Spring-a-ling

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Halllllooooooo out there! Sorrrrrry it's taking me so long to do anything lately. I feel like I'm slamming around my life like a pinball, actually. This reorganizing thing is no joke. I've barely scratched the surface but . . . it's happening. Bit by bit. Andy and I are each trying to dig in to various parts of the house and come up with better systems. Then Amelia comes in and, tornado-like, wafts kiddo-debris from corner to corner: ponytail holders and Calico Critters and tiny bits of paper and pop beads. Bunny slippers and miniature Legos and a tennis ball and her collection of toothbrushes. Dried-up flowers and pieces of grass and wooden spoons and teaspoons. Puzzle pieces and straight pins and stickers and porcelain bells and brass bells and bathing suits and toy-veterinarian check-up cards and peg dolls and seed packets from Burgerville. Typo-correction tape. A slide whistle. A wind-up ladybug. A rhinestone tiara. A feather. A Saltwater sandal. More beads. It's as if a fire-hose filled with stuff from the bottom of every junk drawer and toy box in the world let fly its torrent of glittered swag upon the house all at once. And then, with a whoosh, she is off, and on to something else.

* * *

I had a friend once who said she didn't like spring. It was too much. Too dramatic, too capricious, too beautiful, too heartbreaking. Too gushing with promise, too inconsistent, too intense. Too beautiful. Too heartbreaking. It made you want to cry for the fragile, fraught, barely there-ness of the world, the newborn leaves, the colors more almost-colors than colors. The buds more pouf than plant. And as far as I know, she'd never been to Portland. Good thing. She probably would've screamed.

* * *

At home, I make lotion bars and twist wires into stitch markers and dye piles of yarn. I'm not sure what I'm doing but I think I'm planning to sell all of these things eventually. Aren't I? It seems there's nothing else to do lest the house be further taken over with mountains of lotion bars and mini skeins. I apply for wholesale accounts and think through tin sizes and sketch out packaging concepts. I bombard Andy with my every thought and question: Can you try this lotion bar? Do you like Ylang Ylang, or cedar? Cedar? Are you suuuuure? You like the cedar? You like them both. Do you like this color? You do? You don't. You do! Look! I made a stitch marker! I made five! I made fifty-five! I know! I made a hundred and fifty-five! No, maybe just fifty. It feels like a hundred and fifty-five! Yes, I'm still winding yarn. Now I'm dyeing yarn. Now I'm drying yarn. Now I'm winding yarn again. Let's make spaghetti! Will you make some spaghetti? THANK YOU HONEY!

I really want to do all of these things. I'm enjoying the experience of learning new things and developing new ideas so much I can't even believe it. It's been so long since I learned how to do new stuff, it seems. It's really exciting. We cleaned out our office closet and I went to Ikea to get a shelf on which to store my yarn supplies and lotion bar supplies. While at Ikea it started to pour. Andy was home with Mimi — it was early one Saturday morning and I was just planning to run out there quickly, alone, and get the job done. I enlisted a generous passerby to help me lift the giant box (it was more giant than I was expecting, and I was determined not to have to bring it back into the store to have it shipped) and slide it into my car. I pushed down that middle thing in the back seat and the box slid through the hole with not an inch to spare. Determination. Rain whipping. Windshield wipers going wild. I made it home and Andy put the shelves together for me and I think I was grinning the entire time I loaded them with bare yarn, my beeswax, my electric griddle (that's what I cook the yarn on), my tinfoil roasting pans, my food coloring, my dishpans. It was thrilling. I have a closet! My very own closet of stuff for my new hobbies, dream-scented with clary sage, jasmine, cedar wood, Ylang Ylang, bergamot, and beeswax. Opening it is like walking into another world.

Mimi wears her Thousand Tiny Tulips sweater from this post, a bit more than one year ago. I let her dye her own yarn the other day and she wants me to make her something with it. But what? Sport weight, about 430 yards, I think. I need to look for something. The weather is warming. I'd better be quick. . . .

Cross Stitch: Some Explanations about Counts and Fabrics

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Hello, dear friends! I'm knocking things off my list today. I've wound yarn, made stitch markers, taken pictures, and gotten all of the second-batch Time of Flowers kit orders out. Whee!

The PDF-only option for Time of Flowers is also now available and you can purchase it here.

Pattern Cover

This pattern is a digital download, and will be made available via a link on the screen immediately upon completion of payment. A link will also be sent (automatically and immediately) to the email address you use to order the pattern. Please save all downloads like this directly to your hard-drive in case you need to reprint in the future. As always, if you have any trouble, please let me know!

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to write this little informational post for you. I've been meaning to do it for ages. I get a fair amount of questions about substituting fabrics for my cross stitch patterns, and I'm going to try to break down a few of the options, and make things like stitch counts and fabric counts more clear than they perhaps might be to you right now. I'm going to take a lot of the information in this post from a tutorial that I wrote several years ago that you can always find on aliciapaulson.com; if you haven't read that and you're still finding yourself confused by this, give that a look and then let me know how I can help clarify further.

But, generally:

Counted cross stitch is not worked onto fabric that has been pre-printed. Counted cross stitch uses special fabrics that are called evenweave fabrics. These fabrics are woven so that they have the same number of warp threads (or, the threads running lengthwise through the fabric) and the same number of weft threads (or, the threads running crosswise, from selvedge to selvedge). In counted cross stitch (and from here on out, I'll just call it cross stitch) you work each stitch over the grid of perfect squares made by the warp and weft threads of your fabric.

Cross stitch can be done on different kinds of evenweave fabric, including evenweave linen, some woven ginghams, Aida cloth (which has a very ponounced grid that helps you see the holes into which your stitches go), waste canvas (which is a removable grid you temporarily apply to a piece of non-evenweave fabric that helps you place your stitches), and various other types of fabrics made especially for cross stitching. The fiber content and type of weave of the fabric you choose to use is largely a matter of personal preference. I use linen fabric for my kits (and the samples I've made up for my patterns), but a lot of people ask me if they can substitute Aida cloth. And the answer is: Yes! You can! I'll explain further.

