The Barrett Counterpane Knitting Pattern


This knitting pattern gives the instructions, and the list of materials you will need to purchase from your nearest knitting shop, in order to complete one of the knitted squares. We have made some of our knitted squares into bags or baby blankets – the cotton is soooo soft and snugly.

The Barrett Counterpane, on display at the Quaker Tapestry Museum, Kendal, is an 8 foot square bed-covering, created between 1899 and 1909. Resembling a Friendship Quilt and crafted by 34 embroiderers, it consists of alternate knitted and hand-embroidered squares. This 19th C friendship quilt is a major work of art with connections to the Victorian Art World, William Morris and Queen Victoria herself!

At first glance, the counterpane resembles a chessboard: squares individually embroidered with designs in blue thread alternate with hand-knitted cream squares. Sewn along the sides of the counterpane on brown backgrounds are four quotations. Each quotation relates to the theme of sleep or dreams.

Stitch by stitch and thread by thread, the counterpane took shape over a period of ten years during which time 34 embroiderers, all of them women, contributed their own personalised squares. As a result each square holds clues that, once solved, shed light on forgotten lives. This silent cloth is filled with voices.

The clues reveal that the oldest embroiderer was aged 83 and the youngest was in her early teens. In this way the counterpane looks back to a time before railways and forward to the helter skelter of the twentieth century. Come along to find out more.


Buying lovely things from us directly supports our charitable work, thank you

Your purchase helps us to preserve and exhibit one of the world’s largest community embroideries and in sharing its stories, history and stitches for all to enjoy.