The Aran Sweater: The Scoop on This Seafaring Style

The runways are pretty much begging us to opt for something oversized this season. Case in point: the absolutely effortless Aran sweater. But before you throw one on and cozy up, here’s what you need to know about this Irish import.

BLG-1740 What Are You Really Wearing Aran Sweater2

The iconic cable-knit sweater gets its name from the spot where it originated: Ireland’s Aran Islands. Around the turn of the 20th century, the islands were full of fishermen and farmers, all closely tied to the sea. Their wives – seeking a way to keep the men warm and dry – sent them off with heavyweight, hand-knit “Aran” sweaters.

A traditional Aran sweater is made of unscoured wool fibers. Raw wool retains a ton of air, which helps distribute and maintain body temperature. The oils in this type of untreated wool also give the garment natural water-repelling properties. It’s said that the average Aran can absorb one-third of its weight in water before feeling wet to the touch.

But let’s be honest – the intricate knit designs are what really draw us in. Back in the day, these fisherman sweaters were created as symbols of good fortune for the seafaring men. The ropelike stitch symbolizes the ropes aboard a ship and represents well wishes at sea and hope for a safe return. (We’ll consider that permission to wear our Aran sweaters as this season’s lucky charm.)

By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer

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September 17, 2013