The Beautiful Cable Knit: Magical Aran Sweaters

Celtic Dreams sweater cable knitting pattern

Celtic Dreams Sweater, part of the Irish Knits Aran Sweater Collection

There really is something magical about an Aran sweater. The intricate and beautiful cable knit patterns just scream “Put me on and be cozy!”

These beautiful sweaters are also mysterious, with many tales of origin and meaning.

One of my favorite stories is that fisherman’s wives knitted Aran sweaters with cable patterns unique to their families, so their husbands could be identified if they got in an accident. I’m not sure if this is true, but I like to think it is. I wondered what other information I could find, so I did some quick internet research.

Cable knit sweater patterns—what do they mean?

Aran stitch patterns, clockwise from upper left: honeycomb cable, basic braid cable, plaited cable, diamond stitch, seed stitch, tree of life stitch

Turns out that many of the stitch patterns used in Aran sweaters are highly symbolic. Not all of the sources agree on exactly what the patterns symbolize, but there seems to be some common ideas.

•  The honeycomb stitch symbolizes the hard work of honey bees, and it also signifies the concept of plenty, which for fishermen, must mean a bountiful catch.

•  The basic braid cable represents rope, the lifeline of the fisherman.

•  Plaited cables represent the interweaving strands of life; the ins and outs, ups and downs.

•  The diamond stitch wishes the wearer treasure, wealth, and success. And seed or moss stitch, which is often used as a filler in diamond patterns, signifies abundance and growth.

•  Tree of life stitch, also called Trinity stitch, sends wishes for long life and a large family.

I find this sort of thing fascinating, and I know many of you do, too. Part of what draws me to cable knit patterns is the history of the craft, and the beauty of the completed garment can’t be denied.

Telluride cable knitting pattern

Telluride Pullover, part of the Irish Knits Aran Sweater Collection

Sometimes it’s hard to choose a cable knit pattern, so we’ve put seven beautiful sweater patterns into one digital download for you: the Irish Knits Aran Sweater Collection. All of the stitch examples above were taken from a sweater in the collection, so you’ll be knitting the stitches of Aran history as you create an heirloom sweater of your own.

I’m considering the Telluride Pullover. I might make it as a vest; that honeycomb stitch is so pretty!

March is a good time to cast on one of these beautiful Aran knitting patterns, so get the collection today and knit yourself some luck o’ the Irish!

Cheers,

P.S. What’s your favorite cable stitch? Leave a comment below and share it with us. I think my current favorite is the honeycomb stitch.

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