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Archive: October, 2014

One of a Kind Handmade Blankets Made in Maine for Winter

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There are few things more comforting than curling up in a handmade blanket on a cold day. Blankets keep us warm in bed, on the couch, on our porch or at our writing desk. They soothe us when we’re unwell, provide warmth for our little ones asleep in bed, and help us unwind after a long day at work.

But what separates Swans Island winter-weight handmade blankets from most other handmade blankets is that our wool blankets are made in the USA and are designed with both practicality and beauty in mind, providing breathable warmth and an inimitably classic style. Thanks to the processes we honor and use at Swans Island, much of the natural lanolin in the wool is retained, making for the softest, most supple and loftiest handmade blanket you’ll ever own. And each Swans Island winter blanket is hand-woven with two layers of 100 wool, which means extra warmth for colder climes. And with a handful of styles to choose from, you’ll find one that suits your personal style. Our natural colors range from solid colors—like our all-indigo or all-white blanket—to checked colors—like our white with yellow checks and the popular white with grey checks. There is also our rare wool equinox blanket, made from naturally brown and black sheep, and designed in longitudinal, alternating lines of dark and light.

Best of all, the lasting quality of our winter blankets make them wonderful heirlooms, cherished and memorialized from one generation to the next. Create memories with your very own Swans Island handmade blanket.

handmade wool blankets made in Maine USA 100 wool blanket made in USA

handmade baby gifts, luxury baby gifts, organic baby gifts

 

Swans Island Artisans at Work

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Don’t forget to check out our event this Friday, October 24th at Portland Dry Goods! Swans Island Artisans, dyer Jackie Graf and weaving studio manager Laura Matthews, will be on-hand for demonstrations in spinning, dyeing, and weaving – all processes involved in making our beautiful blankets, throws, wraps, scarves and cowls.

Jackie has been with Swans Island for 5 years, and is heavily involved with product development and colors in the yarn department.  She is an accomplished fiber artist who also teaches spinning and natural dyeing at fibers events throughout the country.  She will bring her dyepot and spinning skills to PDG for an afternoon of fiber and color! Laura has a degree in fibers and is the weaving manager at the Swans Island studios.  She creates custom designs for our clients and keeps the looms running smoothly.  She will bring her weaving and knitting skills!

Swans Island Artisans Demonstrations

 

Fall Weekend Escapes in Maine

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Weekend escapes about Maine in October are our favorite times of the year. The leaves turn delicious hues of red, gold, and orange, giving every town a vibrant glow. Pumpkins abound. And the colder days and nights call for light layers and hats. Swans Island cowls and scarves are perfect for fall days–crafted with the finest organic merino wool and using processes that uphold their natural loft, they’re the quintessence of style and warm sophistication.

We love the way they keep us warm on short walks into town or on long drives to our favorite leaf-peeping spots right here in Maine. Here is a short list of where we like to play, explore, and soak in the natural beauty of Maine. Where do you like to spend your days in October?

Top 5 Spots to visit this Fall for weekend escapes in Maine:

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Moosehead Lake

Moosehead Lake

Mt. Katahdin

Mt. Katahdin

Swans Island suggests Kennebunkport for a Fall weekend escapes in Maine

Kennebunkport

Bethel, a weekend escape in Maine

Bethel

All American Collection

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We’re excited to announce that our new yarn, the All American Collection, is finally available for sale on our website! This lofty and soft 2-ply yarn begins with 100% All American Rambouillet wool from the Erk Ranch in South Dakota. We blend this fine quality wool with alpaca sourced from small family farms along the East Coast. Blended and spun at the oldest woolen mill in New England, this worsted weight 2-ply yarn is then carefully hand-dyed at our studio in Maine. Our All American Collection worsted weight yarn celebrates centuries of American textile tradition.

We’ve also worked with a group of talented designers on a collection of patterns for our new yarn. You can see all 11 patterns from the All American Collection of patterns on Ravelry. We’re thrilled to finally share the yarns and patterns with the world!