What really matters is the "count" of the fabric. Thread count refers to the number of warp and weft threads per inch in the woven fabric. Stitch count refers to the number of cross stitches per inch you will have in your finished design. Aida cloth, for instance, is labeled according to stitch count; 10-count Aida cloth gives you 10 stitches per inch. Evenweave linen, however, is labeled according to thread count; 28-[thread]-count evenweave linen will give you a stitch count of 14, since cross stitch on this kind of linen is worked over 2 warp threads horizontally, and 2 weft threads vertically.

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Look very closely at the photo above and you can see the crossed stitches going over 2 threads in each direction.

To work designs in cross stitch you follow a chart. Each colored box (generally with a symbol in it) on the chart represents one set of crossed stitches. Each set of crossed stitches is relative to the other stitches in the design, so you're only ever "counting" a few stitches away from the last stitch you just made. Each color on the chart represents a specific color of six-strand embroidery floss. A color key helps you define each color of floss.

TutorialChart(If the chart is too small for you to see comfortably, just enlarge it on a color copier. A good full-spectrum lamp is a must in dim light. I use this particular Ott light and I love it. When I'm not using it I fold it up and drop it down behind my side table and I never have to look at it. I used to have a big, huge gooseneck Ott light and I much prefer this tiny one; for what I'm doing, it works just as well, and in a small house is a better fit.)

"Count" is very important when choosing fabrics for cross stitching because the number of stitches per inch can drastically change the look of a design. In general, fabric with a lower stitch count will produce a coarser looking design, where the crosses will be larger and more pronounced. Fabric with a higher stitch count will produce designs that are smaller and finer. For the purposes of this post, I'm going to show you some different samples done on two different kinds of fabrics (Aida and linen) with different counts. So let's look at the first one:

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This one, as indicated, is stitched on 8-count Aida fabric. Aida fabric is a good choice if you are a beginner to counted cross-stitch, or if you've struggled with evenweave fabrics in the past. If you look closely, you can see that the stitches are made directly into four little holes in each of the corners of a "square" space. Each square space equals one square on your chart. The holes are very pronounced and much easier to see than they are on linen.

Linen normally doesn't come in a stitch count this big (or, in other words, in a number this small — remember, stitch count number refers to stitches per inch; the lower the number, the fewer stitches per inch. The fewer stitches the stitches per inch, the bigger those stitches have to be). Eight stitches per inch is really quite big, but I wanted to use it to show you exactly how the same design translates into different sizes using different count fabrics. Here's the same design on 14-count Aida fabric:

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Notice that the size of the scissors is fairly consistent here, but that the teacup is significantly smaller. Same design + different stitch count = different size finished piece. To see the same design on 28-thread-count linen (which, if you remember, is done over 2 threads, and so is actually 14 stitches per inch), regard this one:

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See how those last two, even though they are on different kinds of fabric, are the same size? That's because they both have the same stitch count at 14 stitches per inch.

My seasonal series (both First Snow and Time of Flowers, and the upcoming designs for summer and fall) are all done on 32-count Belfast linen, which has a stitch count of 16 stitches per inches. Compare this to previous samples:

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A bit smaller than the 14-counts.

A word about embroidery floss: All of the designs that I write patterns for that are worked on 28- or 32-count fabrics use 2 plies of floss per stitch. To separate plies, you simply take your length of floss by the middle and gently work the 2 plies away from the original 6. Some people even separate the 2 plies away from each other to sort of plump up the thread, but I don't. I don't like the way it looks. That's just personal preference, so do whatever works for you.

Now, here's something important to remember: Let's say that you want to stitch Time of Flowers but you don't want to do it on the fabric that I've used. That is perfectly fine, but let's look at something real quick. Please notice this line on the front cover of the pattern (and all patterns should have a line that reads very much like this on them):

Finished size of design area: 6"w x 8.5"h (15cm x 22cm); 101 stitches wide x 136 high on 32-count fabric

This means that, when finished, the width of the stitched area will be 6 inches, the height of the stitched area will be 8.5 inches on 32-count fabric. If you decide to use a different count fabric, you will need to recalculate the finished size of the design area. To do that, work backwards. Take the number of stitches the design is wide (101) and divide it by the stitch count of your fabric — let's just say you're going to use 8-count Aida.

101 stitches divided by 8 stitches per inch = 12.625 inches wide
AND
136 stitches (width) divided by 8 stitches per inch = 17 stitches high

Seeeeee how much bigger that difference translates to, in terms of the overall design? You're going from a 6" x 8.5" design that will fit into an 8" x 10" frame to an almost 13" x 17" design, not including ANY margins around the design area. That's a pretty big difference, so you just need to pay attention to that count. You can do any design on any fabric you'd like, but do make sure that you know how big the finished design area will be.

When you're purchasing fabric, you always want to make sure that you've got about 3" of extra fabric around each side of the design area. This allows you to easily mount your fabric in the hoop while you're working and also gives you enough space around your design area to stretch the fabric when you frame.

There are lots of places to purchase cross stitch supplies on-line. I know that Aida actually makes a 16-count fabric in Sea Lily (the color of linen I used for Time of Flowers) that can be purchased here. If you're local, I highly recommend you go out to Acorns and Threads sometime and visit Jeannine and the ladies there. This is such a gorgeous store with some of the best customer service you will receive anywhere, for anything. This store is a true local treasure, and it will inspire you more than I can say.

Did I miss anything? Please feel free to ask about anything that's unclear! Let me know!

Getting There?

