Maker Spotlight: Knit Graffiti

Lesley Anne Robinson of Knit Graffiti has made a name for herself in the knitting world with her visually pleasing patterns, primarily using two-colour brioche. Her designs have been featured on the blog more than once, both in The Bucket List: Shawls and The Bucket List: Brioche posts, and every time a new design of her’s comes out I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful things she can create! Her designs are a big part of the reason I learned to knit two-colour brioche over a year ago! Of course, I was beyond pleased when Lesley agreed to this interview, and in our emailing back and forth, I could feel her positivity and passion for what she does shine through. This interview is full of gems of creativity and inspiration, and make sure to read till the end to enter the giveaway, with a grand prize of a Feel Good Yarn Co. kit of Silverspun Sock yarn with Lesley’s latest pattern release – Organic Angles!

Don’t be surprised if you feel compelled to learn brioche after reading!

How long has knitting been a part of your life?

Knitting has been a part of my life on and off since I was a child, when I knit my first blanket for my doll.  It was pink (what a surprise) and garter stitch and I loved it!  I didn’t really touch yarn or needles again until I went away to college and was introduced to the Fiber Arts.  I attended the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit, Michigan, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design in 2006, and a Minor in Fiber Design.  CCS is a very craft-heavy school, and I was required to take a fibers class for my Interiors degree.  Little did I know we would actually be MAKING the fibers, learning all the different techniques used to create the fabric I was specifying and using in my designs!  It was a very basic course, we learned how to knit, weave, sew, crochet, dye, and felt.  But it was enough of an introduction for me to know that I wanted more!  I enrolled in the Fibers minor program and was immediately hooked. I actually did a lot more weaving in college, and only a small amount of knitting.  When I graduated, I started knitting a lot more, following patterns and creating some of my own.  So…the short answer is about 11 years, but obsessively for the past 3 years!  
Y’All Shawl by Lesley Anne Robinson

What are your favorite hobbies when you’re not knitting?

When I’m not knitting or working on the administrative end of my business, I am also an Interior Designer!  I’m not sure that counts as a hobby, but I also do freelance design work for the interior design firm where I worked for many years in NYC.  We also just purchased our first home last year, so I have made it a hobby to work on fixing it up in my spare time.  Our house was built in the late 70’s, and was NEVER updated in that time!  So you can imagine, we have our work cut out for us.  But it’s so much fun, and I enjoy daydreaming and planning all the creative ways we can make this house our home.   I also love cooking, taking care of plants, playing board games with my family, and I’ve recently started sewing my own clothes, which is kind of addicting.  If only I had more time to do it!  I guess that’s why they call it slow fashion, right?
Organic Angles Hat Pattern. Photo credit to Peter Mowry Photography

What led you to first make the leap in designing knitwear?

 I would have to say, brioche knitting!!  When I first found brioche, I became deeply obsessed, and it hasn’t really gone away.  I wanted to knit myself a one-color squishy brioche hat for the cold Michigan winters, but I didn’t really find any patterns that I loved, or that fit the vision in my head.  So, with a little push from my knitting friends, and with the help from Nancy Marchant’s book, Knitting Fresh Brioche, I designed my first pattern, Pink Graffiti!
Photo credit to Knit Graffiti / Lesley Anne Robinson

 So many of your designs feature beautiful brioche! How did you learn this challenging technique? Any advice for other knitters wanting to learn brioche?

Yes, as I said above, brioche is what got me into designing!  I was utterly fascinated with it, and it’s quite a funny story how I found out about it.  I have long been knitting for my family, and my husband (who is a philosopher, and is always challenging me to think in new and different ways) asked if there was such a thing as vertical striping!  I was immediately intrigued (and was still a little new to the knitting scene), and started researching.  Not long after I started my research, I stumbled upon two-color brioche, and some projects created by Purl Soho.  Their use of neutrals and neons just grabbed me, and I knew I needed to learn this amazing technique.  I downloaded Stephen West’s free pattern, Ferocious Briocheous, and cast on with some stash yarn.  This was such a great first project, because it’s miles of one-color brioche, and really helped me to develop the muscle memory. Not long after I started this project, I received Knitting Fresh Brioche as a Christmas present!  The book had just been published, and Nancy was hosting a Willow shawl KAL, I was in!!  And I never looked back, it has taken me on a journey that has challenged me to think outside the box, and has also inspired me beyond my wildest dreams.
I believe that knitters of all levels can learn brioche, and love it.  One-color brioche is a great place to start, because you don’t have to think about two different yarns, yet your hands will still learn the movements of brioche.  Two-color brioche is definitely easier to see the anatomy of the stitches, but takes a little getting used to sliding your work back and forth.  I am so accustomed to brioche knitting that when I’m NOT knitting brioche, I will randomly throw in a yarn over, or just slide my work to the other end of my needle!  And then I’ll realize that I’m not briocheing, haha.  There are some fantastic resources out there, Craftsy classes, www.briochestitch.com, and also be sure to check out The Unapologetic Knitter’s website and blog for some great video tutorials.  I am also working on a few things for the future of brioche knitting and teaching, so stay tuned!!  I can’t quite share them with you yet.
Deco Mug Mat by Lesley Anne Robinson

That is so exciting to hear about – I know I would love to see more brioche tutorials out there! So, where does the inspiration for your patterns come from?

