What do the patterns in Aran sweaters mean?

The cable stitching pattern of Mens Aran Sweaters seems to have meaning.  The popular belief at first was that this was an ancient pattern passed down from generation to generation of Aran Islanders. This old secret was known only to the womenfolk determined to protect the fishermen and farmers from the cold and wet. However this was nonsense as it was actually brought to the island in the 1890’s in an attempt to help alleviate poverty in Ireland.

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However there is still some truth in the fact that the Islanders naturally sought to add their own spin on the Geansai (meaning Guernsey where it originates from ) Jumper. You can see some wonderful examples of the art at Shamrock Gift.

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One of the many ideas put out about the patterns follows this idea. Each stcihc is said to have a meaning and to bring an aspect to the personality or to enhance a skill. The examples include the Honeycomb stitch is reputed to be the lucky stitch and that it ensures plentifulness. It’s therefore one of the most popular designs for the fisherman. The moss stitch is more for the farmers as it is supposed to symbolise lots of growth. Following on from this is the blackberry that is representative of nature. For the creative there is the basket stitch which is like the old wicker baskets that were used to collect and hold supplies. Finally the ladder and tree of life are used to show the stages of existence.

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