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Whooooosh! That was spring "break." Yes, it almost broke me! Firstly, when I scheduled the shipping of kits, I forgot that spring break was the same week. Secondly, I thought, up until 8:00 this morning, that they went back to school today, but they don't. (Thank you, Joyce.) Thirdly, I did assemble and ship all of the Time of Flowers kits last week, and the last batch is going out to the post office today. And fourthly, the house is trashed. Like — I don't even know. It looks ransacked. I was going to clean it today while Mimi was at school but, as above, it's still apparently spring break until Thursday, so no go. Also, broken dryer that has finally bitten the dust, so: laundromat. Etc. Life! :)

Nevertheless: THANK YOU GUYS for all of the Time of Flowers kit orders! Oh, my heart swells when I pack the orders. So many familiar names, year and year. I'm so grateful to you for all of your support. Thank you. I have 56 extras that are in the shop right now. I will be working on my cross-stitch post and releasing the PDF-only option later this week, when Mimi does actually go back to school and I have a minute. But for now I truly hope you enjoy working on these kits and I sincerely thank you so much for your orders and your interest. Summer and fall designs are swirling around in my head and I have loved every minute of working on this series so far, with more to come.

Also swirling around in my head are . . . I don't know . . . a million things. Andy took a week off a few weeks ago and completely cleaned out our basement. It (and he!) is spectacular. Next up is my office and our "annex" office, which is where I store a lot of Posie stuff, including floss, yarn, fabric, packing supplies, works in progress, so much stuff. I've kind of been in a state of . . . I don't even know what to call it. Sort of a mania, I think. I'm changing as Amelia changes, I think. Her independence literally grows before our eyes. And as it does, I'm discovering new things for myself, as well. It's a seriously exciting time, but it's also, like, weirdly uncomfortable. I have a million ideas I want to pursue, but I need to totally reorganize my office first. The things in these small spaces that once served me — really, for the seven years (I think?) since we last re-did the office — just aren't serving me or my current interests right now. So I want to repaint (what color?) and remove things that I'm just not working with currently, and move in the things that I am working with (yarn, dyeing supplies, new doll ideas, etc.). This feels like a huge job. I'm reading the tidying up book and I'm all-in on it, conceptually — it's literally just a matter of finding time. And reimagining a space we've lived in for eighteen years without a major reorganization. So, it's almost like my brain is reorganizing and my space is reorganizing as I prepare for what it will be like to have Amelia go to kindergarten next year. I want to make all of these changes good for our whole family, you know what I mean? And I want to start thinking about it now, and working on it now, so that when we all get to that place next fall we are feeling good and excited and ready for the next phase. I can see that part of me has really been flying by the seat of my pants since becoming a mother, and honestly, I'm ready for things to feel a little more . . . dialed in.

Have you experienced this? I don't even really know how to describe what I'm feeling. I know this is abstract. It does have something to do with the fact that our child is no longer, like, pulling tablecloths off the dining-room table and can, instead, run her own bath. . . . You know what I mean? There's more time to think of things, in a way or, at least, I can see that time coming. . . . Tell me what you think.

***My mom has an incredible blooming yard as well as three chickens, so we have fresh eggs constantly and they are delicious. I love eggs! Also, we went to see The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show by the Oregon Children's Theater and we loved it. Highly recommend for this age.

Spring Things

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Oh, lovely spring. I love spring. Cold rain, squelching lawns, worms and robins, daring daffodils. Magnolias are so gorgeous (at first). I'm watching for the grape hyacinths, which I love. At school there's a regular blooming hyacinth in the foyer. Its scent instantly takes me back to the hyacinths that Andy used to buy for me twenty-five years ago, when we were first living together in Missoula. Spring comes late in Missoula. Very late. But we often had a grocery-store hyacinth blooming on our table and that scent is so pleasing to me. I need to get one for the house.

I've been dyeing a lot of yarn and I love it so much. I reeeeeeeeeeally love it. I'm finding my way into it and learning so much. I wish I had more time to do it right now but it really takes a lot of time. I made all of the yarns in these pictures except the ones in that basket of yarn and granny squares (though I did dye the yarn for the one on the very top; and to those who have asked, the pattern for that square is linked to in this post). I've been knitting up and crocheting up some of my yarns to see what they look like in practice. It's SO EXCITING to see them worked up. Concurrently, I'm knitting up all of the garments I've designed in the past for my stuffed animals and getting ready to send them, along with the old patterns and some new patterns I'm working on, to the technical editor. Among other things, she's going to review everything for consistency and style as I plan to reissue all of the old patterns and the new patterns with new pictures for my girl dolls when they come out this fall. To that end, I'm working on some patterns that I'll work up specifically in these yarns I'm dyeing and offer small batches of mini-skeins made just for these dollie clothes. The skeins will be in sport-weight only, about 25g each, which will knit up almost everything in the collection (though a couple of things, like the tiny dress and the tiny hooded coat will need two skeins). Anyway, I don't know. I have plans. My little head is swirling with plans and ideas.

I'm so happy this has come into my life at this time. It's really resonating with me on so many levels and I don't even know why. This month is the 20th anniversary of my accident and I'm so grateful for all of the things that my disability has brought into my life. It's seriously thrilling to be learning something new. I have so much to learn and I am loving every minute.

Our last two cones of floss we need for Time of Flowers are arriving TODAY. THANK GOODNESS. We need to get on it! Once alllllllll of the floss has arrived today, then we can pull it. Once all of the floss is pulled, then we package and send. It should go fast once it's all here. So start watching for your shipping notices next week, and give them a couple of days to register within the USPS system before trying to track them. It's all happening, finally, and I thank you for your patience. I have my design for the next kit (for summer) all finished and my sample fabric has arrived for it so I'm ready to start stitching on that soon. I've finished all of the samples I want to show you for my cross-stitch post, and once we get the kits out I will write that post and make the PDF-only version of the pattern available as well.

Do you remember this little sweater I made a million years ago? I'm making Mimi another one with my yarns, above. This type of sideways sweater has always been my favorite — I think it's such a cool way to make a sweater!

