The Aran jumper takes its name from the Aran Islands on the West Coast of Ireland. Fishermen’s wives traditionally make these sweaters for their menfolk from local wool. Originally untreated, the raw wool is rich in natural lanolin, which adds a “waterproofing” layer against the waves. Prior to the 1930s, designs are simple and incorporate classical fisherman’s designs known all around the coasts of Ireland, the British and Channel Isles. Influences from Guernsey are the probably the root of the Irish word for sweater – Geansaí.
From being a personal garment made for a family member, a cottage industry now arises in the mid-1930s. Knitting needles are still scarce tools, and some knitters on Inishmaan recall using goose quills and willow rods to knit! Stitches and designs become more elaborate. Diamonds, knots, zig-zags, cables and moss stiches are combined in vertical panels. White treated wool ( replaces the familiar dark blue dyes. Training and education leads to incredibly beautiful pieces of work, with all-over patterns as opposed to the shoulder-embellished Guernsey style. The quality of the work is outstanding, showing great technical expertise. Patterns don’t exist, Irish knitters produce their designs all from training and memory!
1.Small, 2.Medium, 3.Large, 4.XLarge, 5.XXLarge, XSmall
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