Christmas Day, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

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Avoca Handweavers

On my recent trip home to Ireland, I paid a visit to the Avoca Handweavers Mill in Avoca, Co. Wicklow. I have vague memories of visiting it as a child and was keen to visit again.

Avoca Mill by knitahedron

These days, the Avoca name is better known as a lifestyle brand, with a very popular chain of shops and restaurants. It’s origins however are as a weaving mill, Ireland’s oldest in fact, as proudly proclaimed in the photo above!

Shuttle at Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Most of the weaving today is done on power looms and there are only two remaining handweavers employed. You can read a little more about the history of the mill and the company on their website.

Blankets at Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

The weaving rooms are open to the public and you are free to explore to your heart’s content. There are information signs to guide you and explain the various processes.

Yarn cones at Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

At entrance there’s a small museum type space with memorabilia and a few antiques along with a short video documentary running on a loop.

Blankets at Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

The memory that stayed with me from childhood was the smell, and it’s still there. That lovely sheepy, wooly smell of lanolin and spinning oil!

Sheep at Avoca Handweavers

We chatted briefly to the two handweavers who told us that demand for the blankets is still high in both the traditional Irish loving markets of Germany and the US along with the emerging Japanese market. The Japanese love their aran jumpers!

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

I have to confess that I was so busy snapping away, that I neglected to read all the info signs! However, as far as I know, these lovely, stringy, complex contraptions are used to line up and wind the wool onto the giant spools for the weft threads.

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

If you’re ever in that neck of the woods, do pop in. I’m going to leave the rest of the post to the pretty pics and you can find even more in my Flickr album. Enjoy!

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Avoca Handweavers by knitahedron

Art by Catherine Ryan

It’s my mum’s (Catherine Ryan) birthday this month, so I thought I’d share some of her work with you. She’s an artist, and currently specialises in printing. You can see more of her work on her website and purchase some original prints in her Etsy shop.

'Mohawk Bird', linoprint © Catherine Ryan

‘Mohawk Bird’, linoprint © Catherine Ryan

'Stone' woodcut on Indian paper © Catherine Ryan

‘Stone’ woodcut on Indian paper © Catherine Ryan

'Gold and Turquoise Landscape,'oil on canvas © Catherine Ryan

‘Gold and Turquoise Landscape,’
oil on canvas © Catherine Ryan

'Tweetie Birds', Linoprint © Catherine Ryan

‘Tweetie Birds’, Linoprint © Catherine Ryan

(Pssst… My dad, Hugh Ryan, is a garden and landscape designer. You can also check out his website and the design competition, Slant that he runs.)

Luggala Design Process

(c) Jane Heller / Twist Collective

(c) Jane Heller / Twist Collective

Way back in November 2012, I was privileged to be included in the Twist Collective Winter 2012 issue. My design was ‘Luggala’, a long-line jumper / sweater / pullover with a lacy cowl neck and kangaroo pocket.

A few years ago when I was keen to start knitting again, but tired of unflattering, outdated patterns, I did an internet search for things like ‘modern knitting patterns’ or ‘trendy knitting patterns’ or something similarly cheesy. This was when I came across Twist and specifically, their Fall 2009 issue. And I fell in love. The ‘Bus Stop‘ story completely won my heart and it wasn’t long before Ysolda’s Vine Yoke Cardigan was on my needles. I had found an up-to-date, fashionable, beautiful source of knitting patterns! Yay!

So when I decided to give designing a go, I knew exactly where I wanted to start – Twist! Aim high, I thought! When I submitted my design proposal back in April 2012, I had never designed anything before, let alone prepare a submission. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out it had been accepted and then to finally see it in print last November.

(c) Jane Heller / Twist Collective

(c) Jane Heller / Twist Collective

I wanted to create a cosy Winter garment that would keep the wearer warm without being to bulky or heavy. So I designed a fitted, slightly long length jumper. Raglan sleeves, because they’re may favourite and always flattering. To keep it warm and cosy, I added a cowl neck, but in lace, to keep it light and feminine.

Luggala sketch by Áine Ryan, knitahedron.com

The final touch, to make it a little bit different and fun, was the kangaroo or hoodie style pocket. I added this to have a high of casual, comfy styling, but again it’s knit in lace to keep things light and feminine.

Luggala sketch by Áine Ryan, knitahedron.comIn the submission sketch, I just drew it simply with skinny jeans / leggings, which is how Twist styled it too in the end! I’m no fashion artist and I’ll let you in on my secret tool – Fashionary templates.

I hope you like Luggala which can be bought directly from Twist Collective.

Finally, a note on the name. ‘Luggala’ is a place in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, where I spent many Summers as a child. Enjoy a few pics. Lots more on Flickr.

Luggala

Luggala

Luggala