***Oh yes — I forgot to mention again — yes, we will have approximately 60 more kits to sell beyond the original pre-order group that is now sold out, but I want to wait until all of the floss is pulled for the first group so that I make sure we have enough to sell immediately. If we don't have enough floss, I will just have to order more, which is not a big deal but will take a bit longer and I want to make sure I can give you an approximate shipping date before I release them. But as soon as we pull floss, I will know, and I'll make an announcement here. Thank you!

How did it take me so long to try dyeing yarn???

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Well, helloooooo. How are you? I've been here, there, everywhere, and nowhere. I had a fit in my office and tried to clean it, and it feels better. Andy took the week off and is going to clean out the basement, which is long overdue. I finished gathering my tax data to send to my accountant. I checked in on our last two back-ordered cones of embroidery floss for Time of Flowers kits and found that although they'd been ordered by me four weeks ago, the sales rep hadn't actually put the order through. This, or something like it, literally happens every time. Every. Time. Luckily, the cones had already come in on their own, or something, and they are shipping them out to me today. :/ The printed patterns are due to arrive here on Friday. So if those look good and the cones arrive next week, we'll still be on schedule to ship out of here at the end of the month. The fabric is all cut and waiting. I'm planning to write my cross-stitch post next week now that I'm kind of caught up with my other stuff. And, yeah. The usual. Life.

I made Amelia some pretty legwarmers from the Rambler legwarmers pattern by Derya Davenport, and the yarn is Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo 4-ply in Antique Rose.

In the kitchen, I bubble wool on the stove and make pretty colors. This has cracked open a whole new world for me. Andy backs up and watches the whoosh of my enthusiasm take over the house. I read probably twenty online tutorials about how to dye yarn with food coloring. Here's how I wound up doing it: I soaked a few mini-skeins (about 25g each) of sport-weight natural wool (and some was white angora yarn I'd had hanging around for years) yarn in water with a a few glugs of vinegar thrown in. (Disclaimer: I'm not precise about any stuff like this — I just go for it and see how it goes, FYI.) I whisked some Wilton's gel food coloring into a little pot of water on the stove, with some more vinegar. I moved the yarn into the dye pot and heated it up until it was almost simmering. Then I let it stay that hot for a while, until the dye was "exhausted." Do you know what that means? It means that all of the color has moved into the yarn and the water has turned clear again. Completely clear. It's really cool. Then I took the yarn out of the pot with tongs and let it cool down. They say you're supposed to leave it in the pot to let the water cool down, but I didn't do that. I couldn't figure out why you would have to do that, but maybe I'm missing something. Then I washed the wool with a bit of Dr. Bronner's soap and rinsed it (gently) and hung it to dry. I felted some of it in my impatience. Basically you want to not shock the yarn with drastic temperature changes or a lot of agitation. It also kind of depends on what kind of wool you have. The wool I got at the Pendleton outlet store, which they use to bind the edges of their blankets, did not want to felt much (though they insisted that it wasn't superwash). The Brown Sheep Nature Spun sport wanted to felt like crazy and did, when I wasn't careful.

I also made some speckled yarn by flinging cake sprinkles and dry Kool-Aid and other drinks powder at the damp yarn and then microwaving it. You can lay down some Saran Wrap and then dot the yarn with dye on a toothpick, or shake on some cake sprinkles, or drop on some food-colored powder, and then wrap it all up and microwave it for 30 seconds at a time until it is steaming. A few minutes. People say that sometimes the yarn burns, but mine didn't. Take it out, let it cool, then wash the candy off. Some of the dye colors struck and some didn't. I think I might not have had enough vinegar for some of the sprinkles to strike, though when they did it was great (and the Kool-Aid has citric acid in it, so that acts as an acid to help bind the color to the yarn). It was a fun experiment. I have so many plans to do some more. The fun thing about it is that all of these dyes are food safe, so you can just play around with them in your kitchen. I have no interest in doing other kinds of more complicated dyeing in the house, but just this is so much fun. I have an entire box of cake decorating supplies, so it was really simple to just start trying things out.

The dollie ballet sweater, above, is the Pendleton wool and I love it. It's a bit sticky to knit with but I think it's making brilliant doll sweaters. They're quite sturdy. I was going to do it in angora, but for several reasons I think I'm going to stick with wool. At night I'm in the process of re-editing all of the Little Animal Family knitwear patterns and designing new items for the new dolls that I want to launch this fall. I will be carrying a new line of sport-weight wool (Maine Line from Jagger) in a gorgeous palate for these patterns, and I'm also going to offer up some of my own hand-dyed yarn in mini skeins wound just for these patterns I've got planned for the dolls. Anyway, stay ye tuned for more on this in the coming months.

This soup was literally the best soup I've ever had in my life. You wouldn't think so, but it really was. I served it with the Anadama bread from Little T bakery and, wow.

Roasted Carrot, Parsnip, and Potato Soup
Adapted slightly from original recipe by Martha Rose Shulman for The New York Times

1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled and cut in 3/4 inch pieces
½ pound (2 large) parsnips, peeled, quartered, cored and cut in 3/4 inch pieces
1 medium or large red onion, cut in large dice 1 medium (about 6 ounces) Yukon gold potato, quartered
6 garlic cloves, in the skin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups chicken stock or broth, enhanced with a couple of extra teaspoons of Better than Bouillon chicken stock concentrate
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, tarragon or chives, for garnish
Crème fraîche for garnish (DO NOT LEAVE THIS OUT — it is amazing with this soup)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan or a baking dish with parchment or foil. Toss vegetables, including garlic cloves, with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread in baking dish or on sheet pan in an even layer and place in oven. Set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir vegetables and turn heat down to 400 degrees. Roast for another 20 to 30 minutes or until very tender and caramelized on the edges, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. You should have about 4 cups roasted vegetables. Put them all in your big soup pot.

Hold garlic cloves with a towel so that you don’t burn your fingers. Squeeze out the pulp into the pot. Add the chicken stock and blend all with a stick blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper and heat through. Serve each bowl with a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs and if you wish, a swirl of crème fraîche or yogurt.

