Aran Sweaters


Return to About Irish Arans

A Brief history of aran sweaters
All IrishArans garments are hand knitted from Pure New Wool yarn.

This century, technology has transformed the knitwear manufacturing industry. Modern machines are capable of knitting at the rate of millions of stitches per minute and can make fabric which incorporates many different patterns. What machines can not do is copy a genuine Aran sweater.

The real Aran is hand-knitted at a very tight tension. Stitch formations are intricate and each pattern has a history of its own. Each piece is knitted to shape. No scissors are used to shape the material. The benefit to the wearer is that the garment will keep its shape even through many washes.
To tell the difference between a real Aran and the machine made article, check the firmness of the fabric and look at the seams. All IrishArans garments are hand seamed, a time consuming exercise but worth the effort: you will see the difference if you make a comparison.


Although now a fashionable outfit for all members of the family, Aran wear is nearly as old as the hills and was, for many centuries, worn only by the people of the Aran islands off the west coast of Connemara. The inhabitants of this windswept island lived by farming and fishing and warm clothing was a necessity so thick jerseys were made from home-spun wool from their own sheep.

Each family designed their own stitches and patterns until eventually the families were known by these individual designs.

  • Cable stitches are a dominant feature of Aran wear representing the fisherman's rope, the livelihood of the people of Aran.
  • The Diamond pattern denotes prosperity and when combined with the cable conveys the wish for success in one's life's work.
  • Honeycomb, suggesting the bee, has come to mean the just reward for hard work.
  • The Zig Zag represents the twisting pathways found in Aran; it is colloquially referred to as the "marriage lines" because it suggests the ups and downs of marriage.
  • The Trellis pattern, worked in very small diamonds, was originated to portray the small fields fenced in by low walls.
  • The Ladder (two ribs joined by horizontal lines) represents man's earthly
    struggle to reach eternal happiness.
  • The Moss stitch denotes wealth, because it portrays the edible sea weed known as Irish moss - which even today is regarded as a luxury.
  • Finally, there is the link or chain stitch, which signifies the bond between those families and Irish communities that have emigrated and settled in foreign parts.

Aran Knit Sweater