You know how it is…when you work for yourself, you are free to set your own work hours and give yourself days off whenever you need them…So with nothing special going on in the campground and a basket ball clinic as the activity of the day, I decided to take the day off and explore Route 1 until I reached my final destination of the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland. This is a busy weekend here at the campground so I don’t have time to write an entire posting tonight but I’ll try to write a few paragraphs over the next couple of days because I had the most amazing time and I think you might enjoy these stops too next time you visit.
First stop Swans Island Blanket Company in Lincolnville. I’ve driven by this 1700’s property for years …always planning to stop when I had more time. It was such a treat that I’m still kicking myself for the time I wasted. When you walk through the front doors of the old farmhouse, there’s a lovely woman who greets you and invites you in to look around. The displays were mouthwatering and as a fiber’holic, I was dizzy when she told me to go ahead and TOUCH…oh my! Then Bill Laurita (one of the co-owning brothers) came over and introduced himself. Graciously he answered my bazillion questions and invited me into the back workshop to see the wool dyeing and weaving in progress. Jodi McKenzie is the on-site color expert and I learned that all of the colors in the blankets, throws and wraps are either natural colored wools or come from botanical sources. Kelly was in the middle of dyeing wool with indigo…if you’ve never seen the process it’s like magic because to produce the blue we associate with blue jeans, she soaks the yarn in an oxygen deprived dye bath and when she pulls it out it’s a lovely shade of green…until it mysteriously turns blue over the course of a few minutes…everybody should see this for themselves.
I could have watched Kelley for the entire morning but I followed Bill to the looms where they were finishing off a summer blanket. I know enough about weaving to throw a word or two around but really my experience is limited to weaving a bit on Susan Barrett Merrill’s traveling loom…so I was quickly mesmerized by the flying shuttles (powered by puffs of air) and the clicking harnesses that were closely supervised by the same young woman who was feeding the sheep when I pulled into the driveway. I learned that the majority of wool in these blankets was grown in Maine by Corriedale sheep (mostly on Nash Island), all processed organically and that if love can be manufactured into an object you buy over the internet, it’s woven into these beautiful heirlooms. Of course the associated monetary cost put them out of my reach for now but someday…if I were forced to choose, my favorite combination was chocolate brown with rich orange accents.