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Keep the chill off your bones in one of our long sleeved shirts, sweaters or sweatshirts! These are great for anyone of Celtic / Gaelic heritage looking to show off their love of Scotland or Ireland. Our cable-knit sweaters come straight from Ireland! Great looks to go with your kilt or just a pair of jeans.  

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Are Aran Sweaters the Best Irish Accessory? Who can wear an Aran sweater?

Nothing says "Ireland" quite like an Aran knit sweater. However, this versatile and timeless garment is acceptible for any kilt wearer. There have been similar versions of it used througout the British Isles. It really looks just perfect with any kilt or a pair of jeans. We think it's a great casual kilt look for any chilly day - especially if you're going into the hills!

 

How do you wear an Aran sweater with a kilt?

Casually. The Arann sweater is perhaps one of the most iconic Irish accessories.  It is ideal for any time you want to dress warmly to go outdoors. As we often say - the key to being warm in a kilt is to keep your core temperature high and the Aran sweater was designed for exactly that.  Keep it loose, perhaps with a grandfather shirt or turtleneck underneath, or any base layer you like. 

There is an old custom of tucking military-style jumpers into the kilt. Do not attempt this with an Aran sweater. It simply won't work and will look (and feel) odd.


What is Aran knit?

The Aran Isle sweater or "jumper" in the UK (Irish: Geansaí Árann) takes its name from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland where the thick, cozy knits that made up this garment were perfected. It's worth noting that knit sweaters of this sort did develop in other areas as well.

The Árann jumper was traditionally knitted using unscoured wool (ie. lightly washed) which retained the natural oils of the sheep (lanolin). This made the garment quite water-resistant. Even modernly scoured and processed wool will keep you warm even when wet. But the lanolin was an added boost. This sweater thus became an essential tool for Irish fishermen and others working long hours in damp cold climates. Today many men are returning to natural wool as an ideal warmth layer, and we feel this is a very good thing!


Are Aran sweaters itchy?

Not especially, unless you have a true wool allergy. Modern wool yarn processing techniques allow the nap of the wool to be more relaxed; smoother on a microscopic level and therefore less rough or itchy. Softer Merino wool is also more commonly used in production. Some sweaters are still made using minimally processed wool that retains lanolin, so if you are sensitive these garments may give you more of a reaction. The simple answer is to wear a long sleeve shirt under the jumper. 


Are Aran sweaters good quality? How can you tell if an Arann sweater is high quality?

The key is select a sweater made in Ireland. However, there are a number of "knock offs" on the market as you'd expect. Investigate where the sweater you want was made, and of what materials. If it is a wool-synthetic blend and the price seems too good to be true, avoid. USA Kilts is porioud to offer a variety of Aran knit sweaters made in Ireland by family-owned businesses.


Do Aran sweater designs have meaning? 

There are a few traditional knitting patterns used in Irish fishermen's sweaters. These were established in the early to mid-twentieth century as the garment became famous world wide. How old the patterns are, as well as their now associated meanings, is up for debate. However that does not reduce their impact or beauty. A few examples:

Cable Stitch: Sailors' ropes; the hope for safety and good luck at sea. Some say the roping also represents the intertwining of family bonds.

'Tree of Life' Stitch or Trinity stitch: Represents ancient religious beliefs and hope for long life, salvation, or healthy crops and children. General good luck protection. 

Basket Stitch: Thought to represent the weave of a fisherman's basket, and thus desire for abundant catches.

Trellis Stitch: This pattern is said to represent the agricultural landscape of the isles. That is, farm fields and sheep enclosures fenced in by low stone walls. This common sight throughout Ireland offered extra protection from strong island winds, especially for young spring plantings.