Let’s talk about the cable-knit jumper. It’s warm and fuzzy and it’s one of those things you never really get to see much living in Dubai. You probably have the vague idea of it originating in some cold place due to the warmth it offers, but other than that it’s just another piece of clothing that you get to wear maybe once a year (twice if you’re lucky and the weather cools down enough).

So in the interest of learning more about everyday stuff, I give you five things you didn’t know about the cable knit sweater.

Wearing: Koton coat, jumper and jeans, Nike sneakers

1.) They’re also called Aran sweaters. They are named so after the Aran Islands, a group of three islands off the west coast of Ireland, from which they originated.

2.) The cables are not a mere design choice. The weave is more durable and insulating than standard knitted fabric, offering more warmth than typical knit sweaters. They used to be worn by Irish fishermen and farmers, so they needed to provide better insulation to help the wearers endure more testing conditions.

3.) While we lump them into one big category, these sweaters contain distinct knitting patterns which represent vast amounts of information to those who know how to interpret them. Each clan in the Aran Islands had its own knitting pattern, zealously guarded and kept within the same clan for generations.

4.) In its original form, the sweater is knit from untreated wool with the natural lanolin oils preserved, keeping it resistant to water. An Aran sweater can absorb 30% of its weight in water before feeling wet.

5.) The patterns are also symbolic, with many of the stitches used in the Aran sweater reflective of Celtic Art. The cable stitch is a depiction of the fisherman’s ropes, and represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea. The diamond stitch reflects the small fields of the islands. The zig zag stitch, a half diamond, is often used in the Aran sweaters, and popularly represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands. The tree of life is one of the original stitches, and is unique to the earliest examples of the Aran knitwear. It again reflects a desire for clan unity, with long-lived parents and strong children.

Disclosure: The author received product and/or monetary compensation to support this story.

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