Each project is completely different!!  Sometimes I’m inspired by the yarn itself: the colors, the texture, the speckles.  Sometimes I’m inspired by a pattern that I’ve seen: in nature, in fabric, or even a stitch pattern.  Or sometimes they’re inspired by something completely in the moment, like my Rebel shawl and Carrie Fisher, which was inspired by her memory as Princess Leia.
My favorite kind of inspiration is when I am collaborating with another designer or yarn dyer, and we come up with an idea together.  That’s when the true magic happens.  My Dandelion Fields shawl design was inspired by the yarn dyer, Peepaloo Fields, who told me that to her, brioche always resembles dandelions opening up to seed.
Dandelion Fields Shawl by Lesley Anne Robinson

What do you struggle with most as a knitwear designer?

Finding the time to knit all the things I dream about!!! Isn’t that what we all struggle with, though?  I am very grateful that I have so many ideas, and that I have found my true passion. Right now, I am what you would call a Work-At-Home-Mom, taking care of our two small children as well as working from home.  It’s quite amazing that we have been able to do this, and is another thing I am so grateful for.  My oldest son will be starting Kindergarten this fall, and I sort of feel like it’s going to be a game changer!  And with my husband’s flexible schedule (he’s a Philosophy Professor, so has a lot of time off), I do get ample time to work.  But why doesn’t it feel like enough sometimes??  Well, it’s all about finding the perfect balance between working, playing, and resting.  I’m still trying to find it.

What do you love the most about knitting?

Knitting for me is a total release.  It is how I cope with the world around me, whether I’m exhausted, grieving, extremely happy, or frustrated. It is so relaxing, and design makes it also exciting.  There are endless options with knitting, so many millions of ways to manipulate a piece of yarn with two needles, it is so fascinating.  I like to imagine the people who invented knitting, and be a fly on the wall while they were coming up with the basic stitches to create the clothing they needed to wear every day.  Can you imagine?
Summer Vibes by Lesley Anne Robinson

If you could knit anywhere in the world, where would you knit?

Ooooh if I could choose one place right at this very moment, it would be Paris, France. I have never seen that glorious city, but my heart has been there.  The romance, the art, the lights, the air.  It all just seems like it would be the most perfect place to create something unforgettable.  I also long to visit the quaint yarn shop, La Bien Aimée, and see all of their amazing yarn in person and sit and drink tea and speak French.  Sigh, c’est la vie.
Breezy Cabana Shawl by Lesley Anne Robinson

That does sound amazing! Do you have any advice for knitwear designers trying to break into the field?

My advice is, just go for it!!  If you have an idea that you love, or something important you want to say through your art, start creating and see where it takes you!  Designing has been such a great learning experience for me, and I am still learning new things every day.  It’s a way to broaden your horizons, burst out of your comfort bubble, and share your ideas with the world.  Find your niche, what do you love the most?  Is there a certain stitch pattern that you’re drawn to again and again?  Colors that you love, and reflect who you are inside?  Use them!!  Use them all together to create a wearable piece of art that you will never want to take off!  The design field can seem intimidating at first, there are so many designers, and so many designs out there.  But I say, there is room for all of us!!  Especially with this growing world and social media, enabling us to communicate with people across the globe.
Sizzle Pop Shawl by Lesley Anne Robinson
Designing knitwear is a way to broaden your horizons, burst out of your comfort bubble and share your ideas with the world
– Lesley Anne Robinson of Knit Graffiti
Pink Madness by Knit Graffiti

What’s next? Any exciting upcoming projects, collaborations, etc. that you’d like to share with us?

I have some pretty exciting projects coming up for this Fall / Winter!!  I have a new garment in testing, using Primrose Yarn Co‘s gorgeous yarns. And another exciting collaboration with House of A La Mode yarn and Kitterly, coming this holiday season!!

Thank you so much for this inspiring interview, Lesley! Lesley has also very generously offered to give away one free pattern of her newly released Organic Angles brioche hat to readers of the blog, and thanks to the generosity of the Feel Good Yarn Co., one grand prize of a Silverspun Sock Yarn Kit to knit the pattern! Read on for the details of how to enter.

 All photos are credited to Lesley Anne Robinson and Peter Mowry Photography.

Pattern and Yarn Kit Giveaway!!!

Winner Announcement!

The two prizes up for grabs are:

  • A digital copy of the Organic Angles brioche hat pattern – winner: janefrogged
  • A Grand Prize of the Silverspun Yarn Kit from FGYC along with the Organic Angles brioche hat pattern! – winner: DaiseyB

Congrats to both the winners!

Contest is now closed.

Maker Spotlight - Featuring Lesley Anne Robinson of Knit Graffiti. Pattern shown is Organic Angles brioche hat pattern using Silverspun Sock yarn by Feel Good Yarn Co.

