“Clothes with true wishes and prayers” Returning to Ireland: Travel story (3)

STORY | 2023/10/21

The engine that started up in Estonia at the end of the trip changed the destination of the trip.

“While I was in Estonia, I first talked about Ireland’s Donegal Yarns. I received a message from the (Donegal Yarn) factory. "Thank you for posting our yarn on Instagram! Please feel free to come and tour our factory anytime." I immediately replied, "I'm in Europe right now, can I go next week?" After Estonia, I was planning to go to Finland to finish my trip, but I suddenly changed my destination.

[2023.10.1-10.5 Ireland]

Via Ireland's capital, Dublin, we headed to the Donegal Yarns factory in the Donegal region. The yarn for Donegal Yarns was purchased from Anne, who runs a hand-knit shop called O'Maille in Ireland.I first met Anne about nine years ago when I visited the Aran Islands. Since then, Anne has been kind to me, introducing me to knitters from the Aran Islands.

Thanks to this opportunity, I was able to see the process of making yarn at the factory.

Anne and her family photo: YUKI FUJISAWA

~ How to make Donegal Yarns

1. Dye natural wool (cotton-like wool before it is made into yarn) in a large pot.
2. Let the dyed cotton dry.
3. Blend several colors of cotton dyed in a single color in a blender room.
4. Repeat mixing the blended cotton with oil a couple of times to create fluffy wool with a mixture of colors.
5. Stretch out the fluffy cotton candy-like thread like a uniform blanket and wind it around the bobbin.
6. Twist the string and spin it into a single yarn.

“I bought a lot of Donegal Yarns to use as samples, and am considering the colors of yarn I would like to make for Aran knitting.I can have different colors of wool spun and I can order yarn in my own color. The possibilities are endless."

wool mixed in blender room

The cotton is still in the final stage of being made into yarn. The picture on the bottom right shows the factory. All the machines in the factory have been used for many years, and are said to have been in use for 100 years.

We also met at the National Museum of Ireland, which we visited the day after the factory tour. ``It's always mentioned in Aran sweater materials,'' said Yuki, and it was my first time to see the famous Aran sweater, which I've seen many times in books.

``In the Aran Islands, when knitting began to be industrialized, a sweater contest was held to gather skilled people, and this work was created at that time.Ireland still sells hand-knitted Aran sweaters. I think the only shops that sell them are Anne's O'Maille and a shop called Cleo in Dublin. Anne says it's a shame, as local souvenir shops seem to be stocking more and more cheap machine knits. It was being talked about.
However, Anne's O'Maille, which has been running the store since 1938, is likely to close soon because there is no one to take over. Although I will continue to teach knitting at places like cultural centers, I will be sad to see the people who have inherited Aran knitting for many years go away. ”

Yuki's month-long journey comes to an end after a great adventure in which the trunk filled with the things she had collected ends up as lost baggage, but it is safely delivered to her home. welcome home.

The trip did not begin with the intention of gaining anything, but when Yuki returned to her daily life, she was handed many things that she had no connection with before the trip. He is currently thinking about how to pass on those scenes and memories.

“For Aran Knit in 2024, I’m thinking of using Donegal Yarns yarn to re-make the sweater that I released in 2023, as well as creating new hand-knitted vests and pullovers.Also, I’m thinking of creating new hand-knitted vests and pullovers.Also, I’m thinking of making Estonian mittens. I’ll be really happy if it takes shape.”

Yuki continues.

“Of course, the mittens of the Baltic countries are practical and rational, but at the same time, they have a culture that goes beyond cold protection, which was interesting.I carried mittens on my belt not only in the cold winter, but also in the summer. It is said that at weddings, brides would hand out mittens that they had made to their close relatives and those who came to the party, and as a custom at funerals, they would ask someone to help dig their graves before they died. She knitted mittens for the people who washed her body.At the end of her life, the mittens she had made were placed in her hand in the coffin .
Having seen such things, I wondered what kind of designs and shapes emerge from the lives of people living in Tokyo and Japan today. That's what I'm thinking. In Tokyo, a city with so many things, what more do you need? What kind of forms of manufacturing are possible? That's it. That's when I thought it would be possible to create clothes that would calm my mind, clothes that had space.''

Yuki said, ``Can you make clothes with extra space?'' I'm sure it's about clothes that are practical, but go beyond practicality and give us the power to watch over our lives.

