Posts filed in: June 2006

Sorta like This . . . Kinda

comments: 29

Quilttop2 But checkerboard, actually, with that aqua pajama-print (you know, the one that says "this one") in every other square, and then various prints in the other ones. I think that opens it out a bit more, and let's you see each print more easily. These aren't stitched, just laid out, don't be alarmed -- I'm not that fast. It was a miracle I even got them cut out yesterday.

Can't wait to work on it, though. Hopefully today -- have the day off. Was supposed to have friends for dinner but it got postponed. Am instead meeting them for carnitas dinner at the park. (My friend is an amazing cook.) She says, "So we'll just see you at 6:30 and we'll bring some beers and -- "

Me: "Wha . . . wha . . . they let you have beers at the park?" (To know me is to know the goal of my life is to not get yelled at by authority figures.)
She: "Oh, honey, I've taken an entire Chicken with Forty Cloves, with side dishes, into the movie theater before."
Me: "Ohmigod -- that was you? I read about that in the paper!" (Actually, it wasn't her, but I did read a movie review recently where the reviewer hated the movie, and was also like, "Oh, and to the ladies in the front who snuck in the cooked broccoli? . . . Yeah. That reeked. Thanks for that.")
She: "Honey -- just stick with me. Beers in the park is nothin'. I have to have a sty removed from my eye -- whereby they stick a needle in my eyeball -- tomorrow, and I will need that beer."

I told her okay, but I'd be the one cowering in the corner, sucking my thumb and pointing directly at her when the cops showed up.

You can see how sneaky I'm being by not revealing her name, or the location of the park, in case They're reading this. . . . That's my Spy-Girl training for ya. . . .

Why Can't the World Be like the Fabric Store?

comments: 43

QuiltfabricYesterday was kind of a pain in the rumpus, and I don't even know why. Lots of problems, and deadlines, apparently "corrupted" email software, computers that wouldn't print, and other small irritations all on very little sleep, for me. I had been sleeping really poorly -- I expect others had, as well, around town, because of the heat. The traffic guy on the news said that was true, anyway, which I thought was interesting, that he would know. He can tell by the traffic, of course; when it's hot, and people don't sleep well, they get a late start, and traffic is a mess. It's cooler now, and that is a relief. Last night I was a log.

Thank you for all your kind comments for Aimee yesterday -- I know that she will love reading them. She only knows what a blog is because I have one, I think, and she's not all show-offy like I am -- so I know your kindnesses will be an extra-special treat for a modest, non-blogger like the sweet, shy, extraordinarily sparkling little Aimee.

I liked reading what people had to say about inspiration-after-doldrums, too. I actually don't think about inspiration very much at all; I think it has simply become a . . . habit . . . I follow regularly, because staying inspired is part of my job -- and sometimes, some days, it can be one of the harder parts. Making things, for me and for most of you, I bet, is a part of daily life that is about creativity, and inspiration, and expression -- but I think it's also about what happens to us physically when we are working along. Everything relaxes, blood pressure comes down, breathing slows, we focus in a pleasant, interested way on one thing at a time -- instead of the fourteen things the regular world requires us to focus on as a matter of course, and I'm sorry but some of us are not hardwired to eat lunch/talk on the phone/and drive the car all at the same time, even though it is apparently very, very easy for some people (you know who they are), etc. . . . Not me. One thing for me, possibly (some days) with a side of Ina's parmesan smashed potatoes and a sturdy chair, please.

I'm convinced that our collective interest in re-inventing and re-discovering "old-fashioned" crafts and handmade stuff is about more than just nostalgia; I know it's physically healing, as well. And that's always good, in this hectic, overpacked world. That always works. But there is a big difference between being inspired to make something, and making something when you feel flat, and pinched, and unmoved by the magic you know you've felt before. You need both the magic -- my friend Martha says this is what behaviorists call "flow" (must write that love-letter to Wikipedia) -- and the simple, soothing physical action of the work itself, no?

Sometimes when I've been working too much, or have read too many blogs, or looked at too many magazines, or watched too much fancy TV, I don't feel inspired -- I feel sort of exhausted. I think it's important to protect your own creative energy by blocking everything out, and returning regularly to the source -- the materials of your craft, and your own two hands. I must block out some of the pressure of overstimulation. (You know how sometimes when you pet a cat too much, and she seems to be sort of enjoying it well enough, sort of, but then all of a sudden she'll turn and chomp ya in a wild-eyed, terrifying little frenzy? And you're just like, "Whoa! Nice kitty! Owww! You little . . . [shaking hand]." Like that. Overstimulation. Makes ya grumpy.) Must. Turn. It. All off. And go back to the source.

