History of the Cowichan Sweater

October 24, 2014

The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters - Knowledge.caIf you're from Canada, you're probably familiar with the Cowichan-Style sweater - the bulky-knit, distinctly patterned sweaters that were originally knit by the Coast Salish people of Southern Vancouver Island.  Cowichan sweaters - and their commercialized knock-offs - became a fashion icon in the 70's and 80's.  Knitters across North American will know them as White Buffalo or Mary Maxim sweaters, many of which were knit with colourful acrylic yarns rather than authentic, Western Canadian wool.

In 2000, the National Film Board made a fantastic film about the history of the Coast Salish Knitters who knit these iconic sweaters.  If you are in BC, this film is available for viewing at Knowledge.ca (the website of BC's beloved Knowledge Network TV station) from now until October 30th.  I highly recommend this film, for so many reasons.  Watch it once to learn about the people who struggled to support themselves with their knitting, and watch it a second time just to focus on and admire the various women's wool working skills - whether its in the carding, spinning, or knitting the wool.

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