A Letter to Barbara Walker

Dear, Ms Walker,

I have always had such deep admiration and respect for you. I own all your book.  All of them. Multiple copies of some of them. You have inspired me more times than I can count. So much so that I am working my way through your first stitch dictionary, A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Like walking the Camino de Santiago or climbing Glastonbury Tor, or The Hajj, this is a pilgrimage, of sorts. I want to stitch in your footsteps, in your honor, and the honor of my own knitting heritage.

But, oh, my ever lovin’ wool…am I bored with this first chapter! Simple knit and purl combinations are so beneath me. There’s not enough there to engage my not inconsiderable talents, but just enough to keep me from being able to completely zone out. Neither a rugged slope that I have to pay attention to climbing, nor a smooth pathway that I can skim across without really noticing, these first patterns are like a gravely dirt road; tedious but with occasional potholes to fall into or sharp stones to trip over. Gee whiz, I can’t imagine how you disciplined yourself to work all the swatches in the photos. Or did you? Maybe you farmed them out?

As I mentioned in my last blog post (look here if you want to read it), I am a woman of many interests and hidden depth. Well maybe not so hidden, and maybe not even all that deep. But my point is, I’ve had a rich meditation practice off and on since I was a little girl. I’m also a writer, short stories usually, but at least one novel and many, many personal essays. So I’m familiar with the phenomenon of resistance and the sensation of writers block. I’m pretty sure that’s what I’m dealing with here. Like with any other discipline, I can come up with all kinds of excuses for why I’m having a hard time. It’s boring. It’s beneath me. I have other important things to do…like cruise Pinterest or update my favorites on Ravelry. I need to blog about my knitting instead of doing it. You know. Anything to keep me from actually ploughing my way through the less exciting bits.

But, Barbara…may I call you Barbara?…if you could put your mind to writing all these things down, I can bend myself to the task of knitting my way through them. It really is a meditation, a pilgrimage, a prayer. I’ve figured out how to keep my mind engaged while I’m in the gravelly parts. I’m going to work every stitch, but I get to make the rules about how I accomplish it. I’m going to allow myself to skip around a bit and intersperse the simpler stitches with some of the more complex ones. And I’m going to work several at one time so I can break up the monotony.

IMG_2165 AnnotatedMy dear Barbara, I am determined to get through them all. If you have any stories to share about how you over came writer’s block, or knitter’s block, please share them. I’d love to know how your creative process works. Meanwhile, here are my versions of Waving Rib, Basket Weave, K1-P1 Ribbing, Twisted K1-P1 Ribbing, K2-P2 Ribbing, Twisted K2-P2 Ribbing, Mistake Stitch Rib, and Embossed Moss Stitch Ribbing. I’m looking forward to Baby Cable Ribbing, Little Hour Glass and Braided Ribbing. I’m going to make it fun and satisfying, and praise your example with every stitch.




P.S. When I did the Basket Weave, I started on the wrong side so the photo shows the back. I decided to leave it as is rather than re-do it, and count it as done. I couldn’t face doing it again, and I get to make up my own rules, right?

Written by mim


4 Comments on “A Letter to Barbara Walker

  1. Well, you know any discipline has its moments of snotty, stubborn, resistance. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Do you think I should actually send it to Barbara?

    • Thanks, Paul. So are you. From first hat to last sweater, you’ve been The Boss since the beginning.

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