Sunset Boulevard

January 12, 2024

 


Happy New Year! I hope you have recovered from the Christmas undecorating process and all the tidying up that follows! I have begun my spring cleaning and just like last year, I will take my time to do this crazy whole-house top-to-bottom cleaning thing that actually happens in winter and not spring. But first, let's talk about knitting. Knitting is way more fun than cleaning. I have four sweaters, a cowl and a shawl that I finished and now just need to photograph. That is easier said than done but I do have one for you today: Sunset Highway by talented Caitlin Hunter.

Sunset Highway (but I'm calling it Sunset Boulevard, explained below) was super fun to make and easy because Caitlin's patterns are completely professional. I had the black solid and the Spincycle Dyed in the Wool in my leftovers stash and had purchased the Cormo Fingering Sincere Sheep from Stitches West years ago and was so happy to finally find the right project for it. It's really the most beautiful shade of seafoam green but it's difficult to photograph. The cormo wool is so soft, who knew? Not me, but now I'm a super fan. The colorwork is simple and requires only two colors per row. I'm on a colorwork kick at the moment and have swooshed a dozen colorwork patterns into my queue. I'll make a post soon to show all my 2024 hopefuls. 





A little bit about me and why I'm naming my sweater Sunset Boulevard and not Sunset Highway:

When I turned 16 I begged my father to front me money so I could buy a car and get a "real job". Los Angeles is not a walking city and this 16 year old needed a car to advance her career. I would never get ahead babysitting! I had saved $50 and dad took that as a down payment. We bought a used  but very clean 1964 VW Beetle with an FM radio. I was completely over the moon, especially with the FM radio part. The next day I opened up a checking account with $5 and set up a payment plan with my dad with the money I would be earning from my yet-to-be-acquired sensational new job. Unfortunately I didn't know how to drive a stick shift so it was left to my then 17 year old boyfriend to teach me. I remember he didn't want to do it--he most likely knew I would be a terrible pupil and he was right. The first few sessions had me crying and him grief stricken and terrified at my outbursts. The car was jerking and making horrible sounds; it was awful. Poor Gary, I know he suffered, but he must have really liked me because he stuck to it and eventually I did learn. 

One of my first real jobs was for my mother who worked as an actor's agent. I was her sometimes-after-school-part-time file clerk/phone answerer/courier. Most days after school, at least on the days I got out early, I would drive through one of the canyon roads from the San Fernando Valley where I lived, to her office on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. When she didn't make me file or answer phones, I would be a courier. This was a plum job because it meant dashing around in my little car, picking up scripts from the studios and delivering them back to mother, or maybe delivering actor's head shots and bios to another studio, and generally running other errands all over LA. The freedom of driving around in my own car AND entering studios like a big shot was incomparable. I had no fear in those days and quickly learned the fastest routes to the different studios and even found hidden back roads to avoid the worst of the traffic. When I arrived at a studio gate, I'd call out, "here to pick up a script", smiling brightly hoping I wouldn't get stopped. Most often they'd wave me through, but if they stopped me I prayed that my mother had remembered to call ahead and put me on the list. These days I'm sure there's no driving onto a studio lot unless you can show proof positive you've got a legitimate reason to be there. And for all that running around I think my mom paid me $1.50 an hour, which I'm sure I thought was fair. But then gas was roughly 28 cents a gallon, my goodness! When my day was done I would drive to the end of Sunset Boulevard, turn right onto the Pacific Coast Highway, stop at my favorite beach in Malibu to see if anyone I knew was there, then head home via Malibu Canyon, which I swear I could manage every twist and turn with my eyes closed. 

Occasionally my mother would use me as a set babysitter. Child actors under the age of 18 had to have an adult guardian with them on set at all times, usually the mother. There were occasional emergencies when I had to dash to a studio, find my way to the correct set, pretend I was 18 and "babysit" a child actor while the mom had to run out for an hour or two. It was somewhat lax back then and I cannot imagine it's like that these days even though the babysitting was nothing really. The child actors I saw where very professional and polite and would spend their down time studying their scripts or quietly playing board games. There was a classroom on each set and the teacher would call up each child in turn for private tutoring. My job was to sit and watch and wait until the child's mother came back. 

I had one more free lance job at this time. There was a super cool, super posh boutique on Sunset just steps from mother's office where Sharon Tate, Candace Bergen and other starlets of the day shopped. I crocheted bikinis in the evening and sold them to the shop for $5 a piece, which was a nice chunk of cash at that time. The owner told me she would buy as many as I could make as long as I didn't sell them to any other shops on Sunset. It was a deal! I had this lucrative gig for several months and don't remember why it stopped. Perhaps winter arrived? I spent most of that money on clothes and music in the form of albums and concert tickets, but a big chunk of my money went to my dad for the monthly car repayment and my insurance. On my 17th birthday, after I had paid off close to half the car, my dad said he would gift me the rest because my payments had always been on time. I was a car owner, had a job, was debt free and over the moon, and thought I must have had the best dad in the world! 

Oops! This post has gone on for too long so I'll save the exciting cleaning news for next time. ;) Best wishes for a happy new year. See you soon.




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10 Comments

  1. I LOVED that story. You were plucky and thrifty from the get-go! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  2. Beautiful sweater, Kristen. I loved learning about your first car, and first jobs. The crochet bikinis was my favorite.

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  3. Kristen, Your story as wonderful! You are such a great worker, then and now.Wish I had your energy. That is the most beautiful fair isle I’ve seen this holiday season!!

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  4. Absolutely stunning.

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  5. Absolutely gorgeous sweater! I loved your story about your first car and your first jobs! How adventurous and entrepreneurial you were! Very luck to have such great parents! My parents made me learn how to drive a stick when I was learning to drive, because that's all they ever owned. I never had my own car until my 30's!!!!!

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  6. Loved your story and your sweater is gorgeous!

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  7. What a neat story! Love the sweater!! Chloe

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  8. Your knits are always perfectly cone and beautiful. I enjoyed hearing about the younger you.

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  10. Your an excellent storyteller and I can see why your pullover is named Sunset Boulevard-what memories! Soon, you'll be sharing this story with your grandson when he's of driveable age!

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