Inis Meáin is one of the three Aran Islands that lie on the far edge of Europe, thirty miles off the western shore of Ireland. It’s a place of wild and rugged beauty that has enchanted many a visitor. But to make a living on the island has always called for a spirit of independence, resourcefulness and innovation. For centuries, the fishermen’s garments have been designed, knitted and woven by the women of the island. Stitches that have evolved through the generations reflect the unique island environment: turbulent, amazing seas and skies, wild flora and labyrinths of stone walls. They are all echoed in the diamonds, cables, tree of life, moss and other patterns.
A cottage industry was born and by the mid-20th century most island women were supplementing the family income through their knitting work. Merchants supplying tourist shops around Ireland and Irish interest stores in the USA contracted home-based knitters to supply a growing market. Patterns varied from knitter to knitter – each using their individual stitch combinations. Some of the commissioning merchants introduced innovations such as the use of cashmere and silk yarns, but the basic formula of highly decorated classic shapes was maintained. Inis Meáin Knitting Company was founded on the island in 1976 by Tarlach de Blácam and Áine Ní Chonghaile, inspired by the unique spirit, environment and heritage of the place.
Drawing on the island tradition, Tarlach and Áine went on to equip a small factory with six knitting machines and set about working with young islanders whose mothers knitted at home for the tourist industry. Today, Inis Meáin Knitting Company continues to delve into the rich knitting heritage of the island for inspiration, reinterpreting traditional stitches and styles in the finest yarns to create beautiful and sophisticated garments for contemporary living. We are proud to supply our unique, high-quality knitwear to some of the best stores around the world.