Irish Aran knits are the kind of cultural craft evolution that we love. For years, women on these rugged islands at the mouth of Galway Bay knit heavy wool sweaters for their fishermen kin. They swapped patterns and developed new techniques, creating an entire knitting vocabulary that was unique to their community. In the early 20th century they began selling their sweaters, to earn some extra money during the fishing off-season. The unique designs, often in cream-colored wool, quickly became an icon of Irish style and tradition.
This knee-length sweater coat features an intricate basket stitch on the collar, cuffs, and hem, with two braided cables running the entire length of the coat. It’s a perfect alternative to a heavy coat for crisp autumn days, or for cozying up indoors with a cup of tea and a new issue of National Geographic. A touch of cashmere adds incredible softness.
Made in Ireland. 95% wool / 5% cashmere. Women's sizes S (4-6), M (8-10), L (12-14), XL (16-18). Medium is 36 1/4"L.
Dry clean only.
The thick-knit sweater that we often associate with fishermen has its origins on the Aran Islands at the mouth of Galway Bay in western Ireland. Enterprising women on the islands began knitting the sweaters in the early 1900s, using untreated, lanolin-rich wool. The goal was not only to provide a heavy and water-resistant garment to keep their families warm in Galway Bay's rough weather, but also to supplement the island's fishing economy by making a craft that could be sold year-round and utilized traditional skills and patterns. Journalist and Irish culture activist Pádraig Augustine Ó Síocháin helped make the Aran sweaters especially popular in the mid-20th century by organizing the export of hand-knit sweaters to other countries.
There is a myth that families each have their own patters of stitches, and that a drowned fisherman could be recognized by the designs on his sweater, much like a Scottish clan tartan. While it's true that certain stitches have come to take on symbolic meanings, the diversity of patterns is more accurately attributed to the creative group of artisans who started making the sweaters. Always eager to show off new ideas, creative knitters developed new patterns and taught them to their friends, who added their own twists and passed the pattern along again.
Today, folks on the islands and visitors from around the world often choose sweaters based on the symbolism that the different intricate stitches have taken on. Just some of the patterns found include:
Cable stitches represent fishing ropes and therefore the tools of a hard worker and safety on the water.
Braided cable stitches evoke the strength of close family ties.
Moss stitches represent abundance in nature.
Diamond stitches mimic the shape of fishing nets mesh, the key to success on the Arans.
Basket stitch represents a plentiful catch.
Honeycomb stitches represent the hard work of the honeybee and the rewards of an industrious life.
Trinity stitches are traditional Celtic motifs and signify cultural pride.
The item has a skimpy seat and it does not appear to have been designed to be worn buttoned. I actually tried a larger size which was too big overall. Buy it for its looks (the model is a true representation) not for real winter wear where you might have to button up.
Was this a gift?:
Bottom Line Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
I bought the largest size but.... when it arrived it was marked the largest size but it actually is an Extra small. I'm 5'4" and normal weight. This sweater coat fits my mother...5' tall and 100 lbs. The sizes are very incorrect.
Was this a gift?:
Bottom Line No, I would not recommend this to a friend
From National Geographic:Thank you for your comments. We regret that the incorrect size was shipped to you. We understand that our customer service department has been in touch to find a solution that works best for you.