Once upon a time, there was a super active and energetic granny who lived amongst the apple trees with her five grandkids. Besides climbing trees and making pancakes, she also loved knitting and crocheting. Her youngest granddaughter, who was the most like her, picked up her love of crocheting only many years later. This girl is Pirjo, creator of Mango Musi.
Mango is Pirjo’s son’s favorite fruit, and “musi” is the Estonian word for “kisses”, which her daughter loves giving. One thing the three-year-old girl doesn’t love is grey tights, because she “doesn’t want to be a grey mouse”.
The stories can go on forever at Pirjo’s Mango Musi, and Pirjo is quite the storyteller. Here’s how Mango Musi crochet brings fun and color to friends and people everywhere!
1. How would you describe the style of Mango Musi?
Colorful and fun.
I love playing with colors in my work, especially contrasting colors. This is true not only for my crochet, but also for my own clothes. I don’t have any pieces of black clothing in my wardrobe. A few weeks ago, my three-year-old daughter refused to wear grey tights because she “didn’t want to be a grey mouse.”
Growing up in Estonia, northern Europe, I read a lot of books by a Swedish children’s author called Astrid Lindgren. One of her favorite book characters is an active, fun, colorful and a naughty little girl called Pippi Longstocking.
I still read this book every once in a while to get inspired about how fun and color-loving kids can be.
Another important source of my inspiration is vintage crochet and knitting books. Luckily, I’ve got quite a lot of them.
2. What is the most important thing you learned from your grandmother?
My grandmother taught me not only the importance of hard work, but also that the more you do, the more you have time to do other things.
I love taking crafts classes to learn new skills, such as weaving (I even inherited a full-sized weaving loom from my granny, but it doesn’t fit into my crafts room because it’s so big), bobbin lace, embroidery and so on. But nothing beats crocheting!
3. Why did you choose crochet and not other crafts?
It’s embarrassing, but I’m not going to lie. When I was in school, crocheting seemed to take the least time to get results. Compared to knitting and embroidery, it only took half the time of knitting a pot holder to crochet one. As a young girl, I wasn’t fond of crafts and I just wanted (well, I’d even say needed) to pass the class, nothing else.
As an adult, I need practical things to do after a long day at the office (I consider myself a practical person) and I rediscovered crocheting. I started off with crocheting home decor, like curtains, tablecloths and bedspreads, then moved on to crocheting clothes. I still crochet home decor every once in a while, but usually for special occasions such as when a very good friend of mine is getting married and I need a wedding gift.
4. How is crochet clothing different from regular clothing?
As funny as it might sound, I don’t crochet garments for myself. I just don’t have time to crochet for myself. I have tons of ideas about what to make, but being a mom with two toddlers, I’d rather make something cute for them. Luckily, I have an amazing friend, who’s a dressmaker, so my wardrobe is not empty but filled with colorful dresses and skirts.
5. What is your definition of good design?
An Italian designer, Massimo Vignelli said:
“Styles come and go. Good design is a language, not a style.”
I can’t agree more! I think a good design is like a language that you reflect, and the language is a mirror that reflects you and your background. The things that I carry with me daily, physical or not, reflect who I am.
5. How do you balance the roles of being a mother, artist, businesswoman, and yourself?
My dog is the cure for everything—when I need to relax, get inspired or get my mind off something, I take my dog for a walk or a run in the woods. I live in Madrid, Spain, and luckily we’ve got a park-forest next to the house where I recharge myself almost every day. I’m a countryside girl, who grew up in a house in a forest, so the best way to find balance for myself is to spend time outdoors, listening to the sound of trees, wind and grass. They’re my natural headphones.
6. What are important care tips to know about merino wool products?
Merino wool products last longer when they are washed with lower temperatures. I recommend washing at 30ºC.
Also, you don’t have to wash wool garments very often because the wool fibers are breathable and absorb moisture, so the wool resists odours and creases. To dry a garment, lay it flat so you can shape the garment to its original shape. One of the newest tips I found recently is to wash the clothes inside out to avoid pilling.
If you have a puppy, one thing I recommend is to not have crochet or handmade bedspreads or cushions in the house. Store them away until the puppy grow up a bit and doesn’t chew every single item. I learned this the hard way because I crocheted a big bedspread for my brother as a wedding gift, and a few months later, they had a puppy who “redecorated” the bedspread. Luckily I was able to mend it.
7. What’s your favorite piece of work? What are your children’s favorite pieces?
Usually whatever piece I’m making becomes my favorite because I put my heart into what I’m working on. But I do like custom orders the most because then it’s challenging for me as a designer to understand the needs of a customer. There was a Christening dress for a baby girl that I enjoyed a lot because I knew how important the occasion was for the parents. It was the first time I made such a dress, and I was more than happy with the result.
One of my all-time favorite pieces is the retro-style tablecloth I made as a wedding gift for my friend because I know how much she loves vintage style stuff. Plus she’s a super fun and colorful girl!
Last summer, I made a yellow-blue striped matching t-shirt and dress for my son and daughter. They wore them a lot in summer.
8. Lastly, what do you think your granny would have to say about Mango Musi?
When my granny was young, becoming an independent designer wasn’t even an option, so all the clothing and home decor was for her home and family. I’m so happy I have this opportunity to turn my ideas into crochet garments and that people find joy in them.
My late granny would definitely say: ”Go, baby, go!”
Ready to find out more about Pirjo’s Mango Musi? Head to the Mango Musi shop!
More stories of kids’ clothing and crochet crafts