Featured on Designer Insights @ Terrys Fabrics

I am thrilled to share this Designer Insights feature that Terrys Fabrics did on my work. It’s one big image—just click on it to zip over to Terrys and read the feature!

Terrys Fabrics, a well-known UK fabric and home decor retailer, is profiling 500 designers from around the world in this FAB part of its blog. In addition to discussing my textile work, I also got to choose some lovely picks for the season:

  1. Jackson Gears 2 photograph by Nancy Manning of Hornbeck Design Partners
  2. Silk Shadow Rug in Amethyst from NW Rugs
  3. The Side Table in Chocolate & White by TinyLionsDesigns on Etsy.
  4. My Paradise Art Deco hand-silk screened pillow in Purple on Avocado (at my Etsy shop).
  5. The Elan Chair by Nathan Anthony Furniture

Enjoy and thanks much to Terrys!!

Courtesy of: Terrys Fabrics

A Design Breakthrough

“So I want to knit beadboard,” I said to a friend in my machine knitters group. Her eyes moved up and to the side like you do when you are trying to remember that math formula from ninth grade.

“You know, that white-painted wainscoting that you see in beach cottages? I want to knit that.”

Cottage Beadboard

The look of vague recollection inched across her face. “Hmmm,” she said.

These women are marvelous artists, churning out vibrant and textural fabrics from their basements and guest rooms, but they mostly focus on knit clothing like sweaters, winter wraps and fitted knit jackets a la St. John’s and Chanel.

Without them, I’d be trapped in my studio in a tangle of yarns, needles and strange looking mechanisms, and I’d NEVER have tracked down that obscure left mounting bracket. And heck, I could now knit cables and trendy, round holes into my fabrics.

But I realized I might be alone in my quest to knit architecture.

Okay. Never stopped me before.

I had already figured out how to knit shingles, so I pressed on.

It must have been three, maybe four monthly meetings later when I ambushed our speaker during the break. “Hey, here is what I am trying to do, and it just doesn’t look like beadboard yet,” I babbled as I waved my knit sample in front of her fanciful cardigan.

This renowned goddess of machine knitting nonchalantly said, “Have you tried doing this?” Chimes went off in my head. That was the solution, I could feel it.

So that night I did it for the first time. After the careful needle set up and transfer of stitches, I pushed the carriage back and forth and began to see knit beadboard appear below. And the sheen of the silky bamboo yarn was spot on for the look of semi-gloss paint. Shouts of “woo-hoo” carried throughout the house.

My Knit Sample

“I’ve knit beadboard!” I screamed. My husband Chuck just nodded his head in his quiet-guy equivalent to “You go girl!” while likely thinking, ‘What the heck is she up to now?’

Here is the result. The Knit Beadboard & Shingles Pillow, part of my Bicoastal Collection of color- and design-coordinated artisan pillows.

The Bicoastal Beadboard and Shingles Pillow by Kathy Barlow

Bicoastal Knit Beadboard and Shingles Designer Pillow

This is just the start…lots more knit architecture in my brain and sketchbooks.

 
 

What breakthrough have you made in your latest design project? Tell your story in the comments below!

Look Up

Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective.

I remember my sister Anne, the photography teacher, telling me about the ‘worm’s eye view,’ the name for perspective I captured while lying flat across the snow, peering through the icy driftwood, and focusing across the water. The Lake looked massive, yet grounded—I still love that shot.

And as a textile designer, my eyes are always open for uncommon inspiration. In midtown Sacramento the other day, I was reminded of one of the simplest things I do to spark an idea.

LOOK UP.

Yup, I simply LOOK UP.

Especially when striding city sidewalks while enveloped in the tunnel of high-rises, we tend to see the place at our eye level. And to think about where we’ve been (that client meeting) and where we’re headed (Starbucks?!).

Granted, sometimes what we see left and right can indeed be striking. But so can the oft-overlooked world overhead. You might not believe what’s up there.

Check it out—Within one block and five minutes that day in Sacto, here’s only some of what I saw:

(Click on photos see more detail.)

The view at ground level:
Sacramento Architecture Street Level One

And when I looked up:
Look Up for Inspiration Sacramento Architecture One

Have I just been transported to a grand museum? To Florence?

Another building from the sidewalk:
Sacramento Architecture Street Level Two

And glancing skyward:
Look Up for Inspiration Sacramento ArchitectureTwo

A symphony of motif & pattern here! Click this photo and you’ll spy many starting points for designs.
 
 
So, are you a fellow looker-upper?

If not, do me a favor. The next time you’re hoofing it in the City (wherever the city may be), snap out of that ‘tunnel vision.’

Take an extra minute or two to pause…

and LOOK UP.
 
And tell us in the comments below, and show us (#LookUp on Twitter) what you saw…can’t wait!

The Modern Quilt Movement

Quilts aren’t only calico triangles and hexagons anymore. Interested in quilting since I was a teen, I’ve always especially favored the bold, graphic color play of Amish designs.

Having created some art wall quilts myself, I appreciate the effort and artwork involved in making any quilt. But early on, I felt as though we needed an updated idea of the quilt as art. Though beautiful, I wasn’t drawn to most traditional designs, and fabrics awash in tiny floral motifs.

Then I went to my first quilt show, and found a few kindred souls. There they were–quilts as art, with a fearless exchange of color and shape.
 
Happy by Carrie Wikander TheZenQuilter on Etsy
‘Happy’ by Carrie Wikander TheZenQuilter on Etsy

Quilts that–to me–belonged on a gallery wall. At home in a city loft design, or as a vibrant statement in a contemporary, eclectic abode.

Since then, the Modern Quilt Movement has exploded! Now, many, many artists delight in this medium.

Here are some favorites that I spotted at the latest Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) in Santa Clara, California. A can’t miss show for any textile & design lover, wear your comfy walking shoes when you go, and stop often to soak up the creative energy. PIQF is also a fantastic venue for pro and amateur textile artists to take workshops from innovative quilting instructors (sign up early!!).

(Click on photos for the full effect, and to see more detail.)

From Surf to Snow with Many Faults Between by Isbel Downs
‘From Surf to Snow with Many Faults Between’ (detail) by Isabel Downs

Kapa Kai I by Maren Johnston
‘Kapa Kai I’ by Maren Johnston

Kapa Kai I by Maren Johnston Detail
‘Kapa Kai I’ (detail) by Maren Johnston

Santa Barbara to Denver 8 by Lou Ann Smith
‘Santa Barbara to Denver 8′ by Lou Ann Smith

Etsy is also a fabulous source for Modern quilts for interior design. Enjoy these standouts (including Carrie Wikander’s — top of page), that I hand-picked from fellow Etsy artisans:

Modern Wall Quilt by Ann Brauer on Etsy
Modern Wall Quilt by Ann Brauer on Etsy

Off the Air by Lauren Palmer of OliveTreeTextiles on Etsy
‘Off the Air’ by Lauren Palmer of OliveTreeTextiles on Etsy

 
Interested in trying Modern Quilting yourself? Start with The Modern Quilt Guild, that has chapters across the U.S.

Or peruse magazines like Modern Patchwork or QuiltCon.

Upcoming Shows to See Modern (and other!) Quilts in Person:

PIQF XXIV, Santa Clara, CA, October 15-18, 2015
QuiltCon (a show that focuses on Modern Quilts!):
QuiltConWest, Pasadena, CA, February 18-21, 2016
QuiltConEast, Savannah, GA February 23-26, 2017
 
 

Would you hang a Modern quilt in one of your room designs? Come on, chime in and share a quick thought below!

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