Weekly highlights: 1. My publisher brings over ten boxes of my new book for kids about knitting that have just arrived from the printer; 2. Nine volunteers for the federal Green Party attend my knitting workshop so they can knit Green Toques as a campaign fundraiser; 3. I spend a three-day weekend in Victoria with fourteen women from across the US (one was from Canada) telling knitting stories and teaching a felted bag workshop. The adventure was organized by Loom Dancer Odysseys out of Colorado. Okay, so it took 11 days to make all that happen, but some weeks are just more fun than others.
Why, you ask, do I have so many random knitting occasions happening in my life?
When Tex and I were on our cross-Canada knitting tour a fellow who owned a golf course told us that while many businessmen might scoff at the idea of knitting he figured we were onto something big. He said twenty-something million American women golf and eighty-something million American women knit. I have no way of corroborating his numbers but I think his point is obvious—knitting is a very big deal. Although knitting is my hobby I have a long history and a wide variety of knitting experiences, which end up these days in a line of great events back-to-back like last week.
Auntie Freda taught me to knit about 52 years ago. But I have been a knitter ever since Laura Olsen, my mother-in-law, got me to help her wash, and tease and card wool and since she showed me how to knit “Indian” sweaters and toques and socks. She was the first fan of my fusion knitting when I began making skirts and shawls with geometric designs and fingerless gloves out of cashmere.
Over the years I’ve bought and sold sweaters, zippered and repaired them and made and sold wool. After I closed Mt. Newton Indian Sweaters I studied the history of Coast Salish knitting, did a Masters thesis on the topic and later collaborated on a film called The History of Coast Salish Knitters. After writing my thesis into a book Working with Wool I wrote Yetsa’s Sweater, a beautiful picture book for kids, both published by Sono Nis Press.
I continued to design knitted things from rugs to dresses. That’s when Joni and Adam (daughter and son) thought about creating a line of Salishesque knitwear, which leans on the images of their grandmothers but brought in modern ideas and styles. They exclusively used wool from Custom Woolen Mills in Carstairs Alberta because its natural characteristics are reminiscent of local western Canadian handspun. They came away from their trip to Dragon’s Den with a name for their business—Salish Fusion. They bought some old knitting machines and pushed them to their limit taking fusion to a new level.
The playing continued. We brought one of our Fusion blankets to the Museum of Anthropology in Chicago and nosed through the archives of ancient west coast wool products. I had more stories to write so I wrote Knitting Stories, a collection of personal essays, with 6 of my designs. I’m back to the knitting tour Tex and I took in 2015. For six weeks we traveled across Canada. It was a book tour that we paid for by giving almost 60 workshops in knitting stores and guild-halls.
Salish Fusion is closed for now. The little building we used needed repairs and Joni needs to finish her political science degree. We are rebuilding next summer. But my knitting life continues. Neekah’s Knitting Needles was delivered last week. The Green knitters have morphed from Adam’s provincial political fundraiser to the federal campaign in Victoria and I’m still giving workshops…to people from around the continent. And…that’s not it…I’m writing a travel book—Canada through the lens of a knitting tour. It might be called Common Threads, I don’t know yet…more on that later.
Maybe knitting is just my hobby but the fellow at the golf course was right—knitting is a very big deal.
Photo late-comers…thanks Cari from Loom Dancers.