As I may have mentioned a time or three, I love knitting books. When we go to the trade show in the summer we get to hear about all the new books that will be coming out in the fall – so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book for months! It has two of my favorite things right in the title after all – “Irish” and “Knits.”
I’ve also been looking forward to a whole book of Carol Feller’s designs after seeing her patterns like Trousseau, Iced, Adrift, and more. Trained as an artist and a structural engineer, she sums up her design aesthetic by saying:
“I enjoy designing knitwear that is well-shaped, flattering to wear and enjoyable to knit. I strive to design clothing with a difference: not overly complex, but still giving a very unique end product. I like to work with different construction methods, so long as they enhance the knitting experience and make for a more intuitively put-together knitted item.”
In Contemporary Irish Knits, Feller combines her modern design sensibility with the colors and textures of the Irish landscape and the knitting traditions of the Aran Islands to create fresh new patterns.
Ireland has long been known for its wool industry (Donegal tweed, anyone?), and Feller highlights the three Irish mills that still produce hand knitting yarn by using their yarns in her designs and discussing how the yarn is produced.
First on the list is Kerry Woollen Mills, in operation for over 300 years. The same family has run the mills for over 100 years and currently produce certified organic yarn and traditional Aran yarn for hand knitters. The cabled jacket pattern pictured on the book cover, Killorglin, is designed in their Aran Wool yarn. (Can’t pop over to Killarney to pick some up? Feller kindly provides a yarn substitution guide in the back of the book – or try Imperial Yarn Columbia 2-ply for an American-made version.)
The Tralee skirt with its pretty kick pleats is designed in Kerry Woollen Mills Organic 2-ply – try Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool DK, another American-made yarn, for yours.
The adorable Listowel shrug is a must-knit for your favorite little girl – the heart-shaped cable on the back makes it so special! (I’m knitting this for my niece’s birthday right now!) Make an extra-snuggly version in Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes.
For boys, the hooded Caherciveen vest will keep them warm through all their adventures! Knit one up in Cascade Eco Wool – 2 skeins is all you need.
Next to be featured is Cushendale Woollen Mills, another historic family-run mill in the little village of Graig-Na-Managh, County Kilkenny. They produce dyed-in-the-wool yarns for hand knitting, blending together colors to create subtle shades in their Cushendale Woollen Mills DK (actually a worsted weight) and 4-Ply (a fingering weight.)
The handsome Knockmore sweater is knit in the round from the bottom up and the saddle-shoulder shaping is created in one piece using decreases – interesting! Try Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool to show off the textured stitches, and knit up a Ballyragget hat for yourself at the same time.
The cable & lace pattern of Dangan can be made in small or large sizes to serve as a pretty shawl or sweet baby blanket – knit this in the new Brooklyn Tweed LOFT (the hard part will be picking which color you want to make it in!)
You’ll get to play with color again in the Belville sweater with its tweed stitch yoke – use the rich dyed-in-the-wool shades of Brooklyn Tweed SHELTER to create the perfect combination.
Ballinagree is a boys’ sweater with bold cables – knit this in a heathered color of Ella Rae Classic Superwash for easy care.
Kilmanagh felted bag uses two colors of yarn to evoke the tradition of woven tweed fabrics – Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool will felt up nicely for this.
The third mill featured by Feller is Donegal Yarns (formerly Kilcarra Woollen Mills), famous for the production of Donegal tweed yarns with their signature flecks, or “nepps,” of color. The Tahki Donegal Tweed that we carry at the shop is produced right here! Use it for any of the following patterns, or try Tahki Tara Tweed for a softer fabric.
The long lines of the Ardara cardigan will look great over skinny jeans or leggings, or perhaps a tweedy skirt & tights with boots! Wear it with a Glengesh wrap in a toasty color and keep warm with its textured cable & lace combination.
I want to make the Straboy hoodie for myself! This pattern is a knockout with its traditional style cabling that shows off the tweedy yarn.
Rossbeg girl’s cardigan is another one I think I’ll have to make for my niece – every little Irish lass should have a cabled cardi!
The last section of the book introduces us to some modern Irish hand dyers – Dublin Dye Company, a group of dyers from Blackrock, and Hedgehog Fibres, a one woman operation from Cork.
Which pattern is your favorite? I can’t wait to get started on some of these!