If you were following my blog at all this summer, you might remember that I’d been working on an Aran jumper for Sam all summer and fall. I finally finished it last week. It’s keeping Sam warm this week despite the dropping temperatures in Minnesota, all the way down to around 7 degrees F.
For Sam, a jumper like this brings to mind the Man of Aran and soon he’s pretending to spear a shark.
I’ve wanted to knit a true Aran-style jumper for quite a while. I read about it in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s books. The idea that a sweater (as Americans call it) could be custom-made to the measurements of the wearer rather than made from standardized measurements was intriguing, but it seemed to take some “guts” to try it. It’s a lot of knitting, only to fail! Elizabeth Zimmerman, in her time, did a lot to encourage people to take control of their knitting and create their sweaters based on measurements, rather than set patterns.
Flipping through the pages, I fell in love with the many Aran patterns. I love the look of the embossed designs in knitting. This book contains instructions for many of the traditional patterns, plus a few others. There are instructions for designing your own jumper, and there are complete patterns for men, women and children. I found it odd, though, that it suggests that each design was knitting in a separate panel, rather than knitted in the round. Why would anyone do that?
Doing a little more research, I found Beth Brown-Reinsel’s book, Knitting Ganseys. Beth is a teacher of this art, and her book contains a “sampler” with instructions that will walk through the entire process. This book was very helpful. Sam’s jumper includes the great characteristics of a gansey, like the Channel Island cast-on and the gussets under the arms that allow him to raise his arms without the jumper pulling up.
The yarn is an Aran quality “woolen” yarn, which means the fibers go every which way. This characteristic allows more air within the fibers and results in more warmth. This isn’t the sweater you’d want for the office, but it is the one for playing outside for long periods of time.
The yarn was created by the Kerry Woolen Mills in County Kerry, Ireland.