 

***Time of Flowers is sold out right now, though  we will have 60 more kits to put on sale as soon as I count up all floss we have left and let you know if we can ship at the same times as the other kits, or if these will be shipping a bit later than the original 400. Thank you to everyone who has ordered!

***Oh — and the PDF Only option for the Time of Flowers pattern will also be available in a couple of weeks, as well. I'll let you know. Thank you!

Spring Snow

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Ohhhhhh, it was wonderful. It's always like a dream. Just when I thought our chances for snow were gone for the season, we had a few of the most beautiful days I've ever seen. The first day, it had been lightly snowing without sticking most of the day. Around dinnertime, though, I looked out the back door and saw flakes as big as feathers. I've never seen such big snowflakes. They fell and fell, into twilight and through the night. It piled up. Sunrise was every shade of pink and white. I stood in the front yard in my nightgown taking photos at dawn. The day was like a dream. And then it all melted in a rush. By the following day, everything was gone. Spring snow. It was perfect and unexpected and even better for that.

Thank you soooooo much for all of the Time of Flowers kit pre-orders (and other orders)! I'm so happy with the response and thank you very sincerely for all of your orders. Right now we have 63 Time of Flowers kits left for pre-order. Andy cut fabric this weekend and we could even have another sixty extra, based on how much fabric we received, but I want to wait to make sure before I add them to inventory. I'm so glad that all of the numbers worked out okay. I always make my best guess on this stuff and this worked out just fine, which is such a relief. I get very stressed.

So, things are on track, fabric is getting cut, floss is on its way, the pattern just needs a final proofing and then it is off to the printer, and everything's well in hand. I even designed the next kit, for summer, last week and I'm hoping to start stitching it later next month. Yesterday, though, I was back to working on my new dolls and all of their MANY new outfits. I am hoping to have all of those launched for the fall, FYI to those who have wondered. This is going to be kind of a massive project for me, which will include reissuing a lot of the older clothes patterns separately from the animal patterns, either bundled or completely a la carte so that you can get lots of new clothes patterns for your doll when the dolls are launched. Today I'm trying to finish the ballet wrap sweater, now that Amelia is back in school (they had no school for conferences week last week), and will try to source some angora yarn for my shop. I'm going to start carrying a whole new line of yarns (still sport-weight wool, but in a really pretty color palette) for all of the new knitting patterns, too. Anyway, rambling again, but I have a ton of things on my mind, I'm sorry.

Anyway, I'm chipping away at everything, including the cross stitch tutorial I promised (the fabric for my samples for that post is on its way, too). Thank you again for all of your sweetness and and kindness and enthusiasm. I honestly can't express how much it means to me. I hope you know. It means so much. Thank you.

***I wish I could remember where I got the cookie cutter, but I can't! I searched my Etsy purchases and it doesn't look like it's in there. I got it online somewhere but I'm not sure where. I'm sorry. :(

Time of Flowers Cross Stitch Kit Now Available for Pre-Order

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BeautyBlog

The TIME OF FLOWERS Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now available for pre-order. Please CLICK HERE to order.

Finished Size of Design Area: 6" wide x 8.5" high (15cm x 22cm); 101 stitches wide x 136 high on 32-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 14" x 16" (36cm x 41cm) piece of 32-count evenweave embroidery linen in Sea Lily by Handpicked by Nora from Wichelt
(53) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
Stitching instructions
Illustrated stitch tutorial for special stitch
Full-color cross-stitch chart with symbols over color blocks
One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer

You will need your own:

#24 tapestry needle(s) for cross stitch
Embroidery scissors
4" (10cm) embroidery hoop
Frame and framing supplies

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Here in the shady hollows of northwest Oregon, spring comes early. It makes a quiet entrance as it slowly turns what was muddy and brown into something luminous and green. The green woods become an enchanted place. I wanted to capture some of that magic here. Time of Flowers is the second in a series of seasonal pieces I'm designing. The first, for winter, is called First Snow (a kit is available here; the pattern is here). Designs for summer and autumn will be forthcoming later this year. 

If you are new to counted cross stitch, or need a refresher on the basics, please see my "how to do counted cross stitch" tutorial here.

This kit is designed to fit in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame. All you need to do is make sure the frame is deep enough to fit a piece of foam core (and glass, if you want to use glass. I never use glass. I don't like it. I have my embroidered pieces hanging all over the house, and I don't feel that they suffer appreciably for being exposed). What you will do is wrap you embroidery around a piece of foam core, and stretch it with the help of about a million sequin (about 1/2" long) straight pins. You can read my tutorial about how I've done that in the past (though I finished the rest of the framing with custom frames at a frame shop). But with an 8" x 10" piece you can even buy the pre-cut foam-core at the craft store (JoAnn's or Michael's, or easily online) for just a couple of dollars. A frame store can also cut foam core for you for just a few dollars if you ask nicely.

This kit will be shipping sometime toward the end of March. The fabric is on order but some of the floss is on backorder and won't get here until mid-March. We will pull floss and assemble patterns and ship as soon as we have everything we need. Please note that the fabric I've used for this kit has unfortunately been discontinued, so once our inventory is gone, unless there is substantial interest that makes it worth going back to the manufacturer to have them actually dye more just for me, this kit will likely be gone, too.

The pattern-only option will also be available separately as a downloadable PDF, but not until sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'll post here when that is ready, too.

This kit is done with two plies of DMC cotton embroidery floss on 32-count linen. That means it has sixteen stitches per inch. If you are interested in seeing a tutorial on counted cross stitch, please read the one I did here.

I am working on doing a substantive cross-stitch-discussion post for you but I'm not done with it yet, and, if you are interested in ordering the PDF because you're worried the 32-count linen is too small, I think you'll want to read it. It will help you determine what supplies you need to purchase, particularly fabric. This is something I've been needing to write for many months, and I really am sorry it has taken me so long.

 

As you probably know, I also carry my favorite supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. These are the exact ones that I use every day For this project, we have:

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Gorgeous little embroidery scissors.

