A Test – Because I Like to Challenge Myself

barbara walker stitch patterns
My set of Barbara Walker stitch pattern volumes

I have decided to put myself to a Test – both in terms of expanding my knitting skills and in terms of testing my ability to finish a true challenge.

I realized when I started a new design recently, that even though I own the entire Barbara Walker collection of books, I always end up back at the same collection of stitch patterns. This would not necessarily be a bad thing if it were my “thing”, but I realized the real problem is that I haven’t taken the time to work through the books and swatch out the less familiar patterns. And to be perfectly honest, I am completely intimidated by the volume with all those complicated cable patterns!

I’m sure my fellow designers out there are all familiar with Barbara Walker, but for those of you who aren’t, check it out. Each of her books have hundreds of stitch patterns – pretty much all the reference material any knitter needs. She is truly incredible, and pretty much any stitch pattern you see most likely originated out of one of her books.

Now that you know the extent of Barbara Walker’s material, you can appreciate the test I’m setting up for myself. I am going to knit a swatch of every single pattern in her stitch volumes. I have wanted to make myself a swatch book for a long time, and since all the photos in her books are a bit small, and in black and white, I would love to have a tangible sample of all of them. This will be a huge investment of time and a very difficult thing to see through to the end, but I know it will be invaluable to my work in the future. I will be learning how to do techniques I’ve never done, and since we’re talking about thousands of stitch patterns, it will be tough to get through all four volumes plus the Mosaics book.

So, my self-inflicted rules for this test:

  1. Each swatch must be big – 10″ x 10″ at least.
  2. I must rip out if I make a mistake. The swatches need to be perfect so they can be used for future reference.
  3. I will post photos of swatches here for all of you as I complete them.
  4. I will knit the swatches in the yarn weights that relate to the pattern. For instance, no bulky yarn for lace and cable patterns.
  5. And yes, I will knit a swatch for EVERY single stitch pattern. No skipping.

I am going to try to link all the posts and photos to #ElizabethKnitsBarbara. Please let me know in the comments if you have her books and would like to do this with me. Company and fellow contestants welcome! 🙂 If not, I hope you will enjoy all the upcoming posts and hopefully find my full-color large photos helpful.


13 thoughts on “A Test – Because I Like to Challenge Myself

    1. Yes, I know it’s a major task. But to be honest, I think it will be a worthwhile investment. I always refer to her books when I’m designing, and I realized that I end up passing over alot of it because I have no idea what they really look like – it’s hard to tell in the photos sometimes. So I think it will be so helpful to have a notebook of tangible samples.


    1. Cool, thanks for letting me know about this collective! I didn’t know about it, but company is always good when doing such a massive undertaking. I will definitely be posting, because I want to make a note of what weight of yarn, size of needles, what I learn as I go, etc. I really love these books, but I do think the photos aren’t always that helpful when trying to decided if a certain stitch pattern will work for a design or not.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: ElizabethKnitsBarbara – First Swatches – ELIZABETH KAY BOOTH

    1. Well, 10 inches is a ball park – but yes, I usually do much bigger than 4 inches. I have found that doing a larger swatch gives you a better idea of how the fabric will drape, and when you wash it, if there is growth, it’s more noticeable on a larger swatch. Nothing worse than knitting an entire sweater, washing it, and then realizing it doesn’t fit! 😦

      Liked by 1 person

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