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Claire-Anne O'Brien's Knit Creatures

Hand-sewn wool animals inspired by Ireland’s rugged coastline

by Maggie Roush Mead in Design on 18 December 2012

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Inspired by the elusive little creatures native to the rugged, windswept mountains of Ireland's western coast, textile designer Claire-Anne O'Brien created three delightful knit animals to sell exclusively through the Emerald Isle's online design and craft shop Makers & Brothers. Included in the bunch is the wise and speedy Liam the Hare, independent-minded Brigid the Sheep and the always mischievous Fionn the Fox.

The animals—and their whimsical back stories—originated in the memories and imaginations of O'Brien and Makers & Brothers founders Jonathan and Mark Legge, who collaborated on the pieces. "When we were young, there were very few hares in Ireland," Jonathan Legge says. "They were endangered, and it was always a big deal when we spotted one ducking behind a wall. It was memories of that nature that fueled the [animals' stories]."

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Well known for her playful knit stools, the RCA grad was one of the first makers approached by the Legge brothers when they founded their site earlier this year. Drawing on her country's rich crafting traditions, O'Brien hand-knits and hand-stitches the animals using thick tweed wool produced by Donegal Yarns, one of the country's oldest surviving spinning mills, located on the northwest coast. Her choice of the multicolored, flecked yarn is "directly inspired by the Irish landscape, where these animals can be found roaming around," O'Brien says.

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With these cute creatures as a jump off, the Legge brothers are excited to collaborate on more products with more designers in the near future. Visit Makers & Brothers online where O'Brien's knit animals are available for between €62 and €68.

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