Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Coast Salish Weekend

Two weeks ago I had an amazing opportunity. My publisher, Diane Morriss, who has Saltbox Yarn Studio, and Sylvia Olsen from Salish Fusion Knitwear, decided to team up and run some knitting workshops. Sadly, the August fire that burned the Sono Nis warehouse also burned much of what had been ordered to start the company. However, they decided to carry on with the weekend workshop, and invited me to fill one of the spots.

The workshop was being held in a penthouse suite at the Chateau Victoria, and started off on the Friday night with a meet and greet. Normally I would rather attend my own funeral than a meet and greet, but decided that since it was a group of "my people" (knitters), it might be okay. As it turned out it was more than okay. A wonderful group of women were there, all anxious to learn about Coast Salish knitting, and we had no shortage of things to talk about. (This is my usual hang-up in group settings. Being a double introvert I find making small talk excruciatingly painful.)

Saturday and Sunday were very full days. We started with an amazing breakfast, then got right down to the heart of the workshop, which was learning to knit with two colours the way the Coast Salish knitters do. This isn't a technique exclusive to the Coast Salish, and in fact is one that is used by knitters around the world, but is perhaps not as well known as other methods.




Sylvia has a gift for teaching and weaving stories into her lessons at the same time.




This is a very old Coast Salish sweater, I believe from the 1930s. You'll notice a few rows of orange at the bottom part of the sweater. We learned that the women would sometimes put these random bits of colour into their work, but as the sweaters started to become popular a more uniform look was desired by the consumer, so these pops of colour were abandoned.




We now know how to spot an authentic Coast Salish sweater. The sweater in this photo belongs to my daughter-in-law, and is not authentic. (Although it has an interesting history of its own, and maybe at some point I'll blog about it).




The vest pattern is Joni's Vest, and is a fusion of Coast Salish knitting along with other techniques. Whoever invented afterthought pockets was a genius.




This is my knitting bugaboo. Zippers terrify me. I have put them in a couple of vests, and they weren't all that successful. (That's a nice way of saying they were hideous.) Sylvia made it sound doable, although I still have my doubts about putting one in.




Everyone is concentrating on their knitting. It's hard to see in this picture, but there are two bowls of chocolates on the table. Brain fuel.




We did eat things other than chocolate over the course of the weekend. The bottom pictures are from breakfast and lunch, and the top two pictures are from the delicious Coast Salish dinner we were served on Saturday night. There was a candied salmon dip that was to die for!




The sample table was popular. It was stacked with everything from old Coast Salish sweaters to designs currently out for test knitting like this sweet little children's whale sweater. I plan to make one of these for Lucy as soon as the pattern is released.




There was even a dress, which was every bit as much a work of art as it was a garment.




Of all the items on the table, this proved to be the most popular. It is one of the test knits for the skirt pattern in Sylvia's book Knitting Stories. It was the most comfortable thing I've ever put on. The temptation was great to just casually put the tunic I was wearing down over it and walk out the door with it. You can see another version of the skirt in the picture of Sylvia at the top of this post.

So there you have it. A wonderful weekend in Victoria with new knitting techniques and new friends, plus I even managed to squeeze in a bit of time with Lucy and Oliver. More workshops are going to be scheduled soon, so when I get the dates I'll edit this post with more information in case anyone is interested in attending. The link at the top of the post for Saltbox Yarn Studio should also have the information posted as soon as it becomes available.

Now I'm hunkering down for The Storm. The remnants of Super Typhoon Songda are due to hit the west coast of BC and Washington State later today. The warnings are for very high winds and extreme rainfall, which means we will no doubt lose our power between now and tomorrow morning as the storm moves through. I'm as prepared as I can be. I've got multiple flashlights out, along with my super powerful lantern. I have a cooler with ice and food on the back deck. Our fireplace will keep me warm, and the water runs here even when the power has been cut. And perhaps most important of all, we now have a Coleman camp stove so I can make a cup of tea.


39 comments:

  1. As always I'm in awe that people can knit different designs into a garment! I hope the storm does not live up to expectations!

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    1. I hope so too, Cathy! I've done all I can to prepare. I'm just hoping a branch or tree doesn't come through the roof. My husband is in Victoria visiting Oliver and Lucy and whatever happens I'm left to deal with on my own.

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  2. What an interesting workshop. I have Sylvia's book, it is very good.
    I am in Coquitlam, waiting for the storm too.
    I am surrounded by big trees, makes it a bit uncomfortable.
    Ann
    PS did you ever make Aebleskiver?

