A nip in the air – triggers dreams of Aran Sweaters

Jean Seaberg 1969 Fisherman Sweater

The Aran Islands, a set of three islands located off the west of Ireland in graphic terms.
The Aran jumper (Irish: Geansaí Árann) is a style of jumper (sweater) that takes its name from the Aran Islands off the west coast. A traditional Aran Jumper usually is off-white in color, with cable patterns on the body and sleeves. Originally the jumpers were knitted using unscoured wool that retained its natural oils (lanolin) which made the garments water-resistant and meant they remained wearable even when wet.

Steve McQueen 1968 Fisherman Sweater

The islands are still known today for those sweaters. Back in the 1930s, the Irish government made a concerted effort to promote handcrafted goods, which they felt could economically stimulate the region while also allowing many of the more remotely located citizens to work from home. And the plan worked — mostly. Aran sweaters are made through a sprawling cottage industry in the region, although there are also a ton of designer brands producing the same style offshore. Of the tourists who visit the islands, however, few leave without a sweater.

John Lennon Fisherman Sweater

The great thing about an Aran knit is how it can be worn in almost any context. This is especially useful if you’re just starting to build a wardrobe, as it’ll allow you to explore different areas while developing your personal style. Aran sweaters pair naturally with jeans, dress pants, or a long skirt. They can be worn singly or layered.

Chris Evans Fisherman Sweater

Steven Spielberg Fisherman Sweater

Ryan O’Neal Fisherman Sweater

Part of the appeal and popularity of Aran Jumper comes from the array of myths propagated by Heinz Edgar Kiewe:

The moss stitch is said to signify an abundance of growth.
The blackberry stitch represents nature.
The honeycomb is a said to be a lucky stitch, signifying plenty.
Lattice or basket stitches to represent the old wicker basket patterns.
The Ladder of Life and Tree of Life represents the stages of life.

Marilyn Monroe 1960 Fisherman Sweater

Very generally speaking, Aran knits can be made in one of three ways.

Hand Knit: What you think of when you hear “handmade,” even though not all sweaters marketed as handmade are indeed hand knitted. Here, a knitter juggles two knitting needles to create a set of intricate stitches (some of which machines may not be able to handle). The results are sweaters that are often more textured than their machine-made counterparts, although a lot depends on the specific constructions. Today, the work is mostly done by elderly women in Scotland and Ireland, who knit sweaters at home for part-time pay.

Hand-Operated Machine: A sweater made on a single-operator machine, where the operator can adjust the stitching pattern between rows. The best sweaters in this category are said to compare well to hand-knitted ones, although sometimes they’re not as tightly knit. The upside: there’s less labor involved, so the resulting sweaters are a bit more affordable, and since they don’t require the complicated set-up of automatic machines, you can get custom one-offs.

Automatic Machines: The most variable in quality, as you can find everything from ~$80 sweaters to luxurious $750+ pieces from the likes of Luciano Barbera. The difference is mostly in the quality of the yarns, density of the knitting, and if there’s any hand finishing.

Elvis Presley 1960 Fisherman Sweater

Look at Vintage sweaters! The nice thing about Aran knits is that they’re hardy — often densely knitted from thick, sturdy yarns, which means vintage ones are typically in good condition. You can find them at thrift stores and eBay for around between $25 to $150.

The only problem is the fit, sometimes vintage sweaters are made to strange proportions that may not work in every wardrobe. When buying online, pay attention to measurements and make sure there’s a good return policy. Using eBay, you can search for brands such as Aran Crafts, Carraig Donn, Blarney Woolen Mills, and John Molloy, or just browse more generally for “Irish sweater” or “fisherman sweater” or “Aran Sweater”.  If you can find one that fits well, it will be better than the Aran-style knits you find in shops such as American Eagle, J Crew, LL Bean, and The Gap.

Grace Kelly Fisherman Sweater

dievca still has the classic crew collar Irish Sweater she wore in college. It’s boxy, bulky, and itches – but she cannot get rid of it due to the memories attached. she wore it everywhere – to classes, then football games and parties with Guess jeans, a turtleneck, Nine West sweater booties, Tweed overcoat, Ray-Ban Clubmaster sunglasses and Busch Light tucked into the coat pockets:

As a return to college days nostalgia, dievca has updated her Aran Sweater with a lighter weave, merino wool option with the Donegal Jumper from Stable of Ireland. she’s planning to pair it with a light t-shirt, cargo pants, combat boots and knit cashmere hat.

A “Thank You” to putthison.com