• The Complete Guide to Exploring the Aran Islands

    Aran Islands with Sundown

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    Planning a day trip or a vacation to the Aran Islands? These ruggedly beautiful islands welcome around 200,000 visitors every year, all keen to catch a glimpse of real Ireland, escape from the busyness of the modern world, experience traditional culture, and of course, take in the desolate windswept beauty of this unique location.

    About the Aran Islands

    The Aran Islands are a group of three islands in Galway Bay, off the west coast of Ireland. Theyre home to some of the oldest archaeological sites in Ireland and have a fascinating history.

    Isolated from the mainland until the 20th century, traditional island life continues in many ways as it has for hundreds of years, with most residents making a living through subsistence farming and fishing. The islands are also the home of the world-famous Aran knitwear.

    Gaelic is the official language of the Aran Islands and is the first and preferred language of most of the residents. These days everyone speaks English too, but if you try out a couple of phrases youre sure to get a smile. If you stay overnight, its a must to hang out with the locals in one of the local pubs, where you can enjoy a pint or two and listen to traditional live music.

    Inis Mor (Inishmore) Island

    The cliffs of Mohar at sundown
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    Inis Mr is the most westerly and the largest of the three islands. Its only around 9 miles long and less than 2.5 miles wide at its widest point, which makes it easy to travel around the whole island in a day. Its the most popular with visitors and offers the most amenities such as shops, cafes, and accommodation options.

    The island is home to around 1,000 people and there are fewer than 100 vehicles. Most visitors rent bikes to get around, and you can also take a tour in a pony and trap, which is a popular activity with many tourists. There are minibus tours available, which can be handy if youre on a day trip and want to see as much as you can in a short time frame.

    Where to Stay

    Kilronan Hostel A cozy budget accommodation option with small shared dorm rooms.

    Aonghasa's Walker's Lodge A comfortable mid-price option thats great for solo travelers and serves up a good breakfast.

    Ard Einne House Good value for money guesthouse with amazing views.

    Ard Mhuiris B&B A family-run B&B in an excellent location with free ferry transfers.

    Pier House Guesthouse Great location close to the pier, and with a nice restaurant.

    Aran Islands Hotel A traditional island hotel with an attached pub that offers regular live music.

    Tigh Fitz A family-run guesthouse with clean rooms and friendly hosts.

    What to See

    Kilronan village This is the only village on all three of the islands and is also the only place on the island with a supermarket and ATM, so its essential to stop here for supplies. Its also a quaint little village thats fun to explore with several cafes, gift shops, and traditional Irish pubs where you can meet the locals.

    Dn Aonghasa A 2,000-year-old Celtic fort on the edge of a massive limestone cliff. This is the most famous tourist attraction on the Aran Islands and is definitely a must-see.

    Seven Churches Another archaeological site containing the ruins of several ancient chapels and monasteries.

    Wormhole An impressive natural rectangular-shaped tidal pool accessed by a cliff-top walk south from Dn Aonghasa. Its part of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

    Seal Colony Theres a natural seal habitat that you can see off the coastal road on the way to Kilmurvey beach. Just next door is also a small lake where you can see wild ducks, swans, and other birds.

    The Black Fort A ruin set atop the cliffs on the southern side of the island with impressive views. Its much less popular than Dn Aonghasa, which makes it ideal for a more peaceful excursion.

    Dun Eoghanacht A ruined Iron Age fort surrounded by a double circular wall with the remains of several stone houses inside.

    Inis Mein (Inishmaan) Island

    aran island stone walls
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    Inis Mein has a population of only 200 people and is the quietest of the three islands. Its a great place to take a deep dive into traditional Irish life and culture, with many residents still choosing to wear traditional Irish clothing, and various cultural courses on offer such as dance and poetry.

    What to See

    A sign to synges chair

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    SyngesChair A viewpoint on the most western point of the island, where you can see the waves crashing in Gregorys Sound below. This is where the playwright Edward John Millington Synge would sit for inspiration while writing.

    The Puffing Holes They're holes in the ground at the top of the cliffs that create a spray of seawater similar to a whale when the waves are high.

    The Heritage House A traditional thatched cottage housing various historical artifacts relating to the island.

    Inis Mein Knitting Co Traditional knitwear factory where you can purchase Aran Sweaters at discounted prices.

    Where to Stay

    An Dun B&B and Restaurant Located in the middle of the island, this B&B offers a steam room, sauna, and delicious home-cooked meals.

    Inis Mein Restaurant & Suites A boutique hotel experience on the islands with five modern apartment-style suites.

    Tig Congaile B&B A simple B&B with sea views and organized activities.


    Inis Orr (Inisheer) Island

    The smallest of the islands, Inis Orr is a traditional Irish fishing island with stunning sandy beaches. Less than 2 miles long and wide, the island is easily walkable, and you can explore its valleys and sights by foot or by bicycle. The island may be small but it has a fascinating history and like the other islands is dotted with ancient ruins including a buried church that lies six feet below the surface.


    What to See

    ThePlassy A shipwreck that ran aground on the island after a storm in March 1960. A nearby pub, Tigh Ned, displays photographs and documents detailing the rescue of the people onboard, all of whom miraculously survived.

    Obriens Castle A ruined castle dating back to 1585, that was built on the highest point on the island. After climbing the 100m to the top youll be rewarded with stunning views that are particularly spectacular at sunset.

    St Kevins Church The ruins of the 10th century St. Kevins church are below the surface of the earth, as sand has blown over the site and covered it up over hundreds of hears. Hoever, its been uncovered so you can climb down and explore.

    Where to Stay

    An Creagn B&B Comfortable rooms with great views in this modern and clean B & B.

    Inisheer Hotel Clean and friendly hotel on the beach with a popular bar.

    Tigh Ruairi A friendly pub with a cozy B&B attached.


    What to Do on the Aran Islands

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    Apart from the main tourist attractions on each island, the Aran Islands offer a wide range of activities for solo travelers, couples, and families alike.


