Designing an Aran Sweater – part 1

St. Patrick' s celebrations are all gone by now. I've been thinking for the last week how can I bring my share to celebrating Ireland's patron saint. Well, this is it.  I'm going to create a few posts on the Aran Knitting Theme and share them with you.

After decades since they were invented, Aran sweaters haven't lost their appeal. You can find them these days in the tourist shops all over Ireland, from Galway to Kilkenny, from Dublin to Cork. If you are looking for a trendy version, why not check out River Island's knitwear at asos:

While in the past, the Aran garments were hand knitted, today they are either machine knit or hand-loomed. There are very few people making a business from knitting them by hand. The skills are dying, traditions are lost.

My intention is to provide you with a set of tutorials that will help you design and hand knit a traditional aran sweater. The first post will introduce you to the history of the aran technique, then a few traditional aran structures and finally the steps to design and knit an aran jumper. I hope you'll enjoy the ride, and please let me know of any questions you might have…

The Aran Sweater

The Aran knitting technique, which has taken its name from the three Aran Island situated on the west coast of Ireland, was invented by a group of island women in the early 1900s. The Aran sweater or fisherman’s jumper was created not just for their husbands and children, but was also sold to provide a source of income for their families.

Knitted in thick wool, traditionally un-dyed and un-washed, its main feature is the panels: cables and other textured stitches positioned on both front and back of the garment. Other features include a ribbed edging and some background structure.

Traditional Designs

Traditional sweaters have a large central panel surrounded by a number of side panels with textured stitches and background stitches. The design is usually symmetrical to each side of the central panel. Honeycomb and lattice type patterns are particularly suitable for the central panel, while for the side panels should be used patterns with smaller stitch repeats.

The panels are spaced by a few stitches of reverse stockinette or reverse plain-knit while the side edges are usually worked in a textured stitch. For the sleeves, a smaller central panel and lesser number of side panels is used.

Part 2 coming soon…


About Camelia

Irish based knitwear designer
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10 Responses to Designing an Aran Sweater – part 1

  1. Many thanks for publishing this entry. It is really essential for me.

  2. stentyestib says:

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  6. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!
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  7. I like this short article quite much, wish you can compose more about this.

  8. Helena says:

    We the Irish are so grateful that it takes somebody from Transilvania to come along and show us how to make Aran sweaters that we have been doing for generations !!

    • meli_b says:

      Thanks for your message, Helena.
      I wish traditions would be preserved and transmitted from generation to generation. I created a strong bond with Irish crochet and knit over the years and even though I’m not a native Irish I’m committed to keeping the love for Irish crafts alive.

  9. site says:

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