Cables, increases, and lace

Ordinarily, stitches are knitted in the same order in every row, and the wales of the fabric run parallel and vertically along the fabric. However, this need not be so. The order in which stitches are knitted may be permuted so that wales cross over one another, forming a cable pattern. Cables patterns tend to draw the fabric together, making it denser and less elastic; Aran sweaters are a common form of knitted cabling. Arbitrarily complex braid patterns can be done in cable knitting, with the proviso that the wales must move ever upwards; it is generally impossible for a wale to move up and then down the fabric. Knitters have developed methods for giving the illusion of a circular wale, such as appear in Celtic knots, but these are inexact approximations. However, such circular wales are possible using Swiss darning, a form of embroidery, or by knitting a tube separately and attaching it to the knitted fabric. In lace knitting, the pattern is formed by making small, stable holes in the fabric, generally with yarn overs. A wale can split into two or more wales using increases, most commonly involving a yarn over. Depending on how the increase is done, there is often a hole in the fabric at the point of the increase. This is used to great effect in lace knitting, which consists of making patterns and pictures using such holes, rather than with the stitches themselves. The large and many holes in lacy knitting makes it extremely elastic; for example, some Shetland "wedding-ring" shawls are so fine that they may be drawn through a wedding ring. By combining increases and decreases, it is possible to make the direction of a wale slant away from vertical, even in weft knitting. This is the basis for bias knitting, nd can be used for visual effect, similar to the direction of a brush-stroke in oil painting. The Aran jumper (Irish Gaelic: Geansai Arann) is a style of jumper/sweater that takes its name from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. It is sometimes known as a fisherman's jumper. A classical fisherman's jumper is a bulky garment with prominent cable patterns on the chest, often cream-colored. The jumpers are distinguished by their use of complex textured stitch patterns, several of which are combined in the creation of a single garment. The word choice of "jumper" or "sweater" (or indeed other options such as "pullover" and "jersey") is largely determined by the regional version of English being spoken. In the case of Ireland and Britain, "jumper" is the standard word with "sweater" mainly found in tourist shops. The word used in Irish is geansai, a gaelicization of guernsey which has been re-Anglicised to gansey in Hiberno-English. Originally the jumpers were knitted using unscoured wool that retained its natural oils (lanolin) which made the garments water-resistant and meant they remained wearable even when wet. It was primarily the wives of island fishermen who knitted the jumpers before local knitters began selling their produce through initiatives such as the Aran Sweater Market on Inis Mor, Aran Islands. Some stitch patterns have a traditional interpretation, often of religious significance. The honeycomb is a symbol of the hard-working bee. The cable, an integral part of the fisherman's daily life, is said to be a wish for safety and good luck when fishing. The diamond is a wish of success, wealth and treasure. The basket stitch represents the fisherman's basket, a hope for a plentiful catch.