Authenticity and Place-Based Knitwear: Fair Isle and Aran Knitting in Shetland and the West of Ireland

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Abstract

This article examines authenticity as it is understood and used within networks of makers in Shetland and Ireland, in places associated with fair isle and aran knitting. Drawing on 15 anonymised interviews and observations from a 2018–2019 study, the articles considers authenticity in relation to four themes: place, handwork, materials and deception. Those engaged in knitting related to small islands are inevitably confronted with demands for and ideas about authenticity, and negotiate formulations of what is real and good in their situated context. Participating in localized knitting cutures requires positioning oneself in relation to existing ideas about authenticity—both the ideas that inform the global market for knitwear and those held dear by one’s immediate neighbors. While “romantic” and “enlightenment” models of authenticity are important to maker-customer communication, within local networks of makers “relational” authenticity is key.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalTextile: Cloth and Culture
Early online date15 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • authenticity; knitting; islands; Ireland; Shetland

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