For the Aran sweater unveiling party. Have a dreamy day

STORY | 2024/01/10

When I think about the past days, I sometimes don't know if it really happened or if it was just an illusion that I saw. For example, a memory like this. When I was a kid, I was in a store with long escalators and neon lights reflecting off the walls and ceiling that served lobster. It was located along a fat road in a city called K. With my father and mother, I bit into the glowing white flesh of a large lobster in a store that glowed blue and seemed to be surrounded by a carpet of noctilucent waves.

The contrast of the colors is so powerful that I often think of myself as a child holding a lobster in my hand, but I have never been to that store, and both my father and mother say that there is no such store in the first place. That's it. Am I wrong? However, even if it didn't really happen, no one can deny the memory of that dream-like day. I have retained this memory for over 30 years, and I think about it from time to time. I like this memory. It's not just the fact that I can smoothly explain things like my title or what I think I'm good at, but the fact that I have vague memories of my day that feel like a dream, that somehow makes me feel like I can be myself. Maybe it's because I feel that way.

When I think about things like this, and I say it without fear of misunderstanding, I sometimes think that YUKI FUJISAWA is also like a dream. Of course, it does exist. On the contrary, I feel that every step of the manufacturing process has a unique story, and that the depth of our beliefs that cannot easily be washed away is far from the ephemerality of the word dream. The more time I spend with him, the more I am struck by the depth of thought that went into each and every decision. Why do I still think it's like a dream?

One day in early January, the items scheduled to be unveiled at this year's Aran sweater unveiling were lined up in pieces in Yuki's atelier, still in their unfinished state.

The first thing that jumped out at me was a generous amount of yarn from Donegal Yarns from Ireland. During my trip last year , I held up a yarn sample book amidst the light and nature of European countries, selected color combinations, and had the yarn made to order for my 2024 Aran knit.

``A pale cloudy sky blue with light shining through, the beige wooden walls of an 18th-century building, the moss green of coniferous trees heading into autumn, and the calm indigo of the Baltic Sea at night.''

That's how Yuki describes the colors she chose. If you listen closely, you will find that the colors of the soil and walls of the ethnic museums we visited in the Baltic countries, the green of the autumn trees in Northern Europe, and the color of the sea at night when we took a ferry from Estonia to Finland are projected onto the screen. Ta.

Rather than a so-called ``beautiful color,'' I thought that a color with natural grains would go well with this year's Aran sweater. There is a cuteness that cannot be overlooked in the grains of nappe, and the threads mixed with fragments of travel memories have a depth that makes you stop for a moment.

"I decided on the color after I got back from my trip, and ordered it from the factory in November. I was told it would take nine weeks to finish, so I thought I'd have to postpone the unveiling to around April. But... In fact, they delivered it in about two weeks.I think I actually went to the factory and met the craftsmen, but miraculously, I was able to get it on time.''

A list of the 2024 Aran knit lineup was posted on the wall of the atelier. If you take a look, you'll see that in addition to knit hats and pullovers, new additions include a collared sweater, a vest, and a new button cardigan. All of them are knitted using yarn from Donegal Yarns.

“For the cardigans and knitwear that we announced last year, we are currently working with knitters to find ways to knit them that match the characteristics of Donegal Yarns.The new vests we will be making will open on the sides and be fastened with buttons. Plans.Last year, a good friend of mine gave birth to a child.I watched my best friend's belly, who had been by my side for a long time, gradually grow.While facing the changes in the important people around me, I decided to wear clothes like this. It also reflects the feeling that I wish I had.”

I was told before the interview that construction had started in the area next to the atelier in January, and there was very little sunlight coming in. In this winter season, it should be bright in the morning... That's how we decided on the meeting time for this day. Everything about us will change. Mind, body, environment, and important things. I'm sure knitwear will be created this year as well, one that embraces the fluctuations and welcomes the changing world.

"Please take a look at this wooden mold if you'd like."

When I turned back to Yuki-san who was screaming, I saw a wooden shape that could fit in the palm of my hand. Flowers in vases, fish with scales, horses, and the moment when a man and a sheep met were all hand-carved in a lovely and lively manner, as if they were about to burst into song.

``We asked a wood carving artist to make a mold for this year's ceramic buttons.Yuri Kanzaki, who works under the artist name ``Uma no Hanamuke,'' asked Yuri to take pictures of her trip from last year. Let me show you. There is also a hatch (bee) carved in it, which is based on the honey eaten in the Baltic countries . There are 12 different patterns in total."

He learned about it through musician Ichiko Aoba, who is also a close friend. Mr. Uma no Hanamuke . He also paid special attention to how the yarn would look when threaded through the button hole.

