Ahhaaaaand Knitting!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I recently started knitting an Aran jumper. By recently I mean I started months ago...but until recently I had also been working 2 jobs! Now I have quit my second job I have a little more free time so I'm going to use this blog to mark my progress.

If you are unfamiliar, an Aran jumper (or gansey, as they are also known- derived from the Irish word geansai, meaning sweater) is a traditional knit previously worn by fisherman on the Aran Isles off the coast of Ireland. The original sweaters were knitted by the fisherman's wives using unwashed and untreated sheep's wool as it retained an oily residue which gave the fabric a water-resist effect- perfect for a day of fishing!

The jumpers are made up from several different knitted stitches, most commonly including cables (the twisting of the yarn to make a rope like appearance).

I'm really interested in the history of the knit and like how the patterns have a personal meaning. The different stitches used signify different things, for example, the cable represents good luck, the honeycomb stitch is for hard-work, and the diamond to signify success, wealth and treasure.

Having seen the revival of the Aran knit on the cat-walks, and the high-street over the last year, like this Prada interpretation, I think it's important to keep some of the tradition alive.

There is a myth that each fisherman sweater had a unique design, almost a way of identification, should the fisherman reach his demise at sea. I like the idea of exploring this and making new patterns all the time, and making them personal to the wearer.

This is the first Aran I've knitted. It can be a little daunting at times, so I'm following an 80's-tastic pattern with the utmost precision. Hopefully when I'm finished I can modify it and write my own pattern to suit. Watch this space for the progress.

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