Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nicky Epstein, Nicky Epstein

Bennie and I have the occasional bonding fiber moment when we pick up either Nicky Epstein’s Knit for Barbie Doll or Crochet for Barbie Doll. We will reverently turn each semi-glossy page to gaze upon the sweetest fiber jewels ~ handmade clothing for Barbie. Bennie will create her wish list as I take note of the required yarn and mentally scan the stash for substitutions. As much as I feel Barbie should, by all means, be well attired, I’m not going to run out to the Knittingsmith to purchase Paternayan Persian wool or Richesse Et Soie cashmere/silk or, get a load of this, Rainbow Gallery Angora. I’ve got plenty of single-spun odds and ends to work with. Thus far, I’ve made some mighty fine stuff. One day I was accosted by one of the Playground mothers . . .

“I hear you knit little clothes for Barbie,” she says, a little belligerently.

“Well . . . yeah. Sometimes.”

“Sure! Just what I need! Thanks a lot!”

“Sorry.”

“You ought-a be!”

So be warned. Once this seemingly innocent little hobby is taken up one could gain enemies. The ability to knit items for a daughter’s Barbie creates a Martha Stewart-induced stress on other mothers to perform. On the other hand, they’re great birthday gifts in a pinch and will be well received. (So what if you have to pull the red-eye to get it done in time for an early afternoon party. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before. Remember xmas?)

But in angora? I think not.

I’ve seen little girls play with Barbies. They simply shouldn’t be allowed to. In the hands of sweet little girls Barbie is mauled and dressed in clothes that don’t match. She is outfitted with chunky sneakers in an evening gown meant for the High Society Ball. She is bedecked with five layers of little shirts, no pants and flashy high heels. Barbie might even end up wearing jeans with a skirt, no shirt, a hat and boots. And then there’s the Barbie that’s been given up on ~ the nude Barbie. Clearly, this is when a little girl has run of ideas for other possible clothing combinations. At this point, she moves on to the next reasonably dressed Barbie and proceeds to strip her of clothes, turning everything inside out and plopping it in the Barbie travel box instead of utilizing the hangers in the rotating Barbie Wardrobe Closet (requires two C batteries).

It is at these weird moments, when the dust has settled and the visiting girls have gone home, I will sit with Bennie and go through all the Barbie stuff and try to put it all back together again. I’ll spend time dressing each Barbie in the matching items and maybe even one of my knitted/crocheted pieces (if it’s appropriate). To date I’ve made sweaters (natch), a poncho, a summer dress, hat and scarf sets and a fluffy hat and coat set. Today I just finished an anorak from the knit book. Knitting for Barbie is like an hors d’oeuvre ~ it’s a little something to tide one over until dining on larger, finer fare; like an adult-sized Fair Isles sweater. Sad thing for me is that sometimes I’ll down too many of the yummy hors d’oeuvres knitting up cute little Barbie clothes before dinner. Barbie is also the proud owner of many of my gauge and pattern swatches generally used as throws, dog beds and horse blankets.

All in all, Barbie does mighty well in my house. Thank you, Nicky Epstein. I might not be making friends on the Playground, but Babs is stylin’!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

An Anthropological Observation of Female Gatherings: Girls as compared to Women

1) Girls squeal; loudly and frequently. This noise is soon followed by fits of giggling and falling all over each other, thus resembling a quivering mass of . . . well . . . giggling girls. It is at this point, one needs to leave the room and shut the door to retain hearing and sanity. Otherwise, plan a trip to the otolaryngologist and then the psychiatrist (that’ll be two ‘ists’ in one day; do I hear three?).

Women cackle and chortle; loudly and frequently. These noises are followed by big, deep meaningful hugs and comments on how good they each look. This period of time in a testosterone-free environment smacks of pure oxygen-induced giddiness.

2) Girls are Drama Queens. Everything is a big deal and worthy of gushing, whining and tittering about.

Women are Drama Queens. Everything is a big deal and worthy of gushing, angst and another bottle of Muscatel.

