A guest post from Murphy of Ireland
The first hand-knitted Aran Sweaters to go on sale were sold in 1935. They were sold in ‘The Country Shop’ in Dublin, Ireland, which was run at the time by Dr. Muriel Gahan, a dedicated champion of Irish country crafts who had a relationship with the Aran Islands. However, Aran Sweaters had existed long before this having begun life on the remote Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland, when knitting was first encouraged in the late nineteenth century by the Congested Districts Board for Ireland. The ‘Aran’ in ‘Aran Sweater’ is named after these mysteriously beautiful islands.
In the 1920s, Aran Sweaters were said to have made their debut on young boys taking their First Holy Communion on the islands. Other stories suggest that men’s sweaters were knitted by young local women for their sweethearts as proof of their suitability to be future wives. Later, in the 1950s, Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco and a Hollywood movie star, was pictured in an Aran Sweater while out yachting and iconic actor Steve McQueen was also pictured wearing one.
When Vogue published Aran knitting patterns in 1956, demand grew hugely for the sweaters. Nowadays, contemporary high end international fashion designers feature Aran Sweaters and their variations on the catwalks of international fashion weeks and many celebrities are often pictured in them. For more information on the history of the Aran Sweater, have a look at the timeline created by Murphy of Ireland.