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The Old Knitting Factory: A Childcare-Inclusive Arts Retreat for Single Mums

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | From the Front Row

Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin

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Bestselling author and single mother Betsy Cornwell acquired The Old Knitting Factory in Connemara, Ireland, over Mother’s Day weekend, with plans to turn the property into a childcare-inclusive arts retreat for single moms.

The Old Knitting Factory was built in 1906 as a knitting school to give rural women the skills to support themselves. In the 1970s, filmmaker Bob Quinn converted the property into a family home and Irish-language cinema: his son Robert Quinn later documented that era in his film Cinegael Paradiso. For the last several years, the building on the shore of Loch an Mhuillin in Carraroe has been largely uninhabited, but Cornwell hopes to honor its original purpose as a space to empower women.

Cornwell explains “As a single mother in the arts working four jobs, I know how hard it is to balance parenting and paying the bills with creative pursuits. I’ve dreamed for a long time of finding a space to offer childcare-inclusive arts residencies for single moms (and queer, nonbinary, and POC single parents) like me. I love The Old Knitting Factory’s history and am so happy that I’ll be able to offer the beauty and peace of Connemara, and the space and time to make art, to single parents who need it.”

Cornwell is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to help fund The Old Knitting Factory’s purchase, renovations, and first residency. The name of every contributor will be hand-sewn into a tapestry that Cornwell will display in the former school and cinema space. The campaign runs through to July 1: find details at http://www.betsycornwell.com/the-old-knitting-factory/

Cornwell will renovate The Old Knitting Factory over the coming year and plans to welcome her first resident artist in Summer 2021. 

(c) Betsy Cornwell

Betsy Cornwell: www.betsycornwell.com

Betsy Cornwell is a New York Times bestselling author, the digital editor and story editor at Parabola Magazine, a teacher of creative writing at NUI Galway, and a consultant for aspiring writers. She is available for interviews and photo opportunities at contact number 083 046 4045 (business hours) or oldknittingfactory@gmail.com .

Betsy Cornwell photo credit: Tess Harper Molloy.

The Old Knitting Factory photo credit: Patrick O’Herlihy.

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