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S WA N S I S L A N D VO L U M E 4

Seek what is valuable about history and bring it forward. — John Grace

Going to Swans Island’s headquarters in Northport, Maine is like visiting somebody’s home. The company, all of it, including manufacturing—if you can call hand spinning, dying, and weaving manufacturing—lives in a weathered cape. Heading down east on Route 1, the house sits on the land side of the road just past the bridge over the Ducktrap River. It’s sheltered from the north wind and looks out over the Penobscot Bay. I could live there, too. Built in 1780, the house has evolved in a New England way, following its own logic of simplicity and economy. And ell, sheds, outbuildings: responses to the terrain and climate, to circumstance, and to a set of values, aesthetic and ethical. The company has evolved like that, too. Twenty years ago, John and Carolyn Grace moved to Swans Island off the Maine coast with a passion for the place and an idea—to make blankets from the wool of hardy island sheep, blankets that were spare and elegant and timeless. In 2003, they retired, and new owners took over their venture, the whole thing: blankets, ideals, and passion. They moved it close to their own homes on the Midcoast. Except for the sheep, who stay out on the islands where their wool grows thick against that winter wind, everybody else at Swans Island, from the weavers to the designers, lives nearby. The business seems like a family enterprise. The company is a community, the house, literally a cottage industry.

The floors of the house are wide pine, trees that could have been cut from the surrounding fields, the walls are whitewashed, the hewn beams are exposed, and light from the southfacing windows fills the rooms. Summer and winter weight blankets, striped, plaid, and solid, throws and scarves are hung like art. They are completely at home against these old walls, and at the same time they are totally modern. The browns and grays are shades of the wool; colors come from natural dyes like cochineal and indigo. In the ell, you can hear the clicking of the hand looms. Cones of wool waiting to be woven are stacked on shelves. Upstairs, a washing machine hums—a blanket getting its final rinse. Tubs of dye sit on the porch: indigo today. People stop to talk to visitors, happy to show how they do their work. This winter, Swans Island built a new outbuilding, a dye house; the porch got too small to hold the tubs of color and dry the hanks of wool. And I wasn’t the only person who saw those cones of gorgeous wool and wanted to get my hands on one and knit. The company now makes yarn for

hand knitting in two weights and an array of colors, along with patterns that maintain the clean and classic look of the blankets. Bins along a wall display rainbows of wool. Back at my house, when I knit with Swans Island yarn, I understand that my hands are the next in a chain working a slow transformation. And my indigo throw is useful and beautiful, of course; it has another quality, too. Woven into it is a connection to a community, as distinctive as its weavers mark. It carries with it another kind of lasting warmth, worked into the cloth by the hands of the people in this house. By Deborah Weisgall

Our wool is hand-dyed, using only natural materials.

Swans Island is a recipient of the Smithsonian Blue Ribbon for Craft.

All our weaving and finishing is completed on site.

Our winter blanket has two layers of wool for extra warmth.

Rare Wool and Equinox blankets are made from the wool of naturally brown and black sheep.

Summer blankets are a New England tradition — holding in the warmth of the day.

Our Organic Merino Wool throws are both breathable and warm, with a soft touch to the skin.

Corriedale and rare wool throws hold a distinct comfort.

In three or four years, a rare wool sheep’s fleece turns grey, making production limited.

Our baby blankets are a favorite as an heirloom gift.

Like our blankets and throws, each Swans Island scarf and wrap is trimmed in silk.

Blankets and wraps arrive in a linen bag; scarves, and baby blankets in a linen box.

For throws, choose between the linen box or linen bag. All include a copy of our book.

We are happy to accept custom orders for blankets, throws, pillows and bolsters.

Our Swans blankets Islandarrive products in aare linen ideal bag, forthrows a personal, and baby corporate blankets or arrive protocol in gift. a linen box.

Our organic merino wool yarns are dyed in our studio with natural materials.

Swans Island patterns are classic yet modern, complementing the natural beauty of our yarns.

OU R C U R R E NT COLLECT ION

WIN T E R BLA N K ETS Blanket Sizes: Single 70” x 90”, Double/Queen 90” x 90”, King 110” x 90”

Our winter blankets are woven from the the wool of flocks of sheep that live untended on islands in Penobscot Bay. These local breeds provide many of the fleeces we use in our winter weave-two layers of wool for warmth, and all hand-dyed using only natural materials.

white with grey checks

white with rose checks

white with yellow checks

indigo

white

R A R E WO O L A N D E Q U I N OX B L A N K E T S Swans Island Rare Wool blankets are made from the wool of naturally occurring brown and black sheep. These sheep aren’t common, and after three or four years, their fleeces tend to go grey, so we are only able to weave a limited number of rare brown and black wool blankets each year. Equinox blankets balance a winter weave with summer-weight rare wool to keep out the winter cold.

brown with dark brown stripes

brown with deep orange stripes

Please note: On King Size blankets the stripes run vertically.

dark brown with brown stripes

Blanket Sizes: Single 70” x 90”, Double/Queen 90” x 90”, King 110” x 90”

brown with black checks equinox

OU R C U R R E NT COLLECT ION

S UM M E R BLA N K ETS Once common in New England, lightweight summer blankets keep you cool on hot summer nights by drawing warm air away from the skin. Then, as the night grows cooler, your wool blanket blocks the outside chill, and keeps the warmth of the day in.

Blanket sizes: Single 70” x 90”, Double/Queen 90” x 90”, King 110” x 90”

white and grey checks

white with red stripes

white with brown stripes

white with grey stripes

white with indigo stripes

white with yellow stripes

white with teal stripes

white with rose stripes

grey with brown stripes

grey with indigo stripes

grey with rose stripes

grey with teal stripes

grey with white stripes

grey with yellow stripes

charcoal with grey stripes

sky blue with white stripes

white on white

indigo

indigo with grey stripes

Please note: On King Size blankets the stripes run vertically.

