Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mary Maxim marvels

Over the weekend, I came across the following in Veronik Avery's Knitting Classic Style (great book, btw):
In the 1950s, the Mary Maxim company made a big splash in Canada with brightly colored sweaters based on the work of the Salish Indians from the Cowichan Reservation on Vancouver Island. The Cowichan began making sweaters before World War I; their trademark garment was a heavy, shawl-collared cardigan featuring graphed geometric, floral, and pictoral motifs in two-color stranded knitting and naturally colored yarn.

Mary Maxim sweaters, which featured similar pictoral motifs - horses, geese, bison, hockey players - knit in intarsia and heavy yarns, were so popular that almost everyone had one, or wished they did. They were even donned by the rich and famous, from visiting comedian Bob Hope to Princess Anne and the prime minister of Canada. Vintage Mary Maxim sweaters still show up periodically on eBay.
Intriguing! I dug around the web and came up with these examples of Mary Maxim cardigans. Aren't they fun?

There are lots of Mary Maxim patterns available on eBay. Wonder if anyone ever made a Mary Maxim knitting sweater? Now that's a cardigan I'd love to have!


  1. My mother used to knit those for us as kids. My favorite was a parade of ducks!!!
    Memories! Thanks for the nostalgia, Julie.
    no...thanks for the revival of cherished,long hidden memories.
    Somehow, I associated M Maxim only with afghans from the catalog I get and really never look at.

  2. I have fond memories of several sweaters just like these...my gram had a penchant for Mary Maxim, and my grandfather, god bless him, wore every one of them, and probably does to this day! (I'm thinking a rummage through his closets might be in order!) ;D Also, on a side note, if you ever get a chance to visit the Mary Maxim store in Port Huron, take it! That place is like a time warp, but, in a good way!

  3. I have always loved these sweaters. Your post makes me want to knit one, and I almost committed. But then I remembered why I've never put one on the needles. Intarsia. Can't stand knitting intarsia.

  4. 45 yrs ago my mother-in-law wanted to make our son a sweater and offered me the chance to knit it. Since then I have made literal 100's of them and probably still have every pattern that I ever used.

  5. Shirley, do you have photos posted online? I would LOVE to see them!

  6. I would love to find the mens totem pole pattern. Please help

    1. Three years too late, but here's the link for the men's totem sweater pattern:


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