When Mariana Barran ties a knot on a thread or positions crochet needles in her hands, she begins to move forward by going back in time. As the founder of Hibiscus Linens, her Houston-based line of fine handmade textiles for the home, Barran researches historic patterns, consults with clients to design motifs, oversees a team of talented artisans, and hand-stitches many pieces herself. She performs these tasks joyfully and with a deep commitment not only to preserve traditional needlework, but also to revive and reinterpret the craft for a new generation. “We’re not trying to replicate the past,” Barran stresses. “We’re creating new heirlooms using these exquisite and timeless techniques.”
In our modern, mechanized world, how did intricate hand-sewn needlework like the embroidery, hemstitching, and crochet lace that adorn Hibiscus Linens become the passion — and the career path — of 29-year-old Barran? The answer goes back some twenty years, to her hometown of Monterrey, Mexico, where basic embroidery was part of the elementary school curriculum. Each student was required to create a sampler of stitches, and while most moved on to the next activity once the class was done, Barran was smitten. “I loved it so much and wanted to learn more, so my mother found other classes for me, like embroidery with ribbon, embroidery with silk thread, weaving, and crochet,” she recalls.
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