    The swells generated in Galway bay make the islands a popular spot for surfers


    The islands are relatively flat, making some walks accessible to all fitness levels, with stunning scenery. A popular walk is The Ring of Aran on Inis Mr starting at Kilronan village, visiting the standing stones, Kilmurvey beach, the seal colony, Dun Aonghasa, the Wormhole, and the lighthouse, the walk takes around 3-6 hours and youll be rewarded with panoramic views as well as seeing many sights on the island.

    Weddings and honeymoons

    The Aran Islands have become a popular place for romantic trips due to their secluded location and moving scenery. Some of the hotels offer wedding packages and you can even have a traditional Celtic wedding ceremony with hand fasting or blessing as the holy well.

    Fishing and boating

    Fishing is part of traditional life on the Aran Islands and is also a popular yachting locating, particularly in the summer months.


    Due to the small number of motorized vehicles on the island and the flat geography, cycling is the most popular method of transport for visitors. The 30-minute bike ride from the Pier on Inis Mr Island to Dun Aonghasa is regarded as one of the most popular cycling routes in Ireland.

    Yoga and meditation

    There are a few parts of the world where you can relax and focus in absolute silence, but the Aran Islands is one of them. There are regularly arranged meditation retreats and you can, of course, enjoy your own practice theres certainly plenty of space to find solitude. There is a natural spiritual energy on the islands that has to be experienced to be understood. The Aran Islands have been a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years, and you can visit these sacred pilgrimage locations all over the islands.


    All three of the islands boast white sandy beaches with turquoise water that rivals the Caribbean islands. They may be a little cooler, but if youre lucky you can get the whole beach to yourself.


    The Aran Islands are home to a wide array of wildlife with habitats unspoiled by human habitation and modern progress. You can see many different types of seabirds, seals, lizards, over 400 species of wildflowers, and butterflies.

    TedFest Are you a fan of the cult TV series Father Ted? The Aran islands are the original Craggy Island and Inis Orr is pictured in the opening sequence. The annual father ted festival Tedfest (not to be confused with a TEDx event of the same name) is held annually on Inis Mr.


    How to Get There

    how to get to the aran islands by plane

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    Aran Island Ferries sail from Rossaveal Ferry Terminal to all the islands year-round several times a day, and the crossing takes around 40 minutes. You can reach the ferry terminal by shuttle bus from Galway. Ferry crossings may be canceled in rough weather.

    Doolin Ferries and OBrien Line also run ferries in the busier season from March to November from Doolin, County Clare

    If you prefer to arrive by air, Aer Arann Islands flies to all the islands from Connemara Regional Airport. The flights take only around 10 minutes and you get the bonus of seeing the spectacular scenery from above.

  • The History of the Aran Sweater

    The Aran Sweater is named after the set of islands off Irelands West coast where it was first created many generations ago. The Aran Islands are located at the mouth of Galway Bay on the Atlantic Sea and are where fisherman and farmers dwelled and worked together.

    The Aran Sweater was fashioned in this environment and has since been passed down through generations to be considered the ultimate Irish Clan Heritage symbol. It is still very popular today in many knitting circles and is also worn by those who appreciate its origin and symbolism.

    Origin of the Aran Sweater

    origin of the Irish sweater

    Aran sweaters are highly sought-after, and still, make quite a fashion statement many years after their creation. Back in the 1950s on the aran Islands, many of the men were a fisherman. Out of necessity to combat the cold and tough conditions of the sea, the women handmade their fisherman husbands aran sweaters to keep them warm. Due to their popularity with the fishermen, they were also sold on the island which helped provide a living for some of the families.

    The intricate cables, bobbles and stitch patterns make these garments popular for a number of reasons. They are challenging to knit, lend aesthetic appeal to the apparel, and add warmth and thickness. Back then, handknitting an aran sweater took between 3 to 6 weeks to complete.

    The origin of the Aran sweater can be traced back to Guernsey, an island 400 miles South-East of the Aran Islands. Much of Guernseys trade relied on fishing, and the clothing requirements of fisherman were quite demanding.

    A fishermans clothes needed to be durable, easy to mend, stain resistant, easy to move about in, be able to provide warmth to the wearer, and if possible, keep out water. Thus, the gansa sweater.

    The Gansa was a simple design, allowing for free movement. Its dark navy color was stain-resistant to a number of liquids, and the knitting was tight to keep the wearer dry. Over time, the stitches became more complicated.

    As the popularity of the Gansa grew, knitters further developed the stitching, with noticeable differences seen in Ireland and Scotland. Various types of cable stitches were used: diamond lattices, plates, ropes, and the Celtic Knot design.

    Before long the stitch patterns covered the entire sweater, creating an even more aesthetically pleasing garment. Before long, commercial interest took hold, and the aran sweater began to really grow in popularity.

    As it evolved, the Aran sweater was manufactured with thicker yarn, the sweaters were knitted flat and seam is sewn together, and the stitching became looser. This decreased the amount of time it took to knit a sweater, thus increasing the arans production.

    The Aran sweater is known for its stitching patterns and intricacies and is considered both a practical choice and fashion statement.

    Aran Sweater Myths

    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 story, it has not been proven at a fact! While the aran sweaters were indeed knit to keep the fisherman warm and cosy at sea, the idea of each stitch is a family name is, unfortunately, a myth.

    Due to the expanding population of the aran Islands at the time, the government introduced a board called The Congested Districts Board as a way to come up with ideas of improving the standard of living on the island. The put a lot of effort into farming and fishing and knitting for the ladies.

    The people of the aran islands decided to bring over some Scottish fisherman to teach the Islanders a few things, they also brought some Scottish ladies who showed how to knit sweaters for a living. So the Irish ladies took their idea and made it their own - the yarn they used in Ireland was much thicker than the fine Scottish wool and the design had lots more patterns to it, rather than just the top which the Scottish version had. In approx 1935, these sweaters were so in demand they started selling them in the Dublin markets!

