Occasionally we include a jumper in our Ballarat Gold range that has a wonderfully rich heritage and history. This year it’s our Aran style jumper, 1950|Aaron. The jumper in our range features five textured pattern cables extending vertically down the jumper on both sides and symmetrical to a centre axis. The cables also extend down the drop style sleeves and finish with ribbed cuffs and waist. Our jumper is of the traditional cable knit style and available in the traditional natural colour (as well as many other colours) but
this is where the similarities with tradition end.
The history of the Aran style jumper takes us back to the 1890’s and the fishing communities of the Aran Islands, off the coast of Ireland. The jumpers were inherently practical, made from unscoured wool (time saving), the spun yarn still contained lanolin (and probably grass seeds and dirt) and as such made the finished garments largely water-resistant and suitable for fishermen. It is said the jumper evolved from the southern Guernsey style jumper, a staple item in a seaman’s wardrobe, and featured drop sleeves in a fine woollen yarn. The Aran islanders didn’t have access to such fine yarn so their designs became thicker, with cabling all over including the sleeves which were often changed to saddle sleeves – thus creating a new style altogether.
More fascinating than the development of the jumper itself, is the mythology surrounding it. While unproven and largely debunked by historians, the rumours persist. Some people believe that different styles of knit in the cables meant different things for the wearer, such as luck or abundance. Others believed that each family or village developed their own unique design so that if a fisherman became drowned, his body would be returned to the correct village based on the identification of his jumper.
Today’s Aran style jumpers are a world apart from the traditional in that they are machine knitted from clean, treated wool leaving no trace of possible allergens such as lanolin. At Interknit we knit our Aran style jumper from superfine Australian Merino wool yarn which has been dyed different colours. Included in the men’s range this year, the Aran style jumper has already proved popular with the ladies – many have chosen the jumper for themselves for its chunky knit warmth and extra length. Available in a range of colours and sizes, the Aran knit jumper is sure to keep you warm for years to come.