Photos and Video by Randee Daddona I Text by Michael Cusanelli
“I Iove the story behind weaving,” says Stephanie Pinerio, that the wool “came off of an animal and … sometimes I’ll find little pieces of like grass or fiber or things that the animal had been eating.” And that the characteristics of the wool — “how kinky it is and how soft it is” — inspire her weaving.
The story continues as the wool is processed, she says: “I know all the hands that have touched it before, and now it’s in my hands, and I create this beautiful one-of-a-kind woven piece.”
As much as Pinerio’s Shed Textile Co. is a story of weaving, it’s about creating a life on Long Island’s North Fork. Pinerio was unhappy working as a creative director at a Manhattan ad agency. So at age 41, she went back to school to pursue textile design, looking to find the “creative spirit that was lacking for me.”
She enrolled in a one-year program at FIT and, after completing the course in 2014 and saving enough money working as a bartender, moved to Peconic to become a weaver. Last year, Pinerio started Shed Textile and uses wool from Browder’s Birds in Mattituck to create handwoven pillows and blankets.
“You can’t have just one job,” she says. She supplements with work in marketing and advertising. Her partner, Merv Jones, also helps Pinerio in her barn workshop.
Being on Long Island is pivotal, she says. “To wake up and just look out the window, and just see the beauty and the ocean,” Pinerio says, “it’s worth it.”
Photographer Randee Daddona became curious about Pinerio’s craft after spotting her pillows in an East End shop. The photos here, and the video at newsday.com/LILife, tell this uniquely Long Island story.
Stephanie Pinerio holds a 1-pound cone of spun wool at her eight-shaft wooden handloom in her Peconic studio, where she always works barefoot.
Cotswold sheep roam around at Browder's Birds in Mattituck in March. Over two days, the farm's 21 sheep will be sheared and their wool will be made into different products. Holly and Chris Browder initially got Cotswold sheep to keep up the grass on their chicken farm. "We called them 'the lawn mowers,' " Holly says.
Tabbethia Haubold-Magee of Yaphank shears a Cotswold sheep at Browder's Birds in Mattituck. Shearing one takes about 10 minutes, Holly Browder says.
Holly Browder, left, co-owner of Browder's Birds in Mattituck, and textile artist Stephanie Pinerio
Cotswold sheep graze on shearing day at Browder's Birds. The sheep are named for the Cotswold Hills region of western England.
Karin Kennedy kettle dyes wool in small batches at Battenkill Fibers Carding and Spinning Mill in upstate Greenwich. The wool was skirted again when it arrived, then washed.
Dyed wool awaits cleaning and carding, the process by which the fibers are combed into long strands and organized for spinning.
Carded fibers go through a pin-drafting machine, which combs them into alignment.
Here, wool is left to air dry after being steamed to set the twisted yarn before it can be wound into skeins.
Stephanie Pinerio uses an umbrella yarn swift at her studio in Peconic
Stephanie Pinerio works at the loom in her studio. "Weaving can be extremely complicated," she says. "You can't actually let anything go through your mind."
A woven fabric as it comes off the loom. "It's almost for me somewhat similar to sculpting," Stephanie Pinerio says of weaving. "You're creating a piece of fabric, this three-dimensional object ..."
Stephanie Pinerio's partner, Merv Jones, holds a skein of yarn in their home. He sometimes lends a helping hand so the couple can spend more time together.
Some of Stephanie Pinerio's handwoven wool pillows. "I clearly just head over heels fell in love," she says. "Nothing made me happier than textile design."
Stephanie Pinerio holds a basket of yarn outside her studio. "I look out the window and it's like 'wow, look at where I live,' " she says. "I'm so profoundly lucky to do this . . . "