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    The Celtic Ranch — Irish sweaters

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    HERLIFE Magazine photo spread The Celtic Ranch

    We're proud that The Celtic Ranch is featured in the trendsetter section of  HERLIFE Magazine Kansas City this month, it's a beautiful spread with photos taken in Terry's barn. No sneak peeks, you'll have to go look at the spread! "HERLIFE Magazine is a full color publication with the mission of Keeping Women Connected. Each month our magazines are dedicated to the celebration of all that is exceptional in our communities. From the inspirational women we promote to interesting topics such as health, beauty and fashion to what's going on locally in each community, we strive to keep today's women connected to the things they need and want."-HERLIFE Magazine

    Layering Sweaters for Warmth the Irish Way

    Just hearing the word winter makes even the most hearty of us shiver a bit thinking of theMen's fisherman sweater with shoulder and elbow patches Men's fisherman sweater with shoulder and elbow patches snow, ice, and dreary gray skies. Winter is the damp chilly cousin of summer who comes over, drinks all your booze and leaves dirty underwear on the floor. Slogging through longest shortest days of the year can be tough, but the Irish came up with a way to knock out that chill and keep looking stylish. Layering. That's right, layering. The air pockets in wool fibers insulate and stay dry, even when they're wet, partially because sheep wool contains lanolin, a natural oil in the wool that keeps a sheeps coat from matting and also protects them from the sun. Irish wool is prized for its softness and durability, which makes Irish sweaters some of the best for keeping you warm on even the dreariest day, and the Irish definitely know dreary and damp.Ladies Moss Turtleneck Sweater Ladies Moss Turtleneck Sweater When you hear "Irish sweater" do visions of aran patterns, white wool, and fishermen come to mind? Of course they do, but recently traditional sweaters have given way to a more fashion-forward look, with rich colors and stylish designs. Irish sweaters go with everything, the rules of fashion are out, and the rules of style are in! Wear your sweater over a pair of boyfriend jeans with boots, a mini-skirt and tights, or even a long skirt for a more sophisticated look. Fall festival attendees are even seen wearing their Irish sweaters with jean shorts and ankle boots for a more adventurous look. Of course, pairing your Irish sweater with a great pair of boots, your favorite jeans, and a statement necklace is a timeless look . No matter how you layer it, an Irish sweater will keep you warm and stylish.

    Aran Knits: Artistry in Wool

    honeycomb stitch-AranAran knits are considered a major part of the traditions of the Aran Islands, with each pattern having a meaning and deep cultural context. There are several stories regarding these patterns, the most popular of which is that long ago the women of the Aran Islands knitted sweaters in special patterns to indicate which clan they were from, this was used to identify the bodies of fishermen who were caught at sea and drowned. This is, while romantic, not the case. In reality, the Aran patterns originated in the 1900s and are mainly decorative, although the layering of the yarns provides extra warmth. An article in the Irish Examiner quotes Carol Feller, an Innishannon-based knitting pattern designer as saying “The traditional Aran that we would have been led to believe existed for a long time actually never existed,” she goes on to say “Aran knitting as we know it was invented in the middle of the last century in order to create income for the women of the Aran Islands.” These sometimes intricate patterns have come to represent the beautiful craftsmanship of Ireland, and each has a name all its own. The Celtic Ranch carries gloves, hats, and sweaters in several of these designs, which include: The Link Stitch: The eternal link for those who left the islandBoyfriend sweater, link and trellis stitch Carraig donn knitwear Boyfriend sweater, link and trellis stitch (photo courtesy of Carraig donn Knitwear) The Trellis Stitch:An intricate pattern of plain stitches worked to form a trellis effect over purl stitches, represent the stoney fields of the west, and the nets of the Fishermen. honeycomb stitch-Aran Honeycomb Stitch (picture courtesy of Erin Knitwear) The Honeycomb Stitch: This looks like its name and is made by twisting stitches forwards and backwards across the panel. It is a tribute to the bee. It was considered a lucky omen if a fisherman saw a swarm of bees before setting out to sea a good catch was assured. The Moss Stitch, or Carageen Moss: (Seaweed with medicinal properties - also used for making Blancmange) It represents wealth to the Fisherfolk. Also called poor man's wealth.Moss Stitch, Carrageen Stitch (picture courtesy of Erin Knitwear) Moss Stitch, Carrageen Stitch (picture courtesy of Erin Knitwear) The Diamond Stitch:Usually formed in Moss Stitch and is said to represent wealth and success. The Ladder Stitch:Purl or twist stitches worked to form the poles and rungs of the ladder of life, against a plain stitch background. It symbolises the pilgrims road to eternal happiness. Today these stitches are made into modern, fashionable sweaters, perfect to keep you warm, fashionable, and add a little romance to your sweater collection! (stitch names, pictures, and descriptions courtesy of Erin Knitwear, see more on their wholesale only website.)

    Hurrah for Sweater Weather!

    The smell of autumn is a blazing bonfire. The sight is a pile of orange pumpkins. The sound of the season is crunching leaves underfoot. The taste of autumn is hot mulled wine or Irish coffee. The feel of autumn? The warmth and comfort of a well-made sweater wrapped around you. After a long, hot summer it takes just one brisk day to make us cheer, "Hurrah for Sweater Weather!" Of course in Ireland, sweater weather spans at least three-quarters of the months of the year. The reason the Irish are considered such experts on sweater design and construction is that sweaters, sometimes called jumpers in the British Isles, are far more than a fashion statement in a climate where doing anything outdoors often relies upon finding a way to stay both warm and dry. What often comes to mind when people think of Irish sweaters are the fishman cable knits of the Aran Islands. In fact the heavy knit sweaters originated there as a way for the fishermen and farmers to combat the wet, windy weather. Knit from untreated sheep's wool, the intact oils made the sweaters both warm and water-resistant. It also made them the iconic cream color of undyed wool. Their popularity spread throughout Ireland when the Congested Districts Board promoted knitting as a good source of income utilizing local materials. Irish women quickly took to the project and began creating intricately-designed sweaters, scarves, hats, socks, gloves and more. As laypeople had not as much need for water resistance, the sweaters became available in treated wool, but the truly traditional remain still the well-recognized cream color. After decades of popularity in Ireland, the designs took off in America in the 1950s when the famous Irish Kennedy family wore them for football games and sailing. There are hundreds of different patterns knit into the traditional sweaters. Some marketing touts the myth that certain clans and families can search for their own particular design. The truth is that the designs came about in as many variations as there were different knitters. So no matter your family name, your heritage, or your career choice, you can find a sweater just right for you. Check your forecast, pour a mug of Irish coffee, and wrap up in a bit of Irish warmth. Come celebrate Autumn at our Applefest celebration October 3 and 4 in downtown Weston, Missouri.