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    1. Yes Ann, it is those trees that make me so nervous too. We are also surrounded by them. I hope you ride out the storm without any problems. And yes, I make a gluten free version of Aebleskivers. They aren't as good as the ones with wheat, but better than no Aebleskivers at all!

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  3. I am positively green with envy!! I have my father's sweater that he bought back in the early sixties. Probably twenty years ago, maybe more, I bought some yarn from a place in BC that is no longer in operation. I knit a Coast Salish sweater for my grandson and now my great granddaughter has just grown out of it. I would love to know where to get the authentic yarn so that I could knit more of them.

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    1. And I'm green with envy that you have your father's sweater! I think they are planning on selling the yarn at Salt Box Studio, but I'm not sure if it's available yet. You could email Diane Morriss and ask her. Many years ago I knit with the White Buffalo yarn, which is really more like a roving than a yarn. The yarn for the vests isn't a roving like the White Buffalo, but knits up into exactly what you would expect for a Coast Salish sweater. I hope you are able to get your hands on some. It sounds like the one you originally knit for your grandson has had lots of wear, which is so nice.

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  4. Very jealous of your workshop.. I have Sylvia's book and am enjoying the patterns
    [the mitts, scarf and mirror sweater so far]. I am in Gibsons and hunkering down for the next storm. Please keep on blogging.. I look forward to your new posts.
    Gwen

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    1. It was such a neat opportunity, Gwen. I hope you are able to attend one at some point. Sylvia's book is great. So far I've only made the mittens, but I just cast on the skirt last night so hope to add that to the list soon. I hope you don't get hit too hard in Gibsons. Thanks for your kind words about my blog. :-)

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  5. Very jealous of your workshop.. I have Sylvia's book and am enjoying the patterns
    [the mitts, scarf and mirror sweater so far]. I am in Gibsons and hunkering down for the next storm. Please keep on blogging.. I look forward to your new posts.
    Gwen

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  6. Great post Kristie!!! May have to knit that "child's whale sweater". Special! Stay safe!!!

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    1. It was even better in person. The hood is so cute - a modern take on the Coast Salish style. There will be a kit available through Salt Box Studios once it is done with the test knitting stage.

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  7. That workshop sounds fabulous! I am very curious as to what you will be making after taking the course.
    I own an Cowichan Bay Sweater knit by a first nations woman named Arlene. It is bulky and warm.
    I have started going to a knitting group that meets once a month at a local cafe. There are about 12-20 participants depending on everyones' schedules. I am enjoying it immensely.

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    1. The first thing I need to make is the vest I started at the workshop. I'm about ⅔ of the way done with it right now. And I've cast on for the skirt. Plus I'm sure I'll be making that little whale hoodie. Lots to keep my needles busy!

      You are incredibly fortunate to have an authentic Cowichan sweater. And to have such a great knitting group to meet with!

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  8. This is a type of knitting that I hadn't heard of before, but I just love it! The workshop looks wonderful. I think I'm going to have to check out the book. You look adorable in the skirt!

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    1. I think you would find the book very interesting. It has both stories and patterns, including the skirt pattern. :-)

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  9. I'm not a knitter,n just a long ago weaver, but those patterns intrigued me...I know what you mean about meet and greet but when you share an interest there seems to be a magic link like an invisible ribbon which makes it not only possible but enjoyable.

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    1. Your comment is very interesting, Helen. The Coast Salish people have a very long history of weaving. They were weavers long before they were knitters. One of the fibres they used was collected from wild goats. Can you imagine how long it would take to get enough fibre to make a blanket? I believe some of the patterns in the knitting were inspired by some of the designs they wove into objects, so it's no surprise that as a weaver you are intrigued by them.

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  10. Wow sounds and looks amazing!! I love that skirt too!! It's sure an interesting part of our history. Salish sweaters are timeless. Good luck with the weather- it's sure fall when the winds start blowing g and the rains begin. Trees are always an issue - Coleman stoves are so handy! We've used ours when the power goes out here- as that's exactly when you want a cup of tea!! Hope you have an uneventful night.

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    1. Salish sweaters are timeless. But I think maybe outside of Canada (and possibly parts of the US), are not well known. They have such an interesting history. Even the name they've gone by has a history to it, starting with what would now be considered a politically incorrect name, then moving to a name that didn't give credit to all the tribes producing them. I learned so much over the weekend! And the storm turned into a tempest in a teapot, at least where I live. No need to light that Coleman stove!

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  11. As a non-knitter I am in awe of these beautiful garments, which look wonderfully warm. I too look forward to seeing what you knit next, and hope we see the whale sweater for Lucy. Keep safe from the storm, what awful weather there is these days!

