Meet the Maker: Emilie Flora

Jul 2021

At Woolyknit, we love to see your amazing yarn creations on social media, and each month we like to get to know a maker and celebrate their talent. This week we chatted with the lovely Emilie about her incredible small business and all things machine knitting.

Emilie creates beautiful machine knit accessories and homeware inspired by the 1970s and festival aesthetic, using bright and colourful yarn. In our interview with Emilie, we talked about her creative process and inspiration, as well as her top tips for fellow machine knitters.

If you want to buy yourself one of Emilie’s designs, be sure to check out her shop.

So grab yourself a cup of tea and scroll down to find the full interview!

Tell us a bit about yourself and how YOUr small business came to be

My name is Emilie and I founded Emilie Flora, after graduating, in 2019. I am a lover of all things colourful, patterned and eclectic. 

From a young age I knew that I wanted to pursue a creative pathway; I always had a project on the go, from painting and collaging to sewing. I was lucky enough to study Art, Textiles and Photography at A Level which gave me the opportunity to play around with a plethora of mediums, techniques and ideas. Above all else I fell in love with fibres and experimenting with various construction techniques, including weave, crochet and knit. I feel fortunate that I was able to undertake three creative subjects at A Level as it meant that I was able to try out a huge array of creative techniques and find the one that I enjoyed the most without having to do a foundation year. 

I went on to study Textile Design at Birmingham City University and specialised in Constructed Textiles. It was here that I was introduced to machine knitting and I haven’t looked back since! I immediately fell in love with methods that created pattern – most of all being the punch card technique. Throughout all of my projects I found myself incorporating bold and playful patterns created using punch cards – whether that was testing the scale of the patterns through felting the finished fabric or combining patterned knits with delicate crochet, I loved it all! 

During my time at university I did various placements and enjoyed each one for different reasons but felt that working for someone else wasn’t for me. I always quite liked the idea of working for myself and having complete creative freedom so after graduating in 2019, I decided to set up Emilie Flora. I launched my business with the aim of creating vibrant, playful accessories for everyone to enjoy, wear and display in their homes.

Emilie Flora is a one women business, with each product lovingly handcrafted by myself in the Midlands, UK. I do everything from product design and making, content creation, managing the website and selling platforms, markets and events, dispatch and admin. I feel so lucky that this is my job, I’m my own boss and I’m able to knit each and every day! 

DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGNS IN 3 WORDS

Funky, playful, vibrant

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST KNITTING PROJECT?

If I’m honest I don’t remember exactly what my first knitting project was; I was taught how to hand knit by my Mum when I was quite young but it wasn’t until A level that I really got into constructed techniques e.g knitting and crochet. 

For one of our A Level Textile modules we were allowed to choose our own briefs. I have always had a fascination with culture and how textile techniques massively vary between different countries and communities. I adore the vast array of patterns, colours and fabrics which are traditionally recognised in different cultures. I was focusing on the craftsmanship which goes into textiles and decided to pick up knitting again and trial combining it with crochet to create unique, intricate fabrics. I absolutely love that with constructed techniques you start off with a ball/cone of yarn and end up with a tangible material, I find it very rewarding. 

WHAT ARE YOUR MACHINE KNITTING TOp tips?

If I was to offer advice to any knitter it’d be ‘Slow and steady wins the race ‘. I always find that when I get too confident or rush things that’s when it starts to go wrong. I’ve had many a heart break (especially at university) where whole samples would fall of the machine or stitches would drop, so I find that taking things at a steady pace achieves good results.

A piece of equipment that I couldn’t be without are my snips; because all Emilie Flora pieces are sewn after the fabric has been knitted snips are ideal for getting really close to the knitted material to cut off loose ends of thread without damaging the product.

 

WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

I find inspiration from many different sources but the three main are the 70s era, festival aesthetic and culture. All of these examples are rich in colour, pattern and texture and offer an endless source of ideas. In addition to that, I adore colour and often find myself noticing it in everything around me. I find so much pleasure in exploring new areas and photographing colour combinations that I stumble across- whether that is packaging that has been left out in the rubbish or peeling paint. It’s these unexpected combinations that make for the most interesting outcomes.

