"About the island where Aran knit was born" Aran knit production diary (January)
STORY | 2020/02/23
YUKI FUJISAWA's "sweater in memory" dyes and foils a vintage Aran knit to give it a new light. "Aran" in Arannit is the name given to small islands. It was in the winter of 2014 that Yuki visited the Aran Islands on the west coast of Ireland.
“By that time, I had been selling Aran knits for almost three years, but I wanted to know things that I could not know just by looking at these knits. Because I make them by hand, I don't think it's a good idea to make them based on speculation, so I thought I'd go to the Aran Islands and see for myself."
The knits that Yuki handles are also knitted by someone else's handiwork. Mr. Yuki recalls that he wanted to know how it feels to the touch because the process of dyeing and applying foil is also done by hand.
“I find it difficult to outsource my work to other people, but that doesn’t mean I don’t trust people. I thought that by doing so, I might be able to understand things other than what I am doing now, so I took the plunge and went to the Aran Islands.”
Twenty hours had passed by the time we arrived at Narita Airport via Dubai. Before crossing over to the Aran Islands, Yuki visited a knit shop in the port city of Galway.
"There is a famous store called 'O'Maille' that has been around for a long time in the world of knitwear. The owner of the store, anne, is a woman who often appears in books about knitwear. That person is Alan. He is also the person in charge of the knitters of the islands—that's what we call knitters. I'm making this kind of thing, but I wanted to meet someone who actually knits knits.'
Yuki-san had no connections to Ireland, and she felt uneasy on the plane. I once studied abroad in England for a short period of time, but after not using it for a while, I felt like I couldn't speak English very well. I visited Omolha with faint hopes that it would be nice to meet a knitter, and the owner welcomed me warmly.
“When I saw the sweater I remember wearing, the old lady owner was very happy. He kindly told me, ``What year was this one made?'' Not only that, but he also gave me a note with his phone number and name and said, ``First, meet this person. You should go to
With a memo in hand, I head for the Aran Islands from the port of Rosavire. After about 40 minutes, we arrived at Inishmore Island, one of the Aran Islands. Tourists also visit in the summer, but the natural environment is harsh in the winter, and I didn't see any other tourists.
“The waves were big, the wind was really strong, and it was really cold,” recalls Yuki.
“There is nothing to block the wind on the island, so there are stones to block the wind. They mixed algae to make soil for growing vegetables.In order to prevent the soil from being blown away by the wind, stones were piled up by hand to fix the land.The stone wall stretches along the seashore. I thought that the harsh scenery was unique to this island.”
On the way to the Aran Islands, I had a memorable encounter. There was a woman on the ferry who suddenly spoke to me after seeing Yuki's "sweater in memory".
“This grandma had a funky hairstyle and was very funny. When she saw me wearing a green gradation-dyed Aran knit, she told me, ‘I like that gradation.’” He invited me, ``I'm running a shop too, so come visit me later.'' At the shop, there were Alane knitted wine covers and tapestries that he had woven. He said, ``I want to try that kind of dyeing, too.'' So I helped him a little and dyed it with him. There are no rules for making things that I thought, and it's free and exciting.
Yuki traveled around the three Aran Islands by bicycle, relying on the notes she had learned in Omolya. It is said that he was able to connect with people and meet various knitters. When I asked Yuki to show me the photos she had taken, there was a woman knitting a knit in a corner of the room. In this harsh natural environment, many knitwear must have been woven.
If you follow the roots of Arannit, you will reach the fishermen. On the island of Gandhi, between England and France, fishermen have knit sweaters in their homes to keep them warm. About 100 years ago, the Gandhi sweater spread across the seas and reached the Aran Islands. The history of Ireland casts a big shadow before the Gandhi sweater produces the original culture called the Aran knit.
Ireland has been under British rule for many years. Forced to live in poverty, people left Ireland in search of new lands. Many immigrants aimed for Boston, a port city on the east coast of the United States. Immigrants from all over Europe settled there, and those who came in contact with knitting techniques that did not exist in Ireland brought them home.
Arannit was born from the movement of people and goods from port to port. The more I know about its history, the more it seems inevitable that Yuki is dealing with Aran knit in “sweater in memory”. Yuki works on the knit that someone wore decades ago, makes it into a new garment, and hands it to the next person.
Aran knit is also produced as a shining white knit using Gandhi sweater and knitting techniques that came from across the sea.
“In addition to cable patterns, there are various types of aran knit patterns, such as honeycomb, zigzag, and wood patterns. Original patterns are passed down from mother to daughter, which is unique to the house. It seems that it exists.There is Aran Knit as a thing that supports the lives of the people of remote islands surrounded only by harsh but beautiful nature and connects them in their lives.Alain feels charm there. I felt it again after visiting the islands.”
Visiting the Aran Islands gave Yuki a new idea. Tamamushi-zome knitwear was created to incorporate the colors of the harsh climate, the texture of the stones, and the light that hits the waves. The "sweater in memory" is made while accumulating the memories of the trip.
words by Rinshi Hashimoto