SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
As part of the original Around the World in 80 Skeins tour, Brazil was our 28th stop to visit knitwear designer Paula Pereira.
Hi, Paula! Where are you from originally and where do you live now? What do you miss most about your hometown?
I’m from Rio de Janeiro <3. Between 2007 and 2008, I had the opportunity to live in Vancouver – BC and from the end of 2008 to the beginning of 2010, near San Francisco, northern California. A few months ago, I moved to Sao Paulo (and I’m loving it!)
What’s the best thing about where you live? If someone came to visit your town, where would you take them?
For me, Rio is one of the most beautiful places in the world! My favorite spots are the beaches (specially Prainha, Barra da Tijuca, Ipanema and Leblon) and going for a walk around Lagoa (a heart shaped lagoon surrounded by neighborhoods such as Jardim Botanico, Gavea, Leblon, Ipanema and Fonte da Saudade). For yoga practitioners, I would like to recommend a wonderful place called Nirvana, almost in front of the Botanic Garden – another lovely place to go for a walk or have brunch at La Bicyclette!
Do you have a favorite local yarn store?
Unfortunately, we don’t have cool yarn stores in Rio. They’re mostly small stores, selling acrylic and cotton yarns, a few plastic crochet hooks, straight knitting needles and basic sewing notions. My fave knitting stores abroad are Urban Yarns, Three Bags Full and the amazing textile store Maiwa, in Vancouver, Imagiknits in San Francisco, A Verb for Keeping Warm (<3) and Article Pract in Oakland and for inspiration, research, vintage notions and old books, Lacis Museum, also in Oakland. In NYC, I’m a huge fan of Pearl Chin’s Knitty City and Purl Soho. I also love Brooklyn General Store and La Casita, both in Brooklyn. I’m a Sao Paulo’s newbie, and little by little I’m discovering this surprising city. We can find gorgeous yarns at Novelaria Knit Cafe, Pintar e Bordar and Emporio das Las. I shop online at Brooklyn Tweed, Quince and Co, Yarn.com/Webs, Jimmy Beans Wool and others.
How did you get started knitting and how did it turn into designing?
My family has talented women: many are great cooks, and others like sewing, crochet, hand embroidery, tapestry, hand dye fabrics and some other crafts. But nobody knew about knitting. When I was in Vancouver, one sweet lady told me how to knit and purl. It was love at first sight and enough motivation for my endless exploration on this craft. Lucky me, one day I went to Urban Yarns and started to have lace classes with the exquisitely talented and generous Sivia Harding. Can you imagine that? My first class choice was a mohair beaded scarf and, patiently, she showed me the beauties and tricks of this craft. In the following years, knitting was my priority: I wanted to learn about techniques, shaping, yarns and such. By the end of 2008, I quit my business career. Today I suspect that movement was like a “cleansing process” towards a new career. Internet became my best friend: I researched about everything related to knitting. In 2010, a Brazilian website, the Tricoteiras.com promoted a contest, in partnership with Aslan Yarns, and I won the first prize! It was a blast and I felt that maybe, just maybe, I could work with knitting. I went deeper in my online studies, and found Stefanie Japel’s online courses about shawls, top down sweaters and shaping. Another lucky strike for me! What a wonderful knitter and generous teacher! One more time, I had the opportunity to learn from the best. In 2011, I went to the first Vogue Knitting in New York, and other amazing knitters crossed my life, sharing their knowledge, vision, tips and tricks. A strong experience for me was Mari Lynn Patrick’s class. She shared her creative process and how to submit designs to magazines. I was so anxious at this point, that learning a bit about the creative process and the industry was very revealing! From this point, all my investments were in knitting events abroad, like Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knitting Lab, Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival etc, and as many classes as I could take at local yarn stores during my travel time. Since this contest I started to design, photograph my pieces and publish them on Ravelry and Craftsy. Three years ago I started teaching at the Brazilian Knitting Congress and lead workshops in Brazilian cities.
How does where you live influence your designs?
Everything influences me. Actually, I enjoy it! I allow myself to be filled by all my experiences: colours, scents, architecture, environment, weather, and mostly by people. People on the streets always amaze me.
Where is your favorite place to knit and design?
Definitely my home, surrounded by yarns, books, needles, my dogs, flowers, objects that I love.
What is your favorite knitting snack/beverage?
It’s embarrassing for an almost vegan person, but…I love diet coke!!! I don’t eat much during work…I totally forget to do it!
What is your design process like? Do you plan it all out before you pick up your needles, or do you let the yarn show you where to go?
I plan every detail ahead. Actually, I think about what I want to make, the construction, the best yarn for it. I test knit stitches that I have in mind, work on the gauge and I write the whole pattern. Then I start to test knit myself, changing a little thing here and there, and also correcting myself. One important point is that I have to plan a lot ahead, since I have to shop yarns online in US, and it takes 45 to 60 days for them to be shipped and cleared by Brazilian customs.
Who are your favorite designers?
Oh, my! I love all the international big names! My Ravelry’s favourite designers list have exactly 160 names! In the top of my head: EZ, Sivia Harding, Jared Flood, Ysolda, Pam Powers, Kate Davies, Mari Lynn Patrick, Tiny Owl Knits, Stephen West, Shiri Mor, Hanna Fettig, Pam Allen, Veronik Avery, Gudrun Johnston, Stefanie Japel, Vickie Howell, Carrie Bostick Hoge, Rosemary Hill…and the list goes on and on… 🙂
Is there a big fiber arts culture in Brazil?
I like to think that internet is enabling a knitting culture in Brazil. We don’t have a knitting culture per se, but with the online knitting groups, I believe that we are on the path to create one in the future…who knows! Most Brazilians know crochet and we have cotton yarns that are great for this craft.
Do you have a favorite design in your portfolio that was inspired by your culture/environment?
I love Izabel, Allegra and Halona shawls, Cecilia, Betina and Raaga cardigans… I think that I don’t have a favourite…maybe a fave for a specific day!
To celebrate this sweet journey, I developed a mini collection, inspired by the idea of physically travel to so many countries! Which pieces are key for this adventure? I just can think about layers, comfort and practicality in gorgeous colors! I would like to present to you: Ametrine, a wide shawl, that fully embrace your body, keeping you warm and free to move, Amalie, an open front cardigan that can be also used upside-down, with lots of ease but a feminine touch to enhance the waist, and Amity, a versatile cowl, designed to snugly fit your neck and shoulders. The mini collection Ready to go around the world – basic and comfy pieces for adventurous knitters that love traveling, has fun constructions and different representation of lines, such as colorful stripes and lots of ribbing with a little twist to create shapes and textures. Do you remember the math concept: the smallest distance between two points are a straight line? There we go!
Use coupon code: aroundtheworldin80skein to get a free copy of my new design, Amity, for customers who purchased any of my other designs from the new e-book Ready to go around the world – basic and confy pieces for adventurous knitters who love travelling.
I love them all! Thank you for sharing your beautiful designs and home with us!