Portrait of Gwynn
by: Gwynn

Revisiting Swans Island with Pippi

I am back this week with more about Swans Island Organic Yarn. If you tuned in last week and heard all you needed, please bear with me. It is almost alHPIM1873l I can think about. I have worked my way through one ball of yarn and I have almost 25″ to show. I have not started the second ball of yarn yet – mainly I just carry it around, stroking it, thinking about knitting it some more, holding dear the stitches I have already done…

Maybe it’s just me, but every so often a knit project comes along that is almost too good to finish. Like a phenomenal book that demands each word be savored long past the reading. So phenomenal you find yourself re-reading passages to the point of memorization, delaying the inevitable: the moment the last page is turned and it’s over. I am finding myself delaying this shawl. Delay, delay, delay. Even knowing I can buy more Swans Island Yarn for another project. A new project in a different color, a different shawl, a scarf or a hat – all of these things are at my fingertips. And I just want the shawl I am making to go on forever. The pattern calls for two balls: I have already nabbed a third ball so I can make it longer than the original. (ReallyHPIM1874 just so I can PROLONG the knitting.) I am using the Robin’s Egg Blue and it doesn’t photograph terrifically well. My best description of it is beach faded. This color is done with the lightest of indigo baths and the shift of tone is so subtle it seems as though you could fall through the shadows in the color. I never get tired of staring at it.

Swans Island Organic Yarn is the softest wool I have ever touched. It is so buttery soft. If you could actually knit with butter, this is what it would feel like. My needles and fingertips seem to disappear into the folds of each stitch. Submerged in comfy, cushy, velvet, the needle tip then reemerges for more. Every couple of rows I have to stop and snuggle with it. This yarn truly is luxury at its finest. Luxury with a story you can feel in every stitch.HPIM1879

(Note: We need to update our information on the fiber sourcing for Swan’s Island, see information on the yarn in this review. We’ve left this blog post in place, but it needs a bit of updating :-). The story starts in the early 1900’s with a small flock of sheep on Nash Island.  A girl named Jenny, the lighthouse keepers daughter, tends them. Jenny Cirone tended sheep on the island until the end of her life in 2004 and you can read more about her at the Nash Island website: www.lighthouse.cc/nashisland.  When Swans Island Blankets started their company, they wanted very fine local fleece so they procured Nash Island fleece; fleece directly descended from the first sheep Jenny tended. Nash Island Fleece is known for being thick and sumptuous. The sheep have no real shelter during our northern island winters. So as they have huddled together for warmth over the decades, they have developed very delicious woolly fleeces. The fleeces are also very clean due to the lack of vegetation. This means very minimal washing and processing so the fleece retains most of its natural lanolins. (Remember, the washing and dyeing that is done is all done organically.) These are the main reasons for the exquisite softness and suppleness of this fiber. When you buy a skein of this yarn it is truly a ‘sheep to shawl’ or ‘sheep to scarf or hat’ project. Even if you didn’t do the shearing, carding, spinning or dyeing yourself, you can feel all the people who did. All the people along the way who lovingly tended and cared for the fiber at each step are inherent in each skein.

Taking this yarn home is like taking a seashell home from your favorite beach. You remember the exact spot on the beach where you found it. You remember the salty smell of the air, the grit of the sand in your fingers. The time of day, the color of the sunlight. All from a little seashell you tucked into your pocket. For the fiber lover, a skein of this yarn is the perfect gift to yourself from Maine. You can imagine the flock of sheep running wild in the elements, the smell of the air when the sheep were sheared. Picture the workshop where it was carded and spun. Think of the warmth and smells in the room as the dyepots were tended. Come in person to visit the shop and take a piece of the Maine Islands home with you. Can’t get here? Order this little bit of Maine online. I said this last week but I am saying it again – you will be so glad you did.

Finally, this is where Pippi makes her appearance. (Pippi Longstocking that is.) I needed a nighSilk-GardenSockst off from lace and another reason to delay the shawl knitting so I started a pair of Silk Garden Sock Yarn knee socks. They are turning out to be an exquisite delay tactic. I like this sock yarn sooooo much better than the Kureyon sock yarn. This sock pattern is in Noro Volume 24. I am messing about with the pattern a bit but the gist is the same. I’m going to have alot of fun wearing these socks.

Thanks for tuning in and prepare yourselves for more about Swans Island. I just can’t help myself. HPIM1877

  1. 4 Responses to “Revisiting Swans Island with Pippi”

  2. By Mike Gardner on Aug 12, 2009

    Do any of your swans island yarn come on one or two pound cones? What would be the cost?

    Thank you


  3. By Alexandra on Oct 4, 2009

    OMG! This is soo right, I can’t believe you even described my absolutely favoritest color – it is in fact called Sky Blue now on their website. It is the softest (only 2 ply for worsted weight) and the snuggliest merino out there, and it is organic too, did I mention hand dyed in very small quantities with natural dyes, the blue one is indigo dye. I have been picturing that big light blue shawl in this yarn for weeks now ( I bet it will only take 2-3 skeins to make it, those skeins really last! Fingering weight will give your something like 550 yrds in 3.5 oz), I’d better start knitting…

  4. By Leah Estell on Jul 9, 2010

    Please read this article – http://www.knittersreview.com/article_yarn.asp?article=/review/product/091105_a.asp

    Swan’s Island Yarn is NOT made from MAINE wool. Knitter’s Review states:

    “A while back, Swans Island Blankets added certified organic Merino to its lineup, using the fine wool fibers to make softer, lighter-weight throws and baby blankets. With no sufficiently large domestic certified organic Merino flock yet available, Swans Islands sources its organic Merino fiber from South America. But the fiber is then processed, spun, mordanted, dyed, and skeined right in Maine.”

    We are a small family-owned & operated spinning mill in Monroe, Maine who have worked with Jenny Cirone & The Wakeman Family, sheperds of the Nash Island flock, for the past 10 years. We are the only source of this amazing island wool for yarn, roving and felting fiber.

    Your story is so true, the sheep do run wild with the elements, and I do know the smell of the air while the sheep are being sheared – my family works on the island with the shepherds through out the year. I work at the skirting table while my mom, who is the Wool Manager, sorts the fleeces as they are being sheared.

    If you would like to take a piece of the island home with you, please visit our website – http://www.starcroftfiber.com

    We’re glad you enjoyed knitting with Swan’s Island organic Merino yarn, but we would like you to envision the Nash Island flock and the beauty of their history when you knit yarn made from Nash Island wool.

    Thank you,

    Leah Estell
    Starcroft Fiber Mill

  5. By Amos on Jul 12, 2010

    Thanks Leah! We have changed our product descriptions, I guess we didn’t realize the full story. We are trying to be more clear going forward about this yarn and look forward to trying out yours!

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