The Orca Run: A Cowichan-style Cardigan

The First Nations people of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada are known as the Coast Salish people.  Having a cultural tradition of weaving and spinning dog and goat hair, they were introduced to sheep and to knitting in the 19th century. The sturdy, long-wearing Cowichan sweaters evolved over time and have been made from the knitters’ own handspun yarns with wonderful motifs that reflect their connection.  I love whales and chose Orca and wave motifs!

The techniques the knitters employ are unusual and are included with explanations in this Cowichan-inspired pattern, such as pockets, weaving every other stitch, a short-row shawl collar, an unusual shoulder join, and short-row shaping for the cap of the sleeves. The body is knitted in one piece back and forth and the sleeves are worked in the round once the cap is completed. Photos, technique boxes and theory boxes are included in this pattern, as well as a schematic, charts of the motifs, and a reading list for further study.

A video of the shoulder join can be found on my YouTubeChannel!

Orca Run

If you live in the EU, please go to this website to purchase this pattern.  Thank you!

Featured Techniques

Classic 5-Band Layout, Inset Pockets, Weaving the Yarns on the Right Side and Wrong Side, Shawl Collar with Optional Stripes, Wrap & Turn Shaping, Sleeves with Shaped Caps, Zipper insertion

Finished Sizes

Circumference: 37 (40,43 3/4, 48, 52 1/4, 56)”/ 94 (101.5, 111, 122, 132.5, 142) cm
Length: 25 (26, 27, 28, 29, 293/4)”/ 63.5 (66, 68.5, 71, 73.5, 75.5) cm


Gauge in two-color Stockinette stitch: 13 sts and 18 rows or rounds/ 4 inches/ 10 cm)



Bulky weight yarn. Suggested: Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, 85% wool, 15% mohair, 125 yards/4 oz. skein

Color A- Sandy Heather (BM-01): 979 (1100, 1250, 1423, 1604, 1763) yards
Color B- Sable (BM-07): 392 (440, 500, 569, 642, 705) yards
Color C-Cream (BM-10): 196 (220, 250, 285, 321, 353) yards



32″ or 40″ ( 80 or 100 cm) circ ndl, US size 101/2 (6.5 mm)
1 set dpns US size 101/2 (6.5 mm)


Stitch markers, tapestry needle, waste yarn, heavy duty separating zipper (Length depends on the size knitted and should be determined after the garment is knitted, approximately 18-20″/45.5-51cm.)

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