I told my friend Marielle that I would do a post with some of my photos from the Cowichan Cultural Center… err, Centre (Canada) over a month ago. (If you would like to read more about the development of the Cowichan Sweater, the Wikipedia article is useful.)
The Cowichan started knitting right after sheep were introduced to Vancouver Island. The available sheep had downy coats with short wool, and they spun it into what we would now consider a bulky yarn. Though the Wiki only mentions knitting with the wool, at the museum they also mentioned goat and dog furs.
I was sure I had a photo of the orifice, but I suddenly can’t find it. But trust me, it was large. You can see someone spinning on this type of wheel and the hugeness of the orifice here.
Most Cowichan knitters start with smaller projects like mittens and socks. Here you can see samples of some of the smaller projects. You’ll notice that everything is worked in a natural color yarn.
While those pieces are beautiful, the items that really put Cowichan knitting on the map are the sweaters. Either pullovers or cardigans, they feature Fair Isle designs in natural colors. They are traditionally knit on eight double point needles, and feature a shawl collar. Here is my best photo of part of the sweater collection at the museum.