Joni’s knitted interpretation of Coast Salish weaving

The day Joni, my oldest daughter, was born 43 years ago, I was spinning wool so I had something to knit when I came home from the hospital. I birthed her with the help of a Caesarean Section. She was a perfect, beautiful little baby. Almost immediately people commented on her dimple. Perhaps a knitting needle poked her, people joked. For nine months she had been the shelf for my knitting.

Joni was born with the knitting gene. No one taught her. From the time she was a little girl she knew exactly what to do with needles and yarn. Joni inherited the gene from both sides of her family. Her Coast Salish Grandmother, Laura Olsen, also knit every day of her life until she could no longer lift her needles.

Joni is not just a knitter, she is a designer as well. She isn’t satisfied just knitting what everyone else is making. She is interested in pushing knitting in new directions donning her needles for a machine and then pushing the machine to its limits.

One of Joni’s most interesting creations was highlighted in the Qw’an Qw’anakwal Exhibition of Coast Salish Art at the University of Victoria in 2021. During a visit to the Chicago Field Museum in 2012 Joni viewed an early Coast Salish woven tunic. The piece inspired her to design a knitting stitch that reproduces classic Coast Salish weaving and to create her own fascinating rendition of the garment in the museum.

Joni’s tunic is a demonstration of fusion—using new tools and materials to reproduce old shapes and textures.

Stay tuned. There is more to come.

Joni’s latest design is the new home for Salish Fusion. The shop is currently being constructed and with luck and hard work should be open in time for Christmas.

2 thoughts on “Born with the knitting gene

  1. Love the tunic and was wondering about the store. I have not forgotten our project! Once the studio warms up a little more I’ll begin. Happy Birthing day to you!

    1. Good to hear from you. The stitch Joni uses is an interesting take on the heavy white Coast Salish weaving stitch…do you know what they call that? It’s sort of a double herringbone, but not really anything like that. No worries about the wool. Anytime. I bought a peg loom and would love to bring it up to you so you could show me how to use it. I’ve been watching instruction videos but they aren’t my favourite way to learn.

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