The origin of these Irish turtleneck sweaters with thick knitting, usually linked with the fishermen, is supposed to be in the western Ireland at the mouth of Galway bay on the Aran Islands. Since 1900s creative enterprising women of this islands started using untreated wool rich in lanolin for knitting these sweaters. The main aim of making these sweaters was to support the fishing economy of the islands by making a craft that can be sold round the year by utilizing traditional patterns and skills along with providing a water resistant and heavy garment to their families to keep them warm in every weather condition.
Also associated with these hand-knit sweaters that each family knits their stitches in their own patterns so that drowned fishermen can be recognized easily through the design of their sweaters. Though it is true that the patterns of these sweaters have some symbolic meaning but the variety in these patterns can be due to creative thinking of the artisans making them. Most of the creative knitters develop new patterns and designs suggested by their friends on these turtleneck sweaters to display their new creative ideas by including their own twists and turns.
Irish turtleneck sweaters are chosen by local folks and the tourists coming from around the world on the basis of their symbolic stitches and patterns which are intricately different from one another. Some of the patterns found on these sweaters may include:
Braided cable stitches that remind about the strength of close ties of the family
Cable stitches that represent fishing ropes as the tools of safety on the water and hard work
Diamond stitches imitate the design of fishing nets mesh, the main ingredient of success on the Aran
Abundance of nature is represented by Moss stitches
Basket stitches are made to represent a lavish catch
The traditional Celtic motifs represented through Trinity stitches signify the cultural pride of this region
The reward of industrious life of honeybees is represented through Honeycomb stitches
So the Irish turtleneck sweaters are popular all over the world for their unique stitches.