In Nova Scotia, and in particularly on Cape Breton Island, knitting is as much a part of family life as baked bread and Celtic music. Here, where the outdoors is so much a part of everyday life, knitting is traditionally less a “past time and more a necessity. In the spring, early summer and late fall, members of the fishing industry put out from shore wearing hand-knitted wool mitts that, upon repeated immersion, become naturally felted to the point of being near-waterproof. And inside their rubber boots are thick woolen socks knit over the winter by loving family members.
Similarly, in the winter while enjoying cross country ski, snowmobile or snowshoe outings, family members wear hand knitted mitts, hats and socks to both add comfort and fight the cold.
Arts North enjoys offering the work of a number of fine Cape Breton knitters, all of whom concentrate upon wool as their fiber of choice for its warmth, feel and natural oils. While some choose to concentrate upon producing basic traditional items such as mitts, hats, socks and children’s clothing, others create vibrant scarves, felted hats, and toques.
Grandparents in particular take delight in selecting grandchildren’s gifts from a range of children’s knitted sets.
Gailene WebbGailene Webb's pic not available
Louisbourg-based Barbara Landry been knitting for over 20 years. It is a skill taught her by her mother who is still knitting at the age of 90.
Barb only knits with natural fibres including silk, alpaca, wool and angora. She enjoys knitting large project such as lace shawls and scarfs but prefers hats, fingerless gloves, mittens and socks.
Barb often designs her own patterns specifically for the yarn she wishes to use, and also dyes much of the yarn she uses in her projects.
A keen interest in traditional patterns and traditional ways of knitting has led her to develop patterns based on historic artifacts for the Fortress of Louisbourg, and she is continually researching antique patterns from Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton.
A selection of some of the smaller items Barb produces
The circle is made up of thrummed slippers. Traditional slippers from Newfoundland and Cape Breton, they have knitted thrumms or strands of raw unspun wool, alpaca, or mohair which will felt over time a form a warm cozy lining. The slippers are made from 100% wool or a wool/silk blend, and sell for $40.00 each.
Inside the circle is a blue cable hat in angora and wool which sells for $40.00, a reversable headband in alpaca which sells for $45.00, two pairs of fingerless gloves one in white alpaca selling for $40.00 and one in angora and wool with a beaded edge selling for $45.00. Also in the circle is a pair of two-colour mittens in a traditional Scottish pattern knitted in 50% wool, 50% alpaca and selling for $50.00.
Dolls representing traditional costumes
These dolls represent traditional costumes for the first settlers of Cape Breton Island. They are typical of clothing worn at the Fortress of Louisbourg and in the village of Cheticamp over 200 years ago.
The dolls are stuffed with polyester filling; the clothing is hand sewn and made with all natural fibres. The hair is made from unspun wool.
Peacock square shawl
This shawl is made from 50% silk 50% wool. It is knitted with traditional lace patterns reminiscent of Scotland.
The shawl took over 100 hours to complete and sells for $200.00
|Gailene Webb's pic|
Maggie's Blue and Grey Felted Hat
Maggie's Jelly Bean Knitted Cap
Maggie's Multi-colored Felted Hat