Interview: Brandy Fortune
We talk Just Like Me Knits, Petit Purls and all things kiddy knitting with designer Brandy Fortune!
Brandy Fortune is the co-publisher of online knitting patterns for children magazine Petite Purls and also recently released her first book, Just Like Me Knits, which features matching patterns for little ‘uns and their dolls. Who then better then to get down to the knitty gritty of what to knit for kids?
Why do you love designing knits for children?
I am 100% inspired by my children. I began designing patterns about 6 months after I had my first daughter. They influence my style, and functional execution of everything I make. I need patterns I can knit up fast while multi-tasking, so top-down-seamless is something I feature quiet often, or bottom up seamless. I love seeing an idea form in my mind, inspired by both the yarn and the personality of my child, and the joy it gives both them and myself the first time they wear it!
Where did the idea for your book Just Like Me Knits come from?
I had designed a tiny doll sweater for my daughter’s Bamboletta doll, and I had not shown it to anyone but a few friends. I had been wanting to make a book of patterns for a while but I could never think of a “hook” or unique idea. When I sent the photo of the tiny sweater to my friend Allegra she immediately said “thats your book idea Brandy!” and then of course it was a given to have kid-sized versions as well. I did a little research and found there were very few books that had modern designs for children and their dolls.
Which is your favourite project from the book?
Picking a favourite is so hard! I think the Katie Garter Jacket that started it all is pretty darn sweet looking on a doll or a toddler, and it knits along so easily with the garter stitch. It is knit in Blue Sky Alpaca Multi which is a lovely semi-solid yarn in pretty pale colors that go well over bright dresses. I am planning to knit the girls the jackets again in the larger size, but in wool as it will make for a lighter sweater in the larger size.
If you had a doll version of yourself, what kinds of knitwear would it be wearing?
I actually have a Bamboletta doll that has curly hair and blue eyes like mine and she is “my” doll. A pretty pillowcase dress (there is a sewing pattern for that’s included in the back of the book!) made from a fat quarter of some lovely Liberty of London fabric, something blue and green! Then layered on top would be a form fitting deep sea blue cardigan knit in sock-weight merino or BFL, with lovely waist shaping. It would have delicate little hand-made buttons that blend well but also have something whimsical or unique about them!
What’s your favourite kind of project when you’re knitting to relax?
A super simple hat that doesn’t make me think too much (but has an interesting detail) that’s easy to execute while watching TV!
Are there any particular fibres or yarns you like working with?
I have many favourites! I’ve only recently discovered Quince and Co. – there is something lovely about 100% wool that has not been chemically treated. Wollmeise sock yarn is an old favourite. Bijou Basin Bliss is lovely for camping and hiking hats. My favourite yarn to spin is BFL or Shetland combed top. My favorite non-wool is Elsbeth Levald Hempathy. It has amazing drape for summer garments. I could go on and on with many more!
What’s the key to picking yarn for kiddies’ clothes?
If the person who will be in charge of washing it is not used to hand-wash only then it is essential to use super wash. I prefer wool over cotton in most cases because cotton stretches and loses its shape so easily and kids’ stuff gets pulled and yanked at so I use it sparingly. The weight of the yarn can make a big difference. I do NOT like bulky or even worsted weight yarn for baby knits, if its going on a very small baby or newborn I like sock weight yarn or sport weight yarn. This reduces the bulk at the seams. If the child has never worn wool before then it is important that it be a very soft wool as even my girls will occasionally complain about itchy sweater, though they never seem to mind with the hats for some reason!
Tell us a little about Petit Purls magazine?
Petite Purls Magazine is a little piece of my heart, it is a website that for the past 5 years has provided adorable-fasion-forward knitting patterns for babies and children, and a few adults sprinkled in for good measure. It started from a friendship and grew to something much bigger.
What do you love best about creating it?
Seeing the finished photographs taken by the designers, or taking the photographs myself. Either way, seeing that lovely finished object on a super cute and happy kid is a gift. That is what it is all about.
Have you got anything coming up you’d like to tell our readers about?
I had the pleasure of flying to Ohio last month to tape a segment for the new season of Knitting Daily TV with Vicky Howell. I am so very excited about that, it was such a unique and wonderful experience. You can read more about it on my blog.