What is a fisherman’s jumper?

We’ve all seen those gorgeously soft, chunky knitted jumpers known as fisherman’s jumpers for sale in outdoor shops, but have you ever stopped to consider how they got their name? After all, they are a fashion item, not something that you’d imagine a fisherman wearing.

Origin of fisherman’s jumpers

But the name reflects their origin, and it is essential that history is not forgotten. So keeping the name, or the alternative – fisher man sweater – reminds us that back in the 1950s, these beautiful knits were lovingly handcrafted with the wool of native sheep to keep fishermen from the Aran Islands warm whilst they worked in challenging conditions.

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Modern style, age-old function

The original fisherman’s jumpers were made from unbleached sheep’s wool which retained its natural lanolin coating, helping to keep the wearer warm and dry. Lanolin is a wonderful and much-underappreciated product that occurs naturally within a sheep’s fleece and is antibacterial, resists mildew and creates a natural fire resistance.

Modern wool production removes lanolin from the wool so most woollen products on sale today do not function in the same manner as they originally would have. However, modern fisherman’s jumpers like those sold by specialists such as shoparan.com, retain all of the style, function and appearance of the original jumpers. Made from untreated wool which retains its natural lanolin coating, they are water resistant as well as soft, warm and comfortable.

Washing fisherman’s jumpers

A proper Aran jumper should not be machine-washed or tumble-dried. It will freshen up beautifully simply by being hung outdoors on a dry day. But if it is heavily soiled, it should be carefully hand-washed in wool washing detergent and at temperatures not exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. After washing, dry the jumper flat to avoid distorting its shape.

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When treated with care, your Aran jumper will last for years, keeping you warm, stylish and comfortable, whatever the Great British weather throws at you. After all, it kept the 1950s Irish fishermen dry so it will definitely handle a walk in the countryside.

Author: Brielle Walker

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