Unfinished Sweater

About this object

History of use

According to Margaret Meikle: "Cowichan knitting represents a combination of European textile techniques and Salish spinning and weaving methods. From this union, new tools, techniques and designs developed over the years... Sheep were introduced to Vancouver Island in the 1850s, providing a more plentiful source of wool. Knitting by native women probably began in a number of ways shortly thereafter. The most organized instruction was provided by the Sisters of St. Ann, missionaries who came from Victoria to the Cowichan Valley in 1864 to start a school for the Indians (1987:3)." She further suggests that similar skills were being taught at missions throughout the province and that people in Coast Salish communities may also have learned from observing their non-native neighbours. Intermarriage between mainland and Island Salish groups probably also contributed to the spread of these distinctive sweaters.

Cultural context

knitting; culture contact; economic activity

Physical description

Unfinished Cowichan-style knitted sweater in dark brown, grey and cream coloured wool. Consists of back and front pieces with knitting needles inserted through loops at the top of each piece. Designs are arranged in horizontal bands. The central design is a tree flanked by two deer with antlers. Pockets at front. No sleeves or collar.