Skip to main content

223. Irish Pullovers

Pullovers, some say sweaters, cardigans, jumpers. I mean knitted garments. Knitwear.

In Ireland a very particular type of sweater has been traditionally knitted for years with white natural wool in intricated patterns and stitches. Those jumpers are known in the world wherever you find Irish settlers, mainly in the former British empire.

In the late 60s I arrived in Australia married to a young Australian whose grand-parents had emigrated from Ireland around the First World War. Wearing such a jumper for him was a statement of fond attachment to the culture of his forebears. He would not let me touch his Aran jumper. It was for him a semi-sacred article of his deep rooted identity.

In continental Europe, however, in France or Germany, this knitted white woollen sweater with intricate patterns does not mean anything. You may like the idea to wear one but it has no extra meaning and above all it does not indicate identity.

I love wearing my own knitted jumpers and I love nordic designs. In my three times twenty three years I have made quite a few pullovers and cardigans for myself and other people. Before Christmas last December, 2012, I started something of my own design. I called it the "shepherd's hood", using natural white and black wool from sheep of my area of France, or just a bit south of my area actually in the Limousin Region. As I had attended a needle tapestry course in Aubusson during the summer I had been made aware of a new trend in undyed wool for the sake of not polluting the ecosystems with chemical dyes. A wool mill www.fonty.fr  was selling pure white and pure brown wool direct from the fleece. I found the colours very attractive. I bought some from the retailer on line Laine-et-Tricot  and started knitting.

Life has surprises sometimes! In January I moved to Ireland taking my knitting with me of course. When I ran out of my Limousin natural wool, I started another "shepherd's hood" with local Aran wool in green and brownish colours. Eventually I got some more Limousin wool sent over and I kept knitting relentlessly.

Meanwhile, my brain cells kept working and my imagination went wild. I was in Ireland now and a major rugby match was going to be played in Dublin. What if all the supporters were wearing my "shepherd's hood" in their national colours or in their team's colours?! I would add little bells on the four corners of the hood and they could even make noise with their woollen hoods to support their team in the stadium. I went on knitting frantically... until one day when I searched on the internet for this famous knitwear manufacture of Irish sweaters. I needed to tell someone of my big idea. Moreover if it made sense commercially, the idea would have to be taken up by professionals.

So... one snowy morning, on 12 March 2013, I drove from Wexford to Monasterevin leaving at 7:30 and arriving at 9:30. The whole Irish landscape was covered in snow. It was somptuous! I met Lorraine and the boss of West End Knitwear  as arranged by mail and email. Their website www.arancrafts.com says Welcome to Arancrafts Ireland and has a taste of long tradition. I explained that my own father ran a factory and I was brought up with the painstaking work of a new 'collection' twice a year which involved the imagination of the whole family. I told the story of my encounter with Aran sweaters in Australia. And then I showed them my "shepherd's hood"... well! two halves of it, one half in natural black and white wool and another half in green and brown Aran wool.

I don't know what they really thought. They seemed interested in the way I made it, number of stitches, etc. But they went cold and dismissed me cooly.

A few days later I found on internet that the real Aran manufacture of traditional Irish sweaters is "Aran Sweater Market" in Golway. Their website  www.aransweatermarket.com  shows the same collection of knitted articles. So I don't know now! Have I made a mistake by going to Monasterevin? Are they related? Doing business together or being competitors?

In any case my "shepherd's hood" does not fit within the Irish tradition. It's a French idea! Who then would be interested to manufacture my "shepherd's hood" and market it in continental Europe? 
2 comments

Popular posts from this blog

248. NITTY GRITTY NEWS

I recently came across a virtual invitation for coffee and since then have met and keep meeting new friendly American bloggers. I find they easily write poetry, play games at writing a story prompted by a silly picture posted by someone else... AND they also write about their nitty gritty daily lives like being pulled up by the police or having their computer crash down and the price of buying a new one. So today is my turn. I can't write poetry but I can tell at great length about my nitty gritty ordinary life.

 On Wednesdays I usually have my grandkids over for lunch and activities in the afternoon, learning how to sew with a sewing machine with my granddaughter and following an online course to learn English with my grandson. Looking after the two of them is very tiring so I asked to have one at a time in turns. Yes but the lady who takes Bertrand to my door said she had not been told of the change so... never mind, don't worry, thank you. Then Binta turned up surprised: ar…

249. A car, a bicycle and a dog

The year 2014 is a landmark in my very ordinary life. 
I had a car, a Ford Mondeo Ghia, running on diesel. I had driven it very happily to Germany, to Scotland and to various places in France. It had reached past 200 K km mileage and needed some fixing. I forgot what it was, nothing too bad, it could still pass the mandatory regular registration. My mechanic told me he would not do it. In any case I didn't have the money to have it done. So, I left it parked on the village square for a long time hoping to find the money and another mechanic for it. After a year I was asked to move it out as there was going to be a village fair on the square. Fair enough. Some friendly neighbor helped me start it and I drove it 5 km away to the other village where I have my garden and a barn. My idea was to store it inside the barn pending better days when I would get it fixed. I judged that the engine, if not the rusty body, could still be useful for something. However, as I couldn't open the b…

239. Dating on a website

Decidedly it is not for me. I'm not the type to fit into the scheme. Not that I don't like the fact that you court through a computer screen. It isn't the media that bothers me. No. It's just the scheme that you have to fit into I can't cope with.

Recently I have tried one American dating site new to me, called OK-something or other. Very friendly. The first approach is very positive, no hassle, no harrassing. A little at a time, if you care for it, you can reply to their hundreds of questions. Your "profile" gets shaped as you fill the questions in. For example: do you consider astrology to be a legitimate science? How important is art in your daily life? Are geeks sexy? Is it possible to love someone you don't even like? Do you believe in an after-life? If you got married would you change your name? Is it generally acceptable to you for a sex partner to initiate foreplay while you are sleeping?

Well, my profile came up as follows: 
MORE THAN AVERAGE
ind…