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6 things to know about the Irish sweater

11/01/2018

1- It is also called Aran sweater

The Irish wool sweater, known around the world, has its origins in the archipelago of the Aran Islands located off the coast of Galway, on the west coast of Ireland. It is a land of fishermen and farmers with a harsh, rainy and windy climate.

2- A sailor sweater at the origin

It was created to protect fishermen from cold and damp during the long winter months. They were warm to go to sea. It is partly this ability to keep warm that has contributed to the fact that the Irish sweater remains a popular accessory in cold weather still today.

At the beginning of the 20th century, each family on the Aran Islands possessed a unique geometric pattern for their sweaters. In case of deaths at sea, an inspection of the sweater determinative of what family was from the drowned.

3- Twists have meaning

Each family possessed its motif as a shield, but each motif also has a meaning. Here are a few :

Point nid d'abeille (honeycomb)The Honeycomb stitch, symbol of the hard-working bee.Point torsades (cable)

The Cable stitch, a braided stitch, is the most popular Aran pattern, representing the fishermen’s lines and symbol of luck.

Point zig-zagThe Zigzag stitch, a figuration of the winding tracks of Aran Island, and of the hurdles of married life.Point losanges (diamonds)The Diamond stitch is a representation of a fisherman’s net and prosperity.
Point treillisThe Trellis stitch depicts little squares of land with a stone separation and symbolizes success.Point de riz (moss)

The Irish moss stitch represents the moss growing on the Irish islands’ shores and is a symbol of nature and fertility of the soil.

4- It is made with sheep's wool

The traditional Irish sweater is made of pure virgin sheep wool, naturally ecru colour, with round neck and very tight mesh. It protects from the rain and keeps a comfortable temperature. Hand knitted sweaters were true works of art. Each sweater required more than 100,000 seams and could take up to 60 days of knitting.

Sheep wool is the most authentic wool and one of the most used in the world. The wool is naturally resistant and has a very strong thermal power. It isolates perfectly from the cold. The wool of a sheep can be used to make up to 14 sweaters. Sheep have always been shorn in May. The wool is washed, brushed and then spun to obtain the final textile then rolled into large coils ready for use.

An Aran sweater can be made with pure virgin wool or with merino wool. The name "pure virgin wool" means that it is composed exclusively of wool, with a maximum of 0.3% of other fibers. The difference between these two wools is in the choice of the sheep breed. Merino wool is thinner and more supple.

5- The Aran sweater diversifies

The Aran sweater is no longer a simple thick woolen sweater in ecru colour. Nowadays, the Irish sweater is available in different colours (navy, red, khaki, green blue, grey...), which bring more cheerfulness and modernity to this essential of the 1900s.

This sweater is originally a simple round neck sweater, it is now diverted into a V collar sweater, turtleneck, collar with buttons and even poncho and jacket!

Accessories such as hats and scarves are also becoming more and more popular, keeping you warm during the winter.

6- Adopted by the whole world

Throughout the centuries, these unique 100% pure wool knits became iconic in the world of fashion. Ideal to stay warm, timeless, it can be worn on any outfit, but can easily be matched with accessories and specific materials to add a little trendy look to your winter.

For several years, the Irish sweater has been on the catwalks of Fashion Week in New York, London, Milan and Paris, which has been revived. It is now adopted by the biggest celebrities. Sarah Jessica Parker, Katie Holmes, Robert Pattinson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Channing Tatum, Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz were photographed or filmed wearing an Aran sweater.

Click here to discover our Aran collection >

Article written by Manon C.

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