Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Alpaca Wool Shawl (Folksong shawls)

Alpaca shawls are made of superior quality Alpaca wool. The fibre is much warmer than sheep wool fibre and more luxurious than cashmere.
Stylish and luxuriously soft Alpaca shawls are hand knitted from handspun alpaca wool. These shawls are knitted in a close fashion providing much warmth in cold weather.

These shawls look extremely elegant and are ideal for special occasions. The unique designs and vibrant shades of these hand-dyed Alpaca shawls make them a sought after fashion accessory.

Fabric :
Alpaca wool is classified as a rare specialty fibre. The wool is derived from a South American camelid species called alpaca. The scientific name of alpaca is lama pacos, which is the inhabitant of the Andes Mountains of South America.

Characteristics of Alpaca Fibre
Alpaca fibre is strong and flexible and has more thermal capacity as compared to any other animal fibre.
The fibre does not cause any itching as wool often does, because it does not contain lanolin and has a smooth cell structure. Basically, it contains microscopic air pockets that results in the production of lightweight garment with very high insulation value. These fibres are very easy to work upon.

Design & Pattern:
Alpaca shawls are very warm, fine and delicate. These shawls are adorned with needlework designs of roses and geometric figures. With silk embroidery embellishment, graceful and flowing drape and borders of luxuriously long, hand-knitted silk fringes, designer alpaca shawls stand apart for their exquisite beauty and refined nature.

Market for Alpaca Shawls:
The very elegant and exquisite Alpaca shawls are very popular in Europe as well as in Asian countries. The extreme softness and warmth of the shawl makes it one of the most preferred apparel in the colder hemisphere. Alpaca shawls are chiefly manufactured in Bolivia. The unique patterns and designs of the shawl has increased its demand globally in the recent past.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


A career in the design has always been on the cards for this headstrong young artist and at just 23, Sinead Mc Kiernan from Cootehill has just set up her own fashion label, Folksong, based in Galway.
“I`ve never considered any other career and whether I was talented or not didn’t even enter my head, I`ve always been addicted to colour and design so it was natural to follow that”
In 2002, following Portfolio assessment, a college interview and meeting the points criteria she was accepted into Cluain Mhuire college of Art and Design in Galway. “I remember telling the Career Guidance Counsellor in school that I wanted to study Art and Design in Galway. She told me I’d have to go to Dublin that there was none in Galway. So I printed of the prospectus and gave it to her and packed my bags! I knew Galway was where my heart was “
The next three years were tough as she explains “My family life was in upheaval at the time and perhaps because of this I don’t feel I committed 100% to the course”
Despite this she completed and passed the three year course, specialising in Textile Design and received a BA Hons. Degree in Art & Design. “We studied painting, drawing, Print, Ceramics, Photography, Textiles and Sculpture and it was so hard to pick one to specialise in. I choose Textiles as I loved working with fabric especially Dyeing, Printing and embroidery but I found the teaching of design development ridiculous. For me I just had the designs in my head and they came from everywhere. The tutors encouraged a thought out design process in chronological order. That was like working backwards for me and I didn’t enjoy it. It took away the freedom of creativity”
Following the summer after college she didn’t commit to any creative projects as she says “I think I had enough of it at that time and the joy was gone”. That September she started a one year Fashion design course in GTI Galway and studied Pattern Drafting, Fashion Illustration and Garment Construction. She found tutor Orla …… “the most encouraging and helpful person I’d met in my studying so far, She was vibrant and inspiring and I enjoyed that course a lot” She also worked a short time with Macnas, the street parade group in Galway making costumes for a St. Patrick’s days Parade. “The gang there were lovely and it was a great experience, I loved it”
After this course she worked hard and played hard and travelled a lot, having visited and lived in such countries as China, New Zealand, Thailand, Greece, Singapore and much of Europe. “A lot of my inspiration comes from travelling and taking in all the colour and texture along the way, taking pictures of the most random things and seeing the ancient fabrics of different cultures”
So all of what she has seen and learned so far has filtered down into creating a beautiful line of scarves and shawls hand-dyed, hand painted and hand stitched under her new label Folksong. “It’s still in its embryonic stage for now and I’ve lots more to learn. These scarves and shawls are made with a lot of care and detail and I consider them an artwork. I love the feeling of working on a piece for hours and I enjoy quite tedious work like sewing beads on or hand-painting the fabric, I find it relaxing. They are for wrapping yourself in colour and design and feeling uplifted. I love the idea of the shawl. It’s such an ancient garment with so much history in so many places. Like the Galway shawl!”