39 Comment

  1. Allison says:

    Such a gorgeous hat pattern! I’d learn brioche for that! Fieldwonderful on rav

  2. Anna says:

    Soooooo beautiful! My Rav ID is annajane

    1. Pam says:

      Ravelry ID Angel4J522 – Thank you for this opportunity!!

  3. Rheba says:

    Rhebaatl

  4. Jane Clay says:

    Lovely! Rav id is janefrogged.

  5. Paula Ronan says:

    Lovely interview and thoughtful answers. I think I need to try brioche. Rav: notaprincess

  6. Nicole Bell says:

    Oh my- soooo beautiful! My Ravelry ID: nicolebell

  7. Shamim Mahmood says:

    Really interesting interview, I love reading designers interviews; you always learn something new. Raverly ID flowersparks.

  8. Jessica says:

    Looks like I’m going to get over my fear of brioche! Those patterns are awesome. Rav ID: MsJessica.

  9. Cindy says:

    Lovely work.
    Will be looking for patterns indeed.
    Revelry name – cda

  10. Becky says:

    Great interview! I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it, and would love a chance to win a copy or a kit. My Rav id is schbeckys. Thanks for the giveaway!

  11. Anne says:

    Great interview! I’m AnneBeanVA on Ravelry.

  12. Hi, I’m ch4rl13sm1th on Ravelry. Loved the interview, and I think I would like to learn brioche now!

  13. Nicole Weathers says:

    Ya know, I haven’t ever tried brioche and would love to delve in on this project! My ravelry ID is nickiw. Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. Remy says:

    Beautiful! Ravelry: rdunavant

  15. Amy says:

    What a great interview and great hat. My rav name is nevermore.

  16. Barbara says:

    I would love to learn to knit Brioche and winning this giveaway would help me do that. My Ravelry ID is DaiseyB.

  17. Julia says:

    Thanks for the giveaway! My ravelry ID is jlbunch

  18. Edith says:

    Now it’s sure, i must try ! 2018 will be “briochée”. Merci ! My rav is gelinotta

  19. Sumitra Lahiri says:

    Beautiful brioche! So clever!
    My rav name is mitsknits

  20. Cathie Faucher says:

    Thanks so much for this giveaway!
    My ravelry ID is Farmlady1545

  21. Peggy says:

    Great article and love the Princess Leia reference. Lol RID freshknits

  22. karen powell says:

    wow beautiful work. I can’t wait to learn brioche…my first career choice was a chef and i love brioche from the kitchen…so I am excited to learn it in knitting. some pretty cool patterns.
    My ravelry is KarenPowellCanada email is kep@nbnet.nb.ca. Good luck everyone.

  23. I am inspired! Itching to get home to start switching brioche. Thanks for the great interview. Ravelry ID: Megkal

  24. Deb Jonckheere says:

    Great interview! Because of Leslie and her sister-in-law, Andrea, Michigan knitters and many others, are bonkers for brioche.
    Deb
    Rav ID: FiberFloozieDeb

  25. Theresa Black says:

    This is a beautiful hat pattern. I have tried brioche a couple times and failed, but for some reason I can do the offset version that makes the tiny hearts. Someday I will learn plain brioche!! My ravelry name is Tabnicaragua

  26. Koreen grantham says:

    Thiis article is amazing. I love this pattern and yarn!!! So glad I found you. Happy trails!

    Instagram: bikerchicknits

  27. Lori says:

    Awesome giveaway!!! My ravelry ID is LoriLParsons…Love this pattern..thanks for the chance 😊

  28. Amy Rouse says:

    My Rav id is Countess

  29. Linda Connolly says:

    Some day I’ll be brave enough to try brioche! Enjoyed the interview!
    Ravelry ID Dragonboater

  30. Anne-Lise says:

    Really interesting interview and wonderful work….I’m in love with this hat and the Summer Vibe Shawl !

    Ravelry ID : anelyse

  31. Tamara Snell says:

    Hi! Thanks for this giveaway! My Rav ID is CoolKnitannia. I knitted my first brioche project at the start of the year–only single colour brioche. I’m keen to try two colours. You do get in a real rhythm with brioche, but fixing mistakes is a real trial.

  32. Holly says:

    Fun! Rav Id: trickyholly

  33. Roslyn says:

    I loved reading Lesley’s story and yes, now I want to learn Brioche knitting!
    Ravelry name: Roslyn68

  34. Ravelry ID: Jellyknits

    Super design and a perfect knitting project to do for my daughter who is moving cross country for college!!

  35. Birgitta says:

    Lovely pattern and yarn! Ravelry id: Mellby14

  36. Brioche is on my list of To Learn, I haven’t tried it yet but you’re right : seeing these gorgeous patterns makes me want to learn it stat. Thanks for the giveaway, I enjoy receiving your newsletters and reading your posts, even if I don’t comment often. My Ravelry ID : missagnes

  37. Stephanie H. says:

    I have dabbled a bit with brioche, and I am ready to knit a wonderful hat like the Organic Angles. -seestephyknit on Ravelry

  38. Tamera says:

    Brioche is definitely next on my list! Great post! Rav ID: tamerarogers

Comments are closed.