I had the pleasure of attending a short workshop done by Sylvia Olson who has recently launched her new book. The class was pretty basic, working up a Coast Salish themed toque and didn’t require learning any new skills. The value in the class however, was in meeting and hearing Ms. Olsen speak. Plus, I like the idea of supporting local writers. Any creative in our culture has an upward battle I think, and every little bit helps.
I have written about this author before. Her Working with Wool is a lovely book, full of history and the personal. The new book hasn’t the scope of Working with Wool, given that it is a combination of patterns and essays, but there are similar themes.
The patterns are gorgeous – not particularly difficult to do, even with the larger pieces. Ms. Olsen does a brief explanation of the typical way colour work is done in the iconic “Cowichan” or coastal first nations knitting. This technique differs from other colour work in that it produces a really lovely “pebble” effect on the inside, and is also very stretchy. It has the benefit, as does all stranded knitting, in that it produces a two layer fabric – very warm and water resistant when done in a lanolin rich, rustic wool.
The essays in the book are personal and warm and make enjoyable, thoughtful reading. My personal take on the essays is that Ms. Olsen has more writing in her, more stories to tell at a deeper level than can be conveyed in a knitting book. I had a similar response to the Yarn Harlot at one point – going beyond the structure of the knitting genre there is a very good writer. (OK that is a bit precious given this is a knitting blog, with its own limitations that this typist is trying to expand from. But I digress.)
The class and the book combined to make me want to cast on. Sadly, the yarn we used in the class for the toque is what I would dearly love to use – and it isn’t widely available yet. Ms. Olsen has good suggestions for substitutes in the book – necessary if anyone is to make any of the patterns. The yarn from the class was my favourite type though – local, rustic, bouncy and lanolin rich. A workhorse like Cascade will make a nice sweater – but it won’t be evoking the west coast tradition in the same way. Can’t be helped at this point.
Unfortunately, no picture of the toque for this post. (Its been given as a gift to Sunshine, who heads to Toronto in the fall. They have real winters in Toronto Sunshine, you will need that toque!)
In true knit blog tradition then, I leave this post with a recommendation for the book – it’s well worth the price, even if only as eye candy, and with a cat picture. It’s been too long since the fur balls have been featured. I call myself a knitter?