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    1. These sweaters are incredibly warm, Patricia. And pretty much waterproof as well given the properties of wool. The vest and the skirt are going to be the first items I knit. Then I'm hoping the whale sweater becomes ready for purchase. The storm has passed and it was pretty mild here where I live, so we are fine.

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  12. The workshop looks amazing, what a joy to see all those wonderful garments. I am in awe of the skills of these very talented ladies. The skirt looks amazing. Hope the storm doesn't cause too much damage. Take care.

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    1. It's quite an experience to have a whole table full of knits to admire, especially when they are such interesting garments! We've survived the storm, so all is well here. :-)

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  13. Looks like a great workshop, I wish I could knit, but crocheting is about all I can handle.
    Stay safe in the storm, they can be frightening.

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    1. Our storm was a mild breeze compared to what you've just endured with the hurricane. I can knit, but have never been able to master crochet. :-)

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  14. I hope everyone comes through the storm okay. Your weekend retreat looks wonderful. I'm really interested in tribal and native textile arts. The Coast Salish work actually reminds me of Maori woven pieces in some ways. Thank you for sharing about them, I will definitely read more. I'm glad you had such a nice time, you really deserve it.

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    1. The storm mostly blew itself out before it got this far, so all is well here. Interesting that the Coast Salish work reminds you of the Maori weaving patterns. The Coast Salish were weavers long before they started knitting, and many of their knitting designs have been inspired by the designs they used in their weaving.

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  15. I hope you are okay after the high winds, I love the workshop you attended and your knitting! I would love to do something like that one day :)

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    1. All is well here, Karen. We dodged the worst of the storm, so all of our trees are still standing and we never lost our power. :-)

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  16. It looks like the room is color coordinated for the workshop! I discovered your blog by randomly clicking on a comment on SockLadySpins. (I don't know her, either-- but I enjoy reading blogs). It's vaguely creepy to me to think about following someone who does not know me at all, so I'm introducing myself and stating my intent to lurk! I am 51, my husband and I live on a ranch in WY, but he built a tugboat that lives in LaConner, WA (just south of Anacortes). We take it out sometimes, and have been as far north as Wrangell AK, but my favorite places are Ganges Harbour Salt Springs Island, and places like that. I'm still working full time as an RN in our rural Emergency Room, but like to bicycle, hike and of course, knit. I had a slow day at work and read way back on your blog; your writing is great and so is your knitting. I hope to order your books soon for my grandkids. I don't intend to comment too often but have added you to my blog feed! (my actual name is Anne).

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    1. Hi Anne,

      Welcome to my blog! I have to say, I'm more than a little envious of your life on a ranch in Wyoming. And I'm intrigued by the fact you have a tugboat in LaConner. I actually don't live that far from LaConner, at least as far as the crow flies. I'm pleased you would like to order my books for your grandchildren. Due to the fire at the publisher's warehouse your best bet is to order them from Amazon. I think they still have some in stock. Thanks for introducing yourself!

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  17. The workshop looks fantastic. I am an introvert myself, a meet and greet made me feel nervous just reading about it. But knitters are the bet, so kind and engaging I am sure all of you had fun. Hope the storm was not too horrible.
    Meredith

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    1. I think a meet and greet is the litmus test for spotting an introvert. :-)

      The storm ended up missing us, so we just had some heavy rain, but no damaging winds.

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  18. I wish I could have been there... and I wish I would be close enough to take part in something like that workshop...we don't have things like that...to small of a country.

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    1. You would have loved this workshop, Peony! Canada is a pretty small country too in term sf population. You might be surprised at how many people would turn out for a knitting workshop if one was offered.

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  19. What a wonderful workshop. I saw my first real Salish sweater when I went to university in Ottawa. It was a thing of beauty. You can always pay someone to install a zipper. I can put them in, but I have also paid someone to do it. Will your books be reprinted?

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    1. I agree that they are a thing of beauty, Mary Lou. As for the zippers, Sylvia, the woman who did the workshop, used to have a business installing zippers. People still ask her to put zippers in on occasion. I'm tempted to pay her to put the zipper in this one when I'm done knitting it. I'm very afraid of ruining my knitting when if I attempt to put it in.

      You are very kind to ask about my books being reprinted. I don't know at this point what is going to happen. The publisher is still in the midst of settling things with the insurance company, and also trying to decide what she wants to do about the business. It might be several months before the authors know what's going to happen.

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  20. Those are such wonderful designs. I glad you enjoyed the workshop despite your initial reservations. Sarah x

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    1. The designs are truly unique, Sarah. If you ever spot someone wearing one over in the UK you will now instantly recognize it as a Coast Salish style garment. There's nothing else like them. :-)

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