Knitting since the age of 7 or 8, Marlene learned this craft from her grandmother, Rose Peter. For Marlene and her family, Cowichan Sweaters are more than clothing; they represent their way of life, providing warmth and dryness. Knitting these iconic sweaters involves unique challenges, such as spinning their own wool. Marlene favors designs like eagles and whales, rooted in cultural tradition. While she took a break from knitting, it has now become a source of relaxation. Marlene hopes to see the tradition continue, even though younger generations seem less interested. Her cherished memories are intertwined with her family’s collective effort in crafting these timeless pieces, which she sells alongside other handmade items like headbands, slippers, gloves, and toques at local markets.
Ann-Marie has been knitting Cowichan Sweaters for around one and a half years, inspired by her grandmother, Margaret Roland, whose work even caught the attention of Queen Elizabeth. Ann-Marie sees Cowichan Sweaters are more than just garments; they’re a warm embrace for the heart and soul.
Using traditional sheep’s wool and some of Ann Marie’s late grandmother’s patterns from her blanket weaving, Ann-Marie continues to keep her culture alive. While not pursuing this as a career, Ann-Marie looks to pass down this cherished tradition to her grandchildren.
Each sweater Ann-Marie creates is a unique labor of love, and she starts with gratitude for the sheep, trees (for the needles), and the guidance of her ancestors.
Lucy, a dedicated Cowichan Sweater knitter for over 34 years, learned this tradition from her family. Wearing a Cowichan Sweater means tradition, warmth, and uniqueness tailored to each person. The different needle sizes, colors, and wool thickness set them apart.
Lucy enjoys creating her own patterns and hopes to pass on the tradition, especially to her granddaughters. One memorable project was designing a unique sweater with a halibut and elk head. Lucy wants everyone to know that Cowichan Sweaters are authentically made, providing warmth and a lasting sense of connection.
For over 35 years, this passionate Cowichan Sweater knitter has honed her craft, learning from family and other skilled knitters in the community. To Emily, Cowichan Sweaters are cherished because each one is a unique expression of the maker’s thoughts and feelings.
Wearing these sweaters is an honor, a symbol of Cowichan culture and heritage. What sets these knits apart is their one-piece construction, devoid of seams, and their ability to repel water. The tradition of working together, from teasing and carding the wool to knitting, holds deep significance. Emily’s favorite part is crafting the intricate bottom designs.
Her hope is that this tradition endures, passed down to younger generations through classes and workshops. Emily fondly recalls knitting a sweater for the Olympics, a challenge that showcased her talent. She also takes pride in creating custom pieces, like knitted socks for BC Lions football players. Above all, she wants people to recognize the uniqueness, heritage, and cultural legacy encapsulated in every Cowichan Sweater – no two are alike, and each tells a story of the Cowichan Valley.
Knitting since the age of 7 or 8, Joanne learned this craft from her grandmother, Rose Peter. For Joanne and her family, Cowichan Sweaters are more than clothing; they represent their way of life, providing warmth and dryness. Knitting these iconic sweaters involves unique challenges, such as spinning their own wool. Joanne favors designs like eagles and whales, rooted in cultural tradition. While she took a break from knitting, it has now become a source of relaxation. Joanne hopes to see the tradition continue, even though younger generations seem less interested. Her cherished memories are intertwined with her family’s collective effort in crafting these timeless pieces, which she sells alongside other handmade items like headbands, slippers, gloves, and toques at local markets.
Gail, a dedicated Cowichan Sweater knitter for over 50 years, learned from her mother at the age of 17. These sweaters hold sentimental value, connecting her to her mother, grandmother, and aunties who were knitters. Gail’s involvement in the wool preparation process, from teasing to spinning, is a testament to her commitment. She specializes in designs like eagles, whales, and hummingbirds, staying true to their cultural heritage.
Gail believes in preserving their tradition by sourcing local wool. Her knitting has brought joy to many, with her unique designs often featuring eagles, hummingbirds, and dragonflies. The history of Cowichan Sweaters is deeply rooted in their community and has been passed down through generations.
Arlene, a dedicated Cowichan Sweater knitter for over five decades, learned this cherished tradition from her grandparents. These sweaters, windproof and waterproof, bring her a sense of peace. She explores diverse patterns, from bears to sasquatch, and hopes to pass the tradition to her tech-savvy grandchildren.
Arlene’s work is a labor of love, not for profit, and she wants people to recognize the dedication and intricate process behind each Cowichan Sweater.
Colleen, a skilled Cowichan Sweater knitter for 50 years, learned from her mom at 12. These sweaters hold sentimental value, as they connect her to family traditions and First Nations history. Creating unique designs that fit each person brings her immense joy. Colleen exclusively knits Cowichan Sweaters and enjoys designing different patterns for each part of the sweater. She hopes to see more knitting classes and parties to pass on this tradition. One of her special projects was crafting unique sweaters for her four grandkids. Colleen believes that positive energy is woven into each sweater, and she sets her knitting aside when cranky. Surprisingly, she doesn’t own one herself, considering it like an unpaid bill.
With an impressive 50 years of Cowichan Sweater knitting experience, Julie’s journey began learning from their mom at the age of 13 or 14. These sweaters hold profound significance, representing their Salish heritage and cultural roots. Wearing a Cowichan Sweater is a source of pride, especially when crafted by skilled family members, each one a unique and treasured piece.
What sets these sweaters apart is their one-piece construction, seamless design, and water-repellent properties. The intricate animal patterns hold cultural significance, reflecting the wearer’s geographic origins. Starting the main part of the sweater, choosing the design, and infusing it with the essence of the intended recipient are the enjoyable aspects of this craft.
They hope to see the tradition continue through more classes and opportunities for young people, even though their own children have not taken up the mantle. One memorable project involved recreating a cherished pullover sweater, a challenging endeavor featuring roses on the front and hummingbirds on the back, which turned out beautifully. Above all, they want others to recognize the uniqueness, cultural richness, and individuality embodied in every Cowichan Sweater – no two are alike, and each carries a piece of heritage that cannot be replicated.