 

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Hardwicke Manor 4" hoops.

 

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And size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch on linen.

All supplies, and anything else you order at the same time, will be shipped along with your Time of Flowers kit. If you need other items before the end of March, when Time of Flowers ships, please place a separate order that will ship right away.

 

We do ship overseas! To place your order, you will be required to read this information, which contains details about international shipping and customs fees you may incur when ordering outside the U.S. (If you are overseas, the shipping cost charged by Posie does not include any further charges you may incur when importing goods.) To see the shipping-only costs for your order and location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. If you do need to add things to your order or change your address after you've placed the order, just email me and we'll figure it out, no worries! I just like to remind people of this ahead of time, because it's a bit easier. Also, please know that USPS overseas shipping charges are going up like wildfire lately. I'm having to adjust my own charges to reflect the USPS changes.

Thank you so, so much for your interest in this kit and my work in general. I'm always so touched by your enthusiasm for embroidery and I truly hope you enjoy stitching this as much as I loved designing and making it. I'm grateful beyond words to be able to do this work, and your support of it means more to be than I'll ever be able to express. Thank you.

With much love and hope for beauty this spring,
Alicia

Couch Lounge

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Amelia went to bed coughing and with a stuffy nose on Sunday night, so I kept her home for the first three days of this week. Aside from her feeling a bit poorly, we had such a lovely time together, mostly watching TV and movies, and snuggling on the couch, and reading and playing with Legos, and eating the soup that I told her I always used to ask for when I was sick as a little girl (that Lipton's chicken soup in box with the desiccated chicken and powdery bouillon and grass noodles). I brought her breakfast in bed, which she had recently mentioned she wanted me to do next time she was sick, so I did that. She was cuddly and quiet and sweet and sniffly, and as I knit she put her feet up on my legs and sang along to her baby shows, Blues Clues and Little Baby Bum (nursery rhymes and songs), stuff she doesn't watch anymore, generally, but which I think made her feel comforted and content. On Tuesday she baked cupcakes, doing almost everything herself except for the things she just couldn't do, and she was proud and I was proud of her. She missed Valentine's Day at school but late in the afternoon her friend's mom delivered a bag filled with classmate Valentines and a lollipop (not sugar free) so she was delighted.

Thank you so much for your kind words about the new cross-stitch design! I didn't get a chance to get a lot of Posie work done the way I normally would when she is in school in the mornings, but I did manage to take my cover photo and finish up the pattern. I'll start a pre-sale for the kits on Tuesday morning next week (the 20th). Three of the floss colors are on back-order so we'll pull the floss the minute it all arrives, and plan to ship at the end of March. This week I wore my new blouse (vintage Peter Pan calico made from Burda pattern 6592) and mostly worked on my granny-square blanket, which I'm calling Firefly Jar because it reminds me of little flickers of light against a dimming evening sky. By the way, I get my grannies perfectly square before whip-stitching them together by wet-blocking them all individually. The speckled yarn continues to charm me. Thank you for all the recommendations for other indie dyers. I have about ten skeins of speckled yarn now! I'll have to do a whole post about them. They are just so, so pretty. I started a spring sweater for Amelia with a few of the colors (Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in Pistachio, Pinky Swear, and Opalite) using the Flax Light pattern from Tin Can Knits and it's working up quickly, being mostly stockinette. It's light as a feather. I picked the green and she picked the pink so it's a collaboration. Thanks also to those of you who suggested that I try to do some dyeing myself with Wilton food dyes. I have tons of those so I am totally going to try it. I'm excited about that. That looks like a lot of fun.

My heart and Andy's are heavy with so much sorrow over the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. We talked and talked about it yesterday. My head is swirling, feverish with bitterness and fury over how this keeps happening again and again and again. I don't even know how to talk about it. I'm so disappointed and frustrated I really cannot find the words I want to say.

Outside, spring continues to peek it's little fuzzy head out from under piles of brown oak leaves and the muck of winter. Around town, daffodils are starting to bloom in earnest now and crocuses cover tiny plots in a haze of lavender. The sky is bright gray, like a gray lightbox, with flat, dull light that leaves no shadows. I'll make tea and work and take care of little things. I wish you peace today. I hope your day has peace.

Dream of Spring

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Time of Flowers blog

Oh, hello! I've been here, peeking in on my shady little glade. Frogs are croaking here. Mud is squelching. Winter's muck is being parted by new growth. In our yard, tiny choirs of tiny daffodils (my favorites are called 'Minnow') are starting to pierce the ground and prepare their songs. Our yard is still filled with brown — dead leaves, colorless stems of dead grass, old blooms, withered things — but everywhere below the surface the season is changing.

I come to the change a bit sullenly. Our winter here has been very mild, with almost no rain, and only one (beloved, wonderful) snowstorm. I guess it could always still happen, of course, but it doesn't feel like it will. As you walk around town you smell it — winter daphne. The fragrant harbinger of future blossoms. I do love it. And so it begins. Our plum tree is already dropping its first freckled fairy petals. The spirea begins to swell with its little buds. I have the bedroom window open behind the curtain every night now, and now we listen to the cold night sounds, and the early morning crows. Spring is coming.

I'm happy because I heard back from the distributor (Wichelt) about the discontinued fabric (I unknowingly chose) for this new cross stitch kit and they still have fifty yards in stock, out of which we can make four-hundred kits. I'm seriously thrilled by that number. I thought it would be, like, four. Or three. So I bought the fifty, and it's on its way. Yesterday I also ordered all the floss from DMC, and so it will be on its way soon, too. This will be another design, like First Snow, that will fit into an 8" x 10" ready-made frame. (I'm going to do one for each season, and just this morning I got my idea [pop! right into my head!] for my summer design.) I'll give you more details on this one for spring and will start taking pre-orders probably next week. If there is more interest beyond the four hundred, the manufacturer has agreed to dye more fabric (at, naturally, a higher cost, and with a six-to-eight-week lead time), but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We've sold 492 First Snow kits of the 600 we originally made, so I'm a bit worried we could go over the 400, if everyone does want to do a series of seasons, and I do want everyone who wants one to be able to get one. With my luck I'll probably sell four kits, total. Well, weeeeeeeeee'll see. Now I'm just rambling. We'll figure it out when we get there, no worries.

