The Story of Aran: Just as each pattern is family specific, each type of stitch carries its own meaning. The zigzag stitch, a half diamond reflects the twisting cliff paths of the islands. The tree of life stitch represents the importance of the family and is an expression of a desire for clan unity. The diamond stitch represents the small field patterns on the island. The stitch is often in-filled with the Irish moss stitch, which depicts the seaweed used to fertilize the thin soil of the fields. A finished Aran sweater contains approximately 100,000 carefully constructred stitches, and can take the knitter up to sixty days to complete. Originally, Aran sweaters were knit using raw, unscoured sheep wool. This wool retained its natural lanolin oils, making it somewhat water repellent. As farming and fishing were the mainstay of island life, this offered the islanders protection from the frequent wet weather. The wool has excellent insulting properties and is breathable, thus helping the wearer maintain an ideal body temperature.