Showing posts with label knitting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label knitting. Show all posts

Monday, February 12, 2024

Talking about Wool - From Sheep to Socks

A sheep standing in front of a microphone

Do you produce, have, use, or love wool? 

Memorial folklore students are looking for wool enthusiasts in Newfoundland and Labrador to interview, photograph, or maybe visit, with the aim of developing a series of student papers and podcasts about the wool industry. 

Heritage NL is working with the students of Folk6400, a Graduate Seminar in Material Culture at Memorial University, to study the linkages between local raw wool and the crafting of products from that material. Are you a sheep farmer with underutilized wool? Are you a felter looking for a source of wool for your next project? Are you a new or experienced entrepreneur who has thoughts or questions about making or marketing wool-based craft in NL? If yes, our students want to talk to you! 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Yarns and Yarns Kick Off - West Coast

See you there!

Are you a knitter, spinner, or hooker? Heritage NL is hosting a series of Yarns and Yarns events, to help preserve and share knitting and other textile knowledge and memories.

We invite knitters, spinners, or hookers of all ages to come together for an evening of crafting and storytelling followed by a mug up with tea/coffee and snacks.

“We are interested in hearing stories about how you learned to knit, spin, or hook” says Terra Barrett, ICH Researcher with Heritage NL. “Often textile crafts are not formally documented or recognized and this project aims to change that. So come out and share your story!”

Yarns and Yarns is a project to recognize, record, and celebrate the importance of knitting and crafting to Newfoundland and Labrador. The main objective of Yarns and Yarns is to combine traditional knitting and crafting knowledge with social participation through a series of ten Yarns and Yarns mug ups or workshops. These mug ups will combine a knitting circle with story telling for community members, where people gather, have a cup of tea, enjoy healthy snacks, and share memories.

Heritage NL is partnering with three local groups to host Yarns and Yarns events on the west coast. If you are a knitter, spinner or hooker we want to see you! Bring your latest projects and come out to share how your learned your craft. 

  • Thursday, May 4th, 1-3pm - Yarns and Yarns with Our Lady of Mercy Museum - Our Lady of Mercy Heritage Museum, 101 Main Street, Port au Port West
  • Tuesday, May 9th, 6:30-8:30pm - Yarns and Yarns with the Knit Wits - Pasadena Place, 19 Tenth Avenue, Pasadena
  • Wednesday, May 10th, 1pm -3pm - Yarns and Yarns with Kindred Spirits Knit 'n Yarn - Salvation Army, 20 Church Street (corner of Chapel Hill), Deer Lake

This project has been funded by the Government of Canada's New Horizons for Seniors Program.

If you are interested in hosting a Yarns and Yarns event in your community reach out to Terra Barrett at or 709-739-1892 x2.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Yarns and Yarns - a virtual knitting and storytelling circle around the North


Join us for the first Yarns and Yarns event - we’ll be live from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada with the regular weekly knitting group at the St. John’s Public Library! Make yourself a cup of tea, tune in, and knit along as we hook up with friends and colleagues and have a virtual chat with Siun Carden about her woolly experiences from Shetland!  All knitters, story lovers, and textile enthusiasts are welcome. 

This is being organised by Heritage NL on behalf of the UArctic Northern and Arctic Island Studies Network linking island communities across the north. There will be others based in other northern islands in the coming months!

When: Jan 24, 2023 02:00 PM Newfoundland and Labrador (UTC/GMT -3.30)

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Living Heritage Podcast Ep215 Dress Making, Millinery and More with Ellen Reid

Phyllis Reid, and Irene Reid. Photo features embroidery by Phyllis, and hats by Irene.
Image courtesy of Ellen Reid.

In this episode we talk about Ellen’s grandmother Irene Reid along with several other family members' experience with millinery, dress making, knitting, embroidery, and other textile work. We also touch on Ellen's experience with the wool stall at the Anglican Cathedral, and some of the work of the St. John's Guild of Embroiderers.

Ellen Reid has been contributing to the local arts scene for over 30 years. A poet, playwright, visual artist, a blogger and an arts patroness! She is a grateful and frequent contributor to the Cosmic Show! She has been an early childhood educator for 20 years.


Living Heritage is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio.

Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Knit, Purl, Listen: exploring connections between sound + textile

FOLK6740 - PUBLIC FOLKLORE is a graduate-level folklore course at Memorial University, which addresses the various ways in which folklorists present their research back to the communities from which the material originated. As part of their course, students interviewed local knitters, compiled the stories into a booklet, and edited some of the sound clips used in an exhibit at the Craft Council of NL Gallery.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Saving traditional Newfoundland knitting patterns - Christine LeGrow is the focus of this month's Living Heritage Economy Case Study!

We have an early Christmas present for you - the next in our Living Heritage Economy Case Studies!

This month, we are delighted to showcase the work of Christine LeGrow and Spindrift Handknits. Christine LeGrow was born and raised in Newfoundland, and has a keen interest in the people, places, and things that make this island unique. A life-long knitter, her company Spindrift Handknits produces over 30 regular hand-knit wool products across a diverse product line. The business is supported by rural knitters throughout the island who make extensive use of traditional patterns that have been handed down through generations.

You can download the pdf version of the case study right here

And, you can listen to an interview with Christine and Shirley "Shirl the Purl" Scott here.

This is part of a series of case studies examining the links between living heritage, traditionality, entrepreneurism, and community economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador. For more information, contact Dale Jarvis at Photo courtesy Christine Le Grow.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Tuesday's #FolklorePhoto: Textiles in St. Anthony Bight

Ruth Pilgrim holds a knitting project, St. Anthony Bight. Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010
Today's Folklore Photos come from St. Anthony collection on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative. St. Anthony is located on the northeastern tip of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. This site was first given the name of 'St. Anthony Haven' in 1532, for the way in which the area operated as a safe landing point for fishing fleets. The region was initially settled based on the fact that there were rich cod fishing grounds in the vicinity, a move that helped to establish a productive fishery that would last for several centuries. Despite the eventual collapse of the cod fishery, St. Anthony has had many development successes, making it a vital service center for residents of the broader GNP region.

Another important feature of St. Anthony is the community's historic affiliation with the legacy of Dr. Grenfell. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell (1865-1940) - a British doctor-arrived in St. Anthony in 1892 as a medical missionary, sent by The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. Within a year of his arrival, Dr. Grenfell commenced building a medical system that eventually grew to serve the regions of Northern Newfoundland and Labrador. As his medical mission grew, his mandate expanded to include the development of schools, cooperatives, industrial work projects, an orphanage, and other social programs. One such program involved utilizing local textile-based craft skills to help sustain the region's economy. Grenfell style embroidered coats and hooked rugs with Grenfell inspired designs are being produced by residents of the Great Northern Peninsula to this day. These objects are now referred to as being a part of the 'Grenfell tradition' and can be seen and purchased at Grenfell Handicrafts, located in St. Anthony.

The St. Anthony inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as patchwork quilts, knitted items, and Grenfell-style hooked rugs. This inventory also includes audio clips of craftspeople discussing their particular textile-based skills and practices.

If you want to learn more about this collection click here and if you want to listen to an interview with Ruth Pilgrim about rug-hooking, knitting, painting, quilting, cross-stitching, and crocheting click here.

Hooked mat of a school house belonging to Ruth Pilgrim, St. Anthony Bight. Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010
A caribou scene painted by Ruth Pilgrim, St. Anthony Bight. Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tuesday's #FolklorePhoto: Embroidery, and Knitting with Mary Bussey

Close-up of an embroidered panel for a quilt, St. Lunaire-Griquet. Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010
Today's Folklore Photos come from St. Lunaire-Griquet collection on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative. St. Lunaire-Griquet is scenic community located about twenty minutes north of St. Anthony on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. It is a community of approximately 1000 residents, spread across a region that was once two distinct communities. During the 1950s, sudden development in the area precipitated the conjoining of St. Lunaire and Griquet into one incorporated town-site. Unlike the vast majority of GNP communities, St.-Lunaire-Griquet has always seen a continual rise in population rather than a decline, with exception to the cod moratorium years, which invariable saw many people leave their homes to pursue work elsewhere. It is often said that the local post office marks the spot where the two communities come together.

The French began visiting this region as early as the 16th century, in order to exploit the renowned cod fishery. Despite the early arrival of these seasonal fishermen, the vicinity was not officially mapped until 1784, when the infamous French sailor Liberge de Granchain pursued the undertaking. He is still remembered for his work in the area, by an island near St. Lunaire Bay that bears his name. Granchain Island still holds evidence of the French presence, by the archaeological remains of French bread ovens that can be observed on the site.

