My collection, “I Look Forward to Your Reply” is an androgynous knitwear collection made of rich, detailed textiles inspired by the narrative of the female voice and the role that it has played throughout my life.
My original visual inspiration came from the collection of pen pal letters I have gathered over the years. Writing a letter is cathartic, it becomes a stream of conscious narrative where you are unafraid to say how you really feel. There are hints to this form of writing scattered throughout my work. However, the main influence of these letters on my textiles is developing new ways to deal with mistakes. When you write a letter, you cross out your mistake and move on, the mistake remains part of your letter, which is exactly what I did with my work. My original aim was to create luxurious knitted pieces that could compete with any high end knit company. However, I found myself wrestling with broken needles, dropped stitches and torn yarn. As my brain, thankfully, does not allow me to waste anything, I needed to find a way to make these errors work but still result in beautiful textiles. Thus, I decided, like a letter, to embrace the faults and make them part of the beauty. I took every snag and dropped stitch and turned them into detailed embellishments. This approach transformed my pieces and made the faults that originally bothered me into the most exciting part of the work. If the textile industry took the approach of embracing aesthetic errors and consumers found new ways to accept them, we could greatly diminish our negative environmental impact.Another major drive for my work is the female voice in textiles throughout history, particularly in Ireland. I was fortunate enough to be able to live on the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway and learn first-hand their traditions of making Aran knitwear. The Aran influence is clear in many of my pieces but brought into a contemporary context through embellishment and bold, bright colours which contradict common perceptions of what Irish knitwear should be.
For me, using quality, sustainable yarn is as important as the work itself. My collection is made from factory seconds, including linen and cotton and wool blends. All my garments are fully fashioned which means my pieces have been shaped rather than cut, thus resulting in minimal waste.
Before COVID-19 my collection was made up of every technique under the sun thanks to the equipment available at University. Now, however, my collection has become about hand knit processes and whatever I can create with my domestic machine. Although my collection is not exactly the same one I envisioned when I began final year, I have enjoyed the new problem solving skills required of me to complete my work during quarantine.
Knitted textiles are my obsession and I hope this shows in my graduate collection.