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.


Pantone on Fashion…and In General

If you haven’t figured it out already, let me just say, I LOVE color. When I was working as a graphic designer, color was always a major part of my work, and as a knitter/crocheter, it still is. Color is probably the first thing I respond to when picking yarn, and I very often find that even sub-consciously, color is at the core of my design work. Of course, I try to pay attention to line, texture, shape, etc., but color is the design element I always seem to have the most immediate and strong instinct about. It follows then, that I really enjoy Pantone. I enjoy their color forecasts, and my husband very kindly bought me this book for my birthday. Twenty years ago, when I was starting out as a designer, the Pantone books were the gold standard of matching colors in the printing industry and Pantone was strictly business. The swatch books were super expensive, but they practically guaranteed that your design would translate well from computer screen to the final printed item. I love how the company still produces useful things for design professionals, but has developed more products for the general public to celebrate color.