The St. Lunaire-Griquet inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as embroidered and pieced quilts, knitted items, and Grenfell-style coats. This inventory also includes audio clips of craftspeople discussing their particular textile-based skills and practices.

If you want to learn more about this collection click here and if you want to listen to an interview with Mary Bussey about textiles click here or to hear about changes to the Northern Peninsula click here.
Crochet pillow made by Mary Bussey's mother, St. Lunaire-Griquet. Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010
A pair of slippers knitted by Mary Bussey, St. Lunaire-Griquet. Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday's #FolklorePhoto: Knitting in Bird Cove

Annette Myers poses with her knitting, Bird Cove. Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010.

Today's Folklore Photos come from The Straits collection on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative. The Strait of Belle Isle is a geographic region on the northwest coast of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula. Colloquially know as 'The Straits,' this coastal strip runs from the community of Plum Point in the south, to Eddies Cove East at the northernmost tip. 

Between these two locales, several small communities dot the coast. Families first arrived at The Strait of Belle Isle in the 1880s, to exploit the salmon fishery and perhaps set up a base for the fur trade. Early inhabitants were there seasonally, but by 1884, permanent settlers arrived and began fishing for cod, herring, and began sealing practices as well. Although resources may have shifted in value, abundance and importance, over the years, the local drive to work the land and sea has remained consistent. While the cod fishery ultimately saw its demise in the 1990s, forms of this industry continue to fuel the local economy today. In Anchor Point, for instance, many of the residents continue to work as fish harvesters, or alternately in the shrimp plant, which employs upwards of 150 people each season.

The Straits inventory is part of a founding collection for the Great Northern Peninsula Textiles Archive and Learning Center. This project, based in Conche, NL, is an on-going initiative to document and preserve the textile-based crafts that are being created on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The items in this collection were gathered between May and July of 2010 and include photographs of textile craft objects such as sealskin boots, Newfoundland Quilts, knitted socks, and embroidered cloth. This inventory also includes audio clips of craftspeople discussing their particular textile-based skills and practices. Straits communities present in this collection include Green Island Brook, Pines Cove, Bird Cove, Black Duck Cove, Eddies Cove East, Anchor Point, Sandy Cove, and Flower's Cove. Flower's Cove, due to its comparably large population, has been given its own community inventory on the DAI.

If you want to learn more about this collection click here and if you want to listen to an interview with Annette Myers about life in Bird Cove, knitting, crocheting, and selling textiles click here.

A sweater Annette Myers made for her husband, Bird Cove. Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010.
Dark pink winter hat made by Annette Myers, Bird Cove. Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010.

Monday, January 29, 2018

#CollectiveMemories Monday - Knitting in Conche with Gertrude Hunt

Gert Hunt demonstrating her knitting skills in Conche, Newfoundland.
Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010. Photo courtesy of MUN's DAI.
As part of the Collective Memories project the ICH office is showcasing community material which has been placed on Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative. Check out this interview from May 17, 2010, Lisa Wilson interviews Gertrude Hunt of Conche, Newfoundland. Gertrude discusses knitting, life in Conche, her family, making quilts, working in the Conche fish plant, working in Alberta, and social change in Conche.

The ICH office is helping communities place previously recorded materials online. If your community has material you would like to make publicly accessible reach out to the Heritage Foundation at 1-888-739-1892 ex.2 or
Traditional snowflake pattern mittens with the cuff.
Made by Gertrude Hunt, Conche, Newfoundland.
Photo by Lisa Wilson. 2010. Photo courtesy of MUN's DAI.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Notes from the Grey Sock Project - Knitting Our Heritage!

About the Women’s Patriotic Association

The Women’s Patriotic Association (WPA) was made up of over 15,000 women across Newfoundland and Labrador who donated their time to raise money and support those at home and overseas. One of the WPA’s goals was to provide Newfoundland and Labrador troops with the comforts of home. Volunteers knitted scarves, socks, mittens, and hats which were shipped overseas along with medical supplies and other goods.

To commemorate what the WPA did for those at home and overseas, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, the City of St. John’s, and other partners are embracing their spirit to help those in need today. We have been gathering volunteer knitters to knit socks, scarves, hats and other knitwear to donate to groups and individuals in need.  The Grey Sock Project aims to link traditional craft and contemporary community by creating knit goods, sharing knowledge, and helping each other.

Read more about the Women's Patriotic Association and the grey sock here.

