Sweaters, Quilts, Girly Photos, Oh My!

Recently, (today, just hours ago) I read a blog by a friend, Maggie Turner, (found here at her web site, “Maggie Turner: Page by Page”). Maggie has just lived through the most amazing moving adventure and has had to consolidate two complete homes into one. During the move, she lost track of a beloved sweater that she called her “Cowichan sweater.”

I dropped the ball when I read this and forgot to go look it up. I had never heard of that word, Cowichan, before. But luckily for me, and now you, another online friend, Nora, went ahead and googled it and so, when I read that today, I had to do the same myself as I am a curious sort.

They are lovely and so interesting. The whole history of this type of sweater can be found all over the Web, but I have a couple of short videos below for you to watch if you are curious, as I was. I especially was attracted to the “Manly Art of Knitting” video… I do so admire a man who can do a job normally attributed to women and survive the stares and innuendos brought on by onlookers. THAT is a REAL man… and why should knitting be relegated to only women? I haven’t researched the history of knitting – yet – but I’ll just bet somewhere back in history, men used to do this work a lot. I can just visualize the burly fishermen of the Hebrides Islands in Scotland spending a long cold winter in their small homes with knitting needles at hand and lots and lots of home-grown sheep and lamb’s wool in a basket on the floor beside them. And I’ll just bet those sweaters, knit with the oiled wool of those sheep, kept them warm and dry during their months out to sea!

Knitting the Cowichan Sweater:

The Manly Art of Knitting:

Above, the man is knitting a new hammock!

Here is a lovely page called:

Trendspotting: Cowichan Sweaters!

…where you can find patterns as well as materials for knitting your own Cowichan sweater! I love the long cardigan on this page, scrolled down a ways, with the big wooden buttons, in the gray and blue and gold.

What a project this would make! I haven’t knitted anything for a very long time. Not sure that jumping into a Cowichan pattern would be appropriate for someone like me with arthritis, but it’s fun to think about.

Click on Marilyn above, wearing a Cowichan sweater, to read more about this particular craft. As you may or may not know, Marilyn is a long-time love of mine. I have a wonderful poster sized photo of her in my home that my mother gave to me one Christmas many, many years ago and which has been up on my walls consistently ever since then.


Above, in my kitchen, before the renovation, on the wall over the shelves. Also seen in this photo above is my “doily” that I made many years ago and framed with fabric as backing. That took a lot of work, using very thin cotton thread… and a tiny crochet hook!

This dresser near the back (side) door gets junkier and junkier as time goes on... but Marilyn is there to make the junk a little more appealing to the eye.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

As you walk in the back (side) door, she is here to greet you.

Marilyn’s story has always intrigued me, and I’ve read lots of books about her life and her death and all the little nuances of being Marilyn. I wish she hadn’t died, but as presidential candidate “JEB” (who now is using only his first name for fear of alienating the Bush haters in the electorate!) said recently about the terrible shootings in Roseburg, Oregon — “Stuff happens.” I will always miss Marilyn in the world – haven’t seen anyone even come close to her since she died.


Above is the “crazy quilt” that my great grandmother, Lucy Ella Bucknam Ingersoll, made. Another example of an old craft that has weathered the test of time. She used all her own clothing, cut down into small pieces, for this quilt, and my great grandfather, her husband, designed the entire quilt out for her on paper, even down to all the intricate stitches around every piece of fabric.

So I take this opportunity to thank both Maggie and Nora for setting me on the path to this topic. When one is retired from a lifetime of work-a-day living, and finally has the hours free now to spend on such a project, it’s great to find new ideas and patterns and techniques to make something so beautiful as these Cowichan sweaters.

There you have it. The gamut from Cowichan sweaters to Marilyn Monroe with a little crazy quilt thrown in for good measure!

I need some food. It’s going on 1 o’clock p.m. and I have yet to have any food, just my one cuppa…



I think I could turn and live awhile with the animals…

They are so placid and self-contained,

I stand and look at them sometimes half the day long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied… not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.

~ [Walt Whitman, from “Leaves of Grass, No. 32”] ~

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7 Responses to Sweaters, Quilts, Girly Photos, Oh My!

  1. Susan Honthumb says:

    Your blogs are always so interesting.


  2. WendyNC says:

    Thanks for digging out that information on the Cowichan sweaters. I enjoyed the video.


  3. TopsyTurvy says:

    That was a fun post! Thanks so much for all the info about Cowichan sweaters!


  4. Annanotbob3 says:

    Lovely! I’m tempted to try to knit one of those buy the wool is sooooo expensive xxx


  5. Thanks for the video Bex, I hadn’t seen that before. My sweater has an eagle motif. I bought it at a specialty store in Banff, they were all so beautiful, it was hard to pick just one.

    I always enjoy seeing pictures of your kitchen!


  6. Sleeps_With_Rocks says:

    Bex, you prompted me to thinking about men knitting. I liked the videos you posted. Four needles…yikes! I have always loved these sweaters but was not familiar with their name. What I was familiar with was the Irish Fishermen’s sweater but not the history. Nor are they also called Aran sweaters before they are actually called Irish Fishermen’s. All very interesting.

    Here is a link that would have to be copied and set in the browser despite the help of several of you trying to teach me how to instill a workable link with HTML. Does not work for me because my brain can’t grasp it. Sigh.

    Darn the link will not post. It’s called ‘History of Aran sweaters’.

    Love the photo of Marilyn in the Cowichan. I also love those little TVs!

    One other thing I read that the lanolin is now being stripped from the wool. That is what made it wearable in rain. My vitamin D3 is made from lanolin!


  7. Sandy Freel says:

    Where I work we have guys that knit..love to see the needles fly.
    Good blog today


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