They call it a “fisherman’s sweater” for a reason! Hardy Irish men wore woolly sweaters from the Aran Islands to combat freezing cold and damp wet while working outside in the winter. Wool was a godsend since it was warm and water-repellent: Aran sweaters can absorb 30% of its weight in water before it feels wet. Wool is also an incredible insulator due to its built-in natural crimp with a high volume of air (super-breathable). And the wool used was thick and soft — no scratchiness here.
The forefather of the Aran sweater is the gansey (or guernsey) that British fishermen donned for centuries. The big difference between a gansey and an Aran garment? The Irish brought their signature panache to the sweater game. Not satisfied with the gansey’s plainer, practical workaday design, Irish knitters got creative and started experimenting with their stitches. Each kind of gorgeous stitch (moss, diamond, ladder, trellis, basket, cable, blackberry, honeycomb) had its own unique meaning. Stitches could represent something as straightforward as wealth and success, or something as ambiguous and far-reaching as the tree of life. Combinations of stitches in knits are no accident: each Irish clan had their own specific design patterns, passed down and perfected from generation to generation.
All of Shamrock’s handsome Aran sweaters are part of this tradition. Sometimes, we’ve jazzed them up with modern touches (a turtleneck here, or a steel zipper there), but the substance and style of each stitch remains intact. It’s the same awesome sweater Irishmen have been wearing for hundreds of years.
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