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Archive: 2013

Behind the Scenes: At the Spinnery

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I recently had the privledge of visiting two of New England’s wool spinneries, S & D spinning mill in Milbury, Massachusetts and Jagger Brothers spinnery in Springvale, Maine.  I just love New England’s textlle history, from cordage plants to dyehouses, spinneries and weaving mills.  Sadly, few of these mills still exist today, but a few treasures still spin on, and S & D is one of them.  They occupy an amazing old brick building that is America’s oldest continuously running mill.  Talk about patina!  S & D is a woolen spinning mill, which has to do with the style of yarn they are able to produce.  They  take raw materials and process them into yarns.  Below is a mountain of wool that has been sprayed with an oil mixture to condition it and control the static.  It will rest like this for a day or so before heading to the picker.

At S&D Spinning Mill, a wool processing mill

The picker is a big messy machine that fulffs up and picks apart the wool so it is nice and loose.  If the yarn is going to have more than one fiber type, they throw it all into the picker and the blending begins.
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My Katahdin

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Swans Island Mount Katahdin woven throws

I have always loved the outdoors and as a child had many wonderful experiences camping in northern Maine, in the shadow of Mount Katahdin. The mountain can be viewed for miles and is a beautiful spectacle whatever the season. I would stare at Katahdin as I was fishing, gathering firewood or falling asleep under the stars. I was awed by its height yet never thought of climbing its peaks. read more


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Welcome Spring!

Swans Island Saco River Dryhouse

It would seem that Spring has finally sprung here in the Northeast. We are always inspired by the natural palette that exists around us, and with that in mind, have been hard at work developing the color line for our new almost-in-stores yarn, Eco-wash. We are really excited about this yarn, it is organic merino that has been gently treated with an organic enzyme to render it washable. read more

A little more on Indigo

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In honor of our Limited Edition Indigo Breeze throw, we wanted to share a little about the process of indigo dyeing. Indigo has a long tradition of providing deep, rich blue shades to every aspect of the textile industry. It is unique in the natural dye world, as it’s pigment is insoluble in water and must be reduced and oxygenated in order to release it’s dye potential. Dyeing with Indigo is a broad topic, but in a nutshell in order to dye with indigo, you must create a dye vat with precise chemical specifications: pH, oxygen levels and temperature. If any of the conditions are unbalanced, the indigo vat will not fulfill it’s color obligations. Our potent organic Indigo comes from India, in powder form.

Swans Island Indigo Dyeing Powder

Indigo powder

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The Indigo Breeze Throw

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Swans Island Indigo Breeze Woven Throw

The inspiration for this limited-edition woven throw came from two observations made several years ago: First, hand dyeing with natural dyes in a vat lends itself to producing a resist mark, a place where the dye does not take. Second, resist dyeing, such as that being done by Rowland Ricketts, has a long, proud tradition in many cultures, and can produce uniquely beautiful results.
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Swans Island Company, Handcrafted in Maine USA Since 1992

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