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Archive: June, 2011

Swans Island’s Bill Laurita at Makers Market

If you’re in New York this weekend, our very own Bill Laurita will be among several panelists speaking at a discussion on Craft, Community and Commerce at the third annual Makers Market in Socrates Sculpture Park.

Bill will be speaking alongside panelists James Murray, Executive Director of Product Development and Design at Simon Pearce, modernist furniture designer Chris Lehrecke, and BDDW founder/designer Tyler Hays on Saturday at The Noguchi Museum at 3 p.m. Makers Market is an open-air marketplace showcasing the best of craft and design, including work in ceramics, textiles, furniture, jewelry and woodwork. The event runs from Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26, with a preview benefit event on Thursday, June 23. The roster of participating vendors and designers is an impressive list. Among them(images clockwise): photographer and furniture designer Eric Slayton, wood and cork furniture/accessories designer Daniel Michalik, sculptor Niho Kozuru and Will Lisak of the Etwas Project.


Dispatch from the Columbus TNNA Show

It’s our final day here at the TNNA summer trade show in Columbus, Ohio.  Our knit director, Michele Orne, and I have been here since Friday to spread the word about our line of organic, naturally dyed merino yarn, and we have been so touched by the show of enthusiasm and support our yarn and patterns have received here. The softness of our wool and vibrancy of our colors are resonating.

The traffic in our booth has been so fluid in fact that we haven’t had a chance to check out of all the other exhibitors’ booths.  This morning, in the quiet of the pre-show hours, we walked the aisles and rows and marveled at all the lovely displays of yarn and garments, notions and books. People are doing some amazing work out there, and it’s been an honor connecting with each of them, from designers to fellow yarn producers and authors, all equally passionate about their work.  We’ve had an opportunity to talk with some of the shop owners who have been carrying our yarn, too, and it’s been invaluably informative and fun hearing directly from them.  We’ve also gotten visits from designer/author Joelle Hoverson (owner of Purl Soho), designers Annie Modesitt and Veronik founder Amy Singer and other notables in the industry. Tonight we return to Maine, exhausted but excited about new relationships we’ve forged, collaborations we’ve discussed, and all the ideas we’ll be coming home with.

Custom Blankets Just Off the Loom

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As summer fast approaches, the new dye house churns out yarns and ideas for new custom throw blankets spring to mind.

This pair of handsome custom woven winter weight blankets resulted from collaboration between Swans Island and an interior designer who was looking for just the right color combination for a client.

Using three colors was something new for us, and we’re overjoyed with the result.  We encourage you to come up with a blend of your own.  Call or email us to find out more about ordering your own custom throw blankets. 207 338 9691 | 1 888 526 9526 email

Learning the Ropes at Swans Island

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I knew from my first tour of Swans Island that it was a unique and magical place. I’d been a fan of their gorgeous line of woven products, but I had never seen or touched them up close. As a knitter obsessed with the transformation of wool to what I consider wearable sculptures, I was impressed with the quality of work on display in the showroom. The hue and richness of colors, coupled with the luxuriousness of the wool, gave each blanketscarfthrow and wrap the rare quality of being at once sleek and rustic, modern and classic. The skeins of yarn, relatively new additions to the Swans Island repertoire, were a knitter’s dream too.

But it was only after I joined the Swans Island team back in May that I gained an understanding of all the ingredients that come together to make everything we do remarkable: the company’s history, its commitment to being as earth-friendly, organic and local in product and practice as possible, and the high standard of craft that goes into each product. This last component of craft is an important one. There are myriad details that most would never know about. Like the painstaking process of warping one of our four air-assisted shuttle looms. Or the work that goes on in the finishing room — from removing remnant chaff to hand-sewing linen bags for each product to be shipped in. Or the dying process that happens right on site, using natural ingredients like cochineal and Indigo plants. The weaving process itself — which on the surface seems so straightforward — is informed by so many intricate bits and pieces that, as one of our weavers told me, 80 percent of the job revolves around troubleshooting.

As research for my new role, I’ve spent the past month in the production studio, weaving blankets, picking chaff from finished products and stuffing cedar into our own hand-made linen satchels. I’ve gotten a first-hand understanding of the meticulousness that goes into everything we make here. Everything is done with the utmost care.

During one of my first days weaving, weaver Becca Johnson noticed that the tension on the selvedge of my blanket was unusually tight. It was so minute I hadn’t noticed it, and I’m certain the owner of that blanket would have seen only a perfect product. But Becca took the time to investigate the selvedge and found the problem — one of the nylon heddles on my loom had broken and displaced the corresponding warp threads. If you’ve seen our looms, you’ll understand just how time consuming and complicated this process of investigation and repair was. But Becca, like everyone at Swans Island, is committed to producing only the very best work.

I am so honored to be a part of the Swans Island team. I’m looking forward to growing with the company, learning more, and spreading the word about all the wonderful work we do here: weaving blankets and more. Stop by our showroom and see the work for yourself. -Irene Yadao, Associate Director of Digital Marketing and Yarn Sales

TNNA Summer Show

In just a few days we’ll be in Columbus Ohio at the TNNA show. We’re looking forward to showing our 2011 Pattern and Yarn Collection.

If you’re attending, come visit us at Booth 122 . Or if you can’t make it, visit our website to see our latest yarns and patterns.

Swans Island Company, Handcrafted in Maine USA Since 1992

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