Sweaters everywhere: Braided poufs are a trendy ways to incorporate the knit texture into décor.
COST PLUS WORLD MARKET
Winter is upon us, and that means sweater weather. And this season, consumers aren't just buying knitted fabrics for their bodies but also their abodes.
Forecasting furniture trends for winter, Jerome Abescassis of Divano Designs, a Miami high-end furniture store, sees a resurgence of “casually styled” spaces where warm, cozy fabrics abound.
“In essence, this trend is about the celebration of tactile qualities in a post-digital era, where products that tell a story and bring a wholesome, unrefined attitude are valued — think reclaimed rough wood, rusted metal, hand-knitted and crocheted fabrics as well as felt, leather and wool,” he said.
Abescassis, founder and CEO of the store, also sees a proliferation of handmade and salvaged goods in home design, due in part to the popularity of online craft bazaars such as Etsy.
There's also a desire to warm up and soften today's modern interiors.
“People still like clean lines, but are looking to fabric to add intricate details and handmade flair,” said celebrity designer Blanche Garcia, a recurring guest on Travel Channel's “Hotel Impossible,” a makeover show for commercial properties.
Knitted and nubby fabrics “also offer a great opportunity for layering, since they aren't as busy as patterned surfaces and can work well with a range of existing décor styles,” said Emily Siwek, a designer and trend forecaster for Sphere Trending, a Waterford, Mich.-based consulting and forecasting firm that specializes in trends affecting built environments.
One popular item is the knitted or braided “pouf” — stool or ottoman — made of richly dyed yarn, available at retailers such as Cost Plus World Market and Land of Nod.
Pillows are also an obvious application — Pottery Barn offers cable-knit pillows and Nordstrom sells an acrylic knit “cardigan” pillow complete with three repurposed wood buttons down the front.
In a newer twist on this trend, a faux knit look is popping up in improbable places.
“We've seen this at recent trade shows where dinnerware has a cable knit texture meant to imitate the familiar sweater look, as well as faux printing on flat surfaces for sheets and pillows which offers a visual play on texture,” Siwek said.
Knitted fabrics aren't new to home design. After all, cable-knit pillows and throws have long been a Ralph Lauren staple. But their resurgence today might signify a quiet rebellion of sorts, as people turn away from mass-produced goods.
“For years and years, everything was machine-made in China,” Garcia said. “Now people want something unique and a little more personal.”
There was a time when needlework was a skill that women were expected to learn, but advances in the textile industry and evolving gender roles made knitting, crochet and embroidery seem archaic and quaint. Then, in 2004, an instructional guide with a cheeky title brought back knitting and social knitting circles for a new generation of young women.
More recently, a recession-driven “make do and mend” mentality has inspired consumers to make their own goods by hand, including decorative items for the home.
To handcraft a sweater pillow, there's no need to trouble Aunt Bess for a crash course in knitting. Some basic sewing skills can transform a thrift-store sweater into a nubby pillow cover. To keep the sweater from unraveling, stitch several large zigzag rows, reinforced with bias binding, around the area you want to preserve and cut on the other side.
Whether handmade or store-bought, stick with “just a touch of that large, chunky knit look,” Siwek said.
Otherwise, “things will start to look really busy.”
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