    Aran Sweater Stitches and Their Meanings

    types of aran stitches

    Aran knitting stitches are beautiful, complicated, and represent the lives of the fishermen who wore them. They must be handknitted, are believed to have been symbolic of nature, the sea, and the fishing families who lived on the Aran Islands. The patterns on Aran sweaters are based on Irish Tradition each stitch represents a different meaning and symbolizes something of importance. Here are some of the most popular stitches and their meanings.

    The Basket Stitch

    basket stitch

    This stitch represents the basket the fisherman used, and his hope of filling it with his catches.

    Blackberry Stitch

    blackberry stitch

    This is symbolic of the rich abundance of nature, and may also possess religious implications.

    Cable stitch

    cable stitch

    This is, perhaps, the most frequent stitch found on Irish sweaters, and comes in different forms. The plain cable illustrates the ropes of Irish fisherman, promising good luck and safety at sea. A plated stitch illustrates how daily life and hard work are woven together.

    Tree of Life or Trinity Stitch

    trinity stitch
    This stitch is said to promise a long life and strong children. Religious connotations are also thought to be represented.

    Trellis stitch

    trellis stitch

    This stitch is symbolic of the landscape patterns of fenced-in fields accompanied by roughly hewn stones that protect inhabitants from strong winds on the island.

    Irish Moss Stitch

    irish moss knit stitch

    This is often used as a diamond filler and suggests a respectable harvest. It symbolizes carrageen moss, which is a type of seaweed on the Irish coast that is used as both food and fertilizer of barren fields.

    Honeycomb Stitch

    honeycomb stitch
    This stitch is a reminder of the bee who works hard and assures a reward for labour.

    Diamond stitch

    diamond stitch
    This stitch symbolizes the shapes of mesh fishing net, and also stands for success and wealth.

    Zig Zag Stitch

    Zig Zag Stitch

    This stitch represents the ups and downs that married couples face.

    Types of Aran sweaters

    When selecting an Aran sweater, there are many different types from which to choose. Some are outlined below.

    Womens Cable Knit

    This style is crafted from soft, Merino wool with the cable knit design. This traditional stitch is quite popular because it represents the culture from which it came.

    Handknit Crew Neck

    Also made of soft Merino wool, this design for men also features the cable stitch, and has a crew neckline.

    Unisex Aran

    This option is constructed of different types of Irish stitching, starting with the honeycomb around the centre, with cable stitching on either side.

    Shawl Neck

    mens shawl neck aran sweater for men

    The shawl neck aran sweater features delicate Aran stitching with a shawl neck. It works well for both daytimes casual or nighttime dressing up.

    Wool and Cashmere Trellis

    trellis aran sweater light pink wool cashmere

    This Aran wool and trellis stitched sweater is 95% Merino wool and 5% cashmere and is a soft, comfortable option.


    womens turtleneck aran sweater

    The turtleneck aran sweater features aran stitching and a turtleneck for added warmth.

    Denim Marl

    Featuring Aran stitching, this sweater is 100% Merino wool, and is warm, soft and stylish to wear.

    The Evolution of the Irish Sweater

    Generations after its creation, the Aran sweater is still going strong. Recently the aran sweater made the list of iconic fashion pieces featured in an exhibition in Manhattans Museum of Modern Art. Chosen because of its impact on the world during the last century, it has remained popular in the entertainment industry and fashion world alike.

    The National Museum of Ireland loaned one of its oldest sweaters for the exhibition, where it was placed beside other fashion elites such as the Birkin Bag, Wonderbra, a pair of Levis 501 jeans dating back to the 1940s, and an assortment of little black dresses.

    Famous People Wearing Aran Sweaters

    Aran Sweater that made it into Vogue in 1956

    The patterns of our famous Irish Aran Sweater made it into Vogue in 1956 and like that, its popularity went from strength to strength.

    The Clancy Brothers

    the clancy brothers

    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!


    Actors such as Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, and Grace Kelly were seen as notable wearers, and it continues to attract much attention from celebrities today. Its unique design and Irish heritage make it a mainstay in popular culture, ensuring it will never be forgotten.

    In recent times, we have seen even more celebrities rock our beloved Irish aran sweater such as Alexa Chung, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rob Patterson, Kate Bosworth and Gwyneth Paltrow to name a few.

  • 9 Reasons You Should Wear Merino Wool (in Summer AND Winter)

    Originating inSpain, Merino sheep are well-known worldwide for their beautiful wool. The fine fibers of the wool have many properties that make the wool an ideal material from which to make clothing. However, if you think merino wool clothes are only for the winter, think again. Here are nine reasons why merino wool clothing is perfect for winter and summer.

    woman wearing merino wool scarf

    It Keeps You Cool in Warm Weather

    Merino sheep have evolved over millions of years and they have become pretty good at keeping themselves cool as well as warm! That means merino clothing is great to wear when its hot; it can actually help you regulate your temperature. The way it works is that the merino wool fibers can absorb moisture, so sweat is drawn away from your skin where it can evaporate into the air outside the fabric. As the moisture evaporates, heat is released, cooling the air between your skin and the fabric.

    Its Odor Resistant

    Merino wool is a breathable fabric that absorbs moisture leaving you cool, dry and resists odors. An added benefit for the summer months is that the wool is a natural UV barrier, so your skin is protected from damaging UV radiation.

    Its Incredibly Comfortable Against Your Skin

    Merino wool is the softest and finest fleece known to man. This is because the fibers are so fine. A human hair is between 60 and 180 microns in thickness; a fiber of merino wool is only 17 microns thick. In addition, merino wool is six times stronger than cotton. So, because merino wool fibers are so fine, strong and flexible, they bend when they press against your skin. This means you dont feel the prick, or itch, associated with some other wools.

    Couple by the sea enjoying with merino wool blanket keeping them warm

    Its Good for Your Skin

    Not only is it soft on your skin, merino wool is non-allergenic. This makes it ideal for sensitive skin and can even reduce the symptoms of eczema. In addition, merino wool naturally retains moisture, so it is static resistant which means your clothes wont cling to your skin or crackle or spark when you undress.

    Its Easy to Care For

    Merino wool is incredibly easy to look after. Since the wool fibers naturally resist bacteria and stains and absorb odor molecules, it wont get dirty and smelly so often. This means you wont need to wash it as often. You can just air your garment by hanging it up outside where fresh air can circulate it.

