When it comes to fashion trends, they all have different life spans. We also know there are a lot making comebacks after a couple of years, and this is because at the root is a good quality product. The centuries old Aran sweater is a great example, having peak popularity in the 1960’s with Marilyn Monroe among fans, to a resurgence with Swifties.

In this article, we’re gonna talk about Aran knitwear and how it went from being a practical choice of Fisherman sweater to becoming a modern trend and a fashion statement. Read along to get familiar with the history of this piece and why it gained so much popularity over the last couple of years.

an example of an old irish wool mill

How it started: the history of the Aran sweater

To see how the trendy Irish Aran sweater was born, we need to go back to an 1800s Irish island, where people of the lower class were fishing for a living. Historians believe fisherman from Britain came over in the 1890’s and taught the locals modern fishing methods and wore the knitted Guernsey jumper. Local women then adapted this hand knit practise using local thicker, undyed cream-coloured sheep’s báinín wool yarn.

Because of this being untreated and unwashed before being knitted, it kept its lanolin natural oils bringing waterproof qualities, making it perfect for the rainy season. The Aran sweaters feature specific styles stitches that are believed to be inspired by Irish artwork and nature. These stitches have many meanings attached to them and if you’re curious about them, check out this article to know everything about the meaning behind Aran stitches.

Mass appeal started in the 1950’s thanks to a feature in Vogue Magazine, which started exports into the USA. The New York based Irish folk music group The Clancy brothers adopted the Irish sweater as their trademark on-stage garments.

But long story short, that’s how all these detailed sweaters came to life, out of a basic necessity.

Where are the Aran Islands?

The Aran Islands are located off the western coast of Ireland, in Galway Bay. They are part of County Galway, and South of the Connemara region, and North West of the County Clare coast.

There are main islands, Inishmore (the largest), Inishmaan, and Inisheer.

taylor swift wearing an aran sweater
Taylor Swift can’t shake off her love for authentic Aran Sweaters

How it’s going

Although in Ireland this trend never really faded away, and Aran knitwear was always part of their traditional fashion, it recently came back into worldwide trends. If you’re thinking about a cosy and chic autumnal fall outfit, adding an Aran jumper, shawl or cardigan element to it will only make it better. The Aran sweater came back when it started being featured in movies such as Knives out, worn by celebrities such as Taylor Swift and being all over social media.

It only took a split second after that for the traditional Aran patterns to be sold in every shopping centre. However, if you want to get the real deal, you should try traditional Irish stores and websites and always check the materials used, as some jerseys have better materials than others.

taylor swift on folklore album photoshoot
Taylor Swift wore an Aran Jumper in a photo-shoot for her album, Folklore.

We love seeing pieces of history integrated into the modern trends, and because of the incredible details and tradition attached to Aran knits, wearing them becomes a more meaningful experience. Whether you’re going to a coffee shop, on a chill fall walk or you want to make your office outfit more cosy, take a piece of Ireland with you and wear it proudly.

What are the Aran knitting patterns?

These traditional Irish Aran stitch patterns that feature intricate cables, textured stitches, and richly patterned designs. Here are some popular patterns:

1. Cable patterns consist of twisting and crossing stitches to create interlocking patterns. These can range from simple twists to more complex braided or diamond-shaped cables.

2. Honeycomb patterns resemble the hexagonal structure of honeycombs. They are created using a combination of knit and purl stitches to form a textured, raised pattern.

3. Basketweave patterns mimic the woven texture of baskets. These patterns are created using a combination of knit and purl stitches to form blocks or squares that resemble a woven basket.

4. Diamond patterns are often seen in Aran knitting. They consist of a series of knit and purl stitches arranged in a diamond shape. These diamonds can be stacked vertically or horizontally to create a visually appealing pattern.

5. Trellis patterns resemble the crisscrossing of a garden trellis. They are created using a combination of knit and purl stitches to form a lattice-like pattern.

6. Some Aran knitting patterns combine cables with lace stitches to create a delicate yet textured design. This combination adds a feminine touch to the traditionally masculine Aran patterns.

These are just a few examples of the various patterns found in Aran knitting. The combinations and variations are endless, allowing knitters to create unique and intricate designs.