As a young girl growing up in New Jersey, Kristin Nicholas remembers lulling herself to sleep by searching the floral pattern on her bedroom wallpaper to find where it began, again and again.
“It’s such a funny thing to remember, but it’s such a deep memory,” said Nicholas, the Leyden design diva who’s the author of well over a dozen books about knitting, stitchery, embroidery and color, as well a designer of fabric, yarn and wallpaper, and an instructor on TV and web channels.
As she writes in her latest book, “Crafting a Patterned Home: Painting, Printing and Stitching Projects to Enliven Every Room,” “Pattern is inspiring and intoxicating. It is warm and welcoming. It is cheerful and full of joy. It is exotic and worldly.”
The new patterns book, published by Roost Books, follows in the heels of her 2015 “Crafting a Colorful Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to Personalize Your Space with Color.” Another color-drenched guide, the 2015 book shows off the bold oranges, greens, reds and yellows of the interior walls of the 1751 Leyden Glen home she moved to in 1999 with her husband, sheep farmer Mark Duprey — and the dazzling colorful paintings, furniture, plates, cups and fabrics that are everywhere.
Much of those bright accoutrements were designed and painted by Nicholas herself, who is well-known in the design world for sporting something of a rainbow thumb.
“It’s just the way I live and what I do,” Nicholas said of the kaleidoscope of color surrounding her.
After studying textiles in college, where she minored in art, Nicholas got a marketing job for a yarn company in Lowell, designing the yarn colors it offered as well as planning all of the business’s pattern collections. Classic Elite Yarns became known for its innovative colors and its line of “Color by Kristin” yarn made of wool, mohair and alpaca.
While the earlier book was about the colorful designs that were already there in the house, this one, suggested by the publisher, involved a lot more work, requiring that she come up with 30 projects to teach people how to use patterns.
“It’s to help them understand it’s not as difficult as they think it is,” said Nicholas, “Because most people are thinking, ‘Oh my god, how does that work?’ I break it into building blocks. It all follows along, so you can build your own patterns.”
Take polka dots, for example. The book describes how dots can be large or small and set up in different ways with a variety of effects. Stripes, too, can be vertical or horizontal, or both, in which case they form a plaid pattern.
“I tried to write this in ways a normal person can understand. I don’t use big, fancy words. There’s a section on color, and I explain how I created my home mixing different patterns,” Nicholas said.
Of the projects, shown in photographs by Rikki Snyder, Nicholas said, “Oh my god, they were so much more work” to get done for this book.
There’s a stuffed chair whose upholstery — done by Kim Chagnon of Kim’s Upholstery in Greenfield — was done with Nicholas’ hand-stamped fabric. And the fireplace in the farmhouse was decorated for the book with her hand-painted ceramic tiles.
“It looks like it’s been there forever,” she said.
And then there’s the bedroom that Nicholas painted yellow and green, with hand-painted sunflowers on the walls.
Using a “distressed paint” technique here and a “combing” technique there as she painted, Nicholas said, “I wanted to do something that would bowl people over. And it’s something easy to do. For people who want to make a space their very own thing, though, they’re probably not going to go as nutty as I did like painting sunflowers all over the walls.”
There are places where that nuttiness — which is really more of a Seuss-like zaniness — shines through, like the hand-printed napkins hung on a fence and admired by a flock of Leyden Glen sheep. And every picture tells a story.
“Rikki and I were down in the orchard with food for a fake picnic,” Nicholas said. “And we were taking pictures of the picnic basket, and then I see all of the sheep coming toward us. We had set napkins up on the fence, because we thought it would be a nice picture, looking back at the house, maybe with sheep grazing in the background.
“But then all of a sudden, the sheep start coming toward us and got in the picture, and then there were like 50 sheep trying to get into the buckets where we had all the food. And I said, ‘Oh my god, they’re going to eat everything! We’ll be done for! So we were shooing them away and put the gate up and got them out. But sheep are smart! There’s another entrance to the orchard way down the hill, so we had to run to get the gate up. We still had a ton of work to do, setting up the picnic scene. It was pretty hysterical.”
Nicholas also designed a couple of “she sheds” around the house — one for use as a pottery studio, the other as a garden shed — as displays of her use of patterns. Those, as well as the projects around the Glen Road farmhouse, will be on view at an open house book signing May 5 and 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, as if in perpetual motion, Nicholas — whose hand-knitting yarns are still featured by Regia, her freeform murals are sold online by Casart Wall Coverings and her knitting and embroidery lessons are shown on the Creative Bug and Craftsy websites — is keeping busy with projects anew,
That includes more books, making ceramics, and offering her patterned fabrics on the Roostery website, which features custom-made upholstered chairs, pillows, tablecloths or scores of other items.
“The fact that people still want me to do stuff makes me feel good. The more the merrier,” Nicholas said. She hopes the open house next month “will inspire people to maybe try it themselves. Maybe if they see it, they’ll think its not that hard.”
Senior reporter Richie Davis has worked at The Recorder for more than 35 years. He can be reached at email@example.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 269.
Source : http://www.recorder.com/Kristin-Nicholas-Creating-a-Patterned-Home-book-16597292