Inspired by the ocean
Living on the coast of Maine we are surrounded by water. With nearly 3500 miles of coastline, the ebb and flow of the tides here affect our daily lives in so many ways. Many of the handwoven designs in the Swans Island collection are inspired by the abundant bodies of water in our home state. Thus, it was only natural that we would be inspired to create a Limited Edition series of throws that were influenced by the ocean.
From the sunny blues of an August day to the moody greys of a fog-covered shoreline, it turns out there is no end to the variations of texture and color that can come from an ocean-inspired theme. Armed with this theme and a mood board of images, our team of talented weavers was tasked with coming up with eleven unique handwoven throw designs that captured a few of the ocean’s many moods.
“There is no end to the variations of texture and color that can come from an ocean-inspired theme.”
From idea to reality
In order to transform water into wool it takes both an artist and a skilled technician. After a few weeks of sketching and brainstorming we reviewed the many concepts and settled on eleven ideas that would be turned into unique handwoven works of art. We pulled skeins of our own hand-dyed yarns from the bins in the warehouse and put together unique color palettes for each design. It was then in the hands of the weavers to transform these concepts into beautiful one-of-a-kind throws.
Usually, when we create a new design that will become part of our production line, it begins with a series of swatches and sketches, then a prototype, and finally, a revised and corrected version that will become the template for future production. We create schematics, with very specific measurements and details about yarns, colors and techniques to be woven.
When we are making a limited edition run of artisan throws such as these however, the process is entirely different. Each of these unique Ocean Limited Edition throws is truly that – entirely unique. The only one of its kind. Never made before, never to be made again. The weaver is given the original pencil sketch along with some general guidelines and dimensions of what the designer is envisioning. It is then up to the artistry of the weaver to interpret that vision and turn it into reality. Easier said than done.
“Each of these unique Ocean Limited Edition throws is truly that—entirely unique. The only one of its kind. Never made before, never to be made again.”
Limited edition challenges
The fact that each of these perfect, beautiful throws was made without any “practice” runs is a testament to the level of talent that our artisan weavers possess! The leader of our weaving team, Chloe, explains:
“In most cases these throws are somebody else’s interpretation of the designer’s vision. The creative translation of roughed out designs requires a great deal of focus beyond what is necessary for plain (not simple) production weaving. Not only do you have to remain aware of the usual stuff (edges, tension, possible skips, pedaling speed, harness errors), but you also have to work with confidence in your decisions about color and spacing within each blanket. You have to be able to work without a completed detailed schematic, as is the case for all of our other blankets.
Weaving is deeply physical work, and operating a loom puts strain on the body. Production weaving also requires mental focus. Adding in an intense creative process only heightens the energy required to make a single beautiful blanket without mistakes. The ocean throws are the result of so many hours of effort on the part of the whole team. They are truly art-works that have the added benefit of being a cozy household object.”
“They are truly art-works that have the added benefit of being a cozy household object.”
“Each blanket uses up to twenty colors of our hand-dyed yarns. Hand-applied inlays of wool roving along with our novelty dyed yarns add texture to these unique throws.”
The Ocean Series comes to life
Designers and weavers worked together to interpret each sketch into a unique woven work of art. Each blanket features up to twenty colors of our hand-dyed yarns. The Ocean Series showcases the beauty and depth of color that can be achieved with hand-dyed wool.
In addition to the wide range of colors that were used, within each color, the hand-dyeing technique adds even more variation and complexity. Like the ocean scenes that inspired us, the tonalities in our yarns helped to convey a richness similar to light dancing on the water. Four different types of yarn with three different types of fiber added yet another layer of subtle texture into these unique blankets.
The eleven Ocean Series throws were all woven on a blue warp, which lends a subtle watery blue undertone to each finished design. Mulberry silk edges in a lovely deep shade of blue were woven in at top and bottom while the impeccably finished selvedge edges at left and right were not cut and sewn but woven in as well. Each blanket was finished off with our signature weaver’s mark in the bottom right corner. These fine details distinguish a true Swans Island handwoven product from anything else in the world.
“Each blanket captures a unique aspect of the ocean through creative textile art interpretation.”
- The eleven Ocean Series throws were woven by various members of the Swans Island weaving team.
- There are up to twenty colors in each throw.
- The yarns used to make these throws are all hand-dyed in our Maine studio.
- Each throw is handwoven and is totally unique.
- Each throw incorporates different combinations of four kinds of yarn.
- Sterling (85% Certified organic Merino wool + 15% alpaca)
- Firefly (100% Certified organic Merino wool , tie-dyed)
- All American Sport (100% American Rambouillet wool)
- Dip Dyed (100% Certified organic Merino wool with Ecowash®)