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 fall and winter, Jerome Abescassis of Divano Designs 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 says.
Abescassis, founder and CEO of the Miami high-end furniture store, also sees a proliferation of handmade and salvaged goods in home design, due in part to the popularity of online craft bazaars like 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,” says 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,” says 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 like 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 tradeshows 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 says.
Knitted fabrics aren’t new to home design; cable-knit pillows and throws have long been a Ralph Lauren staple. But their resurgence today may signify a quiet rebellion of sorts, as people turn away from mass-produced goods. “For years and years, everything was machine-made in China. Now people want something unique and a little more personal,” Garcia says.
At the beginning of this century, taking up knitting needles, and needle crafts in general, was intended by some as a feminist reclaiming of a disappearing art. 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 advises, “or things will start to look really busy.”