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From Yarns to Yarn

Owner Diane Morriss loves yarn. She has also always loved books. She inherited the family publishing company, Sono Nis Press, in 1994, and it was inevitable that her two passions would someday converge.

Meeting Sylvia Olsen was what brought the separate strands of Diane’s world together. Diane published Sylvia’s first ground-breaking novel, No Time to Say Goodbye, in 2001, followed by 10 more fiction and non-fiction titles. Three of the books (Yetsa’s Sweater, Working with Wool, and Knitting Stories) explore various aspects of wool, wool-working and knitting.

It was with the launch of Sylvia’s Knitting Stories: Personal Essays and Seven Coast Salish–inspired Knitting Patterns that Diane broadened her focus and integrated knitting patterns and knitting workshops into her ongoing work as a book publisher.

Together, Sylvia and Diane came up with the idea of a 6-week coast-to-coast knitting tour that saw Sylvia travel from Victoria, British Columbia, all the way to Saint John’s, Newfoundland. Along the way, Sylvia taught hundreds of knitters a Coast Salish–inspired colourwork technique. Each knitter needed a kit, and Diane threw herself into learning about wool and helping make knitting kits. Diane dealt with the logistics of setting up all the workshops across Canada and making sure each store, guild or community group had all the supplies needed when Sylvia arrived ready to share her stories and teach knitting.

The tour and kits were so successful, they spurred the development of a new business, and Saltbox Yarn Studio is the result. Saltbox Yarn Studio and Sono Nis Press are based in Winlaw, BC, Canada.

Sylvia and her children own Salish Fusion, based in Saanich territory in Brentwood Bay, BC. They create beautiful garments and a range of knitted and felted items from handbags and hats to sweaters, vests, ponchos and more.

With all these kits, projects and workshops coming on stream, Sylvia and Diane needed a steady supply of quality yarn. Of necessity, another partnership was born. Custom Woolen Mills in Carstairs, Alberta, worked with Sylvia to create a new line of wool called Prairie Sea Fusion. This blend, a soft spun 6-strand yarn made from the wool of western Canadian sheep, is as close as possible to the yarn used by the original Cowichan knitters to make Cowichan sweaters. Sylvia is delighted with the result. See our other offerings of Custom Woolen Mills products here.

As Sylvia says on her blog, “This has been an old-fashioned sort of affair—friends with a good idea, working together to make it happen.”