I would say that my creative process is quite natural and I try not to force ideas. If I’m having a week where I can’t think of a new product/pattern I don’t put pressure on myself because I know that it won’t be too long until a new idea forms; later down the line I will notice elements within the finished product that have been informed by colour combinations or patterns that I have observed elsewhere, which is always interesting! I would say that I absorb a lot of my ideas through osmosis, which is why I find it important to take in everything around me because I don’t know what idea it’s going to spark next.

WHat is your favourite thing about running your own creative business?

My favourite thing about having my own business is having complete creative freedom – there aren’t any briefs or guidelines that I have to stick to and there’s no one that I have to okay my design with, I am my own boss!

I also love that everything is under the Emilie Flora name. Often if you work for a company your best designs are sold under their name and you never receive the credit which is something that I find could be quite heart-breaking. It’s amazing having all of my designs under my own name/label which can be recognised.

WHAT IS ON YOUR WOOLYKNIT WISHLIST?

There are SO many gorgeous yarns available at Woolyknit, it’d all be on my wish list if I’d allow it. In particular I would absolutely love to try out the Merino Wool. The handle of merino once it’s been knitted up is so sumptuous and the rich colours that it’s available in are gorgeous! I played around with Merino Wool in one of my university projects and is a fibre that I would love to experiment with again.

WHAT DO YOU WATCH/LISTEN TO WHILE YOU WORK?

I listen to various things when I knit including podcasts, the radio and playlists, it really depends how I’m feeling on the day. In terms of podcasts Grounded with Louis Theroux or Happy Place with Fearne Cotton are my favourites! I adore music, I’d say that I have it on for at least 90% of my day, whatever I’m doing! I find it difficult when someone asks me what my favourite genre/artist is because I like a bit of (almost) anything from disco/ funk to hip hop and music from different cultures. I generally lean to something upbeat to keep me motivated throughout the day. If I listen to the radio Lauren Laverne on radio 6 is my go to or I catch up on Annie Macs’ shows.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT KNITTING?

When the world is a little more normal my main interests are exploring new places and going to festivals/ music events.

I get a lot of enjoyment out of visiting new places, whether that’s a city I haven’t been to before or another country. I was actually on my first solo travel around South America when lockdown first came into place and I had to rush home. The first stop of my trip was to Brazil where I volunteered in Rio making carnival costumes for one of the samba schools! It was amazing to have an insight into all the work that goes into making the floats and costumes and to see the performance rehearsals. As well as Brazil I made it to Bolivia and Peru before I had to come home – it’s definitely somewhere that I will be revisiting to finish off what I started!

I am very hopeful for the return of live music in the near future, I’m longing for the atmosphere and dancing in a crowd once again. Selling my products at festivals has always been one of my main goals so it’d be incredible to do a tour around them all one day and spread the word about Emilie Flora.

Over the past year I’ve picked up/ grown on other more home based past times like cooking and gardening. During lockdown I moved in with my partner and the garden was a blank canvas – I have taken a lot of pleasure in planting it out and seeing the foliage develop over the past year or so. As well as this I’m a house plant fanatic!!

HOW CAN WE BUY YOUR GORGEOUS CREATIONS?

All of my products are available to browse and purchase on emilieflora.com. I am also on Etsy as EmilieFloraShop and the majority of my pieces are also available on thepopupshopgirls.com which is a brilliant platform for small, women owned businesses.

You can also find updates on my Instagram @emilieflora_ about when I will be attending markets/pop up shops, so keep an eye out to see if I will be coming to one near you.

If you love Emilie’s designs as much as we do, you can find her Instagram at @Emilieflora_ and her shop at emilieflora.com.

If you want to be a part of our Meet the Maker series, make sure you tag us using @Woolyknit on your Instagram photos.

All images courtesy of @Emilieflora_

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