My most vivid memory of Ireland (Northern Ireland to be specific) was the Giant’s Causeway in Belfast. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its polygonal columns of layered basalt, resulting from a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago. It is a really beautiful and awe-inspiring sight of Mother Nature.
What intrigued me most, given my love of stories, was the mythic legend behind the formation of the Causeway – the battle between the mighty giant, Finn McCool, and his Scottish giant foe.
Our guides told us about the folklore, that Mr McCool took up the challenge of a fight from his Scottish neighbour across the sea and carved the causeway overnight across the North Channel in order to meet his enemy! How cool is that!
What’s more, it turned out his Scottish counterpart was even bigger than him so his wife cleverly thought of a plan to tuck him in bed, masquerading him as Finn’s baby. When the Scottish giant saw that Finn’s baby was so huge, he thought Finn must be so much bigger and took a retreat! Ahh, the wisdom of wives saves the day!
Anyway, back to the point of my ramblings – I recently launched the Sewinlove Aran Crochet purse kit. I like it very much, for its simplicity and usefulness. But most of all, I thought to share with you the special significance behind aran stitches and Irish Celtic heritage which I love very much!
Aran stitches – Origins
Aran stitches originate from the Aran Isles, off the West coast of Ireland, which are at the mercy of the relentless Atlantic Sea. The Islanders were fishermen and farmers. Handmade aran sweaters and garments were born of this environment, taught and passed down from generation to generation.
Just as the Scottish Clans had tartan designs on their kilts which were intimately linked to their clan identities, the aran sweaters too are representative of the lives of their makers and their families. On the Aran islands, sweater patterns were zealously guarded and kept secretively within the same clan through generations. The aran sweaters were even used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up ashore following an accident at sea.
Aran stitches – Meanings
Each aran stitch carries its own unique, symbolic meaning, a legacy borne of the conditions, aspirations and environment of those who lived on the island community in the days of old.
- The Cable Stitch – depicts fisherman’s ropes and represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea.
- The Diamond Stitch – reflects the small fields of the islands. These diamonds are sometimes filled with Irish moss stitch, depicting the seaweed that was used to fertilise the barren fields and produce a good harvest. Hence the diamond stitch is a wish for success and wealth.
- The Zig Zag Stitch – a half diamond, popularly represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands.
- The Tree of Life – one of the original and earliest stitches, reflects the importance of the clan, and expresses the desire for clan unity, with long-lived parents and strong children.
Sewinlove’s Aran Crochet Purse DIY Kit
Aran crochet, also known commonly as cables, are often misunderstood as being very hard to learn. This is not true! Aran crochet is much simpler than it looks. Not convinced? Do try out Sewinlove’s Aran Crochet Flex Frame Purse DIY Kit, which comes with photo instructions and pattern symbols accompanied by text instructions, and everything you need to get started. Best of all, I designed it to be a no-sew purse!
It’s useful as a holder for crochet hooks, sun-glasses or as a heartfelt, handmade gift for a friend wishing her/him great success and wealth (diamond stitch!) in the new year, or as a DIY gift for your crafty pals. Woohoo!
I hope this post shed interesting light on aran crochet and Irish heritage for you!
Source of historical information about aran sweaters found here: http://www.clanarans.com/history-of-aran-sweaters