1. The patterns on Irish sweaters are based on Irish Tradition each stitch represents a different meaning and symbolizes something of importance. There are many different stitches with meanings behind them for example the honeycomb stitch represents the bee which is also a sign of a hard worker (a busy bee). The diamond stitch represents wealth, the moss stitch is said to mean growth and is often used with the diamond stitch. The tree of life stitch symbolises the rite of passage and the importance of family. The infamous cable stitch is the most common stitch seen on Aran sweaters and that represents fisherman ropes.
A myth about the Aran sweater is that the stitches are linked to family names the legend has it that each stitch represents a family second name so that is the fisherman was lost at sea the family would be able to identify the body by the stitch on the sweater although an interesting store, it has not been proven at a fact!
2. Origin of the Aran Sweater
The beloved Aran sweater originated in the Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland around the 1950s women hand made their fisherman husbands Irish sweaters to keep them warm at sea, they also sold them on the island to make a living. Irish sweaters used to be water proof so they were the perfect garment for the man to wear at sea. The sweater was made with unscored wool that kept its natural oil in it, making it water resistant! The majority of men on the islands were fisherman or farmers so these fisherman sweaters were extremely popular. Handknitting an Irish sweater took between 3 to 6 weeks to complete so the women on the islands were kept busy at work knitting.
3. Clancy Brothers and Aran Sweaters!
The made Aran sweaters cool in the States and brought it back to life in Ireland!! The Irish folk band were over in USA touring when a particularly cold spell hit New York. The Clancy Brothers mum send them over Aran Sweaters that they wore live on the Ed Sullivan Show this gave fisherman sweaters a big boost in popularity! They were famed for wearing the infamous Irish sweater each time they performed making it their trademark!
4. Aran Sweaters have evolved
In the past, all aran sweaters were made with Irish wool which comes from sheep in Ireland. Nowadays most Irish sweaters are knit with Merino wool from New Zealand as it is softer to wear and wears better. Merino wool stays warm in winter and cool in summer, making it the ideal wool for an Aran Sweater.