explored before: an edible district, a community under the sea, and things up in the air.
TG: Do you have a favorite story of the 3? Why that one in particular? What about favorite character?
AH: I’d have to say that the first story, The Hungry Donut, is my favorite. It came the easiest to me, I think because cute things eating other cute things has been a recurring theme in many of my projects. (Perhaps it’s how I work out my feelings about being a vegetarian who occasionally wears leather, or something like that.) As for characters, maybe I ended up loving the balloons best. I enjoyed coming up with the little adventures they would have when they were set free—I think anyone can relate to the idea of being a balloon that suddenly gets to fly off and do whatever it wants!
TG: You create whimsical, wonderful, tiny little worlds! Where do you get your inspiration from?
AH: Thank you! My inspirations come from many sources, but certainly I draw inspiration from the imaginary worlds that I grew up with, like Alice’s Wonderland and the worlds of Dr. Seuss, and also the worlds that I’ve encountered from artists in Japan, like those in the Katamari Damacy games. I love the humor and surrealism that all of these contain.
TG: Do you always knit on a small scale or sometimes do you feel the need to break out the US 13 needles and knit a chunky scarf?
AH: I love big exciting projects—earlier this year I knitted a giant gnome that was over 3 feet tall. But you won’t see too many scarves on my needles, because I’m so weirdly focused on creating characters and worlds that pretty much everything I’ve been knitting for years is destined to become part of Mochimochi Land.
TG: What’s coming up next for you?
AH: I’ve actually got a baby coming up next—he’s due in December! So right now I’m trying to prepare for that, and I plan to scale things back for a bit while I figure out the motherhood thing. But I’ve got a couple of exciting projects in mind that I hope to get started on later next year, including a collection of toy patterns for beginners.

annaMy favorite thing about this book is the storybook component. So often am I telling my son "don't touch mommy's knitting books" and I love that we can share this book together and he can get interested in knitting. The brightly colored book has three cute stories, The Hungry Donut, a tale about a donut trying to consume and entire town, The Underwater Election, a tale about who in the sea should be the treasurer and in charge of the treasure chest and The Lighthearted Lovers, a tale about a blimp and a balloon who fall in love. The stories make up almost 2/3 of the book and while they're a bit over a child's head, I found them funny and loved the landscape and characters imagined by Anna living their lives in Mochimochi Land. A book like this keeps both crafters and non-crafters engaged because there's so much to look at!



Once you find your favorite story, the patterns for many of the characters are in the back. While the samples in the book are tiny, it'd be easy to size them up with bigger yarn and needles. My son has requested a crab and I have a donut-loving friend who could certainly use a knitted confection!


While the storybook/pattern combination isn't a new one, I enjoyed the whimsy of this particular one. It doesn't take itself too seriously and the colors, the knitted world, the silly characters and the sheer cuteness made this one a winner!


Speaking of winners, let's give a copy of the book away, shall we? Answer the following question correctly by leaving your answer in the comments section of this post, and you'll be entered in to win a free copy of Adventures in Mochi-Mochi Land!

What is the snicker bar named after?

A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, September 9th and notified via email. Giveaway open to US residents only!