    It Dries Super Quick

    When you do wash your merino wool garment, wash on a low temperature. When you take it out of the washing machine, you can dry your garment flat or put it on a hanger to dry. You will find that it dries fast because its such a fine fabric. Youll be good to go in less time than you think!

    It Wont Wrinkle

    Merino wool fibers have elastic properties so your garment wont wrinkle. This makes merino wool garments ideal for travel and packing into your suitcase. Your garment will bounce back into shape when you want to wear it. Another bonus for the summer.

    little girl wearing pink poncho from Ireland

    Its Environmentally Friendly

    Merino wool is a sustainable material since it comes from sheep grazing on the hills of New Zealand and Australia. Their fleece is harvested twice a year. When youve finished with your merino wool garment, it is a biodegradable material which means it will naturally decompose in the soil. All of this makes merino wool a great choice for the environmentally conscious.

    Its Very Warm

    Merino wool fibers have a natural crimp which works to trap body heat. Merino wool garments can be surprisingly thin, which means you can wear layers. For example, when you really need to keep warm, you can choose a merino wool base layer and a merino wool shirt.

    man wearing merino wool cardigan

    Merino wool is sourced from sheep that graze the meadows of Australia and New Zealand. Thermoregulating in warm weather and insulating in the cold, merino wool garments look stylish and sophisticated and are incredibly practical for sportswear. Its no wonder merino wool is so popular all year round.

  • Best Irish Craft And Design Available at The Sweatershop

    Irish wool knitwear is most iconically represented by the Aran cable knit sweaters. Just think of Clancey brothers kitted out in bnine (Irish for white) wool jumpers. The Aran tradition derives from the West of Ireland, especially the Aran Islands, where traditional fishing communities would have made their clothing by combining stitches such as the cable, honeycomb, blackberry, moss and basket stitches, trellis, diamond, and the tree of life among the most widespread.

    Background to the Fisherman Sweater

    This is the background of a relatively recently born and widely popularised fisherman sweater. A fascinating rise to fame and stylistic ingenuity has ensured, that Aran knitwear has not only survived into the 21st century but has become one of the most inspirational lines of Irishcraft.

    Today, brands such as Carraig Donn, Original Aran Co., West End and Irelands Eye offer countless contemporary and classic versions of the Irish Aran sweater. From the traditional crew-neck pull-overs to cardigans, coats, and tunics - every company has made their contribution to offering freshly up-dated and versatile styles. The creativity of our Irish knitwear makers combined with modern technology, and a keen eye for changing aesthetic vocabularies, produces a range of apparel that could not be dreamt of only a century ago. They fill our store with an array of garments that stand out - each with different and attractive necklines, cuts, and lengths.

    History of the Aran Cable Stitch

    aran craftsThe Aran cable and derives from the North of the West of Ireland, Co. Donegal. Many people think of tweeds in association with the said region. But, of course, the same wool colored and spun into a rainbow of multi-tone yarns goes into the making of tweedy fisherman sweaters. It is said, that the colour combinations for Donegal yarns owe to close observation of the palette of nature, rendered with an artistic exaggeration - so to bring out the dreamiest, and most evocative of hues.

    The Best of Irish Craft is Inspired by Fishermen

    Fisherman out of Ireland, Donegal Design, and Studio Donegal is notable for bringing the best of this side of Irish craft to our stores. As with the Arans, nowadays there is much more choice, including the diversification of materials used. Albeit, we still stick with only natural fibers there are sweaters made with the coarser Irish wool, soft Merino wool, and, even some cashmere blends. People often come back to the store looking to replace one of their Donegal fisherman sweaters after years of wear, because of how fondly they have worn them. There is an undeniable character in every so beautifully colored garment as that. And, nature is a superb designer!

  • How to Wear an Aran Sweater an Essential Style Guide

    Classic, comfy and well-knit, the traditional Aran sweater is today worn as a trendy statement and the perfect start to a cosy fall or winter outfit. But it traces its roots to the 17th century and the tale spun around its identity is as unique as its name.

    Now, the modern Aran sweater is a relaxed and elegant number that can be paired with many different looks and styles that focus on comfort and ease. There is also something beautifully structured about the sweater and this all comes down to its variety in knit styles.

    Learn the origins of this transitional wardrobe staple and how to wear an Aran sweater in any weather!

    Source: Yarnspirations.com

    The History of the Aran Sweater

    The Aran sweater spread from its point of origin in the eponymous Aran Islands, right off the coast of West Ireland. The stitches on Aran sweaters are a mark of Irish clans and their heritages which were abundant in the Aran Islands.

    These combinations of stitches were essentially family heirlooms. Each pattern tells a clan's or house's values and stories which are passed on from generation to generation. In fact, these patterns were so idiosyncratic that the bodies of the fishermen who might have perished in an accident at sea would be identified using these very designs!

    Of course, this means that the Aran sweater itself is built to be naturally water-repellant. It can absorb almost 35% of its weight before feeling wet and heavy. Given that its wearers were originally islanders and families from fishing communities, this was the perfect feature.

    But the Aran sweater is also incredibly warm while maintaining breathability thanks to its natural wool fiber. The wool insulates the wearer and keeps the body at an ideal temperature that's not too hot nor too cold. This balance comes from a high volume of air in between the fibers. It keeps the wearer warm on cold and wet days, making it a staple for coastal Atlantic weather.

    Contemporary Class, Timeless Old World Design

    Bring the indomitable spirit and rich heritage of the breathtaking Aran Islands to your closet with intricately handwoven Aran sweaters. Aran knitting developed when fishermen from the British Isles, who were sent to train the Islanders, inspired the locals with their traditional Guernsey jumpers. Aran Islanders created their own version with cream-coloredbinn wool, which is naturally water repellent due to its natural lanolin oil.

