Stephanie Pinerio's Handwoven Pillows Are Perfectly Imperfect

Weaver Stephanie Pinerio searches far and wide for the eclectic yarns that find their way into her sumptuous, one-of-a-kind pillows. Routine visits to fiber arts festivals across the Northeast yield everything from merino and Targhee wools to less common varieties, like that from a once-endangered breed of sheep called Leicester Longwool. The Southold-based artisan favors fibers with “varying textures and thicknesses,” she says. “Those features add intrigue, like knots in a piece of wood.”

Pinerio’s love of fabrics stems from her years as an undergrad at Parsons School of Design, although she ultimately pursued a career in advertising that lasted two decades. In 2011, she decided to enroll in a textile design class at the Fashion Institute of Technology, a move that inspired her to pursue a new line of work. “The synchronized movements and noise of the loom remind me of playing piano as a child,” says the Westchester native. “Only I enjoy this much more!” Pinerio sells her pillows primarily to the trade under the label Shed Textile Co., although the collection is also available at the East Hampton textile and furnishings emporium Elizabeth Dow Home, where she is creative director. 

Pinerio begins each batch of pillows by choosing fibers for the warp (the longitudinal threads on the loom) and weft (the lateral), selecting contrasting colors and mapping out compositions that exude “depth and variation.” Once the machine is threaded—a process that typically takes a full day—she presses her feet down on the treadles to open the shed and slides the shuttle, a small box holding the weft, to the other side. She then pulls a long wooden bar toward her to secure the weft, and repeats the process until the pattern is complete (each produces enough woven material for 10 to 12 pillows, which a seamstress constructs off-site). “The thrill of weaving is worth the time commitment,” Pinerio says. “This is where my heart has always been.”

A version of this article appeared in the November 2018 issue of NYC&G (New York Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Looming Large.