Friday, June 08, 2007

Date With a Living Legend

Barbara Walker came to our guild last night. Yes, you read that correctly. Barbara Walker...the Barbara Walker.

Barbara lives in Venice, Florida with her husband and flew to Atlanta to speak to the Atlanta Knitting Guild at our regular monthly meeting and then to teach a class on Mosaic Knitting on Saturday. Yes, of course, I'm taking the class. Wouldn't you?

She spoke about her obsessions, and what she said was very familiar to most of us. Most of us have obsessions...hers have been serial. Sort of like Elizabeth Taylor is a serial monogamist.

As a lifelong scholar, she has had a passion for learning, research, and writing. She described the process by which she began collecting stitches for her first book, because no one else had ever done it. Makes sense to me. Her latest obsession (which she says she's almost at the end with) is gem collecting.

Three things I found especially interesting: First, she has no stash to speak of. All of the swatches for her books were done with very dull-colored neutral yarns so they would photograph properly in black and white. The thing of interest for her was the pattern, not the yarn. (I bought three of her swatches--more on that later in the weekend.)

Second, she has no interest in computers, and seems largely oblivious to the world of knitting online. Someone asked her how she felt about the project where knitters can submit photos of her stitches online for a stitch compilation; she was not aware of the project and didn't seem all that interested.

Finally, the books Barbara is most proud of are her feminist books. She feels those are the books that have had the most impact on women. I'm not sure she's correct but who am I to argue with THE Barbara Walker?


Romi said...

Wow! How cool to hear her speak! I'm jealous.

Alison said...

What Romi said! And thank you for the pictures; I've always wondered what she looked like.

I talked to her on the phone about 18 months ago to ask her permission to incorporate her stitch patterns into my shawl patterns for my book. She was very gracious in doing so, and I am very grateful.