Bernadette and I recently asked Brandy and Allegra of Petite Purls magazine to sit down and chat with us about the joys and challenges of editing and creating an online magazine, while raising young ones, and keeping their creativity alive.
What made you decide to create an online magazine for knitting specifically for children?
Allegra: Brandy and I both were blessed with our daughters in September 2007, two days apart. We had become friendly through our blogs at that time, experiencing our pregnancies, the girls’ births and everything that came with being a new mom. During that first year of motherhood, both of us got bitten by the design bug, mainly interested in creating hand knits for our girls. I clearly remember the day that Petite Purls (in its most basic form) was conceived. It was a Sunday afternoon in October. Brandy and I had been emailing earlier that day about this and that, and how we both felt that there was a lack of knitwear for toddlers online. I was nursing my daughter and it struck me right then: Brandy and I needed to start a e-zine devoted to childrens designs. I practically fell off my chair. I knew it was a great idea and the time was right. You can read all about the magazine’s inception here.
What have been some of your biggest joys in creating the magazine?
Brandy: I have an Art Degree and grew up with my father the professional photographer. I love how I get to use so many of those skills that I have in what I see as creative director type of roll. In high school, I was the editor of our creative magazine, and I love having that same feeling I had back then, of putting together this whole “product”, seeing all the little tiny details come together into one cohesive, beautiful, completed object. Each issue is like a very complex sweater, all knit up, washed, blocked and ready to be worn.
Your biggest challenges?
Brandy: I think the biggest challenge honestly is juggling a child (now two) while running two businesses (Petite Purls and then my personal pattern business Pixie Purls). It is hands down the hardest part, everything else seems easy compared to that issue, and being partners with someone whom you can wholly trust and rely on makes everything that much easier. Having that other person makes any challenge become much easier to tackle, but since we live in different states, Allegra can’t run over my house and watch the baby for a few hours while I edit photos and HTML, and I can’t run over to her house and watch Satya while she e-mails advertisers and designers. While not possible, a girl can dream!
Dress designed by Allegra for the premiere issue of Petite Purls
Worn by Allegra’s daughter, Satya
Allegra: I have to agree with Brandy on this 100%. Along with being the mother of a toddler and editor of Petite Purls and the many hats that I wear for the magazine, I also have a full time job as a principal violinist in a major orchestra and have a studio of 15 students. It’s very hard to juggle it all and come out on top every time. But as much as it’s been a challenge, I like a challenge and have learned a lot about myself as well.
Brandy: With all of that said, both Allegra and I believe that our girls are our constant source of inspiration for our own personal designs and for the magazine. Without them, we wouldn’t have the desire to create this magazine. So without the children, there would be no chaos, without the chaos, there would be no magazine
You have had a wonderful response to the magazine. What do you see for its future?
Allegra: We are so happy with how our success so far. We have been incredibly lucky to have such amazing contributors from the start. We can only hope that we continue to have the opportunity to work with wonderful writers and designers.
One feature that we recently unveiled on the site is our Back to Basics Collection. During our “quiet” months, when we don’t have an issue going live, we will be offering the most basic of patterns, which not only will be great beginner patterns to work from, but also great patterns for those who want to explore their creative side: a good starting point for colorwork, a decorative stitch pattern, or a border motif. The possibilities are endless. We look forward to adding to this collection.
Now that we will have four issues under our belt, I know Brandy is revved up to work on our archive capabilities, making it easier for our readers to find the patterns and articles. We have many small things on our “to-do” list right now, like improving the archives and to have a more active blog. I know that we are both excited to continue on the journey on which the magazine is taking us.
On a more personal note, Brandy and I have never met in person! We will finally get the chance to meet and enjoy each other’s company this coming summer when we attend our first industry show (TNNA). I know I am so excited to finally meet in person and know that it will be a pretty emotional experience. The next step will be to get our little muses, Sydney and Satya to meet in the future.
For your next edition, you are doing a “Green” issue. Tell us a little bit about what will be featured, and why you felt that it was important to bring this to your readers.
Allegra: When we were brainstorming about our Spring Issue, we immediately thought about creating an all eco-friendly issue. For us that means patterns using organic, natural and recycled fibers, as well as upcycled and repurposing tutorials. We are in the midst of putting the issue together and I think our readers are going to flip out about what fabulous content we have! Not only do we have great patterns and beautiful photography, we have the best of the best in the crafting world contributing wonderful tutorials. The subject of “green” crafting is so hot right now, and so important to so many people who want to save money and help save the earth. I know that both Brandy and I have been thinking more “green-ly” since working on the magazine issue. We want to teach our children to respect Mother Earth and to use what she provides us intelligently and creatively.
How has running this magazine changed your own knitting designs?
Sweater designed by Brandy for the premiere issue of Petite Purls
Worn by her daughter, Sydney
Brandy: It gives us a lot less time to design! I honestly do not even think about designing when I am working on Petite Purls. You really have to separate yourself from that, and just focus on the task at hand. In between issues is when I work on designs I have dreamed up, in a little moleskin sketchbook filled with ideas I wish I had time to knit!
What advice do you have for knitters out there who are interested in designing their own patterns?
Allegra: Just do it. Just go for it! I can’t tell you how many times I have envisioned a design, didn’t have the time to construct it or felt that it wouldn’t be good enough, so I threw it to the side, just to see someone else come out with something very similar to my initial vision. There are so many opportunities these days to get your pattern out there, whether it’s a print magazine, online magazine, self publishing, you name it.
What do you see as the biggest benefits for knitting, creating for our children?
Brandy: I think the most important thing about creating for your child is having your child see you in the act of creating those things. Of course it shows them you love them, but more importantly it shows them that the act of creating things is not as hard and scary as some people think it is. That it gives you an opportunity to express yourself, to complete something, to achieve something and to use something made with your own intelligence and perseverance. I think it teaches children confidence and creativity, in particular if they are involved in the creating. It’s separated from the overwhelming commercial nature of today’s culture.
Thank you so much to Allegra and Brandy for giving us a small glimpse into their lives as mothers, editors and creative women.
Thank you Heather and Bernadette for the interview. We love your magazine! Best wishes!
Allegra and Brandy are co-editors of the online knitting magazine Petite Purls. They accept open calls for submission, and their next edition goes live on March 15th. To learn more, please visit Petite Purls