For some yarns, fleece is collected directly from farmers and spun at the mill; for others, domestic spinneries send the yarns in an undyed state, in skein form or wrapped on cones. Swans Island primarily employs wool from Merino, Rambouillet, Corriedale, and Romney sheep, as well as silky strands from alpacas.
A rainbow of spun fleece displays some of the colors in the company’s inventory. Yarn sales account for about one third of its business, while the rest is made up of home accessories—including signature blankets—and apparel.
Founded in 1992 by John and Caroline Grace, Swans Island Company takes its name from the original location—a nearby island with a history of sheep farming. The couple began producing heirloom blankets with simple designs inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, particularly the works of English textile fabricator William Morris. When the Graces retired in 2004, a partnership led by Bill Laurita and Michele Rose Orne took over the operation, expanding the offerings to include knitting yarns and patterns and later, knit and woven apparel.
Text Karen Callaway
Photography Kate Sears
To discover more soft woolen goods, see “Wrapped in Tradition” on page 71 in the October 2017 issue of Victoria magazine.