So yesterday was my birthday.

I had a rare day off and spent it with my hubby doing normal things like having brunch together, going shopping and tidying the house before spending some much needed quality time with close friends.

Just before everyone turned up, I received an email through from the Global Irish Design Challenge panel, which went a little like this;

“We are delighted to let you know that your submission ‘Aran Ambitions’ has been selected by our international jury panel of Ailbhe McNabola (Design Council, UK), Hideichi Misono (former Chief Designer, Toyota) and Jay Osgerby (Barber & Osgerby Studio) as part of the Global Irish Design Challenge exhibition.

The exhibition will open from Wednesday 15th June – Sunday 27th August, 2016 at The Coach House, Dublin Castle.”

global irish design challenge logo

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that my work will be on show at Dublin Castle in this centenary year. It means so much to me, as I am sure it does to all the other artists and designers taking part in the exhibition. Being recognised in this way for me is a major achievement and no matter how long we are away from our country of birth, Irish people still call Ireland “home”.

‘Aran Ambitions’ has been a labour of love and it was the starting point for all my future work and was really the foundation upon which Detta Textiles was founded.

For those of you that are interested, here is the application text and explains the whole concept behind ‘Aran Ambitions’ and why the panel agreed that it met the brief as a game-changer in terms of Irish Design. Next step is to start to collate the ideas for display and plan a trip back ‘home’ for the opening. Very exciting!

AranLichenStonePic          AranStonewallPic

Aran Ambitions

Knitting is a global industry that links our communities. It’s a legacy passed down by generations of fishing villages dotted around the world. We see different heritage knitting styles in Ireland (Aran), Scotland/Britain (Argyle and Fairisle), Scandinavia, America and more. In the fifities, Aran jumpers were in great demand both in Britain and the US. Wool was still being rationed in the UK so British retailers looked to Ireland to produce the knits they needed to export across the globe and to the US in particular.

As their popularity grew, so did the legends surrounding the Aran jumper with stories of patterns linked to families and being able to identify sailors that died at sea by the stitches on their jumpers. This fascinated me and was the catalyst to my research that led to the ideas for this collection. The stories intensified but they sold knitwear and so it stuck and the legend grew, and became the foundations upon which the Irish knitwear industry sprung.

The Aran jumper is a legitimate and important piece of Irish textile history, it’s just younger than the world understands it to be. But can you imagine a world without the Aran jumper as we know it? No. It’s an integral part of our identity. The world associates the cable knit and knitting itself with Ireland and I have created a traditional knit collection using a modern fresh palette as well as a collection of “knit-look” prints for wide format digital printing, bringing Irish knitting right up to date.

This is why I believe the Aran Ambitions collection is a game-changer from a design concept perspective. The knitwear is unique and hand made, the digital designs are printed using state of the art HP eco-friendly latex printers for wallpapers and 100% recyclable fabrics using water-based direct disperse inks.

The patterns on the blankets and wraps meander through the fabrics, imitating the zig-zag patterns of the stone walls on the Aran Islands. By using only 100% lambswool, they are completely sustainable. The knitted fabrics are soft, warm, lightweight and durable – a new Irish heritage knit for a new generation.

The designs for wide-format digital printing are printed on demand using eco-friendly techniques at any scale. I have created realistic “knit-look” fabrics that couldn’t physically be knitted in one piece on any knit machine in the world. This realistic look can only be achieved through digital printing, which is environmentally friendly, uses no water and very little power in comparison to traditional dying and printing techniques.

Knit look printed cushions                Detta Robin Sprong Wooly Wallpaper

I have strived to create a unique concept, using traditional knit methods on my vintage Dubied knitting machine, combined with digital technology for print. The majority of Irish made knitwear are mass-produced, mass-marketed products. My knit work is deliberately hand done and I am one of only a handful of studios in the UK and Ireland still producing on a machine like this. The designs for digital print are now available through international companies www.ILOVETEXTILE.com and www.RobinSprong.com.