Why do womens Irish cardigans feel so homey and romantic? Even their origin story seems very romantic: the Aran cardigan’s picturesque starting point is the most westerly edge of Europe, the Aran Islands (Inisheer, Inishmaan, and Inishmore). As the knits became more intricate and specialized, the beautiful sweaters started to be seen as a potential income source, and the fisherman sweater boom got in full swing.
As the Irish knitters got increasingly creative, variations on the crewneck fisherman sweater abounded. Originally derived from the British waistcoat, cardigans started becoming a thing around the early 20th century (Coco Chanel famously preferred cardigans because she didn’t like how snug-fitting pullover sweaters messed up her hair when putting them on). Its first big surge of popularity was among the American college elite (perhaps that’s why cardigans have always had a whiff of the professorial). When Aran stitches were added to the mix, the cardigan’s already-present cozy qualities were amplified. The luxurious feel of plush Irish wool combined with the heft and depth of the Aran knitting patterns proved to be a winning combination. People are still wearing them a hundred years later, after all!
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