I thought I would start a series of posts on my knitting and creative inspirations. To kick it all of we have a post about my knitting heroine; Barbara G Walker.
Barbara was born in Philadelphia in 1930 and has written many books about knitting and feminism which happen to be my two favourite topics and makes her pretty damn cool (in my book).
Also, Barbara didn’t get the hang of knitting until she was 35. My boyfriend failed to understand why that was so amazing to me until I explained that it is like finding out that David Beckham hadn’t kicked a ball about until he was in his mid thirties – there’s hope for us all!
I am in the process of collecting all of Barbara’s books on knitting; they include A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Charted Knitting Designs; A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns, (do you see where we’re going here?), A Forth Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Mosaic Knitting and (in my opinion) the essential companion to them all; Knitting From The Top. I still have several to add to my collection; Learn to Knit Afghan; The Craft of Multicolor Knitting; Sampler Knitting; The Craft of Lace Knitting and finally, The Craft of Cable Stitch.
When I began collecting the books, I sat next to a male colleague in his 50’s who wasn’t the slightest bit interested in knitting, however, during our time as desk neighbours, he had to listen to an awful lot of me getting really, really excited about the ever imminent arrival of the next Barbara G Walker book I had on order. In the end I felt that he was just as excited as I was when they turned up, although upon reflection that probably was because each time he hoped would be the last one to complete the collection. Sadly (for both of us), it wasn’t.
Knitting From The Top is my all time favourite knitting book and I imagine always will be. It is the book that made me realise I didn’t have to rely on other people’s patterns, that basically, whatever I wanted to make would be possible, and Barbara’s no nonsense approach to the whole thing made me believe I could do it. She is my biggest knitting inspiration.
If ever I am in a bit of a creative rut, and I don’t know what to knit, or where to start, I always pick up one of Barbara’s books and knit a swatch in an interesting stitch. It never fails to spark an idea, and in the meantime lets me feel productive without the pressure of trying to work anything too complicated out.
One of the things I love about Instagram, Facebook, blogging etc. is that you can become part of a community, finding like-minded people to inspire and be inspired by, to bounce ideas around with, to get involved in projects, knit alongs etc. and apparently this is nothing new. I love the picture below because it is Barbara with two other big stars in the knitting world; Elizabeth Zimmerman who wrote the fantastic ‘Knitting Without Tears’, which is something I’m sure we all strive towards (I certainly do), and Mary Walker Phillips of ‘Creative Knitting; An Art Form’ fame.
If you don’t have any knitting books and you don’t know where to start, then anything by any of these three amazing women is a great place to start. My personal favourite is Knitting from the Top, but I know there are lots of people who are just as passionate about Knitting Without Tears. I think that is a great book too – my preference might simply be from the fact that I read Barbara’s first. Whichever you choose, if it inspires you and spurs you on to try something new, then it was the right choice!
Who are you most inspired by?
Happy knitting, until next time!