Some clothes, well in truth, few, very few, live on in my memory long after I have consigned them to a charity shop and when they come to mind I wonder what was I thinking in that misguided moment when I placed them in the to-go-pile. One such item was my Inis Meáin Knitwear cardigan with a shawl collar which I bought in London when I lived there (that’s quite a while ago – the late eighties and early nineties), it was warm, cloud-soft and comforting to wear.
So when I was in the west of Ireland earlier this week and took a trip to the Aran Islands, the decision about which one to visit was an easy one. I would go to the middle island Inis Meáin, home to the Inis Meáin Knitwear Company; the company manufacture on the island and there is a factory shop where some items from their collections are sold at discounted prices. The shop stocks both men’s and women’s knitwear (there is also a selection of men’s clothes – trousers jackets etc made elsewhere under licence for the company). Tarlach de Blacam and his wife Áine set up the export-led company many years ago and as far as I am aware Tarlach is both owner of and designer for the company. High quality yarns such as: alpaca, cashmere, linen and merino wool are used to make the knitted garments. The design inspiration comes from the past – according to their website ‘The Inis Meáin Knitting Company delves into the rich repertoire of Aran Knitting to produce modern versions of the ancient classics.’
The shop is over the factory and it has a simple chic interior and an amazing view through a large picture window; the island itself has a raw rugged beauty and it’s a peaceful bewitching place. I spent a happy hour in the shop trying on a mass of jumpers and cardigans; I bought two linen jumpers in soft muted colours and a useful ultra soft grey knitted hat.
I think their knitwear is stunning, incredibly I cannot find a Dublin shop that stocks it, although I would have no problem sourcing it if I were in New York (Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman are stockists) Tokyo or a slew of European cities.