My creative mania, as it reduced itself from a rolling boil to a gentle simmer, seemed to also direct its interest (I'm speaking about "it" in the third person because I've lost control and am now disassociating, apparently) toward hand-dyed speckled sock yarn. Exclusively. Only hand-dyed speckled sock yarn. I mean??? This from the woman who has only ever, in twenty years, knit one sock. But, seriously, how pretty are these yarns? And these? Why am I so late in understanding about these? I saw some of them recently at Close Knit and Starlight Knitting Society and Twisted and I walked by them without a backward glance, fixated on All The Solid Colors. Now, just weeks later, I have gone back and bought them, and for fun I literally open my iPad and staaaaaaare at them on-line, all of these freckly wonders, and try to choose between them. I have a pattern picked out for a new Easter-ish sweater for Mimi, and have ordered several other skeins to work into the granny-square blanket, etc. I've bought yarn with sparkles in it. I really never thought I would do that.

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Six More Weeks

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Well, it finally happened. The knitting mania I was experiencing burnt itself out, and I'm not really sad. I had been eyeing the Teru sweater for a while and really wanted to make it but after only one evening it had already bested me. You can see it above, that piddly little amount of neckline knitting in the cream-colored donegal with the beginnings of blackberry-colored fair-isle starting. I didn't make any mistakes or anything like that, and the pattern is, seriously, a work of art, but it is fingering-weight, and complicated, and, after knitting for many hours, I was literally only maybe an inch into it. I looked at it and I was like, "Yeah, I'm done." And it was kind of a good feeling, actually. Knitting-wise, I had been pretty wild-eyed in general for the past two months. My purple heather honeybee sweater is still happening but I've made lots of mistakes in the lace and it's feeling kind of sloppy. I have some yarn on order to cast on for a South Bay sweater, which is mostly just gobs and gobs of stockinette with only small areas of interest, so that will be nice and easy, and like something that a normal person with a five-year-old instead of, like, a lady who's getting paid by the stitch, or something, would knit. So yeah, in general, now that it is February, I'm mostly relieved that I'm breathing regularly instead of hyperventilating. That was intense. And thanks to Punxatawney Phil, we still have lots of winter left.

The house is a disaster. Small piles of I-don't-know-what are hanging around like beached detritus leftover from storm season. Thirty books, a fish mobile, a party hat, fourteen Calico Critters, pieces of yarn, peeled off stickers, apple peels that someone threw on the floor and tried to pretend she didn't throw on the floor, zillions of Legos, stray baby socks, broken crayons, snapped-off pieces of a bowling-alley-arcade crown, naked dolls, entire handmade XL sweaters, stitch markers, random pieces of paper, lip balm, a wooden spoon. Amelia, lately, has been trying out operatic responses to the smallest of tragedies — gales of tears when she scrapes a knee, shrieks of despair when something goes missing (as if it could not; see above). The other day in the schoolyard: wails of frustration when she saw that something had fallen into this deep window-well that houses a bunch of pipes and machinery stuff alongside the church in which the preschool is housed. The window-well is bordered by a metal railing which is covered in some kind of cage thing so the kids can't fall into it. Amelia stood and sobbed, pointing. She called me over and I went, expecting from her intensity to see, I don't know, a hurt kitten? a abandoned baby bird? a million dollars that couldn't be reached? Instead it was . . . a barrette. And not even one of her pretty felt-flower barrettes, but just one of those ubiquitous little metal clippies. I literally could hardly see it. Dramatic crying and continued pointing by Amelia into well. "Hmmmm," said I, "I think that one's been sacrificed, darling." I went back to the wall where I had been sitting and talking with mom friends. Within minutes, however, three dads and a handful of kids were all peering into the window-well through the fencing. Something was happening. A rescue operation had ensued. The guys were so into it I didn't have the heart to tell them we had at least two hundred barrettes per room, back at the house. Quiet peering into the depths of the well continued. We could see consultations and apparent breath-holding. Then, suddenly, a great cheer went up from kid and man alike: Aaron (dad) had found a magnet and Frank (dad) had produced one of those metal handyman tape measures from his pocket and they had literally fished the metal barrette from the depths of the well. Amelia, now smiling, was also mildly nonplussed; these dramas are rather short-lived and also half-hearted, for all their volume, and, anyway, she is already quite sure dads can do anything. I love our school friends. I'm already starting to have a lot of nostalgia over our time at the preschool, as none of the families with whom we currently go to preschool will be going to the school Amelia is going to next year.

So, the house is a mess and Amelia's room is completely nuts with tiny things covering every surface, rugs bunched up under bed legs, and clothes stuffed into corners, and instead of knitting, I'm now crocheting. My (lovely, I must say) Shetland Adventure shawl came off the blocking board on Tuesday and promptly went right 'round my neck, where it stayed for hours and hours, cuddling me. Hap shawls really are lovely in every way, and that one (I only made the top layer, as the bottom one felt a bit too fussy for the way I dress, which is, most days, still like an eighth-grade volleyball coach, with all due respect to mine) certainly was. It only barely bit into the third skein of fingering weight, so there went another almost-full skein of yarn into the stash. Hrumpf. Curious, I pulled out my old between-projects project, my Beatrix Blanket (which has, for months, been going nowhere). And suddenly I decided that I wanted to make something other than that for Amelia's bed — instead, I am going to do a little checkerboard granny square inspired by this one but with this pattern for the square. All fingering and sport and almost entirely stash. Random colors with a very creamy pale lavender (this yarn, gloriously called Oyster Mushroom, which I have four or five skeins of already) contrast. In the shower this morning I also had the idea to maybe add a few little fabric patches in there, too, but we'll see how that goes. Anyway, stay tuned for that. Amelia is getting a new full-sized Calicozy, too, out of fabric that I have been collecting just for her for quite a while, so I'm excited about it, though I still haven't done a bit of actual work on it. Nevertheless, I'm hoping it — both — will inspire me to start cleaning.