 

Offshore V-Neck by Bristol Ivy

Offshore V-Neck from Swans Island Yarn

Breakwater Pullover by Leah B. Thibault 

Breakwater Pullover from Swans Island Yarn

Brigantine Sweater by Michele Rose Orne

Brigantine Sweater from Swans Island Yarn

Celtic Mitts by Michele Rose Orne

Celtic Mitts from Swans Island Yarn

Turk’s Head Loop by Michele Rose Orne

Turks Head Loop from Swans Island Yarn

Arrowhead Shawl by Alicia Plummer

Arrowhead Shawl from Swans Island YarnRangeley Pillow by Stacey McCrea Warner

Rangeley Pillow from Swans Island Yarn

Acadia Cowl by Alicia Plummer

Acadia Cowl from Swans Island Yarn

Spindrift Cowl by Stacey McCrea Warner

Spindrift Cowl from Swans Island Yarn

Sebago Hat by Michele Rose Orne

Sebago Hat from Swans Island Yarn

Plimoth Hat by Alicia Plummer


Plimoth Hat from Swans Island Yarn

 

 

 

 

 

Designer Spotlight: Isabell Kraemer

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We’re excited to start a new series of blog posts here on the Swans Island blog, featuring interviews with designers we’ve worked with and their patterns in Swans Island yarns. For our first spotlight we’re excited to feature Isabell Kraemertalented German knitwear designer Isabell Kraemer.

Isabell creates everyday items for modern knitters. Loving the outdoors, she is heavily influenced by nature; and those who know her designs love her casual, contemporary pieces that all come with a little twist. A confessed stripe addict herself, she is also hooked on seamless construction; not because she doesn’t like seaming (she is a fully qualified dressmaker after all), but because she loves to see garments take shape and being able to adjust the fit on the go. Although hugely successful as a knitwear designer, she says that the biggest accomplishment is her son (there is even a pullover named after him) – becoming a mother was the best thing that has happened to her, followed a close second by her husband of a few years and her three cats.

She’s recently published two sweater patterns with Swans Island, the Audrey Cardigan and the Gretchen Pullover.

SI: How did you get started knitting and then make the transition into designing?

IK: My Grandma tried to teach me, when I was about 15. She tried — and failed!!! She never made a second attempt! So, a few years later I had to teach myself and learned to knit from old knitting books. When I finally discovered Ravelry my knitting life took its own course…the designing came gradually. I discovered that there might be some interest in what I did with sticks and yarns and after refreshing my  knowledge about the construction of garments (I am – was – a dressmaker) I took my first steps into designing and pattern writing.

Audrey Cardigan by Isabell Kraemer

Audrey Cardigan by Isabell Kraemer

SI: Can you give us a peek into your day-to-day as a designer? Do you design full time? How much of your day do you spend knitting?

IK: My day starts with a cup of coffee (or sometimes several) and my current knitting project, after being at work (I still work part-time at an arts and craft store, teaching kids craft classes) some back office work needs to be done and then, depending on priority (and my liking…), I do some pattern writing, have fun with new yarns, sample knitting…and so on.

I am (since February 2012) married to the best man of the world, who does most of the housework, like cooking, cleaning, shopping…so I can spend around 4 to 5 hours (sometimes even more) a day with my knitting and knitting related things.

Gretchen Pullover by Isabell Kraemer

Gretchen Pullover by Isabell Kraemer


SI: What inspired your designs for Swans Island? 

IK: When I first got my hands on Swans Island yarns I was impressed by the incredible rich colors and the heavenly soft yarn bases. Most of my designs are inspired by our wonderful surrounding nature, or even, in general, the world around me…I think one can describe me as some kind of sponge – soaking up nearly everything I see…

SI: What excites you most in knitting?

I am excited about the endless possibilities of combining knits and purls (does this sound quirky?)

SI: Which designers do you admire? Do you have any projects in the works or planned that were designed by someone else? 

I love the work of Jared Flood, Joji Locatelli, Veera Valimäki, Heidi Kirrmaier, Kirsten Johnstone and so many more…this list would never end…just finished the lovely shawl “campside” by Alicia Plummer, before a few days I started (finally) a “nanook” by Heidi Kirrmaier and every now and then I have a testknit for Joji on my needles.

All photos (C) Isabell Kraemer and used with permission.

Looking For A Unique Wedding Gift?

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Unique Wedding Gift for the Couple

Finding a unique wedding gift for the couple can be challenging. The perfect gift is something that is stylish and beautiful, as well as timeless; something both the bride and groom can enjoy; and something meaningful that can be passed on from one generation to the next. Swans Island products make exquisite gifts and come elegantly packaged in a Swans Island gift box. Handcrafted with care, using the best fibers and processes, Swans Island blankets and throws are a one-of-a-kind way to commemorate new beginnings. We’ll even help you customize them for a uniquely personal, elegantly packaged gift.

SharynPeaveyPhotorgaphy-3754

Photography by Sharyn Peavey

Visit our new Swans Island Company Wedding Page, and let us help you choose the perfect gift for the perfect couple! When you arrive at Swans Island Wedding just fill out the form and we will be in touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swans Island Company, Handcrafted in Maine USA Since 1992

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