OK – I really have been reading the background on Aran Knitting. It’s really hard to put it into words, but here’s what I’ve learned about the history of Aran Knitting.
Aran sweaters were not seen until the last 40’s and 50’s. Many of the myths for this knitting style were generated by Heinz Edgar Kiewe (1906-1986). Kiewe organized production of Aran sweaters based on a photo that was published in a book by Mary Thomas (no relation to me). Many of the sweaters were knit in the Western Isles of Scotland as there were not enough knitters in Ireland. So much for the Irish knit theory!
Alice Starmore believes that before her book called The Celtic Collection (1992), “celtic” cabling had not been seen in knitting.
Another myth debunked – Aran Sweaters are not traditional Fisherman’s garments. See my photo of the guys in the last blog post.
Here are a few books who offered history of Aran. These books were almost the only available books in the 80’s and 90’s when I was an editor. We thought of them as historical Bibles:
Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans – Gladys Thompson (1955).
Important in development of Aran Knitting. By the way, Aran was not mentioned in the title until 1971 when published by US publisher.
The Complete Book of Traditional Aran Knitting – Shelagh Hollingworth (1982)
Traditional Knitting – Michael Pearson (1984)
Michael (who I met years ago) cast doubt on Kiewe’s theories.
A History of Handknitting – Richard Rutt (1987)
The English Mr. Rutt was also known as the knitting Bishop.
His theory is that the origins of Aran Knitting may have come from the US.
Irish Knitting – Rohanna Darlington (1991)
Rohanna also talks about the US Boston connection by an immigrant woman.
Basically what I could learn is that the fisherman gansey may have been the origin of what we know as the Irish knitting tradition.
In the next chapter, Alice travels to Dublin to the National Museum of Ireland and talks about 3 garments (photographed in the book) and gives her conclusions. That to come!
A lot of knitting and ambitious projects!