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Tag: Knitwear

Icelandic Knitwear

Ubiquitous around Iceland, the lopapeysa has become an icon for the country’s wool industry over the past several decades. They are traditionally hand knit with lopi, a coarse but hardy wool from Icelandic sheep, and are quite cozy and warm when worn.

Recently, some groups within Iceland have been pushing to have the sweaters legally protected against companies who produce them overseas and then sell them as being authentic to tourists (a familiar problem that can be found around the world) – Grapevine.is, which has been following the topic over the past year also has a useful guide on how to shop for one.

On a recent trip I picked up an affordable sweater from the Icelandic company Farmers Market, which came in handy during the cold weather and strong winds that came through while I was there earlier in the month. I have no idea where it was made, but I like it well enough.

New North Sea Clothing Sweaters

I’ve been shopping around online lately for fall knitwear options and just noticed that North Sea Clothing has updated its site recently with several new versions of its sweaters along with an “Engineer” model based on an older military design. The new releases are timely as I just pulled my favorite Expedition sweater out of storage in anticipation for the colder weather and it’s still holding up strong.

The new “Marine” cable knit version of the Expedition, which I’m pretty enamored with:

Marine Sweater by North Sea Clothing

The Aran Sweater Story Continued – Stitches at Sea

Here’s another great article on the background of Aran sweaters. From Stitches at Sea, by Linda Cortright:

Up until the latter part of the 20th century, most islanders (total population 1,218) were still engaged in either fishing or farming – each one presenting a formidable set of challenges. But times have changed all that and tourism is now the main source of income for most. Subsistence farmers along with their livestock have all but disappeared, and only a few fishermen still uphold the same traditions sustained by their forbearers.

Yet, with so many ways of old having all but vanished, the Aran sweater flourishes as never before – thanks in part to the souvenir seeking tourist who can nab an “Aran” sweater – Made in China – with wool from Australia, like it was a pashmina from a New York City street vendor.

There is also this interesting bit on the wool that Inis Meain uses for their sweaters:

Although their sweaters are elegantly designed, and carried by the finest stores, from trendy boutiques in Tokyo to high-end shops in Milan, the wool non longer comes from the local sheep, in fact not even Irish sheep. Tarlach recalls, “By the early 1980s we had to stop using Irish wool, it was just too scratchy for the average consumer.” Now, the f wool they use has crested to the luxury of cashmere and alpaca, almost all of which is imported from Michell & Co. in Peru; a leading manufacturer in luxury yarns.

Continue reading more.

Related posts:
Aran Sweater Myths
Inis Meáin Kniting Company

Aran Sweater Myths

Marketers and salesmen will often tell tales about how particular patterns in Aran sweaters were once used to identify the bodies of lost fisherman. However, this is a myth. From wikipedia:

It is sometimes said that each fisherman (or his family) had a jumper with a unique design, so that if he drowned and was found, maybe weeks later, on the beach, his body could be identified. This misconception may have originated with J.M. Synge’s 1904 play Riders to the Sea, in which the body of a dead fisherman is identified by the hand-knitted stitches on one of his garments. However, even in the play, there is no reference to any decorative or Aran-type pattern. The garment referred to is a plain stocking and it is identified by the number of stitches, the quote being “it’s the second one of the third pair I knitted, and I put up three score stitches, and I dropped four of them”. There is no record of any such event ever having taken place, nor is there any evidence to support there being a systematic tradition of family patterns.

Kate Davies, writer and knitter, explores this a bit more in an interesting piece she wrote on needled:

While Gahan encouraged the talented knitters of rural Ireland in their creation of elaborate báinín ganseys, Ó Síocháin invented myths of ancient origin for the sweaters in his publications about the Aran Islands. In his book Aran: Islands of Legend , for example, Ó Síocháin footnotes the misleading idea that “the Aran gansey has always been an unfailing source of identification of Islandmen lost at sea” with a reference to his own company “full particulars regarding the handcraft products of the Islands can be obtained from Galway Bay Products, Ltd.”

More Cold Weather Knitwear

From an older edition of Esquire’s Black Book.

black_book_winter_01 Read more

Holiday Knitwear

Intarsia sweater overload on RalphLauren.com this year.

It’s okay to have one or two of these types of sweaters in your wardrobe for wearing during the holiday season (they’re just as odd as madras jackets, white bucks, and critter chinos). I have this shawl collar cardigan from J.Crew that I had purchased on a bet, and it gets worn only a couple of times a year.


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