When you think of Aran knitting, it probably brings to mind images of the 1970s, folk singers and heavy, cream coloured sweaters with lots of cables and bobbles. It’s fair to say that there is still a lot of these sorts of garments around today, and they’re not exactly straight off the catwalk. Following an Aran pattern is challenging for all levels of knitters, but there’s no point in making something that nobody wants to be seen dead in. Thankfully, there is a more modern approach to this traditional technique.
Aran knitting is traditionally cream, but this is part of the problem as cream isn’t particularly fashionable at the moment. All of the major yarn manufacturers are producing Aran weight yarn in more fashionable shades such as lime green or lilac, and who is to say you can’t have a black Aran sweater if you want one? Changing the colour of the yarn completely alters the feel of the garment, so it is important to spend some time experimenting with different colours and patterns to find the perfect combination for you.
Knitted cushion covers are hugely popular at the moment, and are perhaps a better way of showing off your Aran knitting skills than making a jumper or a cardigan. Cream yarn works well for home interiors, unless you have children or pets when you’d be better sticking to darker shades. Knitting a simple cushion cover just involves making a long rectangle of knitting then stitching together, and you can make the cable and bobble design as complex or as simple as you choose. Knitted cushion covers make a great house warming gift too.
Minimise the Pattern
A good way of using King Cole Aran yarn in a jumper yet still keep a modern twist is to keep the pattern on one part of the jumper only. Many patterns have cabling and twists on the lower portion only, keeping the top half plain. This gives a more modern look to the pattern. It is possible to adjust old Aran patterns in this way rather than buying a new one, but take care to ensure you keep the total number of stitches the same or your lovely jumper could end up looking a bit misshapen. If you are using King Cole Aran rather than the yarn the jumper was originally designed for, remember to always knit a tension square first.
Scarves and Gloves
Cables on jumpers may be a little old fashioned, but they have been spotted with increasing frequency on scarves and gloves in recent years. A scarf is a good project if you are new to Aran knitting and techniques such as using a cable needle, as the pattern is worked over a small number of stitches and there is none of the shaping associated with making armholes or necklines. Gloves are a little more tricky, but mitts are a good compromise if you like the effect of Aran style gloves but don’t fancy the complicated making of fingers and thumbs.
Article by keen knitter Morag Peers