A TIME FOR SHARING
This time of year makes most of us reflect back on our blessings and ponder the happy memories of our hearts.
Today, I would like to share one of those memories that took place in Limerick Ireland last year. My husband, Doug and I had traveled to Ireland to celebrate our anniversary, his retirement and my ability to finally travel after being ill for so many years.
What we were to discover this special day was a new journey our lives were about to embark on all because of this incredible woman and designer, Aine. While in Cork visiting the Blarney Woollen Mills, I found an unusual style knitwear I had never seen in the USA and had this huge desire to embark on another path with my best friend, my husband. We had traveled many roads together in life dealing with illness and injuries from a recent accident but we had each other and needed a new direction.
So, after retirement for my husband of about two and a half weeks, I did not want him to be bored and found us these fashionable woollen designs to Import back home! Yes, you have it right. After working for almost 40 years at the shipyard for the government, I put my sweet man back to work!
Now, you simply need to meet Aine.
Aine. What a name that would be on my mind for days and in our conversation much of the time- A name we searched to find ourselves on the Internet-A name we decided to take home-we only had to find her!
Amazing, Incredible, Fabulous, Talented, Quiet, Sweet, and Superlative are only a few words I can list to tell you about one of the most exciting parts of our trip to Ireland that made a business venture such a journey on it's own!! We were in Ireland for many reasons but this was not one of them. I was looking to finish my first book and together, we were just there to celebrate life.
We traveled to Ireland in the month of June but it was wet and cold enough for hats, mitts and scarves. These conditions set the pace to get involved on the trial to find this INCREDIBLE designer whom we did not know at the time would change our lives.
While I had been shopping at Blarney Woollen Mills in Blarney Ireland for a hat we had no idea our lives were soon to change course yet again! I tried on several hats until I looked around to see a Beret loosely hanging on a hat rack. I removed it and began to play as if a little girl playing dress up but all the while trying to find something stylish to keep my head warm. I had found my treasure and would soon found my interest growing to find more from this designer.
My poor husband did not stand a chance once my mind was made up!
The following day we traveled about a hundred miles away from Blarney and while out walking through the town of Dingle, I gazed into a window that was to seal our fate! Another woollen piece that looked like it belonged with my beret. Turned out to be the same designer so the hunt began.
That was to me, a sign that it was meant to be!
I desperately wanted to see what else this CREATIVE designer had to offer! The clerk in this store where the scarf had been told me Aine Knitwear had a web site and I may be able to find her that way. For a couple of days, I sent out E-mails to different Anne's on line because the clerk had told me that her name was spelled Anne and was how her web page would be listed. Not so!! But we found her anyway and were so delighted.
Not only were we interested in these designs, but I wanted to interview her for my book so I could share with you this amazing woman I had been learning so much about on my computer. I felt this would be a great human interest story for my readers.
I contacted her and by this time after seeing the web page, we had decided to buy as much as possible and bring it home for selling at a Bazaar for Christmas. We decided to meet with Anne so we could interview her for the book, look at what she had for designs and ended up buying most of what she had with her. In fact, we spent almost every Euro we both had in our pockets and still owed her money for which she trusted us to pay when we returned home even giving us back Euros as she said we would need them at the airport the next morning.
Amazing as I said above-This kind hard working woman trusted total strangers to send her money for pieces we were taking with us and people that she had never heard of before. Oh, how I had big ideas! I could hardly wait to get home and finish my book and start ordering more from AINE to take out and sell to the retailer.
Aine learned from her Grandmother much of what she carries over today, and she tells us her Mother gave her the interest she carried in her heart and mind that lead her after graduating High School, to Limerick School of Art and Designs where she spent the next three years learning to make patterns, the art of design, sewing and knitting only this time in a school environment. She then spent another two years performing Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) working in the industry.
Currently, Aine has two labels-one for adult women and one for the young girls. After working for many years in the Industry, she struck out on her own debuting her designs in the year 2000 at Showcase Ireland with outstanding reviews.
This young sweet, quiet woman has her designs in Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Canada and the USA! Her pleasure is selling the smaller boutiques and handcrafted shops that do not want mass produced merchandise.
With the very long hours that Aine works, she has little time for hobbies so she finds her joy on traveling or visiting her family or Steve's (her husband). She also enjoys spoiling her nieces and nephews and as she says "being the cool Aunt."
Aine not only hand knits her designs but she also designs and makes her own fabrics using knitting and felting techniques from only natural yarns and says that she uses a tweed fabric from a local woollen mill about ten miles away from her Studio.
She uses hand flat knitting machines and they hand cut and hand finish all their designs from start to finish. "Each piece is made by one person and so each piece is slightly different." This is why we fell so in love with Aine Knitwear-her commitment to quality.
I ask her if the flowers she uses on most pieces are a felted process and she said "Yes this way we can make sure that all the colours match and have control over the quality of the pieces."
I also ask Aine what the most exciting thing she had ever done and she says "When Steve and I got married we bought a broken down old farmhouse and spent 3 years bring it back to life." I can just imagine how perfect that must be and you will too when you own your own design by Aine!
To view these designs, please visit: http://www.Aineknitwear.com
To view these designs, please visit: http://www.Aineknitwear.com
When I ask Aine "What is the most important thing to you about your business?" Her reply will make you fall in love with her by just her attitude alone! This is what she had to say: "I am very proud that my business is Irish designed and Irish made. In the current “global Market” it seems to me that it is too easy to outsource to cheaper labor markets and tell your customers the product is handmade, when in fact it could be hand made by children in the 3rd world. I am passionate and determined that my business will not only be environmentally aware through the use of only natural yarns but will also be ethically aware no matter how my competitors choose to operate."
I also ask Aine this: "Do you have any advice for the women that you design for?"
Tickled, I quote her to say " Buy Áine knitwear!!! Live life to the fullest, smile and don’t be afraid to change things you don’t like. Life is too short to hold grudges or hope for change, get out there and do it yourself."
The bags all have personal names so you can identify with the ones that excite you! This one is "Daisy."
Not many can fall in the descriptive terms such as superlative but Aine fits every meaning of the word and once you have met her through her designs you will want to know her and her work even more!
Traveling is such fun but when you are able to combine it with experiences like this one, it is such a bonus.
Even without the business end, which was a fun story for us, the story behind Aine keeps me wanting more-
How about you?
Thank you for the opportunity of sharing this memory with you. We wish you a Happy New Year with many blessings. Enjoy your virtual journey with us through the pages of your book!
books will be signed and a 30% donation made to the Research Foundation for Diabetes through January 2013.
Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins Extraordinary Dream
Ireland Traveler http://www.ExtraordinaryIreland.com