Show Case…..Ireland’s international creative expo where the very best of Irish designers and makers exhibit Irish craft, gifts, homewares and fashion. This year, for the first time, Showcase introduced The Knitwear Project… soul reason for attending the exhibition.

Led by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI), the Knitwear Project is a presentation of innovative knitwear created by emerging and leading Irish designers and manufacturers, very exciting. The presentation was curated to highlight the potential of the Irish knitwear industry with a view to identifying opportunities for outside investment and export growth. All sound’s good.

To guide the project, an external panel of three, fashion and knitwear design experts was appointed. It was these three experts who selected the most successful work for the exhibition.

the date

Tuesday, 26th January 2016

the venue

Industries Hall, RDS, Dublin

the runway show

Now for the exciting bit! Produced by Catherine Condell, the runway show presented collaborations between Peter O’Brien working with Donegal’s, Fisherman Out of Ireland (one of my favs) and twice Oscar-nominated animation studio Cartoon Saloon working with Beacon Designs Ltd. in Cork. The show also unveiled new and original work by companies such as Ireland’s Eye from Dublin and recent start-up Ekotree from Clare as well as innovative designs from recent NCAD graduates.

So without further ado, for your viewing pleasure, I present to you the runway show. I hope you enjoy…..

Runway Show - The Knitwear Project - Showcase 2016 - Unravel Blog 2 - Feb 2016

1. Black embellished hand knit tunic – Honor Fitzsimons

2. Black textured knit sweater dress – Fintan Mulholland

3. Aran & charcoal knit sweater with detachable cowl and sleeves – collaboration between Fisherman Out of Ireland and Peter O’Brien

4. Aran & charcoal ribbed knit sweater & matching oversize scarf – collaboration between Fisherman Out of Ireland and Peter O’Brien

Headpieces – Michael Long

Runway Show - The Knitwear Project - Showcase 2016 - Unravel Blog 2 - Feb 2016

5. Black textured knit coat, Lurex and lace top, Lurex and lace overlay skirt with Tulle petticoat – Gertrude Sampson

6. Ecru cable knit dress and matching cable scarf  – Ekotree

7 & 8. Silver grey embellished Aran knit gown – Ireland’s Eye

Runway Show 3 - The Knitwear Project - Showcase 2016 - Unravel Blog 2 - Feb 2016

9. Crochet oversized textured sweater and matching scarves – Gráinne Walley, NCAD

10. Dove grey brushed Mohair cowl neck sweater and Donegal Tweed Shorts – Colin Burke, NCAD

11. Two-tone asymmetric knit sweater and matching throw – Áine Knitwear

12. Gunmetal grey oversized hooded duffle coat with black and silver Lurex sweater – Fintan Mulholland

Runway Show 4 - The Knitwear Project - Showcase 2016 - Unravel Blog 2 - Feb 2016

13. Taupe Cashmere asymmetric tunic – collaboration between Elaine Madigan and Mariad Whisker

14. Intarsia knit coat & navy textured scarf (Inspired by Cartoon Saloon’s ‘Song of the Sea’) – Bebhinn Marten, Beacon Designs

15. Oyster open weave knit dress – Callan

16. Navy embellished Aran knit gown – Ireland’s Eye

the winners…..

The Winners - The Knitwear Project - Showcase 2016 - Unravel Blog - Feb2016

a. Overall  Winner of the Showcase Best Product Award in developing knitwear for men and women &

Established Designer Winner: The Knitwear Project

Fisherman Out of Ireland with Peter O’Brien

b. Emerging Designer Winner: The Knitwear Project

Gráinne Walley

c. & d. Established  Designer Highly Commended : The Knitwear Project

Joint winners Bebhinn Marten Knitwear (Beacon Designs) with Cartoon Saloon and Ireland’s Eye Knitwear

e. Emerging Designer Highly Commended: The Knitwear Project

Colin Burke

final thoughts

Blown away, inspired, humbled and proud are words that I would use to express how I feel about this knitwear collection. The imagination, talent and skill of the designers behind each piece is truly amazing. By using textured stitches, flowing forms and colourwork, the boundaries of Irish Knitwear have been pushed. Knitwear simply doesn’t get better or more inspired than this.

My favourite piece? Well, in truth there were two pieces that really stood out for me:

No. 10 – The Dove Grey brushed Mohair Cowl Neck Sweater by Colin Burke. Luxurious, elegant, simple in it’s construction, this sweater ticks all my boxes. I love the contrast in soft textures with the brushed mohair front panel and the stockinette stitch sleeves and cowl. I can see this design appealing to a lot of women as it is such a wearable piece. I’m delighted that Colin was awarded the title ‘Emerging Designer Highly Commended.’ A deserving win for sure.

No. 7 – Silver grey embellished Aran knit gown by Ireland’s Eye. That dress! What a show stopper. I gasped when I first saw it, as did most of the audience. In my experience it’s a difficult thing to balance textured stitches with elegance when dealing with Aran weight yarn, but Ireland’s Eye achieved the perfect balance with this dress. The knitted/crochet collar perfectly complimented and finished what I believe is a work of art. Love it! I only wish I had the figure to wear it. 

As for the overall winner, I think the expert panel were justified in awarding Fisherman Out of Ireland with Peter O’Brien, for their product offering – knitwear for both men and women. The ladies sweater in particular is such a functional piece with its detachable cowl and sleeves, while the mans sweater and matching scarf is very appealing in monochrome and textured ribbing. When you consider the aims of  The Knitwear Project, these products are highly exportable because they hold such appeal.

The other winners and designs illustrate how brave and innovative Irish knitwear designers and manufacturers are. The Knitwear Project will be touring the globe during 2016. I fail to see how further exciting collaborations and outside investment will not happen. Whatever the future holds I’m sure you’ll agree, Irish Knitwear is heading in a very exciting direction.

Thank’s so much for stopping by to read my blog. I hope you enjoyed The Knitwear Project. What was your favourite design? I’d love to know. Feel free to share this post by using the super easy share buttons on the left or below.

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