The Aran jumper, traditionally favoured by fishermen and farming folk, is an iconic style that is practical, rugged and good looking. It is great to see that in recent times the Aran jumper has made the transition to more fashionable circles too, making an appearing in many catwalk shows and high street fashion collections.
It is easy to understand the popularity of this classic knitwear when you consider the sense of heritage and quality that it represents. It is a great option for anyone who appreciates practical, natural fibre clothing that will protect the wearer from wind and rain with bags of style and personality thrown in.
An Aran jumper has water repellent qualities as it’s thick textured knit and wool density does not let rain penetrate into the jumper, usually an Aran jumper will absorb around 30% of its’ weight in water before it feels wet, because it is knitted from pure wool it is breathable too and the textured surface area of the knit allows water to evaporate, as well as having excellent insulating qualities that will protect the wearer from excessive cold and heat
Although many people think that Aran jumpers originated in Scotland, on the isle of Arran, this is not the case, they originate and take their name from the Aran Islands that lie off the west coast of Ireland near Galway Bay.
For many years the fishermen of the Aran islands wore them to protect themselves from the elements, before they eventually became popular further afield across other islands and coastal areas of Ireland, Scotland and England. Eventually the Aran jumper became synonymous with a classic Islander style.
Aran jumpers are knitted in a variety of traditional designs each of which holds a symbolic meaning that can be traced back to a particular family and village, it is thought that this served as a form of identification so that if a fisherman was unfortunate enough to drown at sea and was washed ashore, he could be identified by the pattern on his jumper.
These historic patterns were recorded on an official register which can still be seen on the Aran Islands.
At The Edinburgh Woollen Mill we stock Aran knitwear by ‘Highland Home Industries’ which are produced using the traditional method of pattern and stitch design and are made in the UK.
Our ladies Aran jumper uses the cable knit design together with the diamond stitch. The cable knit design represents fisherman’s ropes and so symbolises safety and good luck when at sea, whilst the diamond stitch represents the mesh on fisherman’s nets or the fields on the islands and a good harvest, therefore symbolising success and wealth.
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