Besides being famous for the gorgeous scenery, the Aran Islands are also famous for Aran wool and Aran sweaters. Traditionally, Aran sweaters were handknitted and meant to keep generations of locals dry and warm during the wild Atlantic storms. Now Aran sweaters are very popular worldwide and no longer just for locals.
After spending our day exploring Inis Mór, we went to the Aran Sweater Market in Kilronan village, where they had various knitted items – from scarves, shawls and socks to beautifully knitted, cozy Aran sweaters, with gorgeous designs and intricate cable work details.
It was interesting to learn a bit of the history and background on the designs and details of the sweaters. Some designs are based on your family name. They even sell knitting patterns for specific clan names! There are also specific meanings behind the various patterns and designs: for example – the famous cable detail resembles the thick ropes that the fishermen used everyday and represents safety and good luck when fishing. For more interesting information about the Aran Sweater, check out this page.
Whilst walking around the store, I came upon the wool section. As I am a bit of a knitter myself, I thought this would make the perfect souvenir from Ireland! So I got some beautiful Aran wool to take home and make “something.” I unfortunately couldn’t bring home a lot of the yarn. If I had had more space in my backpack and wasn’t heading to Scotland for another 2 weeks of adventures, I would have bought enough yarn to try and tackle knitting a sweater or cardigan! Oh well – this just means I’ll have to go back to the Aran Islands! On my next trip to Ireland, I’ll be sure to save some luggage space for the Aran wool (and maybe a sweater!)
Since I didn’t have a lot of yarn, I couldn’t make a big project. So I decided on a scarf, with some celtic patterns incorporated into the design!
I am really loving the beautiful and intricate details of the scarf!
Here is the finished product!
Whenever I wear this scarf, I’ll be thinking of Ireland, sheep (of which there are many in Ireland!!!) and the beautiful Aran Islands.
This project really gave me a lot of practice in knitting and cabling. It also takes a lot of concentration as each row is different. So I can’t just watch TV and work the same stitch or pattern over and over again! But this is good practice for more complicated patterns – who knows, I might tackle a sweater soon!
Day 5 of our All Ireland Rocker Tour is next with more cliffs and epic adventures – stay tuned!
From Vancouver with Love,
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