We are so happy to be bringing you an interview with one of our favorite crafters, Jennifer Casa. Jennifer has been a long time Petite Purls friend, and one of our first designers. Jennifer is well versed in both knitting and sewing and her first book, Teach Yourself VISUALLY: Crafting with Kids is to be released this Spring.
Jennifer, thank you for being our Renaissance Mom this issue! Why don’t you start by telling us how you got into crafting.
I have always loved making things and grew up encouraged to pursue my interests, be it arts + crafts, music, dance, sports, whatever. My mom is an avid quilter and taught me the fundamentals of sewing when I was in grade school, and then I learned to knit while I was an exchange student in Germany during high school. I picked up the rest on my own from books and through plenty of trial and error.
How did you get into designing? You are a multi-crafter. What do you feel you focus on the most?
My background in teaching definitely prepared me for what I do today - breaking down a project into steps, and then communicating in a way that can be understood by people with different learning styles. For a few years I spent my free time taking art courses, mostly bookbinding and printmaking, and eventually I fell in love with making pottery. There is something amazing about taking a hunk of clay and transforming it into a beautiful and functional finished piece. The seeds of design rooted themselves the more I used my hands to create something from my imagination. Motherhood rekindled my interest in knitting and I eventually dusted off my sewing machine as well. Fast forward to the present and every day involves stitching of some sort, be it knitting, sewing or embroidery.
You have your first book coming out sometime in the very near future! Congratulations! How did the book come about?
Thanks! It was all rather serendipitous, actually. I had an idea for a knitting and sewing book that kept me up nights, so my husband gifted me a book on writing book proposals. I began working with a literary agent who shopped it around, and then I was presented with the opportunity to write a book on Crafting with Kids as a part of the popular Teach Yourself Visually series. Shortly thereafter, my original proposal was picked up as well - how cool is that! I ended up with two books in the works right around the time I was diagnosed with MS last year, and I have to say this has all brought such clarity to my life. I have always been a dreamer, and now it seems my love of knitting, sewing and crafting combined with designing, writing and teaching has me pursuing opportunities I had previously only imagined. I’m excited to see what’s next.
Are you a work-at-home mom or do you have a work space out of the home? If you are a work-at-home mom, how do you juggle your work duties with your mom duties?
I have a small, designated workspace/studio in our home which I absolutely love. I’m sure many people can relate to the challenges of working from home with small children because there is always something else that needs to be done. Having a door is nice - I can hunker down in the evenings when inspiration strikes or deadlines are looming, and also leave work when I need the separation.
What inspires your creativity?
Everything triggers and makes memories, really - an image, an aroma, a song, a piece of fabric, something in nature, a story. I have a few sketchbooks/journals to anchor ideas when the spirit moves me, and they in turn spark new interests and endeavors.
You are blessed to have twin girls at home. What do you think has been your biggest struggle as a working mom?
It’s all about balance. Now that the girls are in half-day kindergarten, I am afforded some quiet time to work while they’re at school, and then I try my best to simply be Mama after school. It sounds easy, but sometimes I really have to work at being in the moment and not multitasking so much. I love that we have lunch together each day and I cherish this special time with them - each day is truly something to treasure, so we try our best to be positive and make our days full of goodness.
What are your goals for yourself or your business for your future?
I would very much like to grow my business to include more pattern design and writing, of course, and I look forward to creating more handmade goods for sale in the future as well. I hope to someday have a larger studio space perhaps with a few other people, and I look forward to doing workshops for adults and kids, combining my years of teaching experience with my love of crafting.
What other hobbies do you like to dabble in? What is your favorite way to relax?
My husband and I have spent the past year of late nights in a recording studio working on a new album with our band, Mild Mannered. Our CD is being released this summer and we’re really excited about getting our music out there, playing live again and continuing to write and record together. I also enjoy cooking, listening to music and Saturday NPR, reading, and going treasure-hunting for vintage + antique goodies whenever I get a chance.
Do you have any advice to give other women that are interested in starting their own small business?
Be yourself, do what you love and do it well. Make a plan that fits into your life and then go for it. Ask for help when you need it, and surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
What is your favorite game to play with your kids?
We enjoy a lot of imaginary play, love puzzles and are always up for a freeze dance.
Thank you Jennifer for a wonderful interview! We look forward to seeing what's next from you!
Thank you so much for the opportunity to once again be a part of the Petite Purls family!