    A popular export, Aran sweaters became even more fashionable whenThe Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem appeared on American TV and in a TV special for President John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s; this Irish folk music group wore Aran sweaters on-stage, making it their trademark look. Entrepreneur and Renaissance manP. A. Sochin, who had established the export trade for Aran sweaters, could barely keep up with the demand, even with all the available Aran knitters in Ireland.

    Type of Stitches Used

    If you've ever admired the beauty of a Celtic braid or knot design, you'll adore the variety of stitch styles in an Aran sweater. Crafted from approximately 100,000 individual stitches, it's not uncommon for its construction to take nearly two months to complete.

    Irish sweater stitches

    The preservation and proud display of Irish heritage is what the Aran sweater is all about. These individual meanings can be combined and a family's values woven through a sweater's choice of knitting.

    What's interesting is that hand-knit Aran sweaters are harder to come by. While the meaning of stitches is alive and well, there are very few who knowhowto hand knit several of these stitches into one unique pattern.

    But there's a bonus to adopting multiple stitches into one seamless pattern: durability and longevity. These intertwined and interconnected stitches, along with the choice of wool fiber, make the Aran sweater a unique and highly functional piece. Its stitches give the structure a heavy and supported design.

    Stitches That Tell Stories

    Particular stitches in Aran sweaters are said to convey stories and meaning.

    • The popular "honeycomb" stitch is supposed to signify good luck and abundance, embodying the impressive toil of hard-working honey bees.
    • The "moss" stitch symbolizes the Carrageen moss commonly found on the Aran Islands - a reminder of the knit's birthplace and heritage.
    • The stone walls separating the many fields and built to contain livestock are represented in the "trellis" stitch.
    • The "basket" stitch is reminiscent of baskets used by fishermen, representing a bountiful catch, while the "cable" stitch depicts fishermen's ropes - another embodiment of the wish for a good catch.
    • A reminder of one's fruitful life - calling to mind the omnipresence of wild blackberry bushes on the Aran Islands - emerges from the "blackberry" stitch.
    • The "Tree of Life" stitch embodies the legacy of families, rooted in the strength of ancestors and emanating through generations of descendants.
    • Unsurprisingly, the "diamond" stitch is an emblem of wealth and abundance.
    • The "zig-zag" stitch represents the gorgeous cliffs around the Aran Islands... but is also said to depict the highs and lows of marriage.

    Many have claimed that these stitch patterns and combinations have been passed down through the generations to tell the story of their lives. Others have argued that the significance of the different Aran sweater stitches is part of a set of myths by one Heinz Edgar Kiewe in his book, The Sacred History of Knitting (1967),because Kiewe likened the Aran stitches to Celtic knotwork. Whatever the case, part of the mystique of Aran sweaters remains connected to the associations the stitches have come to highlight. What is important is what that Aran sweater says to you, and about you.

    How To Wear An Aran Sweater

    The Complete Guide to Syling an aran sweater

    Aran sweaters can be styled shorter, and so they can be layered under with a collared shirt or as a cropped top over a pair of high-waisted pants. Aran sweaters also go great with scarves, and they're beautiful and simple enough to only require accessories as the perfect pairing.

    When buying and choosing an Aran sweater, you'll want to first look for one that is fitted. This is the modern style and thus makes the sweater a staple. You'll also want to take a look at the kind of neck you want.

    Will you choose a crew neck, which is best for layering shirts or a roll/turtleneck? Several Aran sweaters designed for women also come styled with cowl necks or off-the-shoulder, wider boat necks.

    When you wear an Aran sweater, you'll also notice that a more complex pattern can make a sweater seem larger or "heavier" than one that includes only one or two styles of knits. Make sure to consider this.

    What to wear with an Aran sweater

    So, how exactly do you style an Aran sweater and what goes well with this iconic top?

    Well, the first thing to note is the style of stitch (or stitches). Sweaters that involve more varieties of stitch can be standalone pieces themselves. These can be paired with casual, everyday jeans, more formal slacks, high-waisted pants, longer A-line skirts, or even pencil skirts of varying lengths.

    As for tops, the transitional and effortless ease of an Aran sweater works well with layering with collared shirts, long blazers, and even leather jackets.

    Keep in mind that if you're choosing jewelry, you'll probably want to stay away from necklaces. Instead, you should opt for details using bracelets, watches, sunglasses, and belts (or a combination). Otherwise, you'll want to choose chunky necklaces that can be worn outside of the neckline.

    How to style an irish aran sweater

    Aran sweaters are also great for color-blocking with your style. Don't worry too much about a "clash" of patterns you can pair Aran sweaters with plaid or tartan patterns.

    What you'll want to instead focus on are contrasting colors. If your Aran sweater is bright and light or pastel and cream, keep your bottoms dark. However, if your sweater is dark but rich in colour, like aubergine or blood crimson, you can pair this with a pair of white or even brighter blue faded jeans.

    There is something very collegial about Aran sweaters. This is especially true when they're paired with collared shirts underneath. Somehow, they put one in mind of university students. However, you can make the Aran sweater a little edgier by wearing it with a pair of dark wash jeans and slick, fitted Doc Martens boots.

    How to Take Care of Your Sweater

    The first thing you'll want to do to take care of your Aran sweater is read the label your sweater comes with. Whether hand-knit or not, the blend of the sweater matters. For example, while cashmere is good for the washing machine, Merino wool works better when dry cleaned.

    Modern-day wool products can often be washed without much fuss in a washing machine set to delicate. However, it's important to note that some prefer to err on the side of caution.

    If you choose to dry clean your Aran sweater, you'll only need to use this option a few times a year. Again, this works well for Merino wool sweaters.

    If you choose to hand-wash, you should be using tepid, not hot, water. Direct heat can cause shrinkage.

    You also want to avoid stretching or wringing out wool when it's wet as this can permanently destroy the original structure. When drying, lay flat. And when it's try, you might choose to steam on a hanger to eliminate wrinkles, if the blend is thinner.

    Finally, remember that you can always spot-test to make sure the dye on a sweater doesn't bleed out.

