Tim’s Aran Sweater

I have watched this video at least ten times since discovering it earlier this week.

Tim’s Aran sweater is beautiful. Steve’s is, too.

BE020830In college, I directed a production of Irish playwright J.M. Synge’s short play, Riders to the Sea, and I’ve been obsessed with Aran sweaters ever since. The sweaters of Irish fishermen, they come from the Arans, a set of islands off the west coast of Ireland. Legend has it that each family’s sweater was knitted in a cable unique to them. As the play conveys, the morbid purpose was to identify fishermen lost at sea. After they drowned, their sweaters would wash to shore, and the women and children who longed for the return of their fathers and brothers would troll the beaches in search of closure.

According to Galway-based O Máille:

The Cable Stitch is a depiction of the fisherman’s ropes, and represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea.

The Diamond Stitch reflects the small fields of the islands. These diamonds are sometimes filled with Irish moss stitch, depicting the seaweed that was used to fertilise the barren fields and produce a good harvest. Hence the diamond stitch is a wish for success and wealth.

The Zig Zag Stitch, a half diamond, is often used in the Aran Sweaters, and popularly represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands.

The Tree of Life is one of the original stitches, and is unique to the earliest examples of the Aran knitwear. It again reflects the importance of the clan, and is an expression of a desire for clan unity, with long-lived parents and strong children.

Visit O Máille for more.

Also, I love how Mordechai exclaims, “Cactuses!” And Tim replies, “Yeah… I’m sort of into handmade clothes.” His boots are reminiscent of a pair Johnny Depp has reportedly worn nearly every day since opening the Viper Room in 1993.

For more on Aran Sweaters:

Wikipedia debunks the myth of the Aran Sweater.

Clan Aran Sweaters one of the higher-quality makers.

O Máille, handmade sweaters and costumer for John Ford’s classic, The Quiet Man.

Inverallan, a Scottish company that has done collaborations with Japanese companies like Beams to create new spins on the Aran sweater.

Special thanks to Mr. Mordechai Rubinstein for sharing the wonderful video.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Tim’s Aran Sweater

  1. Great post Max. I have a patch cardigan from Orvis that has five or six different patterns and it’s great to see what they all are.

    Conor

  2. Caitlin B

    Oh, Bartley, don’t go!

    This is a wonderful post. I have known about Aran wool sweaters, and that each family had their own stitches, but I hadn’t known what each represented. That’s fascinating.

    Caitlin

  3. Youngster

    That’s funny, I was just on the Aran Islands last week! Looking at the real thing, however, I was not disappointed. They were thick and warm and they actually smelled like sheep, especially the natural-colored ones. I did have to decline to buy one though. The problem was indeed just how thick they were! Even the lightweight versions were many times thicker than the average well made wool sweater, and consequently, even if worn fairly tight, are still to thick to fit under what most would call a properly fitting coat. Honestly, the sweater was as thick as my 32oz USN peacoat! All that said, they were very nice, but just a little more functional than you may be prepared for if you won’t be using it for fishing.

  4. drinkinanddronin

    Outrageous! One of my favorite posts by you, Max!

  5. Chinstrap

    Cheeahs thah bayh!

  6. Memphis88

    Did you see his post on the J. Crew F/W 09 collection with the Aran Cardigan?

    • Conor, that cardigan is great!

      Caitlin, Bartley! How could you! I hope to only wear clothes that are accompanied by great stories. The story of the Aran sweater is a great one.

      Youngster, I teem with jealousy. Yes, they are very thick. It’s something to consider before purchasing. The Aran-style sweater currently in my closet, one bought at a J. Crew sample sale is much lighter. The Aran sweater I had in college went to an ex-girlfriend. Still miss that thing. The girl, not the sweater. Ok, both.

      D&D, gentleman, scholar, thanks for your kind words.

      Chinstrap, is that a head of Guin in your beard or are you just happy to see me? Chazzah, bayh.

      M88, The Inverallan is all Aces. Notice the buttons on that sucker.

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