Furniture Prudes, Unite!

  A supplemental warp overshot runner by Deb Essen, featured in the November/December issue of Handwoven
imageplaceholder Anita Osterhaug
Editor, Handwoven Magazine

I was raised a furniture prude: any naked cabinet was a profound embarrassment. Tables, dressers, coffee tables, end tables, and sideboards all had to be properly clothed–a practice that kept the women of my family engaged in many otherwise leisure hours in embroidering, sewing, crocheting, and lacemaking. I learned to embroider runners at an early age. My mother sewed, my grandmother and aunt did cross-stitch, and Aunt Sina did lovely Hardanger lace. Of course, I have a collection of these furniture fripperies, and I treasure them, but some of my favorite runners were woven ones, usually from Europe. Mom, Aunt Katie, and I would cruise import shops during the post-holiday sales and inevitably score at least one bright piece to enjoy in the new year. Many of them have stripes of simple design running down the length of a plain-weave ground cloth.

  One of my favorite woven runners from Europe. (Pottery by my daughter.)

When I learned to weave, I was excited at the idea of creating runners like the ones I grew up with. I could play with color, use scraps of novelty yarn in the warps, and turn out loads of gifts that would be much appreciated by my relatives. But when I thought about how to begin, I was stumped. Pattern runs from selvedge to selvedge, I thought. How do I make it run down the length of my cloth? Well, enter Deb Essen, the answer to my runner dreams. The runners I’ve always loved are woven with supplemental warps, and weaving them is faster and easier than I thought because they are one-shuttle weaves. When I first read about supplemental warp, years ago, I read that one needed a second warp beam to weave it. But it ain’t so! Deb has a system for weaving supplemental warp designs on your regular loom. It’s quick and easy to do using a few inexpensive items from the hardware store. (And who doesn’t love a trip to the hardware store?)

I know all of this because I went to Montana last spring to film Deb’s new video Weaving with Supplemental Warp. Not only did I come away inspired to weave runners, I learned how easy it is to turn a draft for a supplemental warp design (good practice for any kind of turned draft), how supplemental warp lets you use yarns that might otherwise be challenging in weaving (it’s great for scarves, too!) and how turning a draft for supplemental warp can turn a slow but attractive weaving project into a fast, attractive weaving project. What’s not to love?

So if you like your weaving quick and striking, if you’re interested in playing with drafts, if you have pretty but expensive yarns crying out to be woven, or if you’re just a hereditary furniture prude like me, check it out!


Post a Comment