OU R C U R R E NT COLLECT ION

R A R E WO O L T H ROW S Throw Size: 50” x 70”

Swans Island Rare Wool throws are made from the wool of naturally occurring brown and black sheep. These sheep aren’t common, and after three or four years, their fleeces tend to go grey, so we are only able to weave a limited number of rare brown and black wool blankets each year.

brown with dark brown stripes

brown with deep orange stripes

dark brown with brown stripes

N AT U R A L C O R R I E D A L E WO O L T H ROW S Throw Size: 50” x 70”

The blanket throw is a natural, whether at the foot of the bed or draped across a sofa. Like our summer blankets, Swans Island Throws are woven from the fleece of Corriedale sheep. Our grey is full of light and dark tones from blending white and rare wools together.

grey with brown stripes

grey with indigo stripes

grey with rose stripes

grey with white stripes

grey with yellow stripes

white and grey checks

grey with purple stripes

grey with teal stripes

OU R C U R R E NT COLLECT ION

C E RT I F I E D O RG A N I C M E R I N O WO O L T H ROW S Throw size: 50� x 70�

These throws are amazingly soft. We spin these fleeces into worsted fine yarns that are woven on our hand looms. The colors come either right off the back of the sheep or from our own dye house.

white on white

green

indigo

purple

red

charcoal with grey stripe

indigo with grey stripe

lilac with white stripes

sky blue with white stripes

white with brown stripes

white with grey stripes

white with indigo stripes

white with red stripes

white with rose stripes

white with teal stripes

white with yellow stripes

white with sky blue stripe

white with lilac stripe

OU R C U R R E NT COLLECT ION

BA BY BLA N K ETS Blanket Size: 36” x 36”

There is no finer way to wrap a baby than in our classic hand woven, incredibly soft, organic merino wool baby blanket. Trimmed in silk and carrying the Swans Island weaver’s mark, its richness and simplicity is absolutely timeless. Our striped colors come from all natural dyes. Our baby blankets can be gently washed, blocked and dried or professionally dry-cleaned. Please see Custom Services for baby blanket embroidery choices.

blue baby blanket

yellow baby blanket

rose baby blanket

white baby blanket

W E A R A B L E S : S C A RV E S A N D W R A P S Sizes: Scarfs 10” x 70” / Wraps 26” x 70”

We hand dye our colors using natural dyes. Each Swans Island scarf and wrap is made with soft organic merino wool, trimmed in silk and carries the Swans Island weaver’s mark.

indigo tweed scarf

oatmeal scarf

thyme scarf

brown and white tweed scarf

white wrap

white with grey stripe wrap

white scarf

sky blue scarf

OU R C U R R E NT COLLECT ION

O RG A N I C M E R I N O WO O L YA R N S Fingering weight: 100 gram skein, 580 yards per skein Worsted weight: 100 gram skein, 250 yards per skein Bulky weight: 100 gram skein, 130 yards per skein

Dying yarn with natural materials is a labor intensive process that brings great joy to the dyer, the knitter, and the environment. The result is uniquely beautiful yarns with lots of variegation that differ from lot to lot.

maize

spring green

early thyme

teal

sky blue

indigo

beetroot

charcoal

logwood

russett

wild salmon

garnet

rose quartz

vintage lilac

raspberry

Please visit our website to see our full collection of patterns. www. swansislandblankets.com

natural

oatmeal

T H E W E AV E R’ S M A R K

Our weaver’s mark is woven into our products by hand. The over weaves in our weaver’s mark can only be achieved on a handloom, and serve as our seal of authenticity. CLEA NING

All Swans Island products may be cleaned in one of the following manners. At Home: Use an organic soap suitable for wool. Soak, spin out, do not agitate, and do not place in a dryer. Full block out for drying. Do not dry over a line. Swans Island: Items may be sent to us for laundering. We use organic soap, block, air dry, press and return to you. Please call for pricing. Dry Clean: Use a reputable dry cleaner. The industry claims that their chemicals do not harm woolen products. R E PA I R S

Wool is extremely durable. If cared for properly it will last many generations. If your Swans Island product does need repair we operate a blanket hospital and can seamlessly fix what ails it. OU R G UA RA N T E E

We want all of our customers to be satisfied with our products. Any unused item may be returned for an exchange within six months of purchase. Items returned for refund must have prior verbal approval. To find out more or to place an order contact us at 207 338 9691. Please visit our websites to see our full collection of patterns. swansislandblankets.com | swansislandyarns.com

We would like to acknowledge the following people: Deborah Weisgall for her essay. Deborah is a journalist and novelist whose latest book, The World Before Her, is out in paperback. She knits, too, and spends as much time as she can in Rockport. Peter Ralston for the cover image, “Clearing.” (pralston.com) Jonanthan Levitt for the image on page 27. (jonathanlevitt.com) Vega Project for layout and book design. (vegaproject.com) The staff and partners of Swans Island for their dedication and perseverance. All of our customers over the years who have encouraged us so much.

Our collection is beautifully displayed in our showroom in Northport, Maine. Š 2011 Swans Island Blankets. All rights reserved.

S WA N S I S L A N D 231 Atlantic Highway (Route 1) | Northport, ME 04849 phone 207 338 9691 | 888 526 9526 | fax 207 338 9166 | info@swansislandblankets.com swansislandblog.com | facebook.com/swansisland | swansislandblankets.com


Swans Island 2011 Look Book