    Irish Pride and Appeal - and Charm

    Whether paired with your favorite jeans or dressed up with fancy slacks or a streamlined skirt, Aran sweaters are an alluring and versatile addition - or showpiece - to any outfit. Cherish the comfort, the class, and the customary charm of the Aran Islands - made to last, to warm, and to wow. Now that you know where the Aran sweater came from, how to wear, style and look after it. Why not browse our hand-knit Aran sweaters are made with 100% pure wool or let us know how you wear your Aran sweater in the comments below.

  • The Day The Irish People Take Over the World [Infographic]

    Emigration is embedded within the Irish DNA - it's our relationship with other countries that have allowed Ireland to become one of the most loved nations.

    For one day a year, Ireland manages to imprint itself on more countries around the world than any other country in History.

    St. Patricks Day this year will see 287 globally recognised monuments turn green. This is up from just two buildings back in 2010.Sweater Shop investigatesthe Irish connections abroad and has illustrated this connection for some of the most Iconic buildings around the world.

    The day the Irish Take Over the World

    Use This Embed Code to Have this image on your Site

    Ireland and France, A Love Affair

    A french Love Affair

    Ireland and France share a long-standing, lovable history that began in 18481. A group of French women gifted the Irish with their national flag.

    This affair is not all taking. The Irish returned the favour by gifting them with their most famous spirit, Hennessy2.

    And recently the French awarded Ireland with a medal for our Sportsmanship and Outstanding Contribution at Euro 2016. An event, the Mayor of Paris called a unique moment for Ireland in France. The Irish certainly raised the spirits of a country that had a tough year.

    The French continue to host the largest Irish cultural centre in Europe, and we continue to adore their language, teaching it to 180,000 of our youth each year2. Long may the relationship continue, one set to strengthen further in light of the impending, Brexit.

    Ireland and Brazil, an Educational Collaboration

    Brazil Christ Monument

    Ireland and Brazil enjoy excellent relations, politically, culturally and economically. New links are being built, between these two countries.

    Eight years ago in 2012 Ireland signed a milestone agreement with Brazil relating to education3. Today, Brazil tops the league of non-EU students studying in Ireland, which is more than China and the U.S combined. Brazilian students claim to love Ireland, leaving with a little bit of Ireland in their hearts.

    The Irish Community living and working in Brazil also continues to grow and includes business people, students on university exchanges and Irish people who have decided to call Brazil home.

    Its said the Irish communities vibrant and unique contribution continues to make a positive contribution to Brazil.

    Ireland and Italy, creating culinary masters since 1880

    Leaning Tower of Piza Illustrated

    There is strong historical and cultural bond between the Irish and Italian, both sharing a mutual respect for each others traditions.

    The Irish and the Italians are probably the most like each other. Nations of laid-back people with a sunny disposition, who are extroverted and gentle but also very proud.

    Strong historical ties between these nations go back as far as the European Dark Ages, which began around 500 AD. Pope Paul V helped the Irish Earls in 1608 after they were forced out of Ireland by the British.4

    They are now buried in the church of San Pietro in Montorio which indicates the high esteem the Italians had for our Gaelic chieftains.

    The two countries have helped each other out a lot since then, efforts resulting a little Italy in Ireland, Irish-Italian chippers, that have been popular since 1909.5

    Ireland and Egypt, Inspiring their Nation

    The Egyptian Pyramids that go green on St Patricks day Illustrated

    Celtic Warriors in Egypt, during the third century, acted as a support for the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. It is history, where many mysteries remain, but Egyptian archaeologists have found many figurines of Celts presented in Ptolemaic style.6

    Known, as mighty warriors, offering the most critical support to Mediterranean armies, more than 4,000 reportedly fought under the reign of the Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt. As a result, many Irish settled in Egypt. It is said that the children of Celtic-Egyptian marriages were known by the slang term e pigovoi.6

    Further exciting and, surprising similarities - are found in Passage Tombs. Ireland has a passage tomb in Newgrange - that was constructed in 3200BC - making it more than 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Egypt (while lacking the architectural grandeur, that's quite impressive).7

    Ireland and USA, From Rags to Riches

    World Trade Centre green st patricks day illustrated

    The Irish American Population is seven times larger than Ireland itself, with a quarter of Bostonians claiming Irish heritage.8 The Irish influence is dominant in American history.

    Nine signatories of the Declaration of Independence were Irish. In fact, the Irish have more influence on American politics with twenty-two American presidents boasting Irish roots.

    Irishmen built the White House. And it's no surprise that thirteen towns in America are named after the capital of Ireland, Dublin.9

    America was introduced to one of their most loved sports boxing from the Irish. Probably born from the Irish reputation of hot tempers and fervent pugilism.

    It could be argued that the Irish take over on St Patrick's Day is a direct result of the American celebrations for Ireland as the first St Patricks Day parade took place in New York City, 1762.9

    Even the world-famous Irish saying, The Luck of the Irish came from Americans branding the Irish immigrants mining success as luck, rather than skill.

    Ireland and Australia, an Engineering Masterpiece

    Sydny Opera House Green Illustrated

    The Irish have been prominent in early the history of the development of Australia and shaped Australias early cultural, social and political attitudes. To this day, Australia remains one of the most Irish countries in the world, outside Ireland. 10.4% of their population or 2,087,800 residents identified themselves as having Irish ancestry either alone or in combination with another ancestry.10

    The Irish had design involvements in one of Australia's most recognisable buildings, the Sydney Opera House. Peter Rice, from Dundalk, Co. Louth, a structural engineer mastered geometry for the complex roof design.

    Ireland and Mexico, A Combative Alliance

    Angel of Independence Illustrated Mexico Green

    An Interesting relationship, and one that has been less publicised over the years. The Irish Mexican bond is one dating way back to 1611. Irishman, William Lambert born initially in Wexford was the first person to propose the independence of Mexico.

    Saint Patrick Battalion Irish soldiers also fought for Mexico during the Mexican-American War. In what has been lauded as one of the highest honours ever, because they were fighting for an adopted nation - and they died for an adopted country.