Sock Knitting Patterns

Historic Patterns
  • Check out our past ICH Newsletter for a WWI Knitting Pattern on page 5.
  • The American Red Cross also gathered volunteers to knit socks. Click here and try your hand at this modern pattern adapted from 1917.
  • The Canadian Red Cross Spring 1918 War Work book contains a pattern on page 15. No modern adaptation created. Take a look and give it a try here.
  • See Needlework and Knitting Instructions produced by the British Red Cross Society in 1914 on page 17.

Modern Patterns

Donate your knitting to a good cause 

There are lots of people out there who could use a warm hat, scarf, or pair of socks. You have a couple options for donating your knitting to a good cause.

1. Donate to Some Warm Welcome! It is an initiative created to welcome Syrian refugees that are arriving in Canada. Hats, mittens, socks, scarves, vamps or anything that will keep someone warm this winter are welcome. Attach a tag that says “Welcome to Canada” in English, French and Arabic. These tags are available to download.

Source: Some Warm 
Welcome Facebook page
To donate to this cause, drop off your knitted goods at:
  • any "Some Good Market" event (see for dates and locations)
  • Cast On Cast Off, 685 Water St, St. John's 
  • The Bay Roberts Visitor's Information Pavilion, call for hours 683.1798
  • MALA, 74 Broadway, Corner Brook
  • All 95 public libraries of Newfoundland and Labrador. Check for the closest one near you! 
2. You can mail or drop off your knitted goods to:

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
1 Springdale Street, 1st Floor 
PO Box 5171
St. John's, Newfoundland
Canada A1C 5V5

3. You can also donate to your local shelter and/or food bank

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

#Folklorephoto Do You Have a Handmade Christmas Stocking? This Knitted Example Was Made by Eliza Genge, Anchor Point

How many people will have similar stockings hanging on the mantle for Christmas? This photo of a handmade knitted Christmas stocking was collected by Lisa Wilson in 2010 while conducting an oral history interview with Eliza Genge of Anchor Point. 

To listen to Lisa's interview with Eliza Genge and see other examples of Eliza's work, visit Memorial University's Digital Archives Initiative

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Living Heritage Podcast Ep040 A Brief History of Knitting in Canada

Shirley Scott, or “Shirl the Purl”, is a handknitter with a special love for history. A librarian by profession, Shirl wrote a book about the history of knitting in Canada called Canada Knits: Craft and Comfort in a Northern Land. Originally from New Brunswick, Shirl has made her home in Newfoundland for the past ten years. Why did she move here? A taste for penitential exile is one possible explanation. Her love of history, hand knitting, and North Atlantic culture is perhaps a better one. In Newfoundland she has found shared interests, deep friendships, and much food for the soul. Shirley talks about how she learned to knit, the history of knitting in Canada, her time researching for her book, and Newfoundland trigger mitts.


The Living Heritage Podcast is about people who are engaged in the heritage and culture sector, from museum professionals and archivists, to tradition bearers and craftspeople - all those who keep history alive at the community level. The show is a partnership between HeritageNL and CHMR Radio. Theme music is Rythme Gitan by Latché Swing.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Knit Some Socks Knit-Along

On Saturday March 5th, despite the weather, we had around 45 lovely knitters join Christine LeGrow and Shirley Scott for an afternoon of knitting. Participants knitted traditional Newfoundland socks found in Operation Homespun which is produced by the Anna Templeton Centre and is available for purchase!

While participants were ribbing k2, p2, Christine read poems and excerpts from A Pair of Grey Socks: facts and fancies by Tryphena Soper Duley; Verses by Margaret Duley. The book was written in 1916 and was a perfect way to connect the knit-along with the 100th anniversary of the First World War. "A woman is knitting most all the day, a sock that shapes from a ball of grey, her fingers fly, and the needles click, fast grows the sock so soft an thick..." In the poem, white stripes on the grey sock "marks the socks for the slender youth who does his part for the cause of truth. The red is a sign for the hardy man, at the height of his strength in life's short span... blue in the sock is the medium size, the colour dear to sailors' wives. So in the grey socks red, white and blue form our colours so bright and true..."

Shirley Scott told us about the research she did for Canada Knits: Comfort in a Northern Land. The favourite story of the afternoon was Queen Elizabeth I encouraging the knitting industry. Shirley said after Queen Elizabeth I received her first pair of silk knitted socks she stated, "... indeed I like silk stockings so well, because they are so pleasant, fine and delicate, that henceforth I will wear no more cloth stockings."

