Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Saturday, July 23, 2011

yarnsalad finds the LYS in Camrose

I've been in central Alberta for two weeks now. I was starting to get twitchy about not having a stitch night to go to, and with the crappy Internet connection out at the farm here, I also haven't been able to participate in Thursday night's #knitchat on Twitter.

On Tuesday, I stopped into Liv With Yarn in Camrose. I was pretty excited when I saw the Auracania Multy in the window display. (I used the Auracania in the Dan & Stacey socks I knit a year and a half ago, early in my sock-knitting career, and *love* using that yarn). The shop was quite large, especially compared to what I was used to with Knits by the Sea in Tofino, but I saw she also carried the Diamond line of yarn, same as Ellie.

I was poking around the shop, seeing some yarns that familiar and some that weren't. I had never held llama yarn before, for example. Eventually I made my way to the back of the shop where the women were knitting, dropped in, introduced myself. Leana is the shop's owner and was working on a piece for yarn-bombing the main street. I also met Bonnie and Amy, who I gather are sometimes employees, but both who seem to have a second home in the LYS, as many of us knitters do. I caught all their Ravelry names, found out when their stitch night was, and said I'd be back on Thursday.

Thursday rolled around and I arrived just after 7pm. Leana and Bonnie were outside on the bench, knitting. Leana was working on a scarf with some crazy new yarn that looks like a big ruffle when you knit it (I think Ellie started carrying this too, a month or two ago). Bonnie was working on a Cowichan sweater, which around here they refer to as a Siwash (?) I was most intrigued by this, as patterns for Cowichan sweaters are hard to come by.

See, these sweaters are a product of the First Nations people of the Cowichan Valley area on Vancouver Island, and I have called Vancouver Island home for the better part of the last 16 years. The sweaters grew popular and patterns were available for a short time, then the women of the Cowichan Valley protested, arguing that their cultural heritage was being sold and that that was not right. If you watched any of the Olympics in Vancouver last year, you may have seen the Canadian athletes wearing these sweaters. The big question was: were they authentic Cowichan sweaters or were they knock-offs made in China or India? When I was working at Knits by the Sea last year, we had *lots* of people asking for Cowichan sweater patterns. There is a lot of respect for First Nations peoples and traditions on Vancouver Island, so we of course explained why they weren't available. (This is not to say that there isn't respect for First Nations elsewhere in Canada, I honestly don't know, but I do know that there is an awful lot of racial tension and gang violence at the reservation near where I grew up in central Alberta, so much so that a 5-year old boy was shot in a drive-by shooting in Hobbema just last week. I digress.)

I thought it interesting too that they referred to these patterns as "Siwash" (SAI-wash), as if everyone knew that was their name. I had never heard this term before. I mentioned it to Dan last night, and he said they are getting the pronunciation wrong, it's SEE-wash, but yes, that is a local term of the First Nations people. At any rate, I found the whole thing interesting, that there is a class on how to knit a Cowichan sweater in a LYS in central Alberta.

Back to my story... the reason Bonnie & Leana were outside knitting was because every Thursday night there is music on the Main street. There were 50-100 people hanging around downtown, taking in the music. The band was your typical bar cover band, the female singer with a deep husky drinking-and-smoking-every-night kind of voice, who has obviously practiced all her songs a lot but isn't that great of a singer. When the wind kicked up, we knitters were blown inside and Bonnie made tea. More knitters arrived.

It's an interesting thing, going to a stitch night in a different community. It made me very aware of the demographic. In Tofino it's people with dogs, lots of single gals, lots of people just there for the summer, visiting and/or working. In Camrose, it's mostly people who have kids and a few who don't. What I love about knitters is that we are an accepting bunch. It doesn't matter what you look like or what your interests are: knitting unites us and that's all that matters. Even as a new and temporary member of their knitting group, I felt welcomed as we all tested the waters into what was appropriate conversation.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you found another knitting group! We are missing your company here in Tofino!

    ReplyDelete