Thirty miles off the west coast of Ireland lies the minuscule island of Inis Meáin. The “Middle Island” as it is called, lies at the heart of the Aran Islands, and is but three miles across with only about two hundred inhabitants. And yet, as the island’s eponymous knitwear label proves, it doesn’t take much (or many) to craft world class sweaters. It just takes the right people with the skills and the taste level.
The knitwear tradition of Inis Meáin dates back centuries, to a time when the island’s small yet mighty fishing community had no other option but to be entirely self-sufficient. The sweaters that these fishermen wore, with their cabled patterns, tight knits, and dense weaves were crafted in response to the blustery conditions out on the Atlantic Ocean. The fact that sweaters could be viewed as “stylish” probably never crossed the minds of the fishermen (nor their wives who were the ones that were likely doing the actual knitting) they were simply concerned with being warm on the sea.