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Knitting…for Barbie?

20 November 2010
Palm Beach Breeze Barbie

What would you knit for Palm Beach Breeze Barbie?

There’s an interesting new aspect to the story of Barbara G. Walker (knitter, mythologist, feminist, genius) making its way around the internet: Walker’s hand-knit doll costumes. Kristina McGowan, author of the beautiful book Modern Top-Down Knitting, met with Walker a few years ago and took photos of some of the Barbie (and other) dolls for whom the top-down knitting goddess had made elaborate costumes. [In her article, McGowan also admits to finding great peace and calm while reading craft books…the only other person I’ve heard of who talks about this. I feel a little less crazy now.]

“I thought clothes for an 11- or 12-inch doll should be miniaturized in proportion, and shaped to the doll’s figure,” Walker explains in an essay on the Schoolhouse Press site. “So I bought a couple of Barbies and began experimenting with materials like fingering yarn, fine boucle, thin cotton, silk and metallic threads, even sewing thread, on needles size zero or smaller.”

Now, this is truly knitting like you mean it: making fitted clothing for an unreasonably curvy, 12-inch plastic doll. And just in case you are starting to resent Barbie for getting something else you always wanted to have (besides the journalism career, the large breasts, the enormous shoe collection, the devoted boyfriend, and the pink townhouse)…we can see from a slideshow posted recently by Schoolhouse Press that Walker didn’t limit herself to Barbie dolls. If you check out the Schoolhouse Press slideshow, you’ll see that she made costumes for Jaime Sommers (the Bionic Woman, though she looks kind of manly in doll form), Hugo Drax of the James Bond film Moonraker, and (my personal favorite) Dr. Kate McRae of The Black Hole.

This does make me sad that I gave away my Audrey Hepburn Barbie…but you can’t keep Holly Golightly from roaming, can you? So – for whom will you knit, doll-ways? Justin Bieber? Jack Bauer? Mego Joker? Mad Men’s Joan Holloway? And those are just the Js! I kind of want to make a sweatshirt and yoga pants for Tribute Barbie, so she can shrug off that evening gown and lie on the couch for a while.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Consuela permalink
    20 November 2010 7:18 pm

    Well, yes, Barbie had an enormous shoe collection. But her feet were always stuck in high-heel position! That bugged me a lot. I like wearing high heels but I also like to wear flats so I have something Barbie does not: flexible feet. Take that Barbie!

    • Kathleen permalink*
      20 November 2010 9:41 pm

      So true! I remember being both fascinated and dismayed by the high-heel-only feet, and trying to sort of squish them into regular feet. Even if you got her a pair of sneakers, she was always standing on her toes. Not healthy! Here’s something that would be a challenge: hand-knit socks for Barbie.

      • Consuela permalink
        21 November 2010 9:03 am

        Oh my! The thought of trying to knit socks for the perpetually high-heeled feet of Barbie—not to mention the microscopic size of her feet—actually makes me not so scared to tackle regular ol’ socks for me. The Lord works in strange ways…

  2. Kathleen permalink*
    22 November 2010 11:03 am

    We’ll make you a sock knitter yet!

  3. 22 November 2010 1:36 pm

    How about just making a regular-size sock, 11.5 inches tall, and just stuff Barbie in it altogether?

    Seriously though, I enjoyed looking at the slide show. When I was a little girl, I would have loved if someone knit clothes for my Barbie.

    Relaxing by reading craft books: Yes, yes, yes! Cookbooks, too.

    Great blog once again, Kathleen.

    • Kathleen permalink*
      22 November 2010 2:59 pm

      Laughing out loud at this new idea for a Barbie Sock. She’d be warm, cozy, and comfortable in her sock/sleeping bag.

      So glad to hear of a third person who relaxes by reading crafty books. Maybe I’m not on the way to the loony bin after all…

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