Sweaters are a family affair

Posted by Sylvia Olsen on

Knitting and sweater stories are often about families and my story is no different. My Auntie Freda taught me to knit when I was about 12. My mother-in-law Laura Olsen taught me about the hard work of making wool and knitting to pay the bills and feed the kids. My (then) husband Carl and I operated Mt. Newton Indian Sweaters for 15 years or so. And now I help my kids Adam and Joni, in the family business, Salish Fusion.

I’ve already told you about our amazing road-trip team—Diane Morriss and Sono Nis Press did the organization for the workshops and Tex make all the travel and accommodation work. But it’s my children, Adam and Joni, who make up the rest of the team.

Adam’s part is invisible, which is a strange position for him to be in. In his other life he’s the interim leader of the BC Green Party and is usually anything but invisible. In the business Adam works the knitting machine and makes blankets, bags, ponchos and knitted fabric for fulling. He also does the communications, manages the website and fields the online sales. For this trip Adam picks up the messages and sends them on to me…he’s the reason you get a reply from me.


Joni made the kits…all 800 of them. When we first thought about the tour we thought we’d need 300 or 400. As the requests for workshops flowed in the number of kits increased to the point that Joni had emptied the shelves in the shop. They are replenished now so thankfully when you order a bag or sweater from Salish Fusion they will now be able to make it for you.


Couldn't find any photos of Joni winding balls of wool for the kits so thought I'd share photos of her processing fish--she's just as good at that.

Adam and Joni are both creative and technical forces in the woolworking business. They have the knitting gene and their grandmother Laura Olsen would be pleased to see her talent and tradition being carried on in her grandchildren.


When I needed models for Knitting Stories I turned to family as well. My son in law, Cory, youngest daughter Heather, grand-daughter Yetsa and Joni (and Tex, of course).


I know Fen, from Custom Woolen Mills, felt as satisfied as I did when we parted a few weeks ago. “Get Joni to connect with Maddy (her daughter), they can work out the business end of things.”


It’s not just a family thing. In every city I meet young women, the same age as my kids, who are enthusiastically taking up knitting. The next generation knitters are technical, creative and knowledgeable about their tools and materials. They want to know about different knitting traditions and styles and they are making their own. It’s an exciting field and it is in good hands.


But....did I tell you that my children gave Pierre's child a reproduction sweater of the sweater Pierre wore in his 1982 Christmas card? Sweaters are truly a family affair. 




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