Adventures in Mochimochi Land Preview: The Lighthearted Lovers

My new storybook/pattern book, Adventures in Mochimochi Land, is due out in just two and a half more weeks! That basically coincides with the beginning of summer, so what’s not to love?

Previously I’ve shared peeks into the first two stories in the book, The Hungry Donut and The Underwater Election, and today I’m excited to introduce the third and final story in the book, The Lighthearted Lovers.

The tale begins in Carnivalville, where the animals run all the rides and bear no responsibility for loss or injury.

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Everyone has a grand time at Carnivalville, except for a bunch of balloons who would rather be having adventures than be tied down to spend the day with an elephant carnie.

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They get their chance when the elephant sneezes, and the balloons are off to see the world!

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One balloon joins a flock of rainbowbirds flying south…

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while another balloon flies too close to the sun.

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Two balloons race a kite… and tie for first!

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And one balloon gives an earthworm the ride of his life.

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Finally, one last balloon, named Hugo, falls in love with the aircraft of his dreams.

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The romance and drama that follow will have to be saved for the book. But I’d like to share one very special thing about this story—it involved making the biggest version of Mochimochi Land that I’ve ever attempted!

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If you’ve encountered the 6-foot display that I’ve shown at Vogue Knitting LIVE, that may have seemed big, but this one had to be way bigger, because we wanted shots of it in the distance with airborne objects in the foreground.

So we basically took over my photographer, Brandi Simons’s living room for a couple of days, spreading out the landscape as wide as it would go and adding any kind of filler fabric around the sides that we could get our hands on. It was a big challenge to try to cover all the seams that resulted with tiny trees and other little elements I could scrounge up. (Probably you can recognize a few things from previous Mochimochi Land projects!)

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In the end, it came together with Brandi choosing just the right angle to shoot from and the right depth of focus, plus a little Photoshop magic. You’ll be able to see the end results in the book.

The other challenge with this story was figuring out how to make the balloon strings come alive—limp pieces of yarn hanging down just wouldn’t do. We ended up using a white cloth-coated floral wire we found at the nearby craft store.

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(I’ve found it at more than one store, so I think it’s pretty widely available.)

This stuff is easy to cut with wire cutters or even scissors, and you can twist it into any shape you want. And because it’s cloth covered, it really looks like string! I felt like I had hit the jackpot when I found it. But we still needed to use stronger wires to actually prop up the balloons.

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I think the floral wire would be perfect for any kind of gift giving or display with the balloons, and of course the pattern for them is included in the book!

That’s it for the story previews from the book, but I have some more behind-the-scenes images to share, plus maybe an extra pattern or two from the book. I’ll also announce a couple of book-related events that are coming up!

Adventures in Mochimochi Land is coming out June 9th! It’s now available for preorder from Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and from Powells, among other places. Signed copies are also available for preorder from me in the Mochimochi Shop. Or if you have a local bookstore or yarn store that you support, please ask them if they’ll carry it!

Adventures in Mochimochi Land Preview: The Underwater Election

It’s just about one month until the release of my new combo storybook and pattern book, Adventures in Mochimochi Land!

Last month I shared a preview of the first story in the book, The Hungry Donut. And today I’m sharing a peek into the second story in the book, The Underwater Election. Alternative title: Tiny Mochis Under the Sea!

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The protagonists of this story, Bubbles the dolphin and Gary the crab, are political rivals, vying for control over a precious new resource they helped discover.

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(I used Tosh Merino Light yarn for the first time to make these guys. I was looking for a yarn that would be bright and richly hued and evoke life underwater—I think it really did the trick!)

I’ll leave the nature of the precious resource as a surprise for the book, but rest assured that all kinds of silly political stunts ensue. Gary, for example, serves as guest judge in local a beauty pageant…

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And Bubbles insists on doing the honors at a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new sandcastle development.

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Something unexpected happens with the election results, of course, but not before a heated debate complete with mudslinging!

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Each of the stories in this book came with its own unique challenges, from the writing to the photography. With this story, a big challenge was figuring out how to represent Mochimochi Land underwater, something I hadn’t really done before. I wasn’t sure how we would do it until the last minute when it was time for the photo shoot! But the local craft store came through with sparkly fabric for the background,

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(Ironed directly on the wall for maximum wrinkle-free sparkly-ness…)

Some lucky finds like seaweed-shaped pipe cleaners,

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And yarn that looked amazingly like coral!

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Speaking of which, in the haste of doing the photo shoot last year, I failed to make note of which novelty yarns we used to make the coral and other cool seaweed-looking stuff that appear in the images. If anyone knows what they’re looking at, please share in the comments!

I almost forgot the last big challenge of all of these underwater photos: erasing all of those pesky sticks holding everyone afloat!

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All I can say is thank goodness for Photoshop and for a photographer who really knows how to use it.

Adventures in Mochimochi Land is coming out June 9th! It’s now available for preorder from Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and from Powells, among other places. Signed copies are also available for preorder from me in the Mochimochi Shop. Or if you have a local bookstore or yarn store that you support, please ask them if they’ll carry it!

Adventures in Mochimochi Land: Official Trailer

I’m excited to share an official trailer for my new book, Adventures in Mochimochi Land!

So that’s a little taste of the fun that’s coming June 9th. You can also read a preview of the first story in the book here.

Adventures in Mochimochi Land is coming out June 9th! It’s now available for preorder from Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and from Powells, among other places. Signed copies are also available for preorder from me in the Mochimochi Shop. Or if you have a local bookstore or yarn store that you support, please ask them if they’ll carry it!

