Aran Sweater Folklore
The Aran Sweater got its name from the Aran Islands off the West coast of Ireland where it was first created many years ago. In the early 1900s the Aran Islands were home to many fishermen and farmers who worked the land and sea like generations before them.
The traditional Aran Sweater was created out of necessity because of the harsh coastal weather and fashioned from local wool by skilled craftswomen in the area. These skills have been passed down from generation to generation creating sweaters that tell a tale as old as time.
In the 1950s wives of fishermen would craft these sweaters for their husbands before they would go to sea. Soon these sweaters became popular amongst locals and were sold on the Aran Islands as a source of income for their families. Back then it took between three and six weeks to hand knit a single sweater. Each sweater is steeped in Irish tradition, heritage and folklore. The intricate patterns are infused with symbolism and superstition.
A sea labourer’s clothes had to be durable, warm, stain resistant and easy to mend. Traditionally fishermen wore a dark navy tight knit sweater which was resistant to liquids and allowed for ease of movement. Over time the knitting patterns got more intricate and developed meaning.
Each stitch has its own meaning, creating a garment that can tell a story. Various styles of stitches were developed.
The cable stitch is one of our most popular stitches and is said to represent the fishermen’s ropes and symbolises a wish for a bountiful day at sea. It is also seen as a symbol of safety and brings luck to those who wear it.
The diamond stitch depicts the shape of fishing nets used to bring home the catch to the family. This stitch is said to bring wealth and success to the wearer.
The zig-zag stitch represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands can be compared the twists and turns on the journey of life.
The honeycomb stitch is an intricate stitch filled with luck and signifies abundance and brings these qualities to those who wear it.
In more recent times the Aran Sweater has become popular amongst celebrities like Steve McQueen, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Sarah Jessica Parker, Taylor Swift and Chris Evans. Colin Farrell has set the Aran Jumper market alight with his latest role in Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin.
These Unisex Sweaters are not only fashionable and filled with heritage, they are also a sustainable purchase, produced from natural materials and made to last. Wool is a natural material that’s quality and beauty has been harnessed by craftspeople for many generations. Due to the breathable nature of Aran sweaters they can be worn more often and washed less.
We have a large range of Aran sweaters and cardigans available online with an array of traditional stitches in each style and many colours. Shop the look here.