Designing Cowichan Sweaters


This family from Lumsden included the Waskesiu Heritage Museum in their visit to Prince Albert National Park. Our Curator Chris enjoyed chatting with the kids about Cowichan sweaters made by  Coast Salish knitters.  The kids each designed their own sweater on paper.  We are proud to have a selection of awesome sweaters done by young visitors during the Children’s Festival hanging on the fireplace.

Cowichan or siwash sweaters were sold in Waskesiu as early as the 1930s, were an extremely popular wardrobe staple for many years, and are still worn today by those lucky enough to have one.   Some people even call them “Waskesiu tuxedos”! The storybook by Sylvia Olsen, Yetsa’s Sweater, tells about preparing the wool the traditional way and knitting these iconic sweaters.  Her other book Working with Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater, is the definitive resource on this subject.  The sweaters’ popularity at Waskesiu is easily explained by their warmth and water shedding ability due to the natural properties of the sheep wool.  To learn more about these wonderful sweaters, visit the display in the museum or read Sylvia’s books.

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ChrisDesigning Cowichan Sweaters