``It's really beautiful, so I didn't want to remove even a millimeter from the pattern...But since it's a button, I was thinking about not making holes, and Yuri-san came up with a great idea. They made it so that when threaded through it, it looked like a ribbon wrapped around a flower, or like a scarf wrapped around a sheep."

Even though he was smiling broadly, there were some unexpected things that happened.

``It took more than three times as long to make one button as I expected.The pattern is very delicate, so I had to be very careful to make sure it didn't collapse when I embossed it into the clay. I want to make it with great care because it’s so wonderful.”

She asked her friends and family to help her make the buttons, and she smiled with relief, knowing that they would be able to make it in time for the unveiling ceremony. I think Uma no Hanamuke 's patterns are engraved with the wonders of living things. It's not just the superficial loveliness, but a kind of reverence for each life story.

No two pieces are the same in color or shape. Umano Hanamuke 's ceramic buttons will allow customers to choose the one they like to match the sweater they order, and this fall they hope to make it possible for customers to take home just one button. Just imagining the venue, ``Moriyama Tei Aito Eito,'' studded with buttons, made me feel like I was being touched by the touch of life.

After this unveiling event, we are also planning to make blouses and dresses. Patches include vintage hand-embroidered fabrics and lace handkerchiefs that a handkerchief shop I have a relationship with told me that Yuki-san would like, so they gave me the ones they had saved up over decades to use as reference materials. He hopes to be able to suggest fashion that goes well with Aran sweaters as a workwear.

Now, ask what you were wondering about.

"I'd like to hear about the Estonian mittens."

When we asked Yuki to tell us about her last travel story, she was passionate about her encounter with Estonia's handicraft culture. They had tea with Liivi Soova, president of the Estonian Folk Arts and Handicrafts Association, and Riina Tomberg, who teaches at a university and also works as a knitter, and asked Estonian knitters if they could knit mittens for them. This was all I had written in my production diary .

After reporting for ``Travel Story,'' I traveled to South Korea with Yuki. On the last day, Yuki, who had to wake up at 3 a.m. to head to the airport, had thick eyelids that suggested she hadn't been able to sleep. She said, ``I got an email from Riina from Estonia. She's going to knit it for me.'' ''I could feel his excitement as he trembled as he spoke on the telephone. A promise of the future arrived from Estonia during the night and morning as I returned to Japan from Korea. The magical moment where multiple times and places intersected is incredibly etched in my mind. I'll probably always remember the sweetness of the white chocolate-covered Pocky, along with how vivid it was on the late-night bus ride to the airport.

“Just yesterday I was like, ‘I made it! Two of Riina's former students were knitting it for me, and they said, ``How about something like this?'' ``This is wonderful, but I would like to do something a little more like this.'' We are having conversations like, ``This is wonderful, but I would like to do something a little more like this.'' I think it would be great to introduce Estonian crafts, so I am researching traditional mitten motifs and having them knit them.''

The traditional Estonian mittens that Yuki showed me were knitted in a way that I don't see them anywhere else, and I felt that they were made over time, something that couldn't be achieved overnight. It seems that six types of mittens have been completed so far. In order to convey tradition and culture, we are basically planning to display them as is, but how about covering some of the white mittens with silver foil to represent the snow in Estonia? I am also consulting with Riina and others. I can't wait to see the patchwork of collaborative efforts weaving memories from the trip take shape.

Something that came from a faraway country. What has arrived here over time. Traces of delicate handicrafts that have survived long journeys both geographically and temporally, as well as memories of the lives and thoughts of the people who worked on them. YUKI FUJISAWA's craftsmanship connects and combines fragments of things that actually existed in other places, and reconstructs them as collages and patchwork stories. Maybe it resembled a dream.

However, what is different from the dreams you see while sleeping is that there is a person who creates those dreams. Your dream day doesn't just happen with a wave of a magic wand. There are times when I travel far and get nervous because I might not make it in time, and there are times when things don't go as planned. My head becomes so full of thoughts that I can't sleep and sometimes my eyelids swell.

We all made preparations at our respective stations, where there was almost no light, and we spent fleeting moments together that could be called dream-like, exchanging things with each other, and we managed to get through this, and we will continue to do this. I think so. A dream-like moment may just be a fleeting event. Return to life again. However, as many things change, no matter what happens in the future, no one can take away from you, and it supports you from a deep place.

...I selfishly combined the memories of the lobster shop, which may have been a dream, with the dream-like manufacturing of YUKI FUJISAWA. Even now, as I write this diary, someday I'll feel nostalgic about it, like a dream, like a vision.

The Aran sweater unveiling event in March 2024 is sure to be a dream-like day for everyone.

Words: Yume Nomura

Photo: Masumi Ishida