Tag Archives: Cowichan

New book: Japanese Cowichan-style Knits

14 Feb

Granted Clothing

A few months ago I discovered Granted Clothing and fell in love with their sweaters, handmade in Vancouver BC! As a non-knitter, I would look at the $400 price tag and cry a little tear, but as a knitter I get to figure out how to make my own!

If you’re like me, you recognize this style of sweater–they’re bulky, usually with animal designs, and are vaguely Native American-looking–but don’t know much about it. I did some background research and the style is called Cowichan knitting, after the Cowichan people of Vancouver Island, BC, and was developed when the Cowichan were introduced to European settlers’ knitting methods. Like other styles of Native American/First Nations art, mainstream fashion decided these sweaters were something that could sell and now you can now find mass produced “Cowichan” aka “Big Lebowski” sweaters at Urban Outfitters (great blog post on this issue here).

I *think* I get to bypass these issues by making a sweater myself… and acknowledging that I’m remixing the original style into something of my own creation while still honoring its origins. I’d love to have something that incorporates more color and maybe has horses on the back?

Japanese Cowichan Book

In any case, the idea to design my own Cowichan-style sweater was on the back burner when last week I saw this book on sale from Fringe Association (a great store/blog I just discovered). It light heartedly (and obliviously?) combines traditional designs with Scandanavian motifs and other styles. It’s a total cultural mash up and it’s great.


One of my favorite Granted sweater is the whale vest for kids, and this book has its own whale design. Perfect!


I love this lion head too. Would be so cute on a little boy’s sweater.

If you’re wondering “wait… isn’t the book IN JAPANESE?” well yes, it is, but Japanese patterns have such detailed charts and diagrams that no reading is necessary (except numbers–at least those are the same). And if anyone finds this on Ravelry, please let me know!