On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking embroidery and design with my guest Karen Barbé.
Karen is a designer, embroiderer, and author from Santiago, Chile now living in Chicago. Since 2007 she’s been inspiring and teaching thousands of makers through her blog and Instagram account, with in-person and online classes, and with her book Colour Confident Stitching. Noticing how her students felt frustrated about their color choices, Karen set out to teach about color in an accessible way. Her book —published in four languages—and her Domestika online class present a simple and hands-on method that helps makers understand color and create palettes for their own textile projects. She’s now exploring embroidery on paper, creating digital patterns, and collaborating with diverse Latin American craftspeople through the Chilean platform Artesanos en Feria.
This episode is sponsored by Flying Fibers.
A mother-daughter-operated wool company based in Central Pennsylvania.
Flying Fibers is a mother-daughter-operated wool company based in Central Pennsylvania. They focus on premium, breed-specific, British and American fibers, and yarns. You will find yarns from their farm of rare breed sheep, as well as from sustainable wool companies like Brooklyn Tweed and West Yorkshire Spinners.
We begin this interview with Karen talking about her childhood in Santiago. Karen talks about her creative mother and learning to embroider at a young age. After beginning college studying architecture, Karen switched to design. She went on to work for some larger corporations, including PUMA and a wine business Concha y Toro, before striking out on her own to be an artist.
When a friend recommended that she begin teaching embroidery, she gave it a try and quickly found that her local classes were filling up fast. It was teaching that helped Karen realize there was a need for a book about color theory that would be easy to understand. We talk about how she got her book deal for Colour Confident Stitching and what kinds of opportunities the publication of this book led to.
Karen tells the story of meeting her husband and, eventually, moving with him to Chicago not long before the pandemic. She also talks about her online class with Domestika, a teaching platform based in Spain. Karen’s blog has played a major role in the growth of her art career and she explains how the blog helped her to achieve her goals.
Of course, I ask Karen to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Karen recommends: