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 What does "Aran" mean?
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jennaknits
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
509 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2005 :  2:55:38 PM  Show Profile Send jennaknits a Private Message
I usually try to Google these sorts of things, but so far, I've seen it as a sweater type, a blanket type, and a yarn weight. I'm more than a bit confused. Thanks!

http://knitdiva.blogspot.com/

lella
Permanent Resident

9714 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2005 :  3:12:55 PM  Show Profile Send lella a Private Message
Aran refers to the Aran Isles where a unique form of jersey knitting for fishermen arose. The sweaters were the first things to become popular. Aran yarns used to be WW undyed wool yarn. I don't know if that has changed. But it's mostly the style of the knitting that is meant, and it's usually sweaters.

lella [img]http://smilies.sofrayt.com/^/9971/omelet.gif[/img]
http://zippiknits.blogspot.com/
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Dicksie
Permanent Resident

USA
1995 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2005 :  3:13:27 PM  Show Profile Send Dicksie a Private Message
Jenna - All the above are true, however, the term comes from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland where the traditional cabled sweater was first seen. Initially they were knit using cream-colored wool in a weight somewhat heavier than what we refer to as worsted. The term has become generic to describe any cabled sweater or the yarn typically used to knit it. I don't know about the blankets, unless you are referring to a knitted afghan. Some years ago the theory was put forth that drowned seamen were identified by the pattern used in the sweater they were wearing. This question was posed to Alice Starmore in a workshop I attended. Her response was that it was "romantic twaddle"!

http://tourdirector.smugmug.com/gallery/529635
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lella
Permanent Resident

9714 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2005 :  3:15:50 PM  Show Profile Send lella a Private Message
Here's a nice web site

http://homepage.tinet.ie/~daraoc/Aranislands.net/Homepage/AranIslands.html

Awww I just saw the new smilies! [:00]

lella [img]http://smilies.sofrayt.com/^/9971/omelet.gif[/img]
http://zippiknits.blogspot.com/
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Two Sticks and a String
Permanent Resident

USA
1453 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2005 :  3:37:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit Two Sticks and a String's Homepage Send Two Sticks and a String a Private Message
Dicksie,
That sailor story is not too far off the mark.. Each clan in Ireland has their own pattern for aran - just the same as its own tartan plaid.

Dorene

"Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away." -Unknown
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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2005 :  4:10:06 PM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message
Here is another source of information that includes a history of knitting Aran sweaters.

http://www.aranknitting.com/gallery.html

The original Aran yarn was somewhat unprocessed and contained the natural oils and lanolin, making it relatively waterproof for the fisherman. Now the word is used both for a yarn weight and for a color.

fran
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jennaknits
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
509 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2005 :  4:40:45 PM  Show Profile Send jennaknits a Private Message
Thanks, everyone! It was nagging at me...

http://knitdiva.blogspot.com/
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Renee77
Chatty Knitter

261 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2005 :  7:22:18 PM  Show Profile Send Renee77 a Private Message
Aran knitting, a fascinating subject.

The link above for Aran knitting, on its history page, has information that says the intrically cabled sweaters were a development of the twentieth century, and have quite a bit to do with an Irish home crafts association that sought to preserve traditional crafts such as hand knitting. What this site has to say matches a lot of what Alice Starmore has to say on the subject:
http://www.aranknitting.com/history.html

HOWEVER, the site below, which sells handknit sweaters for tourists and Irish Americans, romantically states that the Aran knitting traditions have been around for generations, and and clan patterns were zealously guarded and passed down from mother to daughter (Actually, anyone familiar with Aran cable knitting would be able to copy a sweater pattern without too much effort.)
http://www.clanarans.com/ca/catalog/clanaran_history_sweats.php

So, take your pick.

BTW, Aran weight yarns are ones that are knit to 4.5 stitches per inch, what is also called heavy worsted weight.
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fmarrs
Guardian angel

USA
9776 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2005 :  7:41:29 PM  Show Profile Send fmarrs a Private Message
I have a very old book on Aran knitting (about 50 years, I think) which identifies the clans and their sweater designs through analysis of museum pieces and with many, many old photos. I suspect that this subject has been tossed around a lot. There is also a difference between sweaters with cabled designs and knit/purl designs. I doubt very much if any one person, book, or site is an authority.

fran
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