If you’ve been reading our blog, then you may already have heard that Sylvia Olsen of Salish Fusion Knitwear is coming to the mill this fall. We are so excited to have her join us in the month of September for the 2017 Custom Woolen Mills Fibre Artist Millstay.
If you aren’t familiar with her work, then you are in for a treat! Sylvia is a champion of the Coast Salish knitting tradition with over 30 years experience knitting and selling sweaters from her home in the Tsartlip community of Vancouver Island. She has travelled Canada and the U.S. telling stories of knitting resilience and teaching Coast Salish colour-work technique. Her book, Working with Wool, won the 2010 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Historic Writing, and her compilation of essays and patterns, Knitting Stories, is beloved by knitters across the country. Her current artistic practice combines Coast Salish and Fair Isle techniques with wool felting to create a truly unique modern fashion.
“Sylvia Olsen married a Coast Salish man when she was seventeen and moved to Tsartlip First Nation. She was immediately struck by the ingenuity Coast Salish women displayed in their production of Cowichan sweaters, which soon became Sylvia’s passion. She operated a Cowichan sweater shop for sixteen years on the reserve. From there she marketed the sweaters locally and abroad until the early 1990s, when the markets began to disappear and the once-booming industry faded. Sylvia then returned to university, making the Coast Salish knitter the subject of her master’s thesis; the theme of a National Film Board documentary, The Story of the Coast Salish Knitter…” – from, Working with Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy & the Cowichan Sweater.
During her stay, her collection of historical Coast Salish knitting will be on display in the Ing Gallery at the Carstairs Museum. As well, you will be able to visit her in studio here at the mill.
We are also excited to announce that during her stay, Sylvia will be offering classes on Coast Salish colourwork technique. There are three options available; Sunday, September 17th 2pm to 5pm at Stash Needle Art Lounge in Calgary, and Friday, September 22nd 10:30am to 1:30pm or 3pm to 6pm here at Custom Woolen Mills. Sign up online or feel free to contact us for more details!