Arts & Culture

Stitching Together

Houston-based Hibiscus Linens’ online embroidery classes foster imagination, community, and calmness

Photo: Courtesy of Hibiscus Linens

Mariana Barran Goodall.

Listening to Mariana Barran Goodall’s soft, cheery voice on her Instagram videos feels like following a guided meditation. “It’s like coloring with a needle; it’s just calming,” she says as she pulls a colorful thread through a swatch of linen. “Right now, we just need to do easy things for ourselves.” 

Along with selling intricate, hand-stitched towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, and baby clothes, Goodall’s needlework and textile company, Hibiscus Linens, which won the 2017 Made in the South Awards crafts category, typically hosts workshops at her Houston studio as well as at pop-up classes across the country. Since mid-March, as the coronavirus pandemic pushed everyone indoors, Goodall took these lessons digital, hosting “stitch-alongs” on her Instagram page to guide followers through embroidery projects. 

photo: Alison Gootee

In a time when many jigsaw puzzle makers have seen sales increase by as much as 300 percent over last year, and do-it-yourself supplies have flown off of shelves, Goodall figured her followers may be looking for a creative outlet, and she wanted to contribute. So she started the series as a fifteen-day creative time for children, to help housebound parents focus their children’s energy on something productive. She showed viewers how to stitch the likes of rainbows, ice cream cones, a sun, a shooting star. “Once we were done, we realized this would be a bigger quarantine than initially planned, and people’s needs changed—they needed a bigger project,” Goodall says. “We also wanted to do something for grown-ups.” 

photo: Courtesy of Hibiscus Linens

Her next stitch-along included fifteen videos on how to create different flowers and fifteen more guiding followers through incorporating those blossoms into an embroidered vase. Participants can order materials and download the patterns from Hibiscus Linens’ website. 

“It’s been interesting to see how people are craving being creative,” Goodall says. After the first video, Hibiscus Linens’ Instagram following began growing by about five hundred accounts a week, and she has received messages from people as far afield as Canada, Mexico, and Australia who have been watching. “In the four years I’ve been teaching stitching, I’ve seen people’s excitement and joy that they can make something,” she says. “And during this time, the little wins mean so much more.”  

More than an outlet, Goodall has seen embroidery foster community, with participants reaching out to each other for advice. “It’s also become a way to connect with the people you love,” Goodall says. “There’s a woman in Georgia who is stitching monogrammed napkins for the next time her family can all get together.” 

But Goodall is adamant that one need not create dozens of linen napkins to be considered an embroider. “You just have to try,” Goodall says. “It’s like cooking: You’re not going to know what you like until you make it. If someone wants something more challenging, we have lessons for that, too, but right now, it’s about making time for yourself and just making a sunshine.”

Goodall’s third stitch-along begins on Monday, June 8, with patterns and supplies available at