Wednesday 3 July 2013

Talking about Arans

Yesterday evening we had the second meeting of the Huddersfield group of the Knitting & Crochet Guild.  I talked about Aran knits - how knitting patterns for Aran sweaters started to appear in this country in the 1950s, became very popular in the 1960s, and have never really gone away since then.  The talk was based around sweaters and patterns from the Guild collection.  You need a lot more baggage to talk about Aran sweaters than you do talking about gloves - I had a large suitcase full of sweaters and a bag of pattern leaflets, magazines and books as well.   But it was worthwhile - the talk went well, I think, and people were interested.  

The talk was a kind of rehearsal for a talk I am giving at the Guild Convention in Derby, later this month.   I don't want to say too much about the talk, and give away the plot, or it might spoil the surprise.  But I shan't take to Derby all the sweaters that I had last night - I need to take my own things for the weekend as well. So I can show an Aran sweater that I'm not planning to take to Derby: 


It's a man's sweater, very bulky, though not as heavy  as it looks.  We know the pattern that was used to knit it:  Sirdar 2018, issued in 1962.  Although it's about 50 years old, it looks up-to-date - if you saw it in a knitting magazine now, you wouldn't assume it was a vintage design. 

Sirdar 2018
The sweater seems to be in the same yarn, Sirdar Supreme, that's featured in the leaflet - in fact, the same colour too.  It's a very thick, soft and loosely-spun yarn - I don't think that the resulting sweater would stand up to hard wear, but it would be ideal to wear on  a cold day while leisurely smoking your pipe (as demonstrated by the model).       

In the early 60s, spinners don't seem to have made their minds up about the thickness of yarn appropriate for Arans.  Here's another Sirdar pattern, issued in about 1960, for an Aran sweater in double knitting yarn - much finer than Supreme.  "Aran"  did not become a term for a standard yarn weight in the UK, as well as a sweater style, until some years later. 

Sirdar 7795

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