Last week the XXIII Winter Olympics began in PyeongChang, and there have already been some incredible performances, as well as some rather wonderful knitwear on display.
While woollen garments may no longer form the staple of athletes’ competitive uniforms, several national teams chose to celebrate traditional knitwear in their official ceremony outfits and in the designs of their garments for competition.
The USA team made quite an entrance in the Olympic opening ceremony with their rather fabulous Ralph Lauren sweaters which featured stranded designs that seemed inspired by traditional Nordic motifs. (You can buy the US kit from Ralph Lauren – see here)
Knit-inspiration: Several designers on Ravelry.com have already been inspired by the design.
2018 Winter Games Hat by Susan Rainey (here) – this stranded hat is made in worsted weight yarn and gives a slightly slouchy fit, although the pattern can easily be adjusted according to your preferred fit. (see photo at top of post)
Team USA 2018 Hat by Debi Hassler (here ) – made in 3 colours of DK weight yarn, this adult-sized, slightly slouchy hat is a great way to use up yarn leftovers.
Neva Hat by Bethany Dearden (here) – this worsted weight hat is crocheted rather than knitted, but it comes with both written and video tutorials, so if you’re mainly a knitter, it may be a great opportunity to begin or extend your crochet skills.
The Norwegian Olympic ski team has been outfitted by the famous knitwear designers Dale of Norway since 1956. (For some fantastic vintage designs, see the gallery of past Olympic outfits here)
This year’s design (shown above) is also available for knitters to make themselves, and features sweaters for adults and children, plus a hat, headband, cowl, socks and gloves. See 345-01 Olympic Passion by Dale Design (here )
The Canadian snowboarders immediately caught my eye- not just for their incredible aerial acrobatics in the slopestyle, but for their not-quite-knitwear team outfits. (see photo above)
The team jackets were made by Burton in a modern, technical fabric – a 4-way stretch Sonora® fabric that is light, comfortable and water-resistant- but, in a nod to traditional winter clothing and Canadian heritage, the fabric was imprinted with a high resolution photograph of knitted sweater panels. The original sweaters were designed by Corinne Hunt and made by Granted Sweater Company, based in British Columbia. Hunt was inspired by themes and traditions of her First Nations Komoyue and Tlingit heritage, and included traditional animal motifs such as the Raven, classic Canadian bear and Orca that represent aspects of the snowboarders’ characters (agility, strength, speed) and their sense of community. (See original sweaters below, and see more about the team kit (here))
Although the original sweaters cannot be purchased, similar sweaters are available at Granted Sweater Company. For example, this sweet penguin cardigan, available to buy (here )
Prints of knitted fabric are also not available in other garments by Burton, but you can buy a similar look in bags made by another Canadian- Jodi Brown at MrsBrownsBags (here) (Jodi is perhaps better known as one half of the Grocery Girls Podcast (here ) and the Craftsy Off Our Needles podcast (here ).)
While the Canadian team sweaters draw on a very specific First Nations heritage from British Columbia, there are many knitting patterns that are influenced by the traditions of other First Nations groups from the Northwest Coast of North America. For example, Cowichan sweaters originate with the Cowichan people of southeastern Vancouver Island, and combine European and Salish techniques (see more here .) On Ravelry (here ) you can find 166 designs inspired by Cowichan and Salish traditions by going to the Pattern Browser & Advanced Search- Attributes – Regional/Ethnic Styles – Cowichan (Salish). For example-
Nehalem by Jared Flood (here ) – featuring a garter-stitch shawl collar and bands of geometric colourwork, this cosy cardigan is inspired by Cowichan knitters and is knitted in the round with a steek. Photo copyright Brooklyn Tweed.
Wolastoq Mittens by Sarah H. Arnold (here ) – these worsted weight, stranded colourwork mittens are knitted in the round and worked with a ribbed cuff lining and braided trim. Wolastoq (pronounced “woolastook”) is a word used by the Maliseet First Nations people which means beautiful river, and the mittens incorporate eagle, fish and traditional Salish motifs, with a nod to Canada’s own knitting tradition.
Anatomy of a Salish Sweater by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (here ) – if you’re interested in learning more about Cowichan or Salish sweaters, this pattern/article offers you an introduction to to the construction and traditions behind the garment. Available in a digital copy of PieceWork magazine (here ) or you might like to look for the out-of-print book from which the article is taken – Salish Indian Sweaters: A Pacific Northwest Tradition, by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts. Minneapolis: Dos Tejedoras Fiber Arts Publications, 1989.
A little vintage Olympic inspiration…
From left- Striking, geometric intarsia designs on the sweaters worn by ice skaters, Carl Schäfer of Austria and Sonja Henie of Norway at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid in 1932. Traditional Nordic stranded mittens on the poster for the Oslo Olympics in 1952.
Over to you
What were your favourite outfits in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang- or in earlier Olympics? Have you been enjoying watching the games?