When I hear the word "clothes with extra space," a personal memory suddenly comes back to me. In spring, when YUKI FUJISAWA's Moriyama residence was on display, I wasn't feeling well both mentally and physically. I think a lot of it was because I was so busy with work, but it was hard to breathe like usual, my body was so out of control that it hurt, and I felt like I wasn't myself.

At times like this, I visited Moriyamatei, and little by little, I began to recover. The white architecture that looks like a perch with a faint light, and the YUKI FUJISAWA sweaters and buttons that gently blow in the breeze, the space is filled with people from all over the world, just as my heart desires. The carefully selected and adorable items were lined up so that they looked like they could breathe easily, and I could almost hear their gentle breathing.

After returning home, I posted a piece of paper in my room that read, ``Breathe slowly and deeply.'' I looked at it as I went about my days, and little by little I began to recover. Even now, when I feel anxious, I remember that blank space. I feel like I was helped.

``I wanted to create clothes that allow you to breathe deeply.It's like using a spell or injecting some kind of prayer.I hope I can do that with my next knit.But this knit has a lot of power.'' For example, if this is Estonia and this is something that has been passed down for 100 years, I would believe it, but it would be difficult to suddenly offer it here.To convey my true feelings. I'm thinking about what to do."

There was another word that came to mind.

--There's a part of me that I don't even want to remember. I was thinking only about what I could do, and hardly thinking about what I needed to do. My heart was full of my desires. My heart was filled with things I wanted to accomplish.
At first glance, things may seem full of hope, but at such times people are far away from the questions of life. When people can't hear themselves, they can't hear the voices of others either.
There is a difference between praying and wishing. To wish is to appeal to someone for what you want, but to pray is more like listening to the voice of that someone.
(Eisuke Wakamatsu “The Secret of Sorrow” p3, 4 Bunshun Bunko, 2019 *Hardcover published by Nanarokusha, November 2015)

It occurred to me that Yuki's journey was a journey to listen to the voices of handicrafts. I go on a trip for no particular reason, and I listen to the voices of the people I meet on my travels in their handicrafts created from their daily lives, and I think about the people who made them and the time that was created. . For example, I think of that person who made ornaments in the dark.

As if translating that voice to us who live here now, we reweave it into YUKI FUJISAWA's handiwork and transfer it to (transfer/reflect) it. Your daily life far away and my daily life here blend together in a deep place deep within knitting. I think that he is trying to create clothing that has such rich spaces, has multiple voices, and has multiple layers.

``I want to put real wishes and prayers in it, not just a sales pitch.The word ``amulet'' as a sales pitch and the word mittens for the person digging your own grave have completely different weights.What should I do? Can I create something like the latter? I will create something that is not light, but heavy. Something that is very heavy."

``I don't know if I can do something like that,'' Yuki says with a smile, and her eyes hold a tremendously direct light, suggesting that even if she hits a wall, she will continue to persistently search for something. Ta.

NEW VINTAGE is created by dyeing and foiling vintage clothes loved by someone, and spending time with them. Aran sweaters respect the lifestyle and culture of the knitters and pass on hand-knitting techniques to future generations. YUKI FUJISAWA's progress so far has been in the same vein, in that it is trying to pass on the handicrafts that come from daily life over a long period of time.

In this fast-paced world, giving a place to handicrafts means creating a space where we can pray to be ourselves and not be swallowed up by the force of something bigger. I think this leads to resistance for me to live as myself.

The other day, I had a dream like this.


There is a large silver museum.

There was a beautiful silver pond, and using something like a veil, I slipped smoothly and landed neatly on the pond.

Yuki-san, who is making knitwear next to her, says that someone is waiting in anticipation, the weight of the knitwear hugging her chest.

She says that knitwear is heavy, but also light, like the light that shines into each day.

Yuki was designing lights.


I still don't know how Yuki will incorporate the wishes, prayers, and talismans that she talked about into her clothes from now on. However, I think we can understand that the things we hear through YUKI FUJISAWA's productions, and the weight given to the clothes themselves, keep the center of gravity of life in the direction of light. As I walk down the street with my body wrapped in heavy knitwear while embracing that feeling, I wonder what I will hear next time.

Words: Yume Nomura

Photo&Movie: Masumi Ishida

Movie (Travel): YUKI FUJISAWA