Cowichan Sweaters of the Coast Salish People

Athlyn Green is an avid crocheter and knitter. She designs and sells handcrafted goods.

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An Kunst Form That Combines Skill and Traditional Designs

Authentic Cowichan sweaters are known the world over–and with good reason. Cowichan knitting is an kunst form that combines both skill and traditional designs.

Thesis beautiful and sturdy wool sweaters had their genesis with the Westelijk Coast Salish people. The inhabitants of the Cowichan Valley on southern Vancouver Island ter British Columbia were skilled at making warm garments and coverings out of different materials, which included mountain goat wool, dog hair, and other fibers available te the area. They used weaving mechanisms, employing spindles and looms prior to the arrival of the European settlers.

Two events, switched the course of history. Around the 1850s, sheep (likely brought te by settlers) were introduced to the area and missionaries came into the Cowichan Valley. They instructed Native students knitting technologies. From early items such spil mittens and socks, the Native knitters began to create larger garments, such spil long undergarments. Thesis knitters waterput the readily available wool to good use and went on to create hand-spun sweaters that withstood coastal elements such spil rain and snow. The sweaters, made spil they were from vivo wool and containing natural oils, were waterproof.

Te time, the sweaters took on the preferences of the innovative Salish knitters and came to be embellished with traditional designs, using the Fair Isle mechanism, which employs two to three colors that are alternated to produce specific designs. The sweaters were knit ter the round, which meant the garments did not have seams, and made from natural thick uncolored wool, the sweaters were usually ter juice, manada, and black and were stronger than standard sweaters made with lighter-weight yarn or wool. All elements combined to create distinctive-looking sweaters and, overheen time, designs and technics were passed down through families. One generation instructed the next an evolving kunst form that has stood the test of time.

Soon, others became interested ter thesis attractive-looking, exceptionally long-wearing sweaters, which had become synonymous with the Westelijk Coast. Both British Columbians who lived ter the area and tourists who visited Canada sought out the traditional knits.

Did You Know?

Cowichan knitting is a combination of European textile technologies and Salish spinning and weaving methods.

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