    Mexico remembers the soldiers as heroic martyrs and their sacrifices are still honoured today. A commemoration is held each year in the Plaza San Jacinto. Both the Mexican and the Irish national anthems are played with an honour guard of elite Mexican soldiers saluting the deceased.12

    Today, between 300,000 and 600,000 people of Irish descent are living in Mexico, mostly in either northern Mexico Mexico City.13

    Ireland and Canada, A Shared Culture

    Canada Monument Green St Patricks day

    The Irish and the Canadians have a love, love relationship. Toronto is a city that was shaped in many ways by the Irish people who immigrated in the 1840s and the impact is still clear to see today.

    St Patricks Day is a public holiday in Canadian provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador. The residents here dont like being called Canadians, but you can call them Irish, and the area is often dubbed the most Irish place outside of Ireland.14

    The Montreal city flag includes a shamrock. Irish is spoken in a certain part of Ontario in Canada where the Gaeltacht Thuaisceart an Oilein ir is based (or the North American Gaeltacht). Its also the only Gaeltacht that exists outside of the island of Ireland.

    Famously, St Patricks day was celebrated in Space by Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield who photographed Ireland from the ISS and performed an out-of-this-world rendition of Danny Boy. Today, 4.5 million Canadians claim to have Irish ancestors - 14% of Canada's population.15

    Ireland and China, A Prosperous Relationship

    Great Wall of China St Patricks Day Illustrated

    A bond that was born from a story largely unknown, reaching back to more than 100 years ago. From a time of epic events at an extraordinarily turbulent but fascinating period of Chinese history. A time when hundreds of Irish men and women made their way to China as missionaries to work in social and disaster relief services.

    Today the Irish are helping shape the Chinese Dream. The promise of a moderately prosperous society, combining a growing economy with a genuine improvement in the quality of life. It seems there are very few economies that have achieved this transition, with many Chinese analysts believing Ireland is a successful benchmarkable example.16

    Ireland and Jordan, Sharing the Struggle for Peace

    Petra goes green st patricks day

    One based on empathy, compassion and respect. Ireland and Jordan are two countries that have unfortunately experienced similar conflict and the struggle for peace. Ireland today continues to help Jordan through their refugee crisis and the development of bilateral relations, to date making a financial contribution of 70 million.17

    There are also 336 Irish troops from the 109th Infantry Battalion who are currently serving with the UN peace-keeping force, UNIFIL, continuing Irelands long and proud tradition of participation in UN peace-keeping missions. With understanding like no other and love in their hearts, they are committed to making a difference in Jordan.

    Ireland in the UK, A Historic Shift

    London Eye Green St Patricks Day Illustrated

    Ireland, and the UK. A history of rivalry from neighbours, with Ireland always the underdog. The relationship is shifting, In 2017 alone, 162,251 individuals applied for Irish Passports from the UK.18No doubt Brexit has influenced this, but a favourable reversal to whats documented in the history books.

    With Ireland now also the Gateway for the UK to the EU, we hope our friends across the pond continue to be kind to us as a nation we majorly rely on the UK for exportation of goods.


    To conclude on why the world will light up green this St Patricks Day, we believe this is due to our positive influential relationships around the world. As an Irish, family owned and run business, we are proud to be recognised globally, we are proud our country.

    Be sure to join in on the St Patricks Day fun this Saturday, and celebrate in true Irish style with your nearest and dearest.

    To view the list of all 287 Monuments lighting up green on the 17th check out this list from Tourism Ireland.


    1. https://www.thelocal.fr/20160625/five-things-you-didnt-know-about-france-and-ireland
    2. https://ie.ambafrance.org/Did-you-know-10-facts-about-Franco
    3. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/brazil-tops-league-of-non-eu-students-in-ireland-1.2981494
    4. https://toscana.ie/irish-italian-connection-history/
    5. https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/italy/our-role/irish-relations/
    6. http://www.ancient-origins.net/history/exploring-little-known-history-celtic-warriors-egypt-005100
    7. https://mythicalireland.com/ancient-sites/101-facts-about-newgrange/
    8. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/03/17/the-irish-american-population-is-seven-times-larger-than-ireland/?utm_term=.120ac8f8c283
    9. https://www.nycstpatricksparade.org/about/history/
    10. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/17/ireland-australia-land-of-plenty
    11. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland-s-mexican-wave-1.601082
    12. https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/how-many-dublins-are-there-in-america
    13. https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-03-17/st-patrick-s-day-mexico-remembers-irishmen-who-fought-mexico-against-us
    14. https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/the-most-irish-island-in-the-world-1.1538579
    15. https://www.space.com/20257-space-st-patricks-day-astronaut.html
    16. http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/relationship-between-ireland-and-china-1522090-Jun2014/
    17. https://www.dfa.ie/news-and-media/press-releases/press-release-archive/2017/february/minister-mchugh-visits-jordan-and-lebanon/
    18. https://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/surge-in-irish-passport-applications-from-uk-36450675.html
  • An Irish Aran Sweater Displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York!

    The Irish Aran sweater an instantly recognisable iconic style worthy of a place among the Museum of Modern Arts landmark fashion garments.

    The definition of a classic, in many ways, is how well something stands the test of time, and what meaning it acquires therewith. While the Irish Aran cable sweater has gone through a century of waxing and waning fortunes, today it stands included among 111 fashion garments selected for an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) IN New York. The inclusion of an Aran among carefully selected iconic items that have defined fashion over the last century is a clear nod to the artisan craft of Irish knitwear.

    An array of style icons has been captured wearing the famous Irish wool Aran jumper at various points throughout the last century. Yet its the stories that people tell today that attest to the importance of this craft for generations throughout the years. Its the fact that our parents and grandparents have gone through college wearing an Aran hand-knitted by their grandmothers; the way we too would leave the house for college borrowing mum or dads Aran jumper; and, the memories of kissing our sweetheart for the first time - while wearing that oversized borrowed Aran sweater to the cinema date.

    Remember all the slagging you may have got for being dressed (by mum - against your will) in Irish sweaters when in school, erstwhile? There seems to be a million lightyears between those days of having to defend your cool against the odds - wearing a frumpy Aran sweater, and the sexiness of it all when considering that Grace Kelly could pull it off, never mind that it is about to go on display alongside the Birkin bag and a pair of Levis 501!

