What is Sheared?
It’s difficult to describe where Sheared began without first explaining the background of it’s founder, Aileen Duffy.
Aileen grew up on a small farm in the midlands of Ireland among a family of three boys and three girls. The farm was (and still is) a Cattle and Sheep farm, her father being an award winning sheep farmer, having won countless All Ireland sheep breeding competitions down through the years and eventually becoming a well respected competition judge himself. He won one competition so many times that they retired the category.
To those of you who didn’t grew up on a farm it’s important to understand that being a child on an award winning sheep farm includes the following responsibilities:
-Feeding a baby lamb from a bottle when it’s mother is sick. Yes, it’s just how you would imagine it, same as feeding a baby human from a bottle. Growing up on an Irish sheep farm, it’s not unusual of a school morning to be eating breakfast while a cardboard box containing three baby lambs sits on the floor beside you, each bleating for its own breakfast.
-Beautifying the sheep to be ready for a competition, and at those times, their grooming was paramount in the Duffy farm. Aileen remembers that it was important for the sheep to be out eating the fresh green grass, but also that the sheep couldn’t get wet. This delicate balance between inside and outside posed a particular problem with the infamously changeable Irish weather. At the sign of the slightest drop of rain these young farmers had to be ready to spring into action. Drops of rain are very common in Ireland.
This was Aileen’s introduction to the world of sheep, while indoors she was being inducted to the world of craft. She spent much of her youth by her Granny’s side learning to knit. She has particular memory of winding reams of Aran wool while gazing at the intricate Aran stitches as she Granny hand knit beautiful jumpers destined for America. Indeed, this particular Granny is responsible for Aileen’s attention to detail and stubborn drive for perfection in everything she does. She often quotes her Granny’s famous line “If you’re going to do something, do it right!”. Aileen has memories of many occasions when her Granny uttered those words and then made her rip the piece she was knitting to start over, all because of a small mistake.
Since then Aileen has further explored the world of knitting, sewing and crochet, perfecting her own craft and moving on always to try out new things. She is driven by her imagination, guided by her quest for perfection and always honing her skills to create new and unusual items, but still with a connection back to those days as a child.
And that brings us to the birth of Sheared.
Aileen’s strong interest in design and heritage had instilled in her a desire to develop a textile based upcycled product, so she experimented with second hand and cast off pieces of clothing to develop new and modern items. She discovered that aside from the novelty of this, it was difficult to maintain because of the difficulty in sourcing enough of the same type of clothing, and the time involved in breaking down finished pieces and designing new ones.
She then realised that she could mix and match different pieces and different materials to produce modern and practical items such as tablet computer and phone covers, while still being eco friendly because she could upcycle cut off pieces to make them.
Through a gradual process of evolution the ideas took many forms and over the course of a year developed from that first upcycled jacket to woolen bags to eventually the designs she has most recently created. Aileen is always coming up with new ideas so one of the exciting things for Sheared is finding ways to be able to make and produce these designs.
The mission of Sheared is to evoke memory and recapture the connection to the past through materials, design and stitches while creating modern practical items made from handmade and sustainable products.
Every Sheared product is made from Eco friendly products and connected to the land and the memory of growing up in Ireland.