A Designer/Teacher with an Enviable Lifestyle
By Rita Vainius
How would you like to live wherever you want, whenever you want.? No problem, asserts Linda Barry, nationally known teacher and designer of counted thread patterns, who along with her husband, Jack, does just that. They live wherever it suits them. The climate may be hot or cold, wet or dry, sunny or cloudy; the locale either desert, forest, mountain or seaside. They are full time RV adventurers, living in their fifth wheel recreational vehicle. They absolutely love the lifestyle and plan to continue it for many years to come. (Click on the design or here for Linda's FREE pattern.)
Linda's students are intensely curious about the details of this unusual living arrangement, and particularly how it relates to her needlework pursuits. Linda is quick to point out that hobbies are an important part of this lifestyle, and contrary to what one would think, space is not a major problem. The RV is 32 ft. by 8 ft. and is pulled by a business class Freightliner truck. It may sound modest, but to them, it's a palace on wheels, which they have appropriately named "Taj-Me-Haul". Storage units, built into the truck, house the accouterments for Jack's woodworking hobby, as well as all the general tools that most men seem to need! The fifth wheel itself has storage for the water and sewer hook-ups, barbecue grill, lawn chairs, etc. Inside the RV proper, the queen bed platform lifts up to access a huge storage area for Linda's fabrics, threads, and the other supplies needed to create her designs. She readily admits, that some compromises had to be made. Whereas at home, she could stock unlimited brands of threads and fibers, she now limits herself to 3 favorites. The Caron Collection is pleased to be part of this select group. Because most of her designs are executed on 28 to 32 count linens, Waterlilies, Soie Cristale and Impresssions are her most often used fibers. Smaller touches of Candlelight appear as highlights in some designs, as Linda insists it is the best metallic thread, on the market, to work with.
For six years, prior to setting out on the open road, Linda was on the staff, as educational coordinator, for Needlewords Magazine (which later became Cross Stitch Sampler). In this capacity, she was responsible for year long teaching projects and supporting designs for the intermediate stitcher. It was one such project that first put the Caron Wildflower fibers into Linda's hands. They were used to create a Hardanger tea cloth and she has been a devoted user of the Caron threads ever since.Linda has been teaching and designing in the needlearts since 1986. She now finds herself concentrating on whitework and more subtly elegant designs. She draws her inspiration from old books of samplers and also needlework pieces on display in museums. Her own expertise lies in drawn thread, pulled thread and Hardanger work and she uses her own designs as teaching tools. In class, she also employs the patterns of Lois Caron, which specialize in techniques particularly appropriate to the range of fibers in the Caron Collection.
Since leaving home base of Baltimore, Md. in June of 1994, Jack and Linda have spent a major portion of their time on the west coast. They have found southern California to be perfect for the winter months, and the Pacific northwest ideal for summer. Who wouldn't! One highlight of their life on the road has been 12 weeks spent in Alaska and the Canadian provinces along the way. While in Anchorage, Linda was fortunate to teach for the local EGA, and of 12 students, all but 2 were native Alaskans. It was an especially, mutually satisfying experience, as she learned as much about their way of life and culture, as they learned about needlework from her.
Since the demise of Cross Stitch Sampler Magazine, Linda has begun to publish her own patterns for the retail market. Her first design "Satin and Lace", a cut and drawn work sampler has been very popular. One of the most stunning renditions of this pattern was done using the Caron Waterlilies (Navajo) threads. Another design, "Linda's Dream", was developed as a teaching project for the Spirit of Cross Stitch Festivals in 1996, and uses Watercolours, Soie Cristale, Silver Candlelight and Impressions, stitched on 24 count congress cloth.
Her most recent design, "Elizabethan Treasures", which has been 6 years in the making, is an advanced whitework project using 5 skeins of Soie Cristale. Because of the white-on-white format, the patterns and textures, that comprise it, are enhanced and the completed sampler projects a quiet, ethereal purity of design and content.
Linda teaches at the Spirit of Cross Stitch Festivals and the I Love Needlework Fairs every year. She may already be en route, aboard "Taj-Me-Haul", to a location near you! The itinerary for her classes in 1998 includes stops Long Beach, Ca., Denver, Co, Bloomington, Il, Manchester, NH, Knoxville, Tn, Valley Forge, Pa, Des Moines, Ia, and Ontario, Canada. Not only will she be delighted to share her needlework expertise, but you will also, no doubt, come away with a sense of the exhilaration and freedom that distinguishes her unfettered lifestyle.
For information on Linda's designs and class schedule call (410) 420-0888 or send a SASE to Designs for Learning at 1421 Banavie Terrace East, Bel Air, Maryland 21015
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