After the ribbing of the sock, it was time for the leg of the sock which is composed by a simple stockinette stitch. Shirley and Christine showed examples of mistakes that can be made when knitting a sock. For example, the ribbing being too tight to fit your foot in or the foot of the sock being too big causing it to fold in your shoe!
Laughs were had and knowledge was shared! I had an e-mail from a participant saying she felt lost at the beginning but a wonderful lady next to her was extremely helpful and she has been working on her sock since. We also had someone text a photo to Christine who was knitting the pattern in Quebec at the same we were here in St. John's. We hoped the knit-along would do exactly this.

This Saturday is the last session! Christine and Shirley will be showing participants how to turn the heel and graft the toe. If you missed last week and are interested in coming this Saturday, send me an e-mail so I can send you the pattern for you to catch up --

Friday, February 26, 2016

Registration for the Traditional Newfoundland Sock Knit-Along is OPEN!

As part of the Grey Sock Project, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and the City of St. John's are presenting Knit Some Socks Knit-along.

Come knit a traditional pair of Newfoundland socks found in Operation Homespun among fellow knitters! Knit-along with a group as you rib, turn heels and graft toes. If you are unsure of how to do something, there are two wonderful instructors to help or ask your neighbour. Once finished, you can donate your socks to those in need or take them home! Snacks and refreshments provided.

When: March 5th and March 12th
Where: A.C. Hunter Children's Library
Time: 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Participants will be required to bring:
  • 2 sets of double pointed needles - 3.75 mm and 4 mm
  • 2 skeins of Briggs and Little Heritage worsted weight 100% wool (or equivalent worsted weight wool)
  • Optional: Small portion of yarn for stripes
Proposed Audience: Some experience to intermediate

Biography of presenters:
Christine LeGrow lives and works in Outer Cove, Newfoundland. She enjoys designing patterns as well as knitting traditional patterns. Many of her designs are inspired by Newfoundland early knits. LeGrow shares her designs with twenty-five knitters who contribute to her company Spindrift.

Shirley Scott, or Shirl the Purl, lives and works in St. John’s, Newfoundland. She spends much of her time knitting and preserving traditional patterns. Scott wrote Canada Knits: Craft and Comfort in a Northern Land and has since been known as Canada’s knitting historian.
Eventbrite - Knit Some Socks Knit-a-Long

Monday, February 22, 2016

As Good as New!

Last week, the darning workshop took place at the A.C. Hunter Children's Library at the Arts and Culture Centre! We had twenty-two eager and excited participants who learned to mend holes in knitted garments with Christine LeGrow. Shirley Scott was there and she gave some great tips to participants on how to knit and care for knitted socks so they are everlasting!

I was lucky enough to see some darning egg/mushrooms - and even a radiator knob - that have been used to darn socks:

             Left - Elizabeth's darning egg -
       a nice modern example
               Right - Rebecca Jeffery's darning egg which
          belongs to her father, Gary. c.1930 from
       Southern Ontario!
Glenna Jamieson-English's darning mushroom!
See the orange? We used them to darn!

After some show and tell, Christine got down to business and taught everyone how to darn. My favourite example was how she compared darning to weaving like some of us were taught in school. By the end of the workshop, everyone got the hang of it and holes began to be mended!

It was a fun filled, exciting, and educational evening. Everyone who attended will certainly be using their new skill to mend socks, hats, trigger mitts, and sweaters for years to come, keeping everything looking as good as new! **Stay tuned - I will be posting darning instructions from Christine for those who missed the workshop soon**

Thank you to everyone who attended, Christine LeGrow, Shirley Scott, the City of St. John's, Susan Prior, the NL Public Libraries, and all those who promoted this event making this workshop a great success!

Missed this workshop? We have a knit-along happening in March!
Eventbrite - Knit Some Socks Knit-a-Long

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Job Posting: Intangible Cultural Heritage Intern

Job Posting: Intangible Cultural Heritage Intern
This is a position with Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL) Intangible Cultural Heritage Office, with a salary of $15/hour. The position will require a candidate with strong writing and speaking skills in English, with a degree in folklore, public history, anthropology, or related discipline.

Previous experience with a heritage organization is an asset, as is a keen interest in folklore and local culture. Excellent organizational skills are a must, and an interest in textile arts or fabric traditions is a bonus.

