Friday, August 17, 2012

Fiber Appreciation Thursday

Fiber Appreciation Thursday

This brown and orange blanket is made from a rare strain of sheep and only ten blankets are made each year. Image imported from https://www.swansislandblankets.com/product/brown-orange-stripes-blanket
This post is inspired by Fiber Appreciation Thursday, a new meme by A Stash Addict. Danielle is an indie dyer based in the UK, and she does a weekly post about fibers and colorways she is developing. I cannot aspire to the knowledge required to do this kind of work, not at all. I stand in awe of the dyers and spinners I read about. Since my expertise is more in the arena of knitting, I will be sharing a find with you that is based in a fiber focused company. If you blog and have a fiber source you'd like to share, then go to Daniele's page and add the link to your post so we can share in what you have discovered. Here is my contribution to Fiber Appreciation Thursday.

Swan's Island Merino, in fingering weight
Let me introduce you to the one and only Swan's Island Merino. Do you hear the herald of trumpets? Most knitters who know of this yarn will give a Mona Lisa smile of mysterious bliss when you ask them if they have heard of it. Why? As Clara Parkes wrote in her review of this yarn in 2009, there is a mythology with the Swan's Island brand.

Swan's Island, image imported from www.swansislandblankets.com

Swan's Island is located on the coast of Maine up close to Acadia National Park. The company was started in 1990 by a couple who had retired from their law practice in Boston. They wanted to create a product using Maine resources and artisans. Initially the company was located on an island offshore, recently, they moved their operation to Northport and have become known for producing heirloom blankets. Weavers. dyers and the production support are based in the US; isn't that a goal we should aspire to?

A Swan's Island blanket, fewer than 2,00 are made by local artisans each year. Image imported from www.swansislandblankets.com
Don't get me wrong.... I am not about to plunk down my hard earned cash and order a blanket for each bed in my home but I can dream of doing that, and I can share this amazing success story with you and until I have enough for a blanket, I can buy the yarn this company now produces. I am not saying we must save all of our pennies and splurge on such an expensive investment, but if we want to see American made products return to the shelves and racks where we shop, we should use our dollars as a vote for the return to quality domestics goods.

Corriedale sheep, image imported from www.ncwga.org

The yarn source for these blankets is a flock of Corriedale sheep who live, untended, on Nash Island, just off the coast of Maine. The wool is processed at the Green Mountain Spinnery and then dyed and woven by a small team of artisans at the Swan's Island Northport studios. The dye process is based on older methods and relies upon natural materials that have less of a hazardous impact on the dyer and the environment. The use of the natural materials to create the colors and the processing of the wool is a contributing factor to the higher cost of the products.

Gift/storage box, imported from https://www.swansislandblankets.com/catalog/corporategifts
These blankets are treasured and become family heirlooms, and at the price of $750 to as much as $1350, it is understandable why they are so beloved. They come packaged in a sturdy box with a linen bag for the blanket and cedar bars to protect from moths. These blankets last a lifetime and Swan's Island offers cleaning and repair of their blankets for a fee.

Swan's Island throws, imported from https://www.swansislandblankets.com/catalog/throws
Hmmmmm, in the name of scientific exploration, and to spare you, dear reader, the expense of testing, I bought some for myself. It sits, on a china plate on the bedside table. I swear it winks at me if I so much as whisper, "What will you become?" More on that later, pattern ideas I mean. Here's the low down on this yarn.

Swan's Island Organic Merino, fingering weight, available at Windsor Button for $30.00 per skein. The yardage is 525 yards, 100 grams. You can also find this yarn at some LYS or navigate to their webpage to purchase online. Go checkout the Knitter's Review lowdown on this yarn and see what Clara Parkes has to say about this fiber.

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