Patterns for Cowichan sweaters

I am looking for patterns for Cowichan sweaters, also for hats for adults and kids. These are the sweaters that are knit by the west coast natives. Thanks

I think you may…may…have problems with copyright. Mainly because indigenous peoples often prefer to see these knits made by their own people. That said, you may be able to purchase a kit. This site generously offers some of the patterns as graphs. Perhaps you could see if they also sell kits.

Part of the beauty and fascination of the Cowichan knitting is the history and the entire process developed by the Coast Salish tribal women. The wool they use is treated to retain the natural lanolin giving the resulting garments natural waterproofness so vitally necessary in our wonderfully dry :rollseyes: climate of the Northwest. In addition it’s never dyed, all the colors are natural wool colors from their sheep. I don’t remember what breed they have.

Here’s a link to a 60’s era pattern on sale at etsy. There are some others from that era available there too. You might also try ebay.

IIRC starting in the 70’s or 80’s the tribes got serious about keeping the patterns to themselves and making sure there was a certification process for all genuine Cowichan knitwear. Growing up, I remember seeing this stuff and it’s wonderful to the touch.

The link Susan P. gave has some good representations of the patterns so if you know how to work from a chart you might be able to imitate some of the patterns. I’ve never worked with wool like that, so can’t give ya any advice on a wool that similar.

Let us know what you decide to use and definitely give us pics! :thumbsup:


[B]Knitting in the Old Way[/B] by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson includes a chapter on the Cowichan sweaters of Canada, which the authors call “the only true folk sweaters of North America…”

Besides the history of these sweaters, there are patterns for a cardigan and a pullover, plus information on knitting the distinctive details such as the shawl collar and unique shoulder join. There are also charts for some typical Cowichan motifs that can be used on other knitwear.

You can order Cowichan sweaters from companies that hire Salish and other tribal knitters, but these appear to be commercial enterprises. (Google “Cowichan sweaters” for a sampling.) While they may send you a certificate of “authenticity,” I don’t think there is a copyright issue here. A specific sweater pattern by a specific designer has automatic copyright protection, but not a whole design category, no matter how traditional. Can you imagine if someone claimed to own the copyright for cardigans?

knitasha… I expressed that badly and librarylady said it better than I. When I mentioned copyright the issue in my mind was more the issue of indigenous peoples wanting to maintain guardianship and so on over the name, patterns and making of the items. A specific jumper like this isn’t as broad as ‘cardigans’ either of course :slight_smile:

Thanks so much for your help. I remember “back in the day” that my mum had a pattern for a sweater but it is long gone. Guess I will have to work something out on my own. Scary for an unexperienced knitter!!

Here’s a web site that sells cowichan patterns,yarn and charting paper to do your own if you want. www,

There’s a knitting/ Native store in Victoria BC . I think on Goverment street. they also ship their wool as well to you because I might be moving to the states and want to still get their own Cowichan wool from them. teyt sell the Cowichan wool plus some patterns it’s owned by the natives. Yes it’s a luxery to be able to get a few patterns from them.They sell a lot of their stuff they’ve made and carving and other stuff it’s a beautiful store.I hope this helps you.

Would you happen to know the name of the store? If they ship they might have a web site which would be fun to look at.