The Buyer's Guide to Aran Sweaters for Women
Nothing blends style, warmth, and rich Irish heritage quite like an authentic Aran Sweater.
The tradition of the Aran Sweater dates back to the 17th century, when the women of the Aran Islands hand-knit these garments using pure Irish wool for the local farmers and fishermen. Natural oils in the wool meant Aran Sweaters stayed cool in the summer, but warm and water repellent even in the face of cold, wet Atlantic storms.
Today, our Aran Sweaters are the perfect blend of Irish tradition and modern aesthetics. While they're still knit using 100% pure sheep's wool for maximum warmth and comfort, they also come in a variety of styles, including buttoned, zippered, shawl collared, and hooded.
Only Aran Sweaters—with their richly detailed and traditional Gaelic patterns—allow you to wear a piece of Irish history.
Caring for Your Aran Sweater
An authentic Aran Sweater is a labour of love, often taking months to create. Each sweater is hand-loomed with only the finest quality Merino wool. This fabric is naturally warm and water resistant, so you stay comfortable and dry even on wet and snowy days.
With proper handling, your Aran Sweater will easily last a lifetime. However, because we use only high quality materials and 100% pure wool, you'll need to treat your sweater with extra care than a garment plucked from the rack. Aran Sweaters should always be hand washed.
To care for your Aran Sweater:
- Hand wash only. Wool fibers are easily damaged by heat and harsh chemicals like bleach. Machine washing risks loosening the fabric and damaging your sweater.
- Do not tumble dry or dry clean. Avoid applying direct heat to your wool sweater. Hot steams and tumble dryers risk damaging the delicate wool.
- Never wring or hang-dry. Wet wool stretches easily, which will cause your Aran Sweater to lose its shape as the tight weave loosens.
- Wash your sweater only when necessary. Often times, simply laying your Aran Sweater out in the fresh air is enough to leave it smelling clean and new.
Here's how to hand wash your Aran Sweater:
- Turn your Aran Sweater inside out and submerge it in a basin of cool or tepid water.
- Add one or two squirts of a delicate wool shampoo to the water, to help remove dirt and stains.
- Gently swish your Aran Sweater through the water. Allow it soak for 10 minutes.
- Rinse your Aran Sweater twice. Then gently press out the water on the side of the basin.
- Dry your sweater flat. Try placing your Aran Sweater between a towel until all the moisture has drained.
The Meaning in the Patterns
Each Irish sweater tells a story. The fishermen who traditionally wore Aran Sweaters trusted them to both protect them from the elements and to bring good fortune to their health, work, and love lives.
Each of our Aran Sweater is hand loomed with distinct patterns, each with its own traditional meaning. These patterns tell a unique story, and the rich detail stitched into our sweaters is second to none.
Here are meanings traditionally given to Aran stitches:
Basket Stitch – The basket stitch is said to symbolise a fisherman's basket. It's a common pattern that represents good luck in your day's endeavours—especially a day spent at sea.
Blackberry Stitch – The blackberry stitch represents nature's bounty. It's also called the Trinity stitch, and is considered by many to have religious significance.
Cable Stitch – The cable stitch is among the most common found on Aran Sweaters. This pattern evokes a fisherman's rope and was said to represent bountiful rewards and a good day at sea.
Diamond Stitch – The diamond stitch, which evokes both a fisherman's net and the small plots of land tilled by Aran farmers, represents success, wealth, and a wish for good luck.
Honeycomb Stitch – The honeycomb stitch reflect the sweet rewards that follow from hard work.
Moss Stitch – Moss stitching means abundance. When combined with a diamond stitch, this pattern reflects a wish for abundant fortune and success.
Tree of Life Stitch – The tree of life symbolises a wish for a long and fulfilling life. The deeper meaning of this stitch extended to a fisherman's entire clan, wishing good fortune on his children and family as well.
Trellis Stitch – The trellis stitch recalls the stone-walled fields that the Aran Island farmers tilled. This strong weave symbolises protection for the wearer.
Zig Zag Stitch – The zig zag stitch is thought to take after the Aran Islands' winding paths. Symbolically, the zig zag represents the journey of married life.
Aran Sweater Pairing Guide
Whether you're looking for a top that's elegant and refined or something comfy and casual, your Aran Sweater is the perfect complement to any outfit. Aran Sweaters bring both pattern and texture to your outfit, ensuring that you look dazzling even with simple accompaniments.
The muted tones and natural beauty of Aran Sweaters' Merino wool makes it easy to match your sweater to any outfit. Pair your Aran Sweater with a modern dark denim or black trouser for a striking visual contrast. Finish with a classic boot worn over the pants in either a riding or lace-up style.
You can also match your sweater with the seasons. In the autumn, pair your sweater with earthy greens, browns, burgundies, and amber hues. In the winter, offset black, navy, and charcoal hues with lighter whites, creams, and kahkis. Aran Sweaters come in a variety of different shades, making pairing easy.
If you have sensitive skin, consider wearing a light layer beneath your Aran Sweater, such as a long-sleeved tee or a cotton/polyester blend camisole. To dress up your sweater, add a scarf with a complementary or contrasting texture, such as an Aran knit in a different colour or a silky Pashmina.
Remember not to overdo your accoutrements—these sweaters are beautiful on their own. They're meant to steal the show.