Meet Emilee Reynolds, a passionate knitting pattern designer with a heartwarming journey. In 2005, she embarked on this creative path, guided by her beloved grandmother’s skilled hands. Her initial motive was simple yet sentimental – to carry on the cherished tradition of knitting Christmas stockings for her future family. Fast forward to 2023, and she has not only achieved her dream of publishing a knitting book but has also crafted a beautiful legacy inspired by her grandmother and daughter, Elizabeth.
Tell us a bit about your journey to become a knitting pattern designer. When did you learn to knit?
I learned how to knit in 2005 thanks to my sweet grandma, Carol Grant. I asked her if she could teach me how to knit so I could take over the family tradition of Christmas stockings. I wanted to make sure my future children had stockings and I wanted to learn how to do it.
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A year later, I was creating new designs since I couldn’t find patterns that resonated with me. I knew someday I wanted to publish a knitting book but I didn’t have a clue on how to do that. In 2015, I hired a graphic designer to help me create a Christmas Stocking Pattern book. It was a 20-page booklet that included 10 designs. It was the start of my dream of publishing a book.
One of my favorite quotes from the movie, Pretty Woman, a man at the end says, “What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.” My journey of becoming a knitting pattern designer has become my dream because of a family tradition and I’m so grateful that I learned how to knit.
It was all because I wanted to take over the family tradition of knitted Christmas stockings. I’ve always wanted to be a mom and knew that my children needed Christmas stockings. I didn’t know how long my grandma would be alive or be able to knit so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind teaching me. Of course, she said yes and was happy to spend some quality time with me. Knitting became my passion and it started with a simple idea.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
In the beginning, I watched a lot of Project Runway which inspired me to create collections. A lot of times I get ideas in my head of certain collections I would like to create.
My first collection was for a friend with whom I instantly connected. We both had a special needs daughter so we became instant friends. At the time when our daughters were both alive, I wanted to give my friend’s family some knitted stockings. She gave me a few ideas for her family and I got to work on the designs. So, most of my inspiration comes from asking families what they like and some ideas come from Pinterest.
Tell us a bit more about your new book, Knitted Christmas Stockings.
Knitted Christmas Stockings is the first book that I published and I’m extremely happy about it. I dedicated the book to my grandma who taught me how to knit but passed away in 2018 and my daughter, Elizabeth who passed away last December. These two women have taught me about dedication, hard work, and love. Since they taught me valuable lessons, I wanted to create a Knitted Christmas Stocking book that included unique and fun designs. This book includes 25 festive designs to make for family and friends. Most of these stockings were gifted to people who I felt needed some extra love in their lives.
Do you use a sketchbook or journal? How does that help your work develop?
I have a variety of supplies which include a notebook, graph paper, and a pencil.
First, I sketch my designs on graph paper and then I figure out the color scheme. I like using graph paper because I can write notes on the side and back. Then I insert the graph paper into page protectors.
I have several folders that hold these pages and of course, I’ve alphabetized them by collections. Then after I knit the stocking, I create the pdfs. I use the notebook to jot down ideas as well as tasks that need to be completed. It has been a great system for me.
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, podcasts, movies? If so, what kind?
When I’m working on my word/excel documents, I often listen to my Pandora: Enya Radio which has a variety of instrumental, meditative, and rhythm piano sounds. I learned how to play piano when I was five years old so it has always resonated with me. I love how calm and lovely it sounds.
However, when I knit, I’ll binge-watch anything on Netflix, a Tottenham Hotspur game, a Hallmark movie or series show, Survivor or Amazing Race and/or an audible book. I’ve always loved the idea of doing two things at once. I love listening to a book or watching a show. It gives me a chance to unwind and relax.
How often do you start a new project? Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
I actually work on one knitting project at a time. However, I design multiple patterns at a time because I always want to be ahead of my own schedule.
My goal for this year was to complete 52 new Christmas stockings/designs. I have two left for the year and then I’ll work on videos and probably get a head start for 2024 on stocking designs.
I LOVE knitting Christmas stockings. I’ve found my rhythm and can even knit without looking. I recently learned how to knit wearable socks and hope to expand my knitting knowledge.
Can you tell us about the inspiration and process of one of your works? How does a new work come about?
The inspiration and process start with a few ideas for a collection.
First, I think of a theme for a collection such as Forest Friends. Then I break it down by animal and start sketching on graph paper. All of my stockings follow a similar format so creating designs has become easier.
Then I choose a color scheme for the entire set of stockings. Then I start knitting. Sometimes I’ll create a pdf so I will see the colors but most of the time, I just go with it, and if there are any alterations, I’ll make the correct adjustments while knitting.
Then I create the Word/Excel documents. As I said before, my goal for this year is to create a new pattern each week. This has helped me stay on task and develop new designs that people can knit for their family and friends.
