Cowichan Knitting: Done by hand using sustainable fiber

Cowichan Knitting

Cowichan Knitting.
Traversing through the British Columbia’s aboriginal communities, one cannot help but notice the array of poles carved for depicting native arts in the form of animal figures and other symbolic likeness relative to the local native tribes.

The Canadian First Nations and other native groups have a close connection to their ancestral land and utilized every earthly thing, in a sustainable manner, to create art!

Depending on the region, each art depiction differs somewhat. For example, from the Haida of the west coast to the Inuit of the North each have their own unique style. Most often the tradition is passed down from one generation to the next. Art may be soapstone carving, woodcarving, weaving, leather making (and final product creations), and painting.

Cowichan Knitting is exclusively of the Salish people. At the turn of the last century, this knitting method was introduced to them by the Europeans who arrived to the region in what is today Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Some of the original designs have survived the test of time and is still applied.

Cowichan Knitting is in fact a thousand-year-old art.Cowichan Knitting

Knitting is not something that come to mind when one thinks of Canadian native arts. And while most knitting is done by machine today, sweaters, gloves, and other items are being knitted by hand on the west coast of British Columbia. It takes about 15 to 25 hours of meticulous stitching to create each sweater from start to finish. Cowichan Knitting designs are neo-vintage and some are a bit quirky, but in a lovingly kind of way. In my defense, who expect to see palm trees on a bulky wool sweater made in Canada? Yes, some sweaters donned this and other unusual designs. Granted said this in response to their designs “We grew up spinning and winding yarn with our parents in the living room, wearing wool on blustery beaches during winter storms, snow-shoeing through fresh snow, and walking the dog on misty mornings. Wherever you live, chances are you, too, need a warm sweater. Even better if the sweater was hand-knit here in Vancouver with wool, Mother Nature’s perfect, sustainable fibre.”

While we are on the topic of sustainable fiber and after seeing those horrific PETA’s videos regarding the treatment of sheep during shearing, naturally I wanted to know how the wool used in Cowichan Knitting is gathered and how the animals are treated.

“We use only 100% pure new wool, a sustainable and ethical fiber from free range sheep.” – Granted



Article by: Kathy Johnson, L’ EcoResorts