For those of us growing up in cold climates in the ‘50s and 60’s, I remember wearing a zip-up knitted wool sweater jacket to go skating on someone’s backyard rink. (Hard to imagine now with all the $750 Xtreme sport brands of outer wear protecting us from avalanches and the polar vortex.) Skiers, skaters, snowflakes, hockey motifs and of course woodland creatures like beavers, moose, ducks and rabbits usually emblazoned in red, black and grey, were de rigeur . Adults wore similar styles known as “curling sweaters.” Of course we never thought they looked “kitchy” then – perhaps just really damp and smelling like wet wool after a snowfall.
So if thrift-shops are not your thing to scout for vintage clothes, two iconic Canadian brands, Roots Canada (celebrating their 40th Anniversary) and Mary Maxim (their 60th designing knitting pattern kits,) have collaborated to create a retro Collection of nostalgic sweaters and knit accessories for the whole family.
Michael Budman and Don Green founded Roots in 1973 in Toronto. Their ‘beaver’ logo exemplifies both the quintessential Canadian symbol and gregarious work ethic – with 220 stores across North America, China and Taiwan.
Mary Maxim was founded in 1954 in Sifton, Manitoba by an entrepreneurial couple Willard and Olive McPhedrain, who bought into a wool mill. They named their company after their housekeeper, Mary Maximchuk. Inspired by First Nations’ Cowichan sweaters, Mary Maxim developed a graph-style pattern for heavy, zip-up wool jackets and the sweaters took-off in popularity. Today their factory is based in Paris, Ontario and owned and operated by their grandson, Rusty. He resides in Port Huron, Michigan where the American headquarters and store are located.
Mary Maxim sweaters have had quite a history of their own. They have been sported by names like Bob Hope, Princess Ann, and pop group, Barenaked Ladies on their 2004 album cover. It has been rumoured, Sarah Jessica Parker wore one on an episode of Sex in the City.
With the international trend and appreciation for hand-knitted fashions and knitting as a hip pass-time, Mary Maxim will commemorate the special edition Roots Canada Collection with patterns available in kits for the at- home knitter in 2015.
Getting back to your roots has never been more appealing!