FROM KITCHEN TABLE TO CRAFT AWARDS

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With only days to go until Derry City Council’s Craft and Design Awards unveils its winners as part of Derry/Londonderry’s Enterprise Week, one local lady is crossing her fingers, toes and not to mention, her knitting needles, after being shortlisted in two categories in the competition.

Born and bred in Omagh, Co.Tyrone, Bronagh Connolly learned to knit at her mother’s knee at the tender age of 5. After mastering the casting on of 5 stitches, she made her first hairband, in garter stitch and containing an assortment of tiny beginner’s mistakes. Since that first achievement and over the years that followed, her knitting needles have been lifted and put down again many times as her life progressed. In the interim, at the turn of the millennium, Bronagh moved to the Big Smoke of Derry/Londonderry to further her career in pharmacy and has since become something of an adopted daughter of the town she loves so well.

CROCKNIT_BRONAGH

In 2007, whilst hunting high and low for a present for a friend’s new baby, Bronagh could find nothing that stood out from the usual new baby gifts, and so, the knitting needles made their welcome reappearance to her life. Wool was purchased, patterns perused and she got to work making a handcrafted gift as unique as the baby she was making it for. Et voilà- her bespoke Donegal tweed blanket and jumper in was created, loved by baby and mama alike.

This starting point led to a plethora of more baby bits and bobs and Bronagh soon progressed to childrenswear, then ladies’, men’s, accessories and homewear. The list got longer and more adventurous and gradually patterns were abandoned and graph paper and iPhone notes replaced them. Her vast collection of needles kept growing, as did the stash of wool and eventually, the art of crochet was added to her skill set.

There came a point when a clear preference started to emerge and her love for lace knitting grew. Aran and chunky weights, constructed in unusual directions, each piece that flew off her needles an original and one-off. It was time to give her craft a name and so, her label, Crocknit Designs became a reality. Since its conception, Bronagh’s work has found its way into many’s a Derry home as well as being exported to the USA, Spain and further afield.

CROCKNIT_ELFIN

More recently, in October 2014, Bronagh won a Designers Choice award and an Online Choice award at the prestigious Edel MacBride Sliabh Liag Awards, inspiring her to up her game and submit two entries for this year’s Craft and Design Awards as part of the Enterprise Week. As a result, she has been shortlisted for the People’s Choice and the Knitwear Award.

Bronagh’s design process is based in construction, engineering and mathematics – finding a yarn, deciding what she wants to do with it and designing a process to enable that. She will sample, rip out, rework, use different tensions until satisfied, and then use the stitch count of the sample to design the pattern, based on the shapes of the pattern pieces required. Once that process is complete, things get really exciting and the tailors dress form comes out, the pieces are draped, changes are made, pins are used, and sometimes slowly, sometimes instantly, the final piece takes shape. Her finest work is in the finishing touches – the edging, the hiding of threads, making inside and out equally beautiful. And finally, the piece is blocked letting the stitches settle into their permanent home, creating uniformity and that unique beauty that Bronagh Connolly and her Crocknit Designs brand is becoming well known for. Only then is her garment declared ready and she is ready to show it off to the world.

CROCKNIT_SORCHA

And when she’s not busy being nominated for such prestigious accolades, she finds herself back at her mother’s knee, teaching her teacher how to do yarn overs and short rows. The circle is complete.

For these particular awards, Bronagh’s pieces can be seen in the Guildhall this Friday 27th February at the Craft and Design Awards Showcase prior to the gala event.

For further info on all of Crocknit’s designs, go to: www.facebook.com/crocknitdesigns

February 26, 2015. Uncategorized.

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