Trendspotting: Cowichan Sweaters!

Cowichan sweaters, known for their traditional motifs and knit with bulky wool, originated from the Canadian tribe (of the same name) of the Vancouver Islands in British Columbia. The unique, picturesque style of the garments is the result of the convergence of traditional, Native American weaving techniques with the European-influenced Fair Isle knitting method. Wool became more prominent after sheep were introduced to the region in the mid-19th century, making spinning thick yarn an accessible reality for the Cowichan people. These sweaters were (and continue to be) wearable, historical tableaus of tribal lore. Although the stories embedded within the sweaters are specific to that particular First Nations group, the style they created has resonated with much of the Western world for generations with heightened popularity in the 1950’s, the 1970’s, and again today.

Traditional Cowichan sweaters are usually made in three, natural colors with figure representations surrounded by geometric bands. Through mainstream fashion’s interpretation however, Cowichan-style sweaters of all colors and design can be found everywhere from craft fairs, to film (most notably in 1998 when donned by Jeff Bridges’ “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski), to the runway (see Rag & Bone’s Fall 2014 Collection.)

Cowichan Sweaters

Of course, sweaters like these can also be knit by you, right now!

The Yarnspiration team has designed a handful of great, Cowichan-inspired pullovers and cardigans for you to choose from, and with all the supplies to make them available here on this site why not jump on the bandwagon to knit one for yourself? These garments are gorgeous, relatively quick to knit and clearly span the bounds of fashion and time. Here are a few of my favorites from the Yarnspiration collection. Click on the image to get the goods to make each one!

Cowichan Style Raglan Cardigan

I’m The Dude Jacket

Hardcore Pullover Set

Cowichan Style Raglan Cardigan, I'm The Dude Jacket, Hardcore Pullover Set

Feeling a little unsure about colorwork techniques for bulky fiber? No problem! I’ll show you how to do intarsia, stranded colorwork and duplicate stitch using larger needles and chunky yarn.

Knitting Colorwork Video Tutorial

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