Modern Take on an Aran Jumper

The traditional way of constructing Aran jumpers has always been one of my preferred ways to bring about a garment. You start at the neck and work downwards from there, picking up stitches where needed, but completely eschewing seams. This kind of jumper is usually distinguished by the rather baroque overlay of celtic cables and plaits.

Having already done the traditional take several times, I wanted to try something a little different. I had been fixated for some time on the idea of a jumper with a slanted central cable as the main aesthetic point. For maximum effect, there ought to be no other cable panels in the body of the jumper: I wanted the crisp contrast of the single cable moving diagonally from one shoulder in a sea of stocking stitch.

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The yarn for this project was also decided quite early: a mousey-coloured, undyed natural wool for 4.0 mm needles. It has been, without exaggeration, my favourite yarn to work with. Supple, soft and extremely forgiving. It adapts magnificently to my tension on 4.0 mm, comfortably knit and yet producing a pleasingly dense result. The flawless finish on the cuffs is more to do with the exceeding quality of the yarn than any knitting skills I may have…

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And even though this is not your traditional Aran jumper, I believe it retains enough of the original that it can play its role as a fitting homage, while still adding something new: the construction technique, the intricate celtic plait, and the undyed natural yarn all scream Aran, while the angle of the cable panel, the oversized fit, and the overall cleanness of the cable overlay give the whole scheme a modern twist.

The photograph below shows an exact replica of what I envisaged when I first got the idea for this project: a baggy jumper in an earthy colour draping over a pair of tight-fitting black jeans, an intricate celtic plait as an ornate nudge to the more traditional Aran jumpers that inspired it falling diagonally to softly disrupt the symmetry of the piece.

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Comfortably warm, insanely cosy. I have rarely been so pleased with the outcome of one of my projects. I am only glad I still have a few days of winter this year to get some use out of it!

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Technical details:

  • Yarn: Undyed natural yarn (100 % wool) from Seehawer & Siebert, purchased through Wollerei, in beige
  • Needles: 4 mm (circular knitting needles)
  • Started: September 2016
  • Finished: 5th February 2017
  • Sources: Main celtic plait from Continuous Cables, by Melissa Leapman
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