Luckily, my new spring cross-stitch design is finished. Unluckily, the fabric I chose (a piece of which I happened to already have in my stash and so did not call ahead to the distributor to see how much they had on hand or could get before planning to design an entire kit around it) has NATURALLY been discontinued. Thus I continue my winning record of picking out things that are mere moments from being discontinued. It appears to be my truest talent, honestly. Waiting to hear how many yards Wichelt has on hand before I decide what to do. But am still planning on releasing this new design this spring. It's also an 8" x 10", like First Snow, and my plan is to do one for each season.

A cautionary tale (or two):

My best friend, Martha, lives near Boston. We were college roommates and we now talk (text) every day, and have done for many years. She is a single mom and also has a little girl, so there's not a lot of time for either of us during the day. She is three hours ahead of me, so every night after I put Mimi to bed, I get back downstairs around 7 p.m. my time, 10 p.m. Martha's time, and we chat about everything and nothing.

On Wednesday after school, Mimi and I had gone to Fabric Depot to get some interfacing and ribbon for a blouse I'd made for myself. After that, I took her out to an early dinner, where she didn't eat anything and instead, as soon as her ravioli arrived, laid down on the booth bench and asked if she could take her socks off. This was quite strange, as she is a great restaurant kid with a hearty appetite who also generally never stops talking. But instead she was quiet, and on the way home she fell asleep in the car (unheard of). I started to worry that she might not be feeling well again, though she had no temperature and said her throat felt fine. But as soon as we got home we went straight upstairs and started her bedtime routine, even though it was still light out. By 6:00 she was in bed and I was back downstairs, telling Martha that I had just put Amelia to bed and was a bit worried that she wasn't feeling well. No sooner had I sent the text than I heard a warbling, "Mommy? I need to go pottttttttty. . . ." Cue me, sprinting upstairs. "Mama, I have a tummy ache. . . ." And this time the tears were utterly real. Her discomfort was heartbreaking. I suddenly remembered that there had been sugar-free gummy bears granted in line at Fabric Depot. Mimi is actually pretty good about not asking for that crap at check-out (there must be thirty different mini-packs of jelly bellies right there, where you get it line), and sometimes I say yes, and sometimes I say no. This time I'd said, regrettably, yes. "I can never have candy again!!!" she said, face covered in tears. "Next Halloween I'm going to put on my costume but I'm just going to walk around the blooo-ooo-oooock." Oh, my dear sweet honey! My heart was breaking. I assured her that one day there would again be some candy in her future. We sat there in the bathroom together for forty-five minutes until she was . . . finished . . . and I had her laughing again, and literally the second it was all over it was like it had never happened. She bounced off to bed, I tucked her in, she rolled over and grabbed Foxie, and we said our good nights and I love yous and sweet dreamses. I breathed a cautious sigh of relief and went back downstairs and texted Andy (who was at work) to tell him what had happened, and said I was mildly worried that she had the flu but I was much more sure that the episode was caused by the gummy bears I'd approved earlier that afternoon [guilty grimace]. Then I texted and told Martha, who had also been sick earlier this week. Before she could answer, Andy replied to me with this:

Sugarless Haribo Gummy Bear Reviews On Amazon Are The Most Insane Thing You'll Read Today

So, I'm reading that article and practically falling of the couch horrified-laughing (people are hilarious), and then sending it over to Martha and saying, "Uh, yeah, it was the gummy bears," when she answers back:

"I just threw up ten times."

Me [stunned]: "Oh no honey! You have the flu! Are you okay???"

And then she goes:

"I think I drank old daffodil water after I took the NyQuil."

Me: "SAY WHAT?"

I'm paraphrasing.

It turns out, she'd bought three small bunches of daffodils from Trader Joe's earlier that day, then put them in a glass of water on the counter, planning to bring them to her boyfriend's house for his birthday later that night. They were in the water for about four hours. She said that in retrospect she thought the water tasted funny but she had gulped it because of the NyQuil. Then this, from Jonathan (boyfriend):

"All parts of the daffodil contain a toxic chemical, lycorine. The part of the plant that contains the highest concentration of lycorine is the bulb. However, eating any part of the plant can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually last about 3 hours. More severe problems such as low blood pressure, drowsiness, and damage to the liver have been reported in animals that ate very large amounts of the plant but have never been reported in humans.

"The bulb also contains chemicals called oxalates, which are microscopic and needle-like. When swallowed, oxalates cause severe burning and irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat. They can also cause skin irritation.

"Usually, the only treatment required is rinsing the mouth well and drinking water or milk. If vomiting and diarrhea persist, watch for dehydration. If a person is having severe throat pain, difficulty swallowing, or drooling, medical evaluation and treatment is needed."

Source

Martha: "Apparently there are several posts about this. I'm not the first person to drink daffodil water."

Me: "I shouldn't be laughing at that last one."

Martha: "It's okay. It's kind of hysterical. Except not right now. For me."

Me: "Neither you nor Mimi is allowed to eat sugar-free gummy bears nor drink daffodil water ever again!!!"

Martha: "Okay. FINE!!!"

For the record, she felt better throughout the night and then went to bed. When Andy got home he was with our friend Jeff, also a nurse. They'd brought sandwiches and were planning to play Atari in the garage. I told them about Martha and then asked if they'd known that sugar-free gummy bears apparently "power-wash your intestines." Andy said he hadn't know, but he'd mentioned it to another nurse at work and she'd immediately gasped and said, "Oh my gosh, that's, like, a thing." And then they looked it up. So I'm here to warn you. The pains are real. #truestory

About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.