3) Girls eat a lot. I don’t mean in a prim Afternoon Tea sort of fashion. I mean in a voracious, locust-like manner. Nothing lasts long once it hits the table. In fact, the fast-food fare might not even make the table. Naturally, once devoured, more food is necessary to quell the hungry hordes.

Women eat a lot. The only difference is there are plates and forks. Well, the table is decorated with them; we don’t really want to dirty a dish if we can at all help it. Meals are delivered in courses so as not to over stimulate the pallet and with an eye toward an Afternoon Tea sort of behavior. At times, this fails miserably as we lose ourselves in the glow of good company. Thankfully, rude behavior is forgiven as long as it isn’t too reprehensible and a sacrifice in the form of chocolate is made (I like those Lu Dark Chocolate Schoolboys, myself).

4) Girls need a purpose to gather together. Aside from the planned, politically-correct play date, other gatherings include camp outs, Brownie meetings, sleepovers and playground herds. It isn’t enough to just hang out. I mean, jeez! Boys do that! What are we here for? What’s the goal? What can we do with these beads and string for four hours?

Women need a purpose to gather together. Aside from the planned, politically-correct play date, gatherings include brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and late-night noshes. It isn’t enough to just hang out. Men do that and in more ways than one cares to report. What are we here for? What’s the plan? What can we do with these beads and string for four hours?

5) The Jaws of Life are required to separate girls from any All-Girl gathering. They have such a good time together, such fun, it's hard for them to call it a day/night. As a result, there are plenty of vice-grip hugs with no sign of letting go as well as more squealing.

Only a substantial amount of food packed to go is required to separate women from an All-Woman gathering. We don't have a hard time calling it a day/night because we're older, we get tired and need naps/a decent night's sleep; but future plans of a night in a luxurious hotel suite with good room service are discussed. There's plenty of hugs to go around and much cackling and chortling. I think women can let go because we have the memories of these great times together to bank on.

In honor of Bennie hosting her very first sleep over at our humble abode . . . Now, I wonder if they'd like some breakfast? And I'm only on the first cup of java.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Canadian Bologna

Not to be confused in any way with Canadian Bacon. Yes, they are both round once sliced, but that, my fine American friend, is where the similarity ends. Canadina Bologna is not tasty with Eggs Benedict, but it does have its uses. For instance, a healthy slab 'twixt homemade Prince Edward Island bread with brown (NOT yellow ~ that's for wimps) mustard makes a mighty fine meal. Thanks to a friend who'd recently gone to visit family (under tragic circumstances), I've been enjoying this sodium-laden, beef lip delight morning, noon and night. It is extreme Comfort Food. I do rather hope I run out of it soon; before my thighs become as One. (Besides, that activity is reserved for the Hips 'n' A$$ ice cream.) I also received a jar of something I've never heard of ~ freezer jam. Usually, those two words strung together means I have far too many frozen items in the upper regions of my refrigerator, most of which is unidentifiable. There may even be a frozen caveman in there. The kids have been a bit edgey each time I've gone near the freezer, come to think of it. Anyway, freezer jam is fruit that's not been canned in boiling water. Instead, it's loaded up in a jar and then, well, frozen. I haven't tried that yet. I think it would be yummy on fresh-baked biscuits. I'm waiting for the bologna to evaporate first.

In the meantime, I've broken a personal record of spinning and plying a whole bunch of wool in one day. Thanks to the fine spring weather, I've been able to sit outside with the Millie and spin. Skittles and Smudge had alternate turns using the make-shift rabbit run. Mabel the Hen was scratching for bugs and grubs in the front yard. The boys were shooting cap guns at passing vehicles while Bennie was trying to get Obiwan the Persnickity Orange Cat out of her Barbie tent. Just an idyllic day of sorts. And so I was able to spin.

This was the mohair/wool roving:
















And it is now this:

It is still my plan to turn this into a sweater with the company of the 100% alpaca. Maybe this blend could make the yoke of the sweater.

In the meantime (again), I have one winter sock done and the other is on the needles all waiting for the Kid's Choice Awards on Nickelodeon and an All Girl Sleepover (blog fodder, for sure). I do know how to have fun.