Aran... Where the Sweaters Come From

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Aran Sweaters.

The Aran sweater takes its name from the islands from where it originated, untold generations ago. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and nothing is more of a necessity than a nice warm Aran sweater in a place like the Aran Islands. Located at the mouth of Galway on the west coast of Ireland, the Aran Islands rise up defiantly out of the relentless Atlantic sea, an impressive display of towering cliffs, and crumbling stone walls, they are a thing of beauty, but no place for a T-Shirt.

Famous Aran Sweater.
There are just 1300 inhabitants living on the islands, good simple folk, whose lives remain intimately intertwined with the earth and the sea. It therefore seems remarkable that the Islands are famous worldwide for a simple item of clothing - the Aran sweater ? and for the impact this ancient wool sweater has had on the clothing world. It is hard to think of any sweater that is more instantly recognisable than the Aran sweater; it intricately woven patterns and handmade ruggedness are unmistakably Arran.

Aran Wool.
Aran wool patterns each have a semiotic story to tell. The following are just a few examples of the many in existence,

  • Honeycomb: this suggestion of the bee seen in a Arran sweater is the sign of the sweet reward one gets for hard work.

  • The Ladder: the stairway to heaven. Cable stitches: one of the most famous Aran knitwear stitches represents the fisherman's hardy rope.
  • The Zig Zag: Is thought to represent the pathways of Aran and the vicissitudes of married life.
    • It has to be said that most people do not really care what story the Aran knitwear patterns are trying to tell, they only care about how great they make the Aran sweater they are wearing look.

      The future of Aran knitwear.
      There are many modern materials on the market that try to do the same job as Aran wool knitwear, some are pretty good, but when you stop to think that a sweater design hundreds of years old can absorb 30% of its weight in water before feeling wet, be breathable and therefore draw water vapour away from the wearers body helping them maintain a steady body temperature and do this at the same time as keeping the wearer warm and snug, you can't help but get the impression that people will be wearing Aran sweaters for a long time to come.

      Aldo Ciarrocchi Researcher for

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