Foxford Woollen Mills

3485220-001The minions and I paid a visit to the Foxford Woollen Mills recently. While I visited on a school jaunt many moons ago, I wanted to take a tour of the visitor centre and see the mills in action.

Many a childhood night was spent under a signature scratchy cream and blue striped Foxford blanket, or if I was lucky, the pink trimmed one, summer picnic forays were consumed on the red tartan rug and when I got married, it was a plaid Blackwatch rug that kept us warm in the back of the black vintage Ford Consul. The Foxford blanket, the pinnacle of Mayo chic, the quintessential wedding present was to be found in many, if not most, Irish households of my youth and a renaissance of late, has again placed them among the luxury items on wedding inventories. Irish Designers, including Helen McAlinden, have rejuvenated the brand through modern contemporary design that appeals to natives and tourists alike. The Foxford brand, considered a heritage brand, has modernized and rejuvenated to keep au courant and viable in these austere times.

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One of the last working mills in Ireland, the Foxford Woollen Mills was founded by the Irish Sisters of Charity in 1892. Mother Agnes Morrogh-Bernard was the driving force behind the Mill in its infancy, with assistance from Congested District Board and a considerable loan. Harnessing the power of the river Moy and with the labour and dedication of the local people, the mill thrived until 1908, when the building burnt to the ground. A considerable setback, but again the mill thrived and employed up to two hundred people at its peak.

In the latter part of the twentieth century, the textile industry in Ireland imploded and the Foxford Mills were not invulnerable to this collapse, going into receivership in 1987. The Mills celebrated its centenary in 1992 with opening of the visitor centre, where you can take a very interesting self-guided tour voiced by the silken tones of renowned Mayo actor Mick Lally. A million euro investment in 2007 completed the mill’s rejuvenation.

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So the minions and I spent an enjoyable hour in the visitor centre. History buffs in the making, they were fascinated by the interactive exhibits but were particularly enthralled with the factory models. While we have visited the shop and cafe frequently, this was the first time they saw the tour but have spent many a minute with their noses pressed against the glass of the weaving room door, fascinated with the machinery and weaving process. They were delighted to get onto the factory floor and view the noisy contraptions up close. At only ten euro for a family ticket, I highly recommended it.

Of course the trip must be rounded off with a treat in the cafe upstairs! Apologies for the poor quality photos, one of these days I’ll remember to bring my camera.


Mac Tíre

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September is always a busy month, and this year was no different, but I am determined to publish a post and a new pattern before September ends.

So this is Mac Tíre, as modeled by the ninja scientist, enjoying our Indian summer. Continue reading




photo 4Róisín, meaning little rose, is a common girl’s name here in Ireland and perfectly suited to this ice-cream coloured shawl with a seemingly intricate rose patterned lace-edging. In fact, this shawl is very simple to knit. The lace repeats are easy to construct and a doddle to commit to memory. The Yarn is from The Mottled Sheep and suitably named Burnished Rose. Burnished Rose, a sock/fingering weight, 75/25 super-wash merino and nylon mix of hand-dyed yarn from Siobhan Power’s etsy shop The Mottled Sheep. The shawl has a top down, double triangular construction with a garter stitch edge and a simple spine. The body is begun with a garter tab and the main body is knit in stocking stitch before running into the lace edge.


Róisin shawl is available to purchase on ravelry now.



Líonta Iascaigh take two

IMG_4033Six months or so ago, I published líonta iascaigh, a retro style turban pattern. Actually, I cant believe that it’s been that long. Insert aghast smiley face here. Well, the hat has a trickily brim assembly, and I decided to knit another prototype, this time in Studio Donegal, Soft Donegal and have the hat test knit again. And while I was tackling the brim, I took a few bad quality photos and made a photo tutorial to assist with the construction of the knit. many of the  photos came out either really dark or out of focus, but I hope you can make out what I am doing. You can down load Líonta Iascaigh Brim Assembly photo tutorial here.


You can buy the updated and reformatted Líonta iascaigh pattern on etsy! And now is available for purchase on ravelry too!