Archive for October, 2010

Every Sweater Tells A Story

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

More than just a layer of warmth, Aran sweaters tell a story rich in heritage and tradition, detailed in every stitch.  These centuries old designs from the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland were originally knit with natural oiled wool (bainin) making the garment water-resistant and well-suited to the harsh climate and outdoor work of a fisherman or farmer. 

An Aran knit sweater averaged two months in the making and consisted of intricate patternwork with twisted cables and vertical panels of textured stitches.  Patterns were taught hand-to-hand, passed from one generation to the next, far too complex to be written down.  According to legend, each Aran sweater was designed and knit to signify a particular clan, a customary way to identify fishermen drowned at sea.

The cable stitch represented a fisherman’s rope and hope for abundance in fishing

The diamond pattern represented the island farms and a wish for prosperity

The zig zag pattern represented the jagged cliffs of the island

The trellis pattern represented the stone walls between farmlands

The blackberry stitch represented The Holy Trinity, an important spiritual symbol

The honeycomb stitch symbolized hard work

1960's Sirdar Aran Pattern Booklet

A peek inside the Sirdar vault, and its the early sixties.  The fisherman style sweater drifted into mainstream fashion, gaining popularity with knitters first in Britain, and picking up momentum as it crossed the ocean to North America.  Pullovers, vests, and cardigans were knit with traditional bainin (oiled) wool.  The fit was slim and tapered with raglan sleeves.

1970's His and Hers Styles from Sirdar

Aran pullovers knit in a conventional cream shade carried through into the next decade.  The look was more relaxed, with polo necks and v-necks added for extra interest.  Machine washable wool/acrylic blends were introduced by Sirdar as a lightweight option for indoor wear.

Sirdar Book #384

Skip forward to 2010.  Aran knits are back in the spotlight, bringing an element of folklore to a whole new generation of fashionistas.  This collection of Favorite Aran Knits 3 from Sirdar proves that true classics stand the test of time.

Favorite Aran Knits by Sirdar

His design features plenty of detail with honeycomb panels, a symbol of a hard-worker.  Her style highlights a combination of two cable techniques, and the current trend towards three-quarter sleeves in jackets.  Both are knit in Hayfield Bonus Aran, an easy to wear blend of wool and acrylic, available in twenty-six shades of marls and solids.  Sirdar features these two styles and a full selection of Aran knits for the entire family in Book #384.

Cable Jacket Book #384

A shade of crimson red in Hayfield Bonus Aran adds a fresh spark to a classic design.  The longer length jacket fits right in this season, layering over tunics and leggings.

Fairy Fibres

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Silken strands swirled in a haze of fluff so incredibly light that only fairies could spin it.  Introducing Angel, the latest addition to the Debbie Bliss Fall/Winter 2010 Collection.  This luxurious lace weight yarn is a blend of superfine kid mohair and silk, highly coveted by knitters for its featherweight quality and sheer layer of warmth. 

Winging its way into yarn shops later this month, Angel will makes its debut in a range of eighteen translucent shades with nine designs to choose from.  Here are a few to tickle your fancy-

Raspberry Cardigan

Capture the incredible lightness of air in a pretty shawl collared cardigan.  Knit in Old Rose, a flattering shade to cheer up the dull days of winter.

Cropped Shrug

Sleeveless dresses will gain a little extra mileage this season with a cropped shrug fitting closely around the neck and shoulders.  Knit in a watery shade of Celadon.

Coral Cardi

The temperature is rising quickly with this spicy little cardigan, knit in a complimentary duet of colour- Salmon and Tangerine.  

Fingerless Gloves in Angel

Whip up a pair of these fingerless gloves for a special someone who appreciates the softer side of life.  Its a touch of luxury that takes just one ball of Angel in Silver Grey.

Angel Shrug

Cocoon yourself in a dreamy oversized shrug this winter.  Knit in a misty shade of Soft Lilac.  

Front View of Angel Shrug

Its the simple one piece construction with a wide ribbed border that makes this shrug an easy one size fits all.  Turn the thermostat down a notch or two and chase the drafts away.