"Memories of the Aran Islands" Knitting memories Sweater production diary (2)
STORY | 2022/10/03
Is it possible to make a sweater the spirit that led to the birth of Aran knit? In the first place, what kind of climate did Aran knit come from? Yuki visited the Aran Islands for the first time in eight years to reconsider this.
“Right now, I’m in a mode of thinking, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t be in such a hurry,’ so I decided not only to visit the Aran Islands, but also to take a full vacation in July and travel around Europe. There were days when I couldn't do anything to change the environment due to the coronavirus pandemic, but I can't make things unless I move my hands in this atelier, so if I go on a trip, I won't be able to make anything. About a week before I left, I suddenly became blue, and I couldn't see my cat anymore, and I was gloomy about what I was going to do in Europe. But when I got there, I was so energetic that I didn't feel homesick for a second."
Yuki first flew to London. In addition to having visited several times, acquaintances also lived there, so it was a familiar town. From there, he traveled around Europe without deciding on a particular itinerary, touching on a variety of handicrafts.
“I was thinking about trying handicrafts in various places, but this time I was particularly interested in glass and wood.” While saying that, Yuki showed off the items she had bought as souvenirs.
"I used to have unlimited material desires, but in the last three or four years I haven't been like, 'I want to buy something!' (laughs) I was particularly interested in a wooden box called Svepuask, which looks like a Japanese Magewappa. , I put half of it in my house and half in my atelier.Even if it's the same Svepuask, things made in the countryside are rough, and things made in the city are sophisticated and interesting."
What the wooden box and the glass bottle that I bought as a souvenir have in common is that they are both made of hard materials. “When you touch cloth, which is a soft material, there comes a time when you start to worry about hard materials,” says Yuki-san. In the land land I visited, I stopped by art galleries and museums and touched a huge number of crafts.
“Even when I first went to London, when I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, there was only one section of glass, and there was an amazing amount of it. What struck me was, ``Oh, the lifespan of clothes is short.'' For example, if it's a table or tableware that was made 100 years ago, I think you can still bring it to the dining table today. However, in the case of clothes, it is not possible to take off the torso and walk in the city today.Fashion styles are different, sizes are different, and the durability issue is that if you touch it, it will tear.Cloth I was reminded once again that the flow of time is completely different between products and hard objects.”
As time goes by, clothes deteriorate with time. The color will change and the fabric will tear easily. However, if it is an Aran sweater, it can be worn in the present age, even if it is a vintage item that is displayed in a museum. "That's why I realized that hand-knitted knitwear is close to a craft, and that's probably why I like it," says Yuki, looking back on her trip.
After staying in London, I went to Dublin and moved west. From the port town of Galway, we boarded a ship and headed for Inishmore, the largest island in the Aran Islands. Compared to the winter scenery I visited eight years ago , the landscape was like another world.
“The Aran Islands are small islands with only about 200 people living there, but the islanders don’t go out much in the winter, so I didn’t meet anyone even when I rode my bicycle. When I first visited the island, I thought it would be a harsh winter, but when I went there in the summer, there were many tourists, and the whole island was bustling with people.
Inishmore is an island made of limestone bedrock. In other words, it was originally an island without soil. Surrounded by sheer cliffs and stormy waves in the winter, there were people who brought soil to the island, and fields and pastures were born. In this way, agriculture came to be practiced, and some people began to go out to sea and engage in fishing, and they made a living. Nowadays, tourism is a big industry, and it is said that it is crowded with many tourists in the summer.
There was also a happy reunion in the middle of the trip. There is a shop called "O'Máille" in the port town of Galway, which is the gateway to the Aran Islands. The owner of this shop, Ms. Anne, was the one who helped Ms. Yuki, who was about to visit the Aran Islands eight years ago, to local knitters. When we met again for the first time in a while and handed over the YUKI FUJISAWA mittens, Anne smiled and was delighted.
"Anne seemed to be in good health, but when I met her this time, she was using a cane. All of the Nitters in the Aran Islands are also aging, so I had met them before. Some people are no longer in charge of the store.While I was worried about what would happen in the future, the lush green scenery was very impressive.Recently, I just got a yellow-green thread, and Inishmore. Thinking of the scenery I saw in the Aran Islands, I'm thinking that it would be great if I could make a sweater in a color that resembles the lush vegetation and small flowers in bloom."
Until now, Yuki has dealt with vintage Aran knitwear. I took the memory of someone who once wore a knit, processed it with foil, and handed it to someone else. From now on, the new sweaters will be woven with Yuki's own memories.
Photo Kazuhei Kimura