The Ladybug tells the fascinating story of Aran textiles

If you love vintage, especially vintage sweaters, you need to read this post as I’m going to tell you something more about the fascinating story of Aran sweaters (a piece that is a must have in our wardrobe!).

Aran sweaters (or cardigans) get their name from the Aran islands off the west coast of Ireland, islands of fishermen and farmers, known all over the world for their precious textiles. Their weaves tells stories: stories of the families who gave them birth or have them as a social code, they often contains codes to be read and they are handed down from one generation to another. Many of their stitches are reflective of Celtic Art.

From their origins Aran sweaters are strictly linked to clans and their identities: the different stitch combinations can transmit a lot of information to those who can interpret them; they were a reflection of the lives of the knitters and their families and they stay within the same clan for generations.

Can you imagine that in the past the weaves were used to identify the fishermen washed up on the beach? Today an official register of Aran weaves exists and it is possible to refer to it in the Aran Sweater Market on the Aran islands.

The yarn is very heavy and robust, perfect for warming the body especially in the sea because it is also water repellent as it absorbs more than 30% of water before getting wet. The natural wool fiber is breathable and helps maintaining the body at its ideal temperature, protecting from excessive cold or heat.

Even if nowadays it is quite easy to find good quality Aran wool sweaters produced with modern machines, it is quite difficult to find handmade ones new. The good news is that you can still find handmade original traditional Aran cardigans and sweaters in the vintage stores and markets. I often found them in UK and in Ireland (where my vintage cardigan comes from – a garage sale in Dublin…even if I had to change the original buttons, which was such a shame!) and the second positive thing is that, being quite resistant, they don’t fear time passing: most of them was in excellent conditions!

I am wearing mine here with a thrifted (but new) Realisation Par animal print silk skirt, an organic cotton tee and a pair of old Carmens ankle cowboy boots. The bag is vintage from Live In Vintage in Milan.

Do you own an original Aran piece?

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