Creative Genius: Emma Robertson of Knitting by Design

Creative Genius: Emma Robertson | Knitting by Design

Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books

Emma Robertson is a graphic designer living in San Francisco whose blog, Emmadime, has been on my feedly for the last few years. She’s constantly dropping beautiful eye candy and introducing inspiring people through her Gentle-Man and Lovely Lady posts.

Creative Genius: Emma Robertson | Knitting by Design

Then, last December, Emma released Knitting by Design. If you’ve seen her graphic design work, trust me, the book is every bit as lovely as you’d expect, and (bonus) it was photographed by that oh-so-fab Max Wanger. So last week, I spoke with Emma about how knitting and DIY work in her life.

Creative Genius: Emma Robertson | Knitting by Design

Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books

First things first: Where/when did you learn to knit?

The first time I learned to knit was when I was a little girl in Louisiana with my Grandmother. She has this wonderful lake house that is surrounded by Spanish moss. We go there every year during the holidays to spend time with the family and to relax. It’s the perfect place to pick up a craft like knitting. We would sit in her big comfy chairs and work on projects together. Well, she would be working on an actual project while I was still trying to wrap my head around how to pick up a dropped stitch. It has become something special that we do together and have bonded over.

How did you go from novice knitter to designing your own pieces? 

I basically just make pieces that I wish I had in my closet. A while back, I started a huge knitting board on Pinterest that houses all of my findings and ideas. Coming up with a design and pattern usually consists of sketching from that inspiration until I have a concrete idea that I’m excited about putting energy into. Then I do as much of the technical work as I can until I need assistance from friends and resources. I still consider myself a beginner, so getting help is usually a must. I love sitting down with someone and learning their ways – listening to them teach and passionately discuss their craft.

Creative Genius: Emma Robertson | Knitting by Design

Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books

What’s the next project you’d like to tackle? 
In terms of knitting, I don’t have much lined up. The book was such a huge project — it left me (and my fingers) exhausted & overworked. I want to take a break from producing on such a timeline-driven basis and treat it as a hobby for a while. I need a new hat …

Do you knit for your friends & loved ones? What is your go-to handmade gift? 

The most recent gift that I made was a tiny bow headband in a sweet baby blue color – it was for an 8-year-old family friend. Bows are usually my quick go to piece! But not everyone can rock a knitted bow so I need something else that is more versatile and simple. Maybe a hat? I’ve been really into hats lately.

Creative Genius: Emma Robertson | Knitting by Design

Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books

What’s been your worst DIY fail? 

I’m not going to say this was a complete fail, it just involved the most trial and error I have ever experienced. In my book, there is a knitted tank top pattern that involves dip-dying. I basically took a white tank, dunked the arms and chest into the dye, then flipped it over while it was drying to allow the color to slowly and naturally spread. I think I went through 4 tank tops and about 50 swatches before I got it right. When you mess up, you lose countless hours  –I’ve never experienced such a time loss with a DIY!

How does making things factor into your daily life? 

Sadly, since graphic design is my full time gig and passion, knitting has been put on the back burner. I rarely have the time or energy to work on personal projects or designs – it’s such a time consuming craft. I do try to make things for my apartment though. This year, I have built a coffee table and done tons of painting and planting! It is very important to me to step away from the computer and use my hands – even if it’s for 30 minutes a day.

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The Creative Genius series on Made + Remade features fabulous DIYers and makers who inspire us. Meet more Creative Geniuses and help us share the spirit of DIY!

11 Responses

  1. doris jenkins says:

    love your work…Can you help me with knitting in the round?


About Hannah B. Slaughter 


I’m a graphic designer for HGTV and DIY who loves taking something old, making it new and then adding sparkle. Weekend activities include thrifting with my handsome husband, writing for ...

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