S H E E P   G I F T S  and more
IRELAND'S SHEEP'S WOOL ARAN SWEATERS
The Aran Islands stand like
immortal gatekeepers at the mouth
of Galway Bay. The Islands are
three wind-swept and wave-beaten
landmasses that rise from the sea
in a stirring display of towering
cliffs, craggy limestone pillars and
crumbling stone walls. The names
are Gaelic or the Irish language for
'the big island' Inishmore, 'the
middle island' Inishmaan, 'the
south island' Inisheer respectivly.
Those who lived on the Aran Islands made their living from farming and fishing.
Outdoor work in this unforgiving, severe environment created a need for warm
protective and practical clothing. The original wool sweaters were knitted using un-
scoured wool that retained its natural greases making the garments more
waterproof. These were ideal for the farmers and fishermen who wore them to
protect them from the harsh Atlantic environment.

Today, in the tradition of most of the 165 generations that preceded them, the 1300
inhabitants of the islands continue to speak Irish (Gaelic) as their first language,
and their lives remain intimately intertwined with the earth and the sea.
Remarkably, it is a simple article of clothing – the Irish sheep's wool Aran sweater
– that has brought the eyes of the world to Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer,
and to the people who call these islands home.

Irish sheep's wool Aran sweaters exploded onto the fashion scene, particularly the
American fashion scene, after the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960.  "Irish
sheep's wool sweaters became an image connected to the Kennedys," said
Nancy MacDonald, owner of Traditions Celtic Imports in Middletown and Warwick.
"Everybody saw the pictures of the Kennedy boys playing football in their Irish
knitted sheep's wool sweaters. It had such an impact, you can still see it in what
Ralph Lauren does today – that good- looking chiseled way of living. For the Irish, it
became a symbol of our arrival." By 1965, Irish sheep's wool sweaters had
become a staple in the wardrobes of many Irish-Americans.

The true Aran sweater is made of bainin (pronounced baw-neen)  which is
untreated white sheep's wool. It features symbolic embossed patterns and
designs. Myth and lore aside, the Irish sheep's wool Aran sweater remains
popular both in Ireland and in America. "What's unique about Aran sweaters is that
they never go out of style."

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Your one-stop shopping place for elite, exclusive, ewenique one of a kind sheep gifts
THE HISTORY OF IRISH SHEEP'S WOOL SWEATERS
HAND KNIT WOOL SWEATERS
There are three major ways to tell the difference between a "hand-
knitted" and a "hand-loomed" Irish sheep's wool Aran sweater: detail,
weight and color. Hand knitted Irish sweaters cost nearly twice as
much as a hand loomed Irish sweater.

Weight: There are two types of Irish sheep's wool Aran sweaters:
"hand loomed" and "hand knitted" – and there are major differences
between the two:- Natural sheep's wool hand knitted sweaters
contains natural oil, which makes hand knitted wool Aran sweaters
water resistant.

Sheep's wool used in a loom has to be stripped of most of its oil,  
therefore loomed sheep's wool sweaters are not as waterproof as
hand knitted sheep's wool sweaters. Stripping the oil out of the wool
also makes hand loomed sweaters less dense, heavy and warm

Detail: Patterns and designs vary from sweater to sweater. Hand
knitted Irish sheep's wool sweaters are more unique and contain more
detail because some patterns, like the "Blackberry," can not be
created on a loom.

Color: Authentic Irish sheep's wool hand knitted Aran sweaters only
come in a few colors –
Bainin (untreated white wool from the sheep)
and colored wools that come from “black sheep”. Rarely does the black
wool of a black sheep look black. Instead, it is heather gray, gray, or
brown. Sweaters that are jet black aren’t authentic Aran sweaters
because the oil has been stripped from the wool to absorb dye.
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