The curse of Barbara Walker

Tip for the week: Don’t ever think that you can base a pattern that you’re designing on a pattern from one of Barbara Walker’s amazing stitch dictionaries, and still expect to feel original by the end.


I’ve been working on a stole design for months now. (That’s it in the photo above.) I’ve got the concept all worked out – it’s just taking me a long time to execute the prototype. I want to make sure it looks in reality like what I have in my mind’s eye.

The repeating lace design at the heart of the thing is the Embossed Twining Vine Leaf pattern from page 238 of Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. It’s a stunning piece of lace and lovely in its complexity: it takes 24 rows just to finish one repeat of the pattern. I’m going to layer some additional elements on top of this, but I’m delighted with how the vines look as they trail along the length of the stole. It looks especially fabulous in the rich semi-solid tones of Dream in Color Smooshy in the Happy Forest colorway.

Then, the winter issue of Interweave Knits arrived in the mail, and my smugness was shattered. There are not one but TWO patterns in this issue that use this very vine pattern: the Climbing Vines Pullover and the Stenton Garden Pillows. (Weirdly, each pattern has a completely different chart, though the knitted result would be the same.)

Now, I’m grateful for the charts, because following Walker’s written instructions was making my eyes cross, and my attempts to chart the thing had reached the limits of my charting intelligence.

And even though seeing these IK patterns makes me feel like I just showed up at a party wearing the same dress that two other women were wearing, you have to figure, hey, it’s got to be a great dress if all three of us are wearing it, right?

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