Saiwashi Wool Socks

Photo: Sam Carter Collection

These Saiwashi kutsushiita (socks) are another great example of the kind of cultural fusion that figures so prominently in Canadian material culture. Hand-knit by Japanese Canadian Shio Yabuno, the socks mimic Salish knitting, subtly reinterpreting forms and motifs. Notably, Salish knitting techniques (familiarized by the iconic Cowichan Sweater) are themselves a fusion of First Nations weaving skills and European knitting, which quickly evolved into a new and important cultural tradition.

“Saiwashi is the word used by Japanese Canadians to refer to local First Nations, from whom they bought handmade socks and jackets. Japanese Canadian women eventually started making socks on their own, using the technique they learned from the First Nations knitters. Those socks were knee-high and very thick — suitable for fishermen to keep themselves warm on the sea.” – Timothy Savage, curator, Japanese Canadian National Museum Catalogue Worksheet

Source: BC150 Applied Arts Project – click here to visit

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