Woolgathering: Awareness of the Foreign in Published Works About Cowichan Woolworking (Paperback)
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Working in wool to make traditional woven blankets and modern knitting has long been a primary cultural communication method of people in Cowichan First Nation, but published comments suggest non-Cowichan people have consistently failed to understand what was being communicated. An examination of the last 240 years of published comments on Cowichan woolworking shows themes of foreignness and co-operation emphasized throughout. In Woolgathering, author Paula Johanson presents examples of an ongoing commentary, not only on the fabric-making of the Cowichan people but on the idea of foreignness, in a particularly West Coast manifestation.
This short monograph presents a discussion of published works on this kind of woolwork, from the ship's logs of Cook and Vancouver, through gunboat colonialism, to international fibre arts historians and Indigenous artists' statements. Discussions of Literature of the West Coast, or history, mean little without an understanding of experiences of people living in that place and time. Indigenous woolwork, both traditional weaving and modern knitting, is a technology well adapted for people's needs. These knitted and woven works, recognizable at a glance, identify both makers and wearers as people living in close association with this place and time.
Paula Johanson is a Community Fellow in the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab at the University of Victoria, with a graduate certificate in Digital Humanities. She was a Community Fellow in UVic's Centre for Co-operative and Community-Based Economy, while completing her master's degree in Canadian literature. Her master's essay is the basis for the text of Woolgathering: Awareness of the Foreign in Published Works About Cowichan Woolworking.