Idea Log: Cowichan blues

Idea Log: Cowichan blues

Here’s one last Idea Log for 2015, and it will be the first sweater I’m obsessing about in 2016 — Do I just have a heightened awareness of them or are Cowichan-inspired sweaters suddenly everywhere? I can’t open an indie boutique email or flip through a mainstream catalog without seeing them. The one that recently got torn out and taped to my wall is among the least authentic — that blue and white number up top, currently for sale at J.Crew. (It’s called Abstract Fair Isle Sweater, and has about as much in common with true Fair Isle as with Cowichan, but there you go.) I’m still dying to cast on another Cowichan-ish sweater after finishing my knitalong vest, and although it continues to be spooky 75-degree tornado weather here, I know we’re headed for that time of year when I’ll be wearing my Bellows every day and wishing I had another super woolly shawl collar cardigan to alternate with. Before casting on my vest, I contemplated doing it in black and navy or ivory and navy. As much as I love all-neutral colorwork, I also swoon hard for blue and white. (Some notable examples here.) It’s like Delft knitwear or something — so dreamy. So I keep gazing at this J.Crew cardigan and wanting a version, and over the weekend it dawned on me that it could be as simple and knitting Andrea Rangel’s Knitter’s Dude in ivory and navy (two colors instead of three) and perhaps doing the wide stripes as a pair of thinner stripes to play up the linework quality. I might want to bulk up the gauge, though — I’m thinking Lettlopi in colors 0051 and 9420 (as pictured via Tolt). And then of course with a zipper instead of the buttons, because zippers forever and ever amen.

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PREVIOUSLY in Idea Log: Perfect outfit No. 1

17 thoughts on “Idea Log: Cowichan blues

  1. that j crew shot is a really strange one. the trousers seem to be all wrong and then the red tartan shoes. i suppose that fair isle comes from scotland too but the connections are all just too abstract for me!

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    • I love it. It makes me wish I had an office party to go to so I could wear a version of this very outfit. People think of Fair Isle and Christmas as going hand in hand (for whatever reason) and I love the idea of subbing in a Cowichan-style cardigan for a Fair Isle as a holiday sweater — whether or not they were especially aware of that.

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  2. I just had a lovely wander through your Bellows sweater (gorgeous) then Michelle Wang, then the Seaman’s Church connections, via the 1898 hat. I’,m allowing myself 3 months to experiment and explore. I may never get past the lovely inspiration in Fringe Association.

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  3. Just got my Vogue Knitting for Winter and it has a Cowichan vest. I think they must be reading your blog. I started to email you but thought “I can’t bother that lady again.” I think the Knitter’s Dude or the J Crew could come in pretty handy. It would look great with a pair of jeans. My wish list of knitting keeps growing.

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  4. Your blog is as always very timely for me. Yesterday I finished my Cowichan sweater, and yes it was you who brought them to my attention, thank you! I loved the history and the journey of the 2 lb giant. Thank you for helping me to stretch my skills and try things, I would have never tried, you are a true inspiration for me. There is of course one problem, I too live where it has been too warm (Texas) and the tornados did roll through, scary, but it is now, finally cold, so I can wear my sweater!

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  5. Damnit! I’ve already started on a sweater that will probably take a good month or so, and now I want to make something Cowichan! Why does that always happen in the middle of another project? LOL! These are great.

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  6. I’m glad you posted abut this, as I have been noticing Cowichanish garments everywhere as well ever since you tuned me into the style. Even in the kids’ section of Forever 21 ~ when my daughter led me there I was too mortified to share a photo with you! My vest still only has its back piece, but the fronts will get a zipper for sure. All best to you for 2016, and thanks for the inspiration.

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  7. Interesting article. Cowichan sweaters originated on the west coast of Canada over 75 years ago, and are knit with a unique type of Canadian wool. It makes a sweater that is very warm, yet not heavy. Using other types of yarn produces more of a Fair Isle project.
    There has been a renewed interest over the last 5 years in these iconic outdoor sweaters, especially with younger people who consider them “retro”. There is not a better sweater for outdoor living. Most Canadians grew up with these sweaters and still have them 40 years later.
    I sell the vintage patterns and wool to keep the tradition alive and invite you to visit my online shop.

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  8. I took a trip to Alaska and British Columbia last summer. Had a chance to look at some authentic Cowichan sweaters. I thought I’d buy one for my son, but the sleeves were all so short! (We have long arms in our family.) It was fun to try a bunch of them on, though!

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  9. http://fahertybrand.com/collections/cowichan/products/womens-zip-cowichan-coffee-sunset-print-sweater
    http://fahertybrand.com/collections/cowichan/products/jaco-cowichan-womens-sweater
    Hello Karen! I hope you’re having a GREAT boat trip. I was just wondering if you could help me out with finding a pattern for these types of sweaters? Maybe a general shape pattern and some hints on motifs? I’m struggling with a beginning point. I have Home and Away, the book, that has a lot of sweater patterns in it but I’m not sure if any of them would be a great fit. Anyway, I’ve been super inspired by your Cowichan knitalong since it began! But generally find sweaters to be more useful than vests in my climate, so thought I’d ask in case you had any ideas. Thank you so much!!

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  10. Pingback: Idea Log: Cowichan-style cardigan, take two | Fringe Association

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