What started as little seed of a thought in my tent August 2022, has blossomed into the reality of this journey.
While teaching at the week long Medomak FiberArts Retreat the summer of 2022, in the evening I would unwind by reading Irish Aran: History, Tradition, Fashion by: Vawn Corrigan. I became increasingly interested in Aran knitting. I’ve known how to knit cables for a number of years but I had never connected the dots from their origins to my own ancestry and to my craft of choice. I was enthralled and just wanted to know more. I also had a class idea brewing for Medomak 2023.
After arriving home and recounting the events of the week with my husband, he suggested I go back to Ireland for my 45th birthday. Delighted and agreeable, I begun planning. Ireland has become my home away from home to unwind and recharge. I knew I wanted to focus on aran knitting and my own family research. My Great-Grandfather on my maternal side was a Scanlon and our family oral history is that he always said his family came from Clare. I’ve been trying to suss out this mystery for a number of years and thought this time I’ll really focus to make the trip a feature of both my ancestry and this exploration of aran knitting.
Úna McDonagh is quoted often in the Irish Aran book. She lives on Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands. I knew I would like to go stay on Inisheer for a few days, do some dye experiments and hopefully meet up with Úna and chat about her knitting.
I found her online via KnittingTours.com. I wrote up an email and sent it off to Knitting Tours wondering if it might actually reach Úna.
One day later, I received a very warm reply from Anne of Knitting Tours saying of course she’d pass my note onto Úna AND would I like to put together a 44Clovers Knitting Tour and even possibly teach while on tour? Hello? What?!?!
It was at this moment that this piece of a puzzle that’s been buzzing in my soul where there was space was filled. A slight side note; Over the course of my 25 years of visiting and Ireland, my interest in textiles has increased and I could feel both passions of mine trying to come together like two magnets. The more I visited Ireland, the more I became steeped in culture, folklore, creating friendships and bonds with the landscape. And each time I walked on Irish soil and breathed the Irish air, my connection deepened more and more like a cloth in the indigo vat.
Two days after sending my email to Knitting Tours, my phone made that thrilling cha-ching! sound alerting me to a new order from my shop. I read over the details and saw for the first time, I had an order going to Ireland. To Inish Oírr in fact to one Úna McDonagh for 2 of my Maine Island madder root dyed yarn!!! Followed up by an email inviting me to give her a call. Before the week was over, I’d spoken to Úna on the phone and we had a lovely chat. We made preliminary plans to get in touch as the time for my trip drew nearer. I also started planning out the tour with Ann.
I’ve been to Ireland in October a few different times and it is heaven. It’s also a good time to forage for wild madder! Now speaking of Octobers and wild Irish madder, enjoy reading below about our very first day of our Dyeing to Knit Ireland Tour!
I am so excited to welcome you on a virtual tour of what our Dyeing to Knit Ireland Tour October 2024 will look like through these next 9 posts. Here we begin with Day 1: Arrival in Dublin. I’ve got a few intriguing sights to share with you on what makes some of Ireland’s craft from ancient to contemporary just so extraordinary.
If flying into Dublin Airport, you will be met by an Irish Tourism representative who will transfer you to your hotel. At 1pm, we’ll meet with our Irish accredited tour manager/guide in the hotel lobby who will give a synopsis of the 10 day tour ahead. We’ll then begin the day’s sightseeing with a visit to the award-winning Little Museum of Dublin. Set in a Georgian townhouse, this award-winning quirky museum along with its informative and funny tour guides, will take you on a journey of Irish history and nostalgia over the last century. Next, it’s onto Trinity College Library & the Book of Kells Exhibition. The campus is a masterpiece of architecture and is recognised as one of the world’s outstanding centres of learning – the alma mater of Swift, Wilde and Beckett. This evening we’ll enjoy a group welcome dinner at our hotel. Camden Court Hotel, Dublin
I’ve been to Dublin a number of times and still have never visited the Little Museum of Dublin. I am really looking forward to this intimate tour.
One of my favorite things about designing this tour for you was thinking of not just some of my favorite places to share with you but why. As my work for 44Clovers focuses on plant dyes for dyeing my wool yarns, the whole story of where color comes from and how we as humans have used it and how it’s evolved is of huge interest to me. The Book of Kells is a shining example of how color was obtained and used to create these Illuminated manuscripts.