Never Out of Style

Anita muses about how on trend weaving is.

Anita Osterhaug Jan 5, 2016 - 5 min read

Never Out of Style Primary Image

Scarf based on Sara Bixler's Rainbow Shawl - Photo by Susan E. Horton

I am a very trendie person. And the longer the trend, the better I like it. For example, weaving has been the rage among our species for at least 10,000 years. Whether for warmth, ceremony, or to adorn our homes, humanity and textiles are inextricably linked. Millions down the ages have jumped on the weaving bandwagon and learned the dance of warp and weft. Good times.


Bands handwoven on bqckstrap looms

Bands woven with traditional backstrap
looms in contemporary colors.


Weave structures and designs, too, are perennial. This weekend members of my guild took a backstrap weaving workshop with Laverne Waddington (featured in the January/February 2011 issue of Handwoven), Laverne has traveled from the hills of Vietnam to the Navajo Nation and to weaving communities in the Andes to learn and document ancient techniques that produce sophisticated and very contemporary-looking fabrics. The samples we wove in her class would look right at home today on a fashionable purse or as braid on a stylish ethnic-inspired vest. And while they might not appreciate our color sensibilities, the ancient Incas might recognize some of the patterns that we wove. 


   Handwoven bronson lace by Margaret Gaynes
  What could be more classic than
these Bronson lace placemats by
Margaret Gaynes?

The twentieth century did not invent tie-dye or surface embellishment. At the Amano Museum in Lima, Peru, I have seen drawer after climate-controlled drawer of 3,000-year-old woven shibori that would make a hippie proud, and before devoré and the wonders of modern chemistry, there was cut velvet with patterns no less ornate or beautiful than those of today.


I make time for weaving in my busy life because it is a chance to create something timeless. So many things are fleeting. My computer will be obsolete within months after I buy it. Today’s best-seller and chart-topper may be tomorrow’s recycling, and I can’t begin to keep up with all those text-messaging abbreviations that my kids use. (I know, LOL.) But my furniture is still covered with textiles that my grandmother brought from the Old Country half a century ago, and they are as bold and beautiful as the day they were woven.


Calliope purse handwoven in overshot
Overshot evolves in this purse by
Margaret Sheppard and Janice Jones.

Weaving is for the ages. I can pull an old issue of Handwoven from the shelf or open an e-Book of projects from years past, and weave something stylish, yet classic, that my own descendents may treasure in years to come. I may choose contemporary colors for my rep weave placemats or use bamboo yarn instead of silk for a lace scarf, but lace and rep, overshot and twill, summer-and-winter are here to stay. The music changes, but the dance of warp and weft goes on. So give me a classic draft, and let’s boogie down.