June 26, 2010
I've been wanting to make a Cowichan sweater for a while now. Mine (originally made by my aunt, originally as a set for my mom and dad after they were newly married) is starting to fall apart.
The history and meaning behind the Cowichan sweater intrigues me, especially after the recent olympic fiasco that involved the Hudson's Bay Company appropriating the sweater for their $350 olympic version. At the hostel we stayed at in Montreal, I ran into a woman who used to sell the real cowichan sweaters, made by the Coast Salish people on the west coast (I always love a conversation that involves politics and knitting). I didn't realize that White Buffalo Yarn (not actually buffalo wool but sheep's wool, its just called that) is no more. Apparently, the factory burnt down, and you can't but the yarn anymore- unless you find someone with a stash.
Of course, this just made me want to knit a Cowichan sweater even more. Last weekend, we went for a drive to the mountains, and I found a wool shoppe in one of the small towns up there. I asked the store owner if she had any patterns for the sweaters, as apparently those are hard to find too (and I'm talking the patterns made by white buffalo, for specific use with their yarn.. not Mary Maxim wannabe's). She said she had a couple but they weren't from White Buffalo. I got copies (which, can you believe, she charged me almost FOUR DOLLARS to photocopy a couple of pages?!) and then she persuaded me to buy some of the new, 'substitute' yarn that people use for making the sweaters. It's from Briggs and Little- 'Country Roving'. I only bought 2 pucks worth, as I knew that Custom Woolen Mills here in Alberta carries pretty much the same thing, which I got for waaay cheaper.
But then, this weekend, I get talking with my Aunt (who knit the sweater in the first place) and she HAS original White Buffalo patterns AND she was at a garage sale last weekend that had white buffalo yarn!! So we went to the house that had the garage sale, and she still had a whole garbage bag full!!! SCORE!!
annndd.. check it out.. an original receipt!!
now. how long will it take me to knit that sweater?????