Also known as Cowichan sweaters, the name comes from the Cowichan people of southeast Vancouver Island who created the knitting style of these colorful and distinctively patterned, heavy-knit sweaters. This style was made popular by the woolen mill Mary Maxim, a company which offered patterns for Cowichan sweaters via their mail order catalog. For this reason they are commonly called Mary Maxim sweaters. Curling sweaters usually feature a curling theme with rocks and brooms, but there are many variations. Animals and native patterns are also common designs. Here n Grand Forks, variations on the color red were very common. Competition teams were easy to recognize by their red sweaters.
It can be a bit of a challenge to find one of the Cowichan sweaters because they are not as available as they once were. If you have some knitting skills, or know someone who can help you out, you can make your very own sweater! Below you will find a PDF pattern of the sweater pictured to the left. If you're not a knitter, there are some websites on Etsy that advertise custom curling sweaters for purchase. Of course, if you are looking for the truly retro, there is always eBay.
Whatever your opinion on curling sweaters, their distinct style is unmistakable. They are an important part of the history of the sport. It's fun to see these sweaters on the ice, and the next time you see a curler with a sweater you'll know there's probably a story behind it!