Behind the scenes

Posted by Sylvia Olsen on

People often remark about what a big job it must have been to put a trip like this together. They are right, of course. It is the sort of ‘book tour’ that publishers arrange for their heavy weight authors. Though I have published about a dozen books with Sono Nis Press, none of them have warranted a tour like this because this isn't just a book tour, it's a knitting, story, research, training...tour.

As I have said in earlier posts, this tour was the collaborative brainchild of Sono Nis’ Diane Morriss and me. We thought it would be a great idea and a lot of fun. The tour would promote our latest book Knitting Stories and give me the opportunity to share the style of colourwork I use in my patterns in the book. It would also be a research trip. I could collect knitting and sweater stories and explore some of the questions I have about how Canadians think about their “Cowichan”, “Indian”, “Siwash”, “White Buffalo”, “Mary Maxim”, etc sweaters. It would give me the opportunity to share some stories I have about Coast Salish knitters and their sweaters and to inform Canadians about the only truly Canadian knitting tradition.


Sono Nis office and warehouse in Winlaw, BC.

That’s all well and good but the real challenge of this trip was its organization. That’s where Diane comes in. As soon as we thought of the idea Diane and I began to plot some of the ‘must visit’ sites—Custom Woollen Mills, Briggs and Little, Mary Maxim, The Canadian Textile Museum, Nonia Knitters and, most of all, knitters and yarn stores across the country. Then Tex figured out how long it would take to get from one place to the other.

Diane did the rest of the organization on the phone in the Sono Nis office in Winlaw. She contacted yarn shops and weavers’ and knitter’s guilds in every province and arranged the timing and advertising. Thanks to Jim Brennan, (Diane's husband) for designing the posters.

Diane and Jim  

We were all astounded by the response. We had originally thought that I would give a few workshops along the way. Those few stops turned into more than thirty-two destinations (many with multiple workshops) from Victoria to St. John’s.

Joni, (my daughter) assembled the kits for the workshops (900 of them). Diane and Liz, (her daughter) put together extras to make sure we had enough to keep up with the demand.

Jim in training...turns out wool winding was not his thing. 

Now we are on the road meeting the yarn shop owners and guild contacts Tex and I are discovering the magic is really Diane herself. Everyone is on the same page; they have the right information, the right day, the right time, the right place. Everyone is expecting exactly what I am doing. It sounds easy but it’s not. Expectations are everything and Diane’s superb communications skills are the key.

This has been an old-fashioned sort of affair--friends with a good idea, working together to make it happen. It reminds me of the 1970s when Carl and I used to load up our ’65 Ford van with Indian sweaters and pull into parking lots, set out a sign and sell out in a day or two. Except this time Diane has set us up to visit dozens of locations and meet hundreds of amazing and appreciative people…no one more appreciative than me…thank you thank you thank you Diane Morriss and Sono Nis Press.


Our happy visit with Diane and Jim in 2014 with Maddy (my granddaughter) and Sophie.


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