St. James

Some say knitting stockinette in the round is mind-numbing. To me it's bliss! I let my brain wander and before I knew it, I looked down, and my fingers had made a garment. It's that easy.

Dressed up or down, this is a wardrobe basic. I will most likely make another, but then I say that about a lot of things I make. However, St. James has many attributes and will no doubt pull me in again, plus it's top-down and FREE!

Size xs with 6 skeins Rowan All Seasons Cotton in brown, shade 212. If you haven't used this fine yarn yet, you are in for a treat. Not only does it knit up nicely, it also washes well and is truly an all seasons staple. The only modification was a small one; I always add inches in length to accommodate for my long waist.

2010 adult sweater #6.

Beautiful Barbie

When I was a little girl, my dad was a toy and sporting goods buyer for a large chain of stores. He traveled often on buying trips which was exciting for my brother and me because Dad always brought home samples of the next greatest toy. We were the first kids on the block to have a hula hoop, pogo stick, and silly putty. When the rest of the neighborhood finally got their hands on Playdough, we had moved on and were cranking out SNOW CONES with our bitchen new Hasbro SNOW CONE MACHINE! Yay, Daddy for having the most awesome job of all the daddies in the neighborhood! (Except for maybe Dan Blocker, who lived behind us and played Hoss Cartwright in Bonanza, he might have aced my dad out of this title, but only just.)

Well, since this is a Barbie story, you know where this is going. One night dad arrived home late from a gift show, this is circa 1959 and I am maybe 7 years old. I was supposed to be asleep, but instead tried hard to overhear my parent's conversation going on down the hall.

Mom: Did you bring home anything for the kids?

Dad: Well, something for Kristen, but I'm not sure about it. It's a doll, very risque. Ruth at Mattel talked me into buying too many, she says they are going to be huge. Here, take a look.

Mom: Bob! You CANNOT give this doll to Kristen. She's obscene!

That was all I needed to hurl myself down the hall and into the room. I grabbed the doll from my mother and swooned. Her thick, slutty eye-makeup and secretive sideways glance, that blond ponytail and actual doll breasts! RED FINGERNAILS! I was deeply and forever in love with Barbie.

I played with her endlessly and loved her madly. Since it would be months before this doll would be launched to the public and she had no clothes, just her stripey swimsuit, I made clothes out of Kleenex and scotch tape. When the clothes became available, mother also became infatuated (how could you not?) and we bought every garment we could. Her wardrobe back then was not to be believed, with fur and brocade being the norm for this little Barbie doll. I played with my now two Barbies, the angelic blond and the evil brunette, and the hapless Ken for too long, into my teens if I am to be honest. I made clothes for them, knitted blankets, wove tiny rugs, beaded jewelry, these dolls got the very best of my budding 10 year old creative talent.

A few years later, something bad happened. My beloved pristine Barbies Number One with the funny holes in their feet, and the entire wardrobe collection was given away to a little girl I babysat for. After a few months, I had misgivings and tried to get them back. The mother did not agree and said, "You don't want to be an Indian giver, now do you?" Well, actually, yes I did. They moved away, we moved away, I tried a few more times. No success. It makes me very sad when I think about it.

post script: Barbie's face has changed over the years, who's hasn't? I have a few newish Barbie dolls that have been passed down to me as their little 10 year old owners outgrow them. I always say, "When you want her back, she'll be waiting for you!" In the meantime, sometimes I knit for them from this wonderful book.

Check out a dazzled me on Christmas morning, 1959. On the right is the "Commuter Set" and on the left is the "Pink Negligee" with the famous pink felt puppy. Just off camera is our aluminum Christmas tree, from dad of course.

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Knitting with Noro is like going on a treasure hunt, even with grays and browns it's like magic to see the beautiful colors develop. But the best part of the treasure hunt is the different manner of schmutz to discover while knitting. In just one skein, there was of course your everyday pokey-outey straw bits. But I also found a seed (no I did not plant this seed in fear it would be a kudzu type weed ready to overpower my dear little flowers), an actual thorn and the best score of all, a darling little yellow burr ball, a kind of Seussical find where a tiny Whoville might live.

I used 1 skein of Noro Kureyon Sock, color #149. It is scratchy to handle and makes a burlap type fabric, but after a good bath it does soften. However, I cannot imagine wearing socks made from this, too itchy, but they would be pretty.

Citron is such a fun pattern and practically knits itself. It's free here from Knitty and hugely popular on Ravelry, I've seen people make a few of these. It's a good traveler and easy knitting for waiting rooms, church services, car rides, etc. as it takes minimal brain cells to power through. I stuffed it in my purse almost every time I left the house. I already purchased a skein of Zephyr Laceweight for my next one!
Side note: It is important to wet block Citron.

If you haven't made your Citron yet, don't delay! You'll love it!

take a stroll

My husband and I are astonished at the roses this year. We have thousands and thousands of blooms, more than ever, with hundreds more opening each day. The reason for this cacophony of bloom, we think, is the cool weather and welcome rain we have had here in northern California this spring. The roses think they are in England instead of hot California and they are lovin' it!

We took a stroll through the garden and counted 65 roses, so with an average of 100 to 500 buds on EACH bush, we did the math and came up with this count: 65 x lots = oodles. The final count is oodles of blooms.

We've said goodbye to the flowering trees, farewell to the glory of the wisteria, "see you next year" to the asparagus (that's a tough one to say good bye to) and welcome the roses in their place.

c'mon, take a stroll with me...

The zinnias are getting ready to face the real world.

The view from my desk.

David Austin roses line the veggie garden.

Entrance to the veggie garden, in the background is Joseph's Coat, in the front is Eden.
A border of Pink Simplicity in the front yard.

A path bordered by tree roses under planted with jasmine for the summertime fragrance.
Astonishing every year, this Climbing First Prize deserves it's name.

Good bye to the asparagus,...

...the peonies and
the wisteria.
We'll see you next year!

P.S. There is knitting of course, isn't there always? Some WIPs and maybe an FO to share soon!