Seen as a design classic the Aran sweater has humble origins. It was created out of a necessity to keep Irish fishermen dry and warm as they sailed out into Galway bay and the Atlantic in search of a good catch of Cod, Haddock or Plaice. This was at the beginning of the twentieth century and the fishermen were not earning enough for waterproof and mackintoshes.
The Fishermen’s wives soon began to use the local Irish wool to make them a strong jumper that would keep them warm but was also able to resist the sea and it’s spray. It also had to be strong but not too complicated so the men, who could be away for days at a time, could do some repair work if they got damaged. It’s an ethos that is still true in the Aran Sweaters that are available today.
Naturally the ladies sought to put some patterns and designs in the jumper which is why they echo the Celtic knot. The cable, trellis and honeycomb designs were all from the imagination of these industrious women. The ladies were using a rough wool that retained the lanolin. This meant that the wool was water resistant, an essential component when out at sea.