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Fresh Shop: purlBknit

Jan 10, 2013

by purlBknit handmade and vintage goods

Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a handful of months or are waiting for those first few sales introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!

My name is Brandi Harper, and my store is purlBknit. My garments feature animal and plant-based fibers in the form of yarn, roving, and fabric. Most items are 100% natural. I am based in Brooklyn, New York.

A self-taught knitter since age 14, for me learning to knit meant getting what I needed. I was raised in inner city projects, top bunks with three to each room. My mother was crafty and knew how to work a budget. “$10?! For a ball of yarn?” my mother said. “That could put food on someone’s table for a week.”

“But Mommy, it’s natural.”

“Brandi, you need to get yourself a job.”

A year later, I began working at a yarn shop. I’d leave school and the messy little ducks of New Paltz to teach beginner classes during the holiday.

After going to southern Africa as a Peace Corps recruit, I came back to the US with the drive to build something handmade from the ground up. Etsy is a space conducive to growth and the best thing happening for handmade, so I took a leap and launched purlBknit.

Designing means math, abbreviated notes, and lessons learned. I pay attention to the parts unseen and patiently tend to subtle details. The possibilities are exciting — opera length mittens may become thigh-high tights, pieces of a cable-knit sweater can be transformed into a balaclava. I especially love seamless garments made entirely in one piece.

A hand washing and steaming process is tailored for each garment based on fiber content. These steps ensure clean, professionally finished items. I use hypoallergenic woolen solvents, white paper towels, and cedar wood. My washing bowls are made with renewable resources like bamboo and rice fiber. I prefer to wash garments individually, soaking three pieces at a time. I make personalized hang tags providing the location of yarn production and a bit of mending fiber wrapped in acid-free cellophane.

I like to imagine my buyer saying, “Sorry honey, but this is one of a kind.” She challenges me to create the extraordinary.

Photos courtesy of purlBknit. Second and last photo by Antonio Limuaco.

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