Archeological examples of knitting, though rare due to the fragility of such material, have been found and dated to more than a thousand years ago. These earliest examples, however, have been of such fine gage and complicated stitching that the technique appears likely to be much older than even these earliest surviving samples.
History of Knitting in Ireland
Knitting was introduced to the emerald isle sometime in the 17th century and was a communal activity practiced by the women of rural communities for clothing their families. Over the centuries many distinctive traditional stitches were developed and shared, moving through communities as women shared and learned from each other.
When knitting was developed as a cottage industry at the turn of the 20th century to provide economic opportunity for the Aran islands in Galway Bay, the sweaters knitted in the Aran style gained popularity. Early merchants ascribed symbolic meanings to these traditional patterns giving rise to myths about clan patterns in the style of the tartan patterns of Scotland. These romantic myths do not seem to be supported by historical records, but these traditional stitches have still been handed down over generations and are part of the cultural legacy of the region.
The Aran sweater has since become a popular symbol of Ireland around the world, and many of these stitches developed over the centuries can be found in modern examples of the Aran sweater.
Victoria Christie-Healy, of Knit In Ireland, is a knitting instructor who has been leading knitting vacations in Ireland for more than 5 years, and serving hundreds of happy travelers. The knitting retreat tours with Knit In Ireland afford the knitting traveler with unique opportunities unavailable to the solo traveler including workshops and demonstrations. Join fellow knitters who bring community to this traditional communal activity and improve your knitting skills, all while taking in the beauty and history of Ireland.