The Stories Behind the Stitches of Aran Woollen Wear
Brand in Focus Aran Woollen Mills:
Where every Stitch is Steeped in History
Cuddled amongst the Irish rolling hills and cosied in amongst stunning scenery lies Westport, County Mayo. It is at the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet of the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
In 1842 the English novelist, William Makepeace, visited Westport and wrote of the town: “The most beautiful view I ever saw in the world. It forms an event in one’s life to have seen that place so beautiful that is it, and so unlike other beauties that I know. Were such beauties lying on English shores it would be a world wonder perhaps, if I were on the Mediterranean or Baltic, English Travellers would flock to it by hundreds”.
Croagh Patrick is the backdrop to the town. The Irish name for the mountain is Cruach Phadraig which means (Saint) Patrick’s stack. Nicknamed ‘The Reek’, a Hiberno-English word for a “rick” or “stack”.
On the last Sunday in July pilgrims in their thousands climb Croagh Patrick in honour of Saint Patrick, who, according to tradition fasted and prayed on the summit for forty days in the year 441. There is now a small chapel which was built in 1905 but it is believed that there has always been a chapel on the summit since the 5th century. Pilgrims often climb the mountain barefoot as an act of penance.
Westport is near other major market towns such as Ballina, Castlebar and Newport and the Clew Bay coastline was used for many centuries by smugglers. By the 1760 the town was on its uppers and the thriving port had brought in many artisans and Presbyterian weavers, several cotton factories and linen factories were being built and by the 1790’s the textile industry had confirmed itself firmly in Westport.
Inspired by the beauteousness of the landscape and ocean Aran Woollen Mills founded themselves in 1965. A traditional family owned and managed business they produce a comprehensive collection of knitwear for Men, Women and Children. They also have homeware and accessories to stand alone or compliment their range.
Every stitch is steeped in Westport history and symbolism. From the Fisherman’s Cable Knit which represents safety and good luck to the Honeycomb representing a just reward for hard work. Working exclusively with natural materials the skill and craftmanship of the knitters and designers is testament to the traditions of the past.
Constantly evolving and innovating with styles and yarns keeps Aran Woollen Mills products as fresh today as they were in centuries past.
It takes approximately 100,000 carefully constructed stitches to complete an Aran sweater. Each stitch carries its own meaning: the cable stitch is a depiction of a fisherman’s rope; the diamond stitch reflects the fields and can incorporate an Irish moss stitch which represents the seaweed thrown on to these fields to make them more fruitful, hence this stitch wishes you wealth and success. The zig-zag stitch denotes the winding cliff paths and the Tree of Life stitch is one of the oldest stitches and wishes good health to your family and children.