Which part of the design process is your favorite? Which part is a challenge for you?
My favorite part of the design process is when I have a family in mind to create Christmas stockings for. I love getting their input. It definitely brings a lot of happiness when I can share my creativity with them.
The challenging part is graphing the design because sometimes the end result doesn’t look right. So, then I have to make changes and redo it. I’m sort of a perfectionist in my own work so that can be a challenge to me.
How has your work changed over time?
In the beginning, I was knitting designs that my grandma had given me and I was only knitting for family. Then I began knitting for friends and I started an Etsy shop where I was knitting for other people. I had a client who wanted 13 of the same Santa stockings. It was fantastic! I learned that there were so many people who had these vintage Christmas stockings when they were young. They wanted the same ones for their family to continue that tradition. Of course, I wanted to help.
Then I started watching Project Runway which inspired me to create a variety of collections. Then I fell in love with designing new patterns. Then I wanted to “give back” to families in need so I began knitting new patterns and giving them away.
In the meantime, I was reviewing craft books for GMC Publishing and finally got the nerve to ask if they would be interested in a Knitted Christmas Stocking book. It doesn’t hurt to ask. That is what I’ve learned from my mom. Luckily, they were interested and I already had all of the designs ready so it was an easy task to give them what they wanted. I always wanted to publish a knitting book and hope to create more in the future. My knitting world has definitely changed over time.
What is your favorite tip for organizing your yarn? Especially the bits of yarn left from projects.
I have a closet dedicated to my knitting hobby. I have organized it over and over again and I’m pretty sure I need to reorganize it.
I recommend organizing your yarn by color. I have white open bins so I can grab and go. I have white clear containers with lids to store my sample stockings. I also have a jar where I put all of the smaller balls of yarn and I have a few baskets for larger-sized balls of yarn.
It is exciting to go “shop” for yarn in my closet. I’m sure my closet will continue to change as I keep adding new stockings to the mix. That is one of the reasons why I decided to gift some of my stockings to those in need so I wouldn’t end up with lots of stockings.
With a busy family, how do you make time for knitting?
That is a great question because, at this moment, I’m trying to figure that one out!
After my daughter passed in December 2022, I needed something that would give me purpose. I was her full-time caregiver and although I have two other children in third and eighth grade, I needed something else to fulfill that need. I decided to take a position at an Elementary School as a Paraprofessional for kids who have autism.
Since I have a part-time job, I try to fit knitting in whenever I have a moment. I normally will knit a lot more at night. I feel knitting has helped me de-stress and get through the grieving process so I do make time for it.
When you have time to create for yourself, what kinds of projects do you make?
I actually feel that when I create projects for myself, I am knitting Christmas stockings and that has satisfied my needs. However, I would love to learn how to knit socks. Hopefully, I will publish a second book so I’m trying to think of other ideas. But, more likely I’ll stick to Christmas stockings. They definitely make me happy because I’m a huge fan of Christmas.
When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
I can’t remember the first time but I’ve always loved my art classes, especially in High School. I remember getting excited when my art teacher would ask us to create something. I remember when she gave us clay and asked us to create a house. I’m pretty sure my house was made with a Christmas theme. Also, I do remember finger knitting and making friendship bracelets (it was a huge deal in the 80’s). I think I’ve always been a creative person which led me to ask my grandma to teach me to knit.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have as compared to people who are not creative?
I think creative people are curious, open-minded, risk-takers and persistent. I am definitely all of those and have always been that way.
We are also daydreamers so ideas are always forming. I have become a creative mom. Each day during Fall Break, I have come up with silly activities for my kids such as Maid + Movie Monday. That means that we do a few chores and once they are done, we get to watch a fun Halloween movie. Sometimes, the day continues and we come up with last-minute ideas such as Moving Monday where we go on a bike ride and jump in the pool since it is 100 degrees outside (during October).
As a creative person, I have the capacity to produce ideas that are unique and adaptive. Whereas a noncreative person will say, “I don’t have the ability to be creative.” They tend to be more analytical and logical in their thinking.
What (or who) has been your biggest inspiration in keeping your creative energy going?
My parents have always encouraged and supported me in everything that I do. I appreciate them more than they know. I love that when I have a crazy idea, they go along with it and cheer me on. They are definitely my biggest cheerleaders. Since they are my parents, I feel my creative energy has grown tremendously. They have told me to never give up and to keep on going.
Where can people find you and your designs?
I have an Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetlyMadeJustForU) and Ravelry Shop (https://www.ravelry.com/stores/sweetly-made-just-for-you). I also have an Instagram (@sweetlymadejustforyou) where I post all of my weekly new designs. I’ve started a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/@sweetlymadejustforyou) and hope to create more videos. I also have a website (https://www.sweetlymadejustforyou.com/) where I post my reviews of books and other products, although, I’m not as active as I used to be.
Interview posted October 2023
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