The History of the Aran Sweater


The story of the Aran Sweater:

To those of you that don't know the history of the Aran Fisherman Sweater and it's patterns. 

The Aran Sweater originated from the Aran Islands, which are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland.  The names of the Islands are Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.

The Aran Sweater or Fisherman Knits were handknitted by the ladies of the Aran Islands for their fishermen husbands to keep them warm, whilst they battled the Wild Atlantic’s weather conditions.

About the Aran Sweater:

The typical Aran sweater might have had over 100,000 stitches and taken months to finish.  The twisted stitches, were created to increase warmth in the Aran Sweaters, hence creating air pockets. This is how the Aran jumper also became known as the Aran Fisherman Knit.

The Wool:

The wool used in the Aran sweater was from the local farmer’s sheep on the Aran Islands. The wool contained a heavy oil called Lanolin. This oil was a perfect repellent for harsh wet weather conditions and worked to keep the farmers and fishermen dry. Today the oil is extracted from the wool before handknitting the sweater.

The wool used today 

The Patterns of the Irish Aran Sweater:

It is said on the Aran Islands that the wives designed their own unique Aran patterns to identify their dead fisherman husbands & sons. Each pattern belongs to a particular family or clan and each symbolizes life on the Aran Islands. 

The Basket Stitch:

The Basket stitch represents the fishermen's basket. It is believed it represents a plentiful catch.

The Diamond Stitch:

The Diamond stitch represents the shape of the fishing net and signifies wealth and success. 

The Honeycomb Stitch:

The Honeycomb stitch is said to represent the bee and its hard work. It's considered a symbol of good luck and signifies plenty. If there is only one repetition of the pattern used the honeycomb stitch is also known as the Chain Cable

The Cable Stitch:

The Cable stitch is said to symbolize the fisherman's ropes. The stitch is seen as a sign of safety and good luck. 

The Irish Moss Stitch:

The Irish Moss stitch is said to represent abundance and growth. 

The Blackberry Stitch:

The Blackberry stitch signifies nature. It is also called the Trinity stitch and holds religious significance. 

What’s so special about the Aran Sweater?