Thanks to Maureen Boyle for putting the trailer together!

Adventures in Mochimochi Land Preview: The Hungry Donut

We’ve got just about two months before my new book, Adventures in Mochimochi Land, is released!

As I mentioned in my last post about it, the book contains three utterly weird and fantastical stories set in Mochimochi Land. (Plus patterns!) Today I’d like to give you a taste of the first story, which is pretty appropriate because it’s all about foooood…

I’ll start with a photo that’s not in the book.

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Often, while I’m setting up a scene, my photographer, the wonderful and talented Brandi Simons, is already shooting away so that she can adjust the lighting and camera settings. So we end up with lots of shots of me fiddling with tiny knitted stuff, which make for a fun record of the shoot. So you can see that we set up a miniature world for this story, but the scenery has to get pretty expansive in the background to fill out the shot. I learned that we could have used a lot more/bigger pieces of flat knitted fabric.

OK, on with the story!

And as you can see from the above photo, this story is set in the delectable Delicious District of Mochimochi Land, where half of the citizens are bakers and the other half are oven repairmen.

Our protagonist, Biscuit the baker, is a tiny entrepreneur with her own donut shop.

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But donut shops are a dime a baker’s dozen in the Delicious District, and Biscuit wanted to stand out for once. One day, she had a bright idea!

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She would invent a new culinary concoction that would make her famous and change baked goods forever in Mochimochi Land.

So when the sun went down, she sneaked off to a hidden cave located deep in the Muffin Mountains to retrieve a very secret ingredient.

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(The ingredient is so secret that I’m not permitted to reveal here—you’ll have to see the book to find out what it is.)

Back in her bakery, Biscuit spliced the ingredients together in a petri dish, then put the concoction in the microwave.

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Side note: here’s my dad making that teeny petri dish by cutting the end off of a small plastic vial.

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Before Biscuit could brew a pot of coffee, the microwave sparked and flashed and exploded!

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Leaving behind a very large, very bouncy donut.

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Success! Biscuit was delighted with her creation, and she was ready to conquer the Delicious District with her big bouncy baked good. Little did she know that the donut was going to try to conquer Mochimochi Land in his own very disastrous way…

For the rest of this story, you’ll have to read the book!

Adventures in Mochimochi Land is coming out June 9th! It’s now available for preorder from Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and from Powells, among other places. Signed copies are also available for preorder from me in the Mochimochi Shop. Or if you have a local bookstore or yarn store that you support, please ask them if they’ll carry it!

Adventures In Mochimochi Land is Coming June 9th!

I’ve mentioned it here and there, but now it’s time for the official announcement: My next book comes out June 9th!

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Adventures in Mochimochi Land will contain 25 knitting patterns for all-new mochis, most of them of the teeny-tiny persuasion. But there’s a lot more to this book than patterns—it’s also a storybook with three fantastical tales from Mochimochi Land! Your guide through the adventures is an explorer named Ichigo, a mochi who actually talks.

Say hello, Ichigo!

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Close enough!

I met Ichigo at the farmer’s market, where he was trying to steal a single strawberry for his lunch (because no one would sell him just one). After chatting over a basket of berries, I found out that he had seen more of Mochimochi Land than just about anybody else. He promises that everything he says is true, which is a probably an exaggeration, but at least it makes for good stories. (I’ll be sharing some sneak peeks of the stories here soon!)

Ichigo couldn’t make a book completely on his own, of course, which is how I found myself making storyboards for the first time about a year ago.

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But I’d like to back up a bit and tell you how this book came about.

When I was a kid, there were lots of things I wanted to be when I grew up (science museum director and lady who rides the elephants in the circus, to name a couple), but as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to write storybooks. I wanted to create worlds and draw people into them, and make everything up as I went. By time I graduated from high school, I was pretty sure this was not achievable, I guess because I’d never met anyone who wrote books or created worlds. So I studied Japanese instead, which seemed cool too.

Japan and exposure to the world of art and design lead me to make Mochimochi Land, my big passion for the last eight years. But even as I was building this world in knitting, and writing books of patterns, I still didn’t really think I could make a storybook—fiction publishing just seemed like such a different (and much more competitive) world from crafts. It was my luck that my editor, Caitlin Harpin, was open to the idea of a nontraditional craft book when I brought it up, and she and the rest of the team at Potter Craft worked hard to make it happen.

I hadn’t really expected everyone to go along with it, so I was surprised that all of a sudden I was writing a storybook. It was my own adventure in Mochimochi Land! And it was way harder than I had expected: Not only did I have to come up with the stories, but I also had to invent all-new characters for them that could work as patterns, and I had to figure out what the whole thing would look like from start to finish too. That’s what storyboards are for.

Nobody taught me to make a storyboard, or how to write a story, or how to design a toy and write a knitting pattern, for that matter. But often that’s the best way to learn how to do something—by just doing it. And that process shouldn’t stop when we’re grownups. I had a lot of help in making this book, and for everyone involved it was something new, which is scary but exciting and definitely worth the stress and hard work.

I hope that this book will be a fun read for all of you, kids and adults alike. I also hope that the patterns and DIY spirit that I’ve tried to infuse in it will inspire you to try something new and make worlds and stories of your own!

Adventures in Mochimochi Land is now available for preorder from Amazon, from Barnes & Noble, and from Powells, among other places. Signed copies are also available for preorder from me in the Mochimochi Shop. Or if you have a local bookstore or yarn store that you support, please ask them if they’ll carry it!

More previews and other fun book stuff are coming soon!