Cowichan Sweater / “Climate Change Coats”
Dora Wilson sold her first Cowichan sweater when she was only 15 years old. Dora has been knitting Cowichan sweaters for over 60, and knows the origin and true story behind the iconic West Coast sweater.
The traditional way to create a Cowichan sweater is passed down from generation to generation; Dora was carefully taught by her mother. When there was some concern that interest in the traditional craft was waning, along with a small group of knitters Dora “just kept on knitting” and today shares her knowledge with her daughter and granddaughters. True Cowichan sweaters are knit ‘in the round’ without seams or sewing involved. While Dora appreciates the popularity and demand for Cowichan sweaters, Dora is critical of large companies that appropriate and exploit traditional Cowichan designs for the production ofimitation sweaters. Genuine sweaters are natural colours in off whites,, greys, and black/browns depending on the colour of the sheep’s wool.
For Castaways Dora agreed to develop a special project and create two Cowichan coats with the wool from 8 found, gifted or used Cowichan sweaters. Each sweater was carefully deconstructed, and the the wool was washed, and rewound into large balls for re-knitting. Dora and her daughter, Maureen, designed the special climate change coats. One references recent drought and extreme fire seasons in British Columbia, and a second coat for the survival of the salmon in the Salish Sea.
We would like to thank the Salish Weave Foundation for supporting this cultural initiative.