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Old 07-23-2008, 09:11 PM   #1
maggie_g
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What exactly is "Aran wool"?
Hello, I'll be leaving for Ireland in a couple of days and my family and I plan on visiting the Aran Islands. Naturally, this makes me want to come home with some genuine Aran wool that I have the pleasure of knowing I bought right there. I know I should pick a pattern before going so I get an adequate amount of wool and so I'm not frustrated trying to later find a pattern for a fixed amount of wool.

But I find I don't really know what constitutes "Aran wool." Is that just a reference to its origins? Or is it a specific weight? Or is it even a stitch pattern more than a wool? I ask because in looking at patterns online that say they're "Aran," I'm finding different weights (like afghans in chunkier wool and "Aran" socks in fingering weight). When I look for "genuine" Aran wool out on the islands (and I'm sure I can find it in other locations in Ireland, too), will it come in different weights (for instance, could I make socks of Aran wool, or is it too thick, or does it come in sockweight?).

Ok, now that I've asked the same question ten ways, here's another: does anyone out there have a favorite Aran pattern? I am a new knitter who is not very accomplished and I get frustrated easily by complex patterns, particularly sweaters. I'm thinking along the lines of relatively simple socks, one-piece lap-size blankets, scarves, mufflers, those sorts of things. I don't mind trying cables, which I've done a little bit of. I want to make the most of this and so I don't want to overextend myself or have to cart home a ton of wool.

Thanks in advance!
Maryann
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Old 07-23-2008, 09:59 PM   #2
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Yeah, it's complicated... There's Aran weight which is just slightly thicker than worsted, but not all that much. And `Aran' patterns, of course, which have cables and bobbles and all sorts of patterning. As to whether there's wool that comes only from the Aran islands and has specific properties, perhaps some of the UK contingent can better answer that. Though I think it's undyed natural colors, like brown, tan, gray.

Probably if you just buy some wool there that you like you can just tell everyone when you get home that it's genuine Aran wool....
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Old 07-23-2008, 10:51 PM   #3
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I like your answer a lot Sue! <wink> backatcha! Thanks.
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Old 07-24-2008, 07:37 AM   #4
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Hi

Suzeeq said:

"Probably if you just buy some wool there that you like you can just tell everyone when you get home that it's genuine Aran wool.... "

Oo - you're a bad lass,


OK - I'll try and keep this short and sweet:

You're right, there is traditional Aran wool which usually comes in cream or off white, the colour used by 'Aran' knitters.

These days, you can still buy Aran wool - of the same sort of texture but in a rainbow of colours. You don't need to stick with cream or offwhite if you don't want to. You are still using Aran wool, even if it's a different colour.

Weight - Aran weight is closest to US Light Worsted.

Patterns - There's a huge variety of traditional Aran patterns and what they all have in common is, of course, using Aran weight wool.

Alot of them are quite complex and you really need to concentrate on each and every row of the pattern, especially with twists and diamonds.

The pic below is a cardi I knitted for my grand daughter - it took me forever but I learned such alot about stitch patterns, cables, twists, etc., that it really was brilliant for advancing my knitting skills.

There are, however, lots of simpler patterns, just involving a couple of cables, which I did before I bit off with this particular pattern.

Take a look on ebay UK and you will find tons of 'Aran' patterns, meaning both the traditional pattern stitches and using 'Aran' weight.

Anyway, I hope you have a lovely holiday (send me a postcard!) and hope this helps.

Best Wishes

Ellie
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Old 07-24-2008, 07:52 AM   #5
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Aran-definition
Hi, Maryanne!

Interesting question. I looked it up and found the following -

"Aran - denoting a knitwear with traditional patterns, typically involving a raised cable stitch and large diamond designs."

You might want to check out Gladys Thompson's book, "Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans - Fishermen's Sweaters from the British Isles" before you go on your trip. Ms. Thompson put a lot of work into getting the patterns for these traditional pieces documented since most have been passed on in families by word of mouth. They are quite beautiful and were in real danger of being lost. She's done an incredible job of documenting many of them and included charts, patterns and some of the knitting history of the various islands.

I, too, am a relatively new knitter (just over a year) and I've made a few afgans with these types of stitches. It's challenging, for sure, but I've learned SO MUCH just by doing them.

It helps a great deal to get familiar with the pattern before you start. I do that by writing out the pattern for each row on index cards, breaking it down by logical steps on each row. Then when I have them all written out I can put the cards next to me on the sofa and just put the card for the row I've just finished in the back. (For more info on this, check out the thread "Knit tips & tricks, page 2 or 3, in General Knitting).

Hope this helps, and I really hope you enjoy your trip!

Ruthie
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Old 07-24-2008, 07:56 AM   #6
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What BEAUTIFUL work!
Ellie, your cardi is AWESOME!!! What a lucky child to have something so precious.

Ruthie
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:23 AM   #7
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Weight - Aran weight is closest to US Light Worsted.
No, by gauge, aran weight is US heavy worsted. There's less sts/inch than worsted.

But glad you liked the rest of my answer though....
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Old 07-24-2008, 09:55 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by suzeeq View Post
No, by gauge, aran weight is US heavy worsted. There's less sts/inch than worsted.

But glad you liked the rest of my answer though....

Hiya Suzeeq

Sorry -I think I've got DK on the brain these days (all those hats).

I've put a link here http://www.yarnstandards.com/weight.html.

You're right - Aran is the equivalent of worsted and I know I knitted the main body of the cardi on 5mm needles.

The rest of your answer was eminently suitable, Watson - carry on like that and we'll make you an Honorary Brit.

Ruthie

Thanks so much for mentioning that book of almost lost Aran Patterns - that is a 'gotta have', so I'll go and have a mooch right now for it.

Thanks very much too for your very kind comment about the cardi - it was a special cardi for a special little girl (but then I would say that, wouldn't I?)

Think I've had another wheeze too for your Tips and Hints thread, so I'd best get cracking.

All the Best

Ellie
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Old 07-24-2008, 10:21 AM   #9
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The rest of your answer was eminently suitable, Watson - carry on like that and we'll make you an Honorary Brit.
I think I'm more than an honorary one... a couple of multi great grandparents came to the US from England almost 400 years ago. So there's a little bit of it flowing in my veins....
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Old 07-24-2008, 11:44 AM   #10
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I am currently searching for the "perfect" Aran sweater pattern (hard to find). I came across this site where you can order a "kit" (pattern and yar) or just the pattern. You can also order a completed sweater. The kit is $99.00 US, the pattern ALONE is $30.00. Which amazes me because I would expect the yarn to be much more and the pattern much less. It is coming from Ireland so shipping is also expensive.

http://www.clanarans.com/ca/catalog/clanaran_sweats.php

Anyway, they have literally hundreds of Clan patterns to choose from. At that price I have to narrow my selection to just one which is proving to be very difficulty. I have had several very nice emails with the lady who does the ordering, they seem to be delightful to deal with.

I am looking for RAGLAN Aran sweater patterns if anyone has a reference.
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