I know, it’s completely the wrong time of the year to be talking jumpers but after a day of house hunting and looking round an old but ‘going to be cold’ i.e. ice on the inside of the windows in winter type of house, my mind wandered off to the need to stock up on jumpers and thick waffle blankets. Yes, we like the house despite the threat of cold, and there’s nothing like being well prepared.
Also, with a little boy of my own, I’ve got a serious compulsion to keep him cosy and warm by dressing him in an Aran jumper just like my mum used to do to me. Yes, itchy neck and all. I want him to have my kind of childhood so funnily described by the actor Stephen Mangan when he talks about growing up with Irish parents and holidaying with them in Ireland (really sorry but I can’t find the link to the interview). Who knows Stephen might see this and help me out 🙂
And it’s got to be the real thing – the Aran jumper that is – the real, genuine article that’s been made to last a lifetime and is well fashioned at its finest. Only the best will do as I’m looking for three jumpers that after serious wear and in many years to come will be passed down the generations (who says jumpers can’t be family heirlooms): one for my little boy, one for me and also for my partner too. He has Irish roots as well (with a bit of Cornish thrown in) so I’m sure it will be a strong, and indeed well fashioned look when we take to the streets in our ultra-warm and thankfully no longer itchy Arans.
So, one day, I’ll finally get to visit the Aran Islands but until then I’ve been doing my research on where to buy an Aran jumper and luckily stumbled across this old article in The Telegraph by Johnny Morris and his quest for the real thing: Aran sweaters.
It’s well worth a read, along with the rest of his grail trail series which sadly no longer seems to run. You can find them all here on Johnny Morris’s Bespoke Traveller archive, including this one on French Knickers. Read at your pleasure.
So where can you buy an authentic, well fashioned Aran jumper?
Johnny’s recommendations for buying a genuine Aran jumper are:
Inis Meáin Knitting Company that designs and knits all its beautiful garments on the island of Inis Meáin, Aran Islands, Co. Galway, Ireland where they are based. They specialise in menswear but have a great selection of Aran jumpers for women although I’m more drawn to their menswear and the thought of being all wrapped up and protected in an oversized crew neck sweater.
Inis Meáin is stocked in shops over the world and online. They also have a factory shop on site which I hear has amazing views of the ocean. Definitely one for a future visit as part of my factory shop tour.
An Tuirne makes handcrafted Aran sweaters and knitwear all hand knitted by women in their homes on the Aran Islands and sold at the An Tuirne shop at Kilmurvey Craft Village on Inishmore.
Founded by Andrew Greaney and Rosemary Faherty, each An Tuirne garment has the knitters name on the label, and you can order made-to-measure jumpers and they sell sweaters for men, women and children.
So two great places to start my search for some soon to be much-loved Aran jumpers. I’ll keep you posted and photos will follow soon, along with (hopefully) more details and interviews with Inis Meáin Knitting Company and An Tuirne.
I’m also due to pick the brains of the mother of jumpers, Edel MacBride, a very talented fashion designer who’s passionate about Aran knitwear and all her knitwear in Made in Ireland. At this rate, we are going to well stocked up and toasty warm in our future home – just got to find it first.