By Jenny Rebholz   Published Aug 23, 2005 at 5:35 AM

{image1}Seeing a woman with some knitting needles or a stylish knit scarf may seem commonplace, but there's nothing common about by the knit items designed by Kristin Gereau.

Born and raised in Milwaukee and educated at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Gereau graduated and headed home to start her artistic career. Art has always been a part of her life, and she intended to study painting at RISD.

A class in surface design took her in a whole different direction, and she majored in textiles instead. She spent a lot of her time weaving, but was inspired by her knitting instructor. Today, she has taken her education and inspiration to bring wearable knits aka "K.Gereau Textiles" to clients from Milwaukee to the East Coast.

Gereau's product line currently includes a variety of scarves: spiked, ribbon, gauzy open lace, striped and rolled. In addition, she offers her signature arm cozies.

"I used to cut up socks in high school to make arm cozies," Gereau recalls. "Now I am taking fashions I always wore and bringing them to the mainstream. I knit what I like to wear."

While her current line offers mostly accessories, she hopes to produce garments in the future.

Knitting what she likes to wear means that it must be colorful and textural. K.Gereau Textiles are typically soft to the touch.

"I use a lot of thin natural yarns, so that my pieces can be airy and have a nice hand. All the fibers I use are premium, so they are soft."

{image2}"I think the attraction to her pieces is the color and the softness, the texture," says Julia Jaegersberg, co-owner of Mio Bella in Brookfield. "You put one of her pieces on and it transforms your outfit."

Although Gereau originally returned to Milwaukee to have a more affordable lifestyle to hone her artistic talents, she soon found it home to her entrepreneurial efforts. While she worked odd jobs and experimented with her Brother knitting machine, a friend enticed her to send a few of her creations to the East Coast for an art show. The quick sale of all of her items gave Gereau the confidence and motivation to take more of a business approach to her creativity.

Today, you can find her creations across the area, from the Underwood Gallery in Wauwatosa and Mio Bella in Brookfield to Lise & Kato's in Whitefish Bay. Shops, fairs and galleries in Door County, Kohler, Elm Grove, New York and Rhode Island are additional markets for K.Gereau Textiles.

Depending on the item and its creative flair, adding a little Gereau influence to your outfit will cost anywhere from $40 to $200.

"The best thing about her work is that it is fresh," says Pamela Anderson of the Underwood Gallery, where Gereau also works. "Her items are not just fashion accessories, they are functional. Her work to me is dynamic, bold and fun because of her great color combinations. The pieces are versatile, and men and women alike can wear them."

"Having my own business is very fun, very intimidating and very exciting," says Gereau.

While she says school prepared her for making inventive, artistic wares, she finds that it did not teach her how to make a business out of her art.

"They didn't teach me how to become a working artist," explains Gereau. "I learned from a supportive network. I owe a lot of people a lot of thank-yous. They helped guide me and teach me the ropes."

She has found a local network of fiber artists to offer support, and in December they will gather for their 3rd Annual Simply Sensational Show at the Fiberwood Studio.

When she's not experimenting with new techniques, you may find Gereau admiring the work of other local artists, such as local photographer Larry Sanders, whom she assists.

"It gives me a chance to get out of my studio and see what other artists are doing," Gereau says.

Although she originally thought she would head back East the first chance she got, Gereau is finding Milwaukee to be just the right place to be. Gereau and her textiles will be staying put for a while.

Gereau can be reached via email at