The story of Shuttle Knit starts way back in the mid 1990’s when a wonderful woman by the name of Sr Caitriona set up a meeting place in her home for women from the Traveller community to come together and enjoy some crafting. At some point she purchased some knitting machines and she moved the group into the Old Methodist Hall in Wicklow. From here, she moved the group to Rathnew, converting the old hall into classrooms, took on a manager and knitting teacher and this is where it really all begins.
The women were trained in the use of knitting machines and weaving looms, so started to design products that were exhibited locally and often sold in outlets around the country.
It was the groups ambition that there would be a Traveller building and a business that would offer employment to Travellers and in 1999 raised money to build CEART on land donated by the Dominican Order. In 2000, the women moved to CEART along with the knitting machines, looms and their great learned knowledge and in 2001 funding was sought and Shuttle Knit Ltd was formed.
As a social enterprise, the tag line “Knitting Communities Together” was adopted in 2012, but this ethos was there right from the beginning. Shuttle Knit is a partnership between the settled and Traveller communities, creating a work place where everyone is treated with equality, respect and valued for the work they put in. Shuttle Knit is fortunate enough to be funded by the Community Services Programme, where the funding is administered by Pobal. Today, we have 9 employees and each season, we design and create new collections that are sold all over the country as well as in Scotland and North America. As a not for profit organisation, all profits go straight back into the people and are used for ongoing training, upskilling and personal development.
That is the past and the present, but what of the future? Well. We have been lucky enough to have been awarded funding for new machinery which is much welcomed and in place and by the end of 2016, into early 2017, we will be in a position to expand the operation and seek to employ more workers, knitting more employees into our community and strengthening our ethos. As many of the employees have been with the organisation since those very early days of hanging out with Sr Caitriona, it goes to show how valuable the role of Shuttle Knit is in the lives of the women and how strong our ethos is.
Shuttle Knit Ltd is a community enterprise, established in 2001, supported by the Government’s Social Inclusion Chapter of its National Plan. It is a business enterprise and partnership between Travellers and the settled community expressed in the spirit of our logo “knitting communities together”. The company’s aim, is to create and design an innovative range of knitwear as an indigenous Irish industry for worldwide sales . Our products are showcased at National and Local Events, on our website and at at our premises in Wicklow Town.