Me, The Gansey and The Aran
I set myself the task of completing a hand-spun Aran in an adult size BUT (and you'd be wishing she'd only but listen...) I wanted to test the theory that the Gansey informed the Aran. To do that I wanted to knit an Aran in the traditional Gansy method i.e. in-the-round.
I wasn't fallowing a commercial pattern and I was using some "end-of-line" hand-spun with irregularities. In other words, a research project to use up some old wool.
I am a huge fan of Alice Starmore. I will provide a link below. She was one of a few brave souls who took the basics of Aran Knitting and held it up for serious scrutiny in the 80s and found there was a whole lot of poetic drivel being used to describe the origin of the stitches and the construction.
A Herr Heinz Kiewe based in Oxford UK deliberately misinterpreted the pattern-work doing no favours for Ireland's embattled credibility https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aran_jumper.
I happened to come across Alice Starmore in the early 2000s and the immense relief I felt when she debunked all the "inspired by Ireland's beauty" references in Aran work. Note, this was coming at a time when the Catholic Church in Ireland was dealing with the very beginnings of the avalanche of scandals. Ms Starmore, unlike Herr Kiewe, was researching the truth. Kiewe was spreading lies.
I had grown up in the 60s in a mixed heritage family and the Aran came with all the tourist-sales-talk. Worse, it was all believed as gospel!
So no, every family did not have their family stitch pattern unique to them so they could be identified in drownings.
This book by Vawn Corrigan is the tidy and scholarly follow up to Alice Starmore and has been informative as well as providing the odd jig-saw pieces that were out of place in my understanding. http://www.obrien.ie/irish-aran
I had wrongly assumed that the Scottish and UK North-Eastern Coastal herring families were sent to the Aran Islands by the Congested Areas Board but it seems they went on their own volition encouraged by the investment in wharves and piers in Ireland. They were basically following the fishing.
That is where Gansey-wearers met Aran Islanders....and where the exchange of stitches began.
It was on the Westerly Inis Mor that a more elaborate bobbled and furrowed version in white and in childrens' sizes had become the special outfit for First Communion by the early 1930s. A fabulous woman Muriel Gahan worked hard to secure consistent knitters and encouraged them to scale up the Ganseys (that's what they were still called) to adult sizes.
Two things at this point: Thanks to Ms Corrigan we now have all the names of the instigators. The Congested Areas Board was set up by Balfour....he of the Balfour Agreement which has dogged the Middle East since about 1917.
So now I introduce the one dratted stitch that won't transfer from Gansey to Aran......
The Blackberry Stitch
It owes its existence to Arans exclusively so far as I know. It does NOT come out well when knitted in-the-round which is the Gansey Style of knitting because one is always working on the RS (Right Side). I followed a pattern that assumed I was working across the back....and I WASN'T.
When you work a Blackberry Stitch across the back you get to haul it together by the scruff of its neck and it starts to sit better.
Mine was a bit sloppy and I wasn't going to stop. The photo at the top is suitably vague because I'm not keen on exhibiting my laziness. The diamonds were affected too...it was interesting.
SO....Aran knitting with successful Blackberry Stitches sitting handsomely in rows HAVE TO BE WORKED BACK AND FORTH.
...and this where I get annoyed. I thought we had moved on from knitting dress-making pieces and them seaming them up. Why knit stretchy fabric if you are going to seam it?
It's my problem and one I will have to improve on. Meantime some more photos of the Aran.....which IS BEING WORN BY MY SON.
|Back of Aran|
This was a great research project and I learned enough to inform myself of the "not-so-direct" link from Gansey to Aran. I happen to be a big fan of steeking and picking-up stitches.
Ka Kita Ano
Tin Shed Yarns
Here's the link to Alice Starmore https://books.google.co.nz/books/about/Aran_Knitting.html?id=vr3SSQAACAAJ&source=kp_cover&redir_esc=y