Great times in Alberta

Posted by Sylvia Olsen on

Paul Brandt’s lyrics in his song Alberta Bound talk about the Rocky Mountains, black fertile ground, big blue sky, coal mines, farmer’s fields, Chinook winds, redneck roots, and dusty boots. He doesn’t mention oil jacks, railroads, trestle bridges, wind farms, feed lots, friendly people and crowds of enthusiastic knitters.


But then Paul probably didn’t know about the knitters. Alberta women knit; there is no doubt about that. Barb, at Edmonton’s River City Yarns told me that 20 million American women golf and 88 million (my memory) knit—the proportion is probably greater than that in Alberta.

At our first stop at Knitting Time in Lethbridge Sharon set up the workshops in an empty store next to hers and invited the Lethbridge Herald to cover the event. I wish I had more time so she could teach me about the knitting machine…she is a master. Her red velvet birthday cake was deadly, especially for breakfast the next day.

Maria Lougheed, president of the Handweavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild, set us up in the north. First she organized two workshops; one in Wetaskiwin at the museum and the other in the Camrose Library. 


We are beginning to see a family theme in our participants. Three generations in Wetaskiwin.


It’s not just women who knit.

Maria contacted Cynthia and Barb at River City Yarns and they hosted three workshops in their bustling store.


We also had a great time with a large circle of knitters at the Strathcona Centre thanks to Arlene and the Edmonton Weaver’s Guild. Trey is the first kid to show up at our workshops. His mom said he had no choice and although he said his first try at knitting didn’t go so well he persisted this time and got a few rounds knit.


We doubled back between the Wetaskiwin and Edmonton events to meet with the Gilli-hook Heritage Knitters Guild in Calgary. We heard another interesting story that is still emerging about a Japanese man who was interned in WW2. I will write about it later when I get more information but for now…thanks to his daughter for sharing the sweater with us. From what we can gather so far this was likely a second hand sweater when he received it in the 40s, which dates it back to the 1930s. The sweater embodies the thrift of those days…check out the preventative darning across the back.


We had a busy and exciting week. We met more than 120 knitters and heard wonderful knitting and sweater stories.

Tex got his toque up to the colourwork (more on that later). He says if he can do it anyone can. 

We said goodbye to Alberta with our friends, Peggy and Jim, and Erla and Bob, in Tofield. Thanks Peggy for the delicious lunch and the demonstration on your astounding free-handed quilting machine.




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  • Sylvia it was awesome having you come to Wetaskiwin and Camrose, This week everyone was commenting on how great the workshop was. They loved your stories. You would be proud of the knitters as most have their hats done and are busy with knitting projects from your book.
    I love the pictures in this posting of some of the museum knitters. Also the picture of that old Cowichan style sweater is amazing.
    Hope the rest of your journey is just as exciting for you and Tex.
    Casting Off!

    Maria Lougheed on

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