Thursday, December 20, 2012

Some Cowichan Sweaters: Staple of the Pacific Northwest or "What's up with the Big Lewbowski Dude Sweater?"

 What the hell is a Cowichan Sweater?

Pendleton Cowichan  "Dude" Sweater (borrowed from eBay)
A traditional Cowichan sweater would be made by the Cowichan people of the Salish Nation in British Columbia. They are a heavy sweater knit from natural sheep's wool, undyed and unprocessed so that the natural lanolins are left which helps to shed water. The original designs were derived at the turn of the century from mixing Salish weaving techniques with knitting styles brought over by British settlers. There are entire books written on the subject and I won't even try to attempt any history lessons.

That aside, manufactures, hand-knitters, and resellers (myself included)  have taken a bit of liberty using the term Cowichan to describe their products. Clothing manufacturers such as Pendleton, Filson, Ralph Lauren, Mary Maxim, and Eddie Bauer all have sweaters in their catalogs that they refer to as Cowichans. The "Dude" sweater is actually manufactured by Pendleton and fetches some pretty ridiculous prices in eBay land. Patterns have been made and sold for hand-knitters in all sorts of designs since the 1940s. Some of the 50s hand-knit sweaters are quite sought after and tend to be a little brighter with bold designs.

We often have these sweaters for sale through the vintage section of our eBay store, so be sure to take a look here and see.  Who knows, there might also be something else you're looking for.

 Here's some photo examples of some of the sweaters we've found along the way, some traditional, some handmade from patterns, and most just awesome.

Vintage 50s Cowichan style sweater

Vintage 50s Cowichan style sweater (back)

Early 50s Crown Zipper made by Coats and Clark

Vintage 50s Cowichan sweater

Vintage 50s Cowichan sweater (back)

Vintage 50s Cowichan sweater (with a rayon lining)

Vintage 70s Cowichan Sweater

Vintage 70s Cowichan Sweater (back)

Vintage Pull-over Cowichan Sweater (date unkown)

Vintage Pull-over Cowichan Sweater (back)

Vintage 50s-60s Cowichan Sweater

Vintage 50s-60s Cowichan Sweater (back)

Cowichan type sweater made from commercial pattern

Backside with awesome dogsled design.

Antler buttons on Cowichan Sweater

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