Grace Helen Mowat and the Making of Cottage Craft
Knitting is a booming pastime, enjoying a resurgence of interest, spawning books, movies, a brisk online trade in wool and knitted goods — even trade fairs. In Canada, Cottage Craft has long held a strong reputation for its fine wool, dyed to the palette of the local landscape, and the fine craftsmanship of the women who weave and knit its quality materials. Behind Cottage Craft is the story of a woman of vision and remarkable resolve. Grace Helen Mowat looked upon traditional rural crafts — knitting, weaving, and rug hooking — as cash crops for the straitened farm women of Charlotte County, New Brunswick. In 1911, unmarried and with limited means, she commissioned a handful of St. Andrews women to make rugs according to her designs, which were then sent to Montreal. The Arts and Crafts movement was in full swing — the rugs sold quickly. This is the story of how Grace Helen Mowat built Cottage Craft into a burgeoning home-grown business that continues to attract customers the world over.