Born with the knitting gene

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.


Thank you thank you Christopher Walker/Cabinboy knits for this interview

The book is out. The interviews are coming in. Why did you take the tour? Why did you write the book? What surprised you? What do you know now that you didn’t know before? First we took went on a road trip. Then I wrote the book. And now…there’s a whole other level of reflection.

            To start…a word about the publisher; Douglas & McIntyre does a great job of promotions. I am surprised at how much interest they have gathered—how many interviews they’ve scheduled. I had never imagined that a knitting road trip book would be on the BC best sellers’ list for the first two weeks it is out.

            My next surprise? As I’ve said before, a lot of people are interested in knitting…millions of them. But I am beginning to think that everyone has someone who loves to knit—someone who they want to buy the book for. Or perhaps I am right when I facetiously say that there are only two kinds of people in the world—people who knit and people who wish they could knit.

            And then there’s the roadtrippers. The book is only partly about knitting. It’s equally or even more about the road trip. And who, especially during COVID, doesn’t wish they could go on a road trip?

             Finally a word about the interviewers. I have been interviewed many times on various topics. I always hope for the best—that the interviewer is interested and somewhat knowledgeable—that he or she has done some research on the topic. What do I know now that I didn’t know before? There are a lot of interviewers who are fascinated by the idea of a knitting road trip and if they are any indication of the general interest then it’s no wonder this book is doing much better than I had ever expected.