    I still claim to have brought the Aran cable sweater back from the dead all by myself, in the mid 2000s, when I was the only local kid on Trinity College Dublin campus sporting a garment that was otherwise considered by the Irish themselves albeit, for a brief period only as a piece of nostalgic touristy gimmicks. And who knows who copied whom this time around on fashions carousel of revivals, but one things for sure: that comeback was for good. There is today no better way to express character than to get your Aran knit on - the array of choice picks is astounding. Different Aran strokes for different folks, perhaps All of which - so long as its Aran stitches now instantly recognizable as part of that enchanting tale of the Aran sweater that the MoMA exhibition has set out to tell

    The Irish Aran Sweater Displayed

    Irish aran sweater New York

    A modern version of the Irish Aran Sweater


  • How To Take Care of an Aran Sweater

    A good rule of thumb for washing your Irish Aran cable sweater is to go with the old-fashioned hand wash (the alternative is a visit to a well-reputed dry-cleaner). Though the thought may seem daunting there is nothing to it if you follow these easy guidelines:

    Wash an Aran Sweater and cream irish sweater

    4 Essential Steps

    1. Pre-soak the sweater in a basin of tepid water (at 30C/86F) with a little mild purpose detergent, such as Woolite, or, baby shampoo for a time ranging between a half an hour up to overnight.

    2. Gently rinse your sweater, bearing in mind that wool is quite heavy when wet thus, care needs to be taken not to pull it out of shape by dragging or wringing. Some spots may need to be rinsed a little more thoroughly (cuffs, neckline, and the incidental stain), and can be tackled with a stain removing soap.

    3. After rinsing through a couple of times to wash off any residual suds, your Aran can be pressed out and towel-rolled (the blocking technique). This means that instead of wringing and pulling the saturated garment, you fold or roll it up into a shape that can be squeezed first, and, pressed while rolled up inside a towel second - to get rid of as much water as possible.

    4. The wet garment will still be too heavy to hang up at this point; instead, it will need to be laid out flat on clothes rack and reshaped to its original dimensions. Wet wool moves readily, so dont be precious and give it a tug where some sleeve or body length seems to have gone skimpy.

    How to Dry Your Sweater

    The trick to a drying a wool sweater quickly is to position the clothes rack in a spot where there is a good circulation of air and a source of ambient (never direct) heat.

    Try reshaping when the sweater is still slightly damp. This is when the sweater is just right for stretching the wool panels back into their original proportions, without overdoing it.

    How to Remove Stains From Your Sweater

    Stains can be spot-cleaned without doing the entire garment. Simply wet the area that needs attention, and gently rub some mild soap directly onto the stain then rinse out under the tap.

    All wool garments let go of odors as easily as they absorb them. Just hanging your Aran sweater up in a room that has good circulation of fresh air coming through it, can completely refresh it in a matter of hours.

    Finally, the battle with balls of fuzz on areas where your sweater is most heavily rubbed on - by handbags and other layers of clothing - need not be a nightmare. Every knit piece can be restored in your lap while you sit watching TV.

    How to Treat Heavy Knit Sweaters

    To treat a chunkier knit piece: a battery-operated lint shaver comes in handy. The small rotating blades will cut off only the balls of fluff without damaging the yarn so that the stitches remain intact. It is always better to do regular de-fuzzing of your sweater than to let pilling spread and matt.

    One great tip to take care of your Aran sweater is to 5 minutes to go through the sleeves and around the hips of my sweaters after two or three days of wear, or, before replacing in the wardrobe - with the reward of having each in as brilliant a nick as ten years ago, in some cases!

  • 4th of July & Irish Aran Cable knit Throws!

    Treat your loved ones this 4th of July with one of our luxurious Irish Aran throws in Merino wool! The story of the Aran tradition comes alive in the cables, diamonds, and moss patterns among an array of beautifully composed stitches that you can drape over your living room couch, your favourite chair, or the end of a bed or bring with you to the beach or to the park for your 4th of July picnic. Show off your Irish roots in an authentic Irish Aran cable knit throw. We have a range of colours in two tone compositions besides the classic creamy Aran white soft lime green, fuchsia, and black/charcoal. There is nothing like the play of pattern to lend any room a sense of cosy comfort, while you sip on a cup of tea, read a novel or doze off with the hum of a tv series in the background Beautiful, soft, and warm these throws are to be shared and enjoyed for years, so gift yourself a quality Aran throw and have a great 4th of July!

  • Light weight Irish Aran Sweaters for Summer

    The Irish Aran Cable knit Sweater is no longer necessarily a heavy layer for the depths of winter: we have been adding fantastic light-weight knitwear to that tradition for a while now. Not only can a lighter Aran be worn during the warmer seasons fabrics in soft Merino wool and cashmere are finer, so the stiches and finish appear elegant, dainty, and offer more versatility and ways to wear them than ever before. Our range of light Aran sweaters and cardigans offers the ladies some truly fun, smart, and feminine styles in fresh pastel colours, or, in deeper shades to cover all seasons. The guys have some great numbers to choose from also! Not mention the chic unisex option women have with these cabled jumpers should they so desire


    A light cabled Aran sweater is doubtless quite a statement in the summer - when hot days in tees and dresses run into cooler nights at a concert, or on a late holiday stroll through bustling fairy-lit city streets. Carefree and ready to embrace all that summer has to offer - are words that best describe the attitude for which we have created some beautiful pieces: as easy to throw on over a pair of jeans, a jumpsuit, or the beach dress.
    Choosing a thinner layer in soft wool and cashmere is quite the mark of a savvy dresser, for it is perhaps the best kept secret that natural fabrics - like wool and cotton - are far more breathable than synthetics. Natural fibres make for smart fabrics - they dissipate excess heat and moisture. So, believe me when I say, dancing through an entire gig with one of these sweaters on, just as running around the block with errands on a sunny summers day is not only doable, but quite cool


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