When looking for the ideal gift, there are few items that are as versatile or fashionable as a hand-knit aran sweater. Made of merino wool and often featuring symbolic cabling, Aran sweaters are thought to bring good luck, love, joy and more. For aran sweaters, visit Shamrock Gifts.
But these Irish sweaters aren’t just a fashion staple; they also have a backstory steeped in Irish history. Initially, aran sweaters were created as a way to unite and differentiate inhabitants of the Aran Islands off Ireland’s west coast. Each sweater told the story of a clan, almost like a family crest. And, with each pattern having its own meaning – such as the honeycomb stitch symbolising hard work and its sweet rewards or the trellis stitch depicting the stone-walled fields of the northwest of Ireland – the aran sweater was a very important piece of clothing to have on the island.
Aran sweaters were traditionally made from bainin, a type of white merino wool that was unbleached and undyed to retain the natural sheep lanolin, making it water-resistant and able to protect fishermen from the harsh elements of Ireland’s Atlantic coastline. This is what makes the aran sweater so uniquely Irish.
Today, most of these sweaters are no longer hand-knitted but rather machine knitted and can be found in a variety of styles, colours and sizes – including crew neck, shawl collar, turtleneck and roll neck. Most are available in cream/white, greys, tans and blues with a few offering reds. If you are looking for the perfect Irish sweater for men or women, an aran sweater is a great choice as it looks stylish and versatile with jeans, trousers and skirts.