_ Stefanie Johnson has been using handspun yarn and a pin loom to create a piece of handwoven art that recalls her family’s journeys. Read Part 1 of her article._
I decided to start my project with memories after the birth of my first child, about 11 years ago. I was inspired by souvenir fiber materials as well as some of the memories that stood out from each trip: my husband and daughter picking up a floating piece of a glacier in Alaska, combing for seashells while we snorkeled in the Dry Tortugas, collecting rocks along Michigan’s shoreline, my son spotting a wild lizard on the side of a building in North Carolina, and our trip up into the arch in St. Louis. Designing this as a wall hanging means that I can continue to add squares as we visit new destinations. Using a variety of materials and techniques to embellish the squares adds interest and texture to the piece.
Weaving with Different Grists Many of the squares were woven on a pin loom in the traditional wind, wrap, and weave method. However, I used a few different techniques based upon the different yarn weights and the desired variety of finished appearances. For worsted weight yarns that measured 9–10 wpi, I wrapped 2 of every 3 pins. For DK weight yarns that measured 11 wpi, I wrapped every pin or doubled the yarn if it was to be paired with a heavier weight yarn, as in my landscape weavings. For fingering to lace weight yarns, I used a single strand for one winding pass vertically and one horizontally, using a doubled strand for the last winding step and the weaving step. This texture and variety in the wall hanging is especially pleasing to the eye with tonal yarns.
Personal Embellishments The woven squares in this wall-hanging project are specific to our personal travel memories, but with embroidery techniques it is easy to tweak them or design your own to reflect your travels. If you have a collection of fibers and yarns from your travels, especially ones that seem too precious to knit, crochet, or weave, maybe use just a few yards in a collection of embroidered woven squares. It may inspire you to find the right use for the rest of that precious fiber.
Branch Preparations When using items found in nature for crafting purposes, bake them for several hours at a low heat to remove any moisture and kill mold, bugs, or eggs that may be present. Find an interesting branch with a diameter of about an inch. Bake the branch at 200°F for 4 hours on a tray lined with foil. Before baking, use loppers to trim the ends of the branches to the desired length. Secure the squares with some neutral-colored handspun light fingering weight yarn and use that same yarn to attach pieces to one another. Excess yarn from attaching the top layer of squares to the branch can be wrapped carefully around the branch end, ready to untie and use when new pin loom squares are ready to be added to the piece. Tie another length of handspun yarn to each end of the branch to hang the piece.
It has been a fun trip down memory lane, and now I just hope that I can keep up with the project throughout these busy years of family life.
When she is not protecting the public as a health inspector, Stefanie Johnson enjoys creating unique items and teaching others to spin, knit, and weave. Along with her husband, Jason, and children Samantha and Lincoln, she raises French Angora rabbits, honeybees, and chickens on their hobby farm, Settlers Grove, in Illinois.
Featured Image: A handspun angora and wool woven square depicting the St. Louis Arch in Missouri is part of Stefanie Johnson’s woven memories. Photos by Stefanie Johnson