The ICH Intern will work with staff in the planning and development of programs related to the collection, conservation, transmission, and celebration of the intangible cultural heritage of the province, as well as helping to identify aspects or themes of ICH under threat.

The intern will conduct archival and historical research on the First World War knitting of socks for soldiers at the Front, and the work of the Women’s Patriotic Association, and to make that information available to the public through online collections and public presentations. The intern will also assist in the creation of workshops and after-school programs that will bring together seniors and children, to teach and share knowledge and skills around knitting.

The Intern will document and identify key participants as well as conduct oral history interviews, and help organize, plan and run events. The job will also include some blog and report writing, taking minutes of committee meetings, and assisting with intangible cultural heritage workshops. The position will end March 31st, 2016.

Application Deadline Friday, November 13th, 2015
Send resume, cover letter, and list of 3 references to:

Dale Jarvis, ICH Development Officer
Heritage Foundation of NL
PO Box 5171
St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

More on Cowichan Sweaters - Dief the Chief, Steve McQueen, and Mrs. Johnny Bear

Yesterday, my intangible cultural heritage class at UVic met Alice Trueman, a knitter from Salt Spring Island, who talked about Cowichan sweaters (you can read about that here). Alice mentioned in her interview a photo of John Diefenbaker wearing a Cowichan sweater. A quick internet search later, here he is, in his sweatered glory. The first is from 1967, the second from 1958.

The website "Ask Andy About Clothes" has some great photos of Cowichan sweaters, including one Steve McQueen sporting one featuring the "Greek Key" design Alice talked about, and a fabulous photo of Mrs. Johnny Bear, a Cowichan knitter, posing with her knitting needles.

ICH @UVic Day Two - From Chicken Feet to Cowichan Sweaters

Tuesday was day two of the course on Intangible Heritage I'm teaching at the University of Victoria. We started out this morning, bright and beautiful, at the Gates of Harmonious Interest, marking the entranceway to Victoria's Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in Canada.

We had a busy morning, with the students starting off by doing quick sketch maps of the district, and then locating within the district examples of the five domains of intangible cultural heritage as defined by UNESCO:  Oral Traditions and Expressions; Performing Arts; Social Practices, Rituals, and Festive Events; Knowledge and Practices Concerning Nature and the Universe; and Traditional Crafts.

We then met up with Chris Adams of, who gave us a great tour and talk about Victoria's Chinatown and the link between the tangible, built heritage of the district, and the intangible cultural heritage that permeates it.

It was my first time meeting Chris, but I've met his father and company founder John Adams before (we even were on a panel together about ghost tours, back in 2009). Chris was a fabulous guide and raconteur, and introduced us to some fabulous places, a highlight being the Tam Kung Temple on the top floor of the Yen Wo Society building.

It is an incredible gem of a space, and one I'd never seen before.

After that, we had a quick lesson in the game of Fan Tan, and a lecture on opium dens, and then we went to the famous Don Mee restaurant for Dim Sum, including my requisite feed of chicken feet and egg tarts.

After lunch, we rushed back to UVic, for a chat about ethnographic documentation, including my tips for oral history interviewing

Then we had another treat, a visit from the very charming Alice Trueman, a knitter from Salt Spring Island. Alice grew up on Vancouver Island, and doesn't remember a time when she didn't knit. I conducted an oral history interview with Alice while the class listened and watched.

Alice was another gem of the day; she was a font of knowledge about knitting. We talked about the tradition, her involvement, and how the tradition of knitting has shifted over the years, and the knitting retreats she runs on Salt Spring Island.   

Alice spoke knowledgeably about many aspects of knitting, but particularly interesting was the discussion we had about Cowichan sweaters, a very specific type of sweater made by First Nations knitters in one region of Vancouver Island.

You can download an mp3 of Alice describing Cowichan sweaters here, or in other formats here, or listen below. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Oral History, Workshops, Mill Whistles, and Knitting

In this month's edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador: the launch of the Petty Harbour Oral History Project; announcing our Fishing For Folklore workshop in Petty Harbour this September; the Corner Brook Mill Whistle Project; an update on the Grey Sock Project complete with a WWI knitting pattern; and, a mitten knitting competition.

Contributors: Dale Jarvis, Janice Tulk, Nicole Penney, Donna Clouston, Christine Legrow