For me, fabric itself inspires me endlessly -- more than yarn, more than patterns, more than paper, more than other kinds of art supplies, although I like all that stuff well enough. For years after my dad died, I would regularly spend my birthday at the fabric store, alone for most of the time -- just puttering, pondering, picking things out. That day is always one that I just do not know what to do with, and nothing feels right about it, so . . . fabric store. For me, a really big, really good fabric store is the cure for most of what ails me when I feel generally out of sorts with the world.

Yesterday was one of those days -- vague shakiness and a suspected potential for bursting into tears when listening to the '70s radio station -- so to Fabric Depot I headed. After wandering for an hour, I ran into Melissa and Mariko, and it was excellent to see them and visit on that territory, beloved to us all -- you can be sure, for the most part, that anyone else at the fabric store is also probably loving the fabric store, and feeling pretty lucky to be there (unless they are a whimpering child, have a whimpering child, or are an employee -- but even then they're probably feeling pretty lucky to be there).

Oh, it took me forever. I wanted to never leave. As Mariko and Melissa were leaving, I was still circling the bolts -- round two -- "I need more gray/must . . . stay . . . longer." Eight more bolts into the cart later, I took everything back up to the cutting counter where I got an older, experienced quilter for a cutter this time. I loved our conversation. I told her I was making just a simple square patchwork. She suggested that someday, when I felt ready, I might do something more complicated. I said I doubted it. (I said it nicely, but I really do doubt it -- I very much like the squares, honestly.) She nodded agreeably, and said her friend had a rule about making quilts -- the best ones, says she, are Fast, Fun, and Finished. Amen to that! said I, quite happy to be understood. I took out all my fabrics and showed them to her. I was practically doing a jig. I think she actually liked them. I told her my plan. She said, "Now, your style of quilting is what they call 'Folk Art.' " How nice of her was that! To suggest that I had some sort of style! I just had such a good time, in so many ways, at the fabric store yesterday. And I think I got way too much fabric (one of the side effects!).

Anyway, after the fabric store it was the P.O. Which, as you know, is a sure buzz-kill. But you know, there's a certain comfort in knowing that certain things can be counted on to make you feel certain ways. Hence, the wistful title of this post.

We Travel the World, via Aimee

comments: 45

A few weeks ago one of our very best friends, Aimee, brought me the birthday present she'd been working on for . . . years. I don't remember for how long. She had, several times, every time a birthday for either one of us rolled around, insisted that she was working on something great for me, and, every time, I would insist that I didn't need anything, she should not trouble herself to give me anything other than a smile! You know, you have to say that kind of stuff. But honestly, I felt she was being tortured by my birthday present, which, of course -- I don't want my birthday presents becoming emissaries of pain and suffering, really. But, no, she had something for me; recently she finished it, and brought it over. When I saw it, I cried.

It's a handmade book called Alicia and Andy Abroad, designed, written, and illustrated by Aimee. Each illustration is a tiny original watercolor. Each "stamp" is hand-drawn. Each rhyme (which Aimee said was the hardest part of the whole thing) was charmingly, adorably, wonderfully invented by Aimee. Here's the book:

Passport1_1

Passport3

A is Alicia and Andrew abroad
L is for Lisbon which they did belaud

Passport4Iis the ink on the postcards they penned
C is the catacombs through which they did wend

Passport5Iis the ice on the dikes they did skate
A is the amir they met while they ate

Passport6A is for Audrey who bought French couture
N is the ne'er-do-well that she did allure

Passport7 D is the duomo they saw through a scope
A is the audience they had with the Pope

Passport8N is the nightcap they sipped at the lake
D is the duchess who served them a cake

Passport9R is the relic on view in the tomb
E is for Exmoor where it was exhumed

Passport10W is The Wilhelm a'sail in the foam
P is for Portland where they'll soon be home

I posted this today because Aimee is flying home from a trip to China as I write this, and I'm thinking about her, traveling. Aimee claims she has borrowed heavily from the style of Edward Gorey, but in my mind this book is completely original. Each little watercolor is amazing. I am particularly fond of the many stylish hats and outfits Aimee has put me in. And her rendition of Miss Audrey is absolutely perfect. It's hard for me to talk about the book because I'm overwhelmed by it, and , obviously, it speaks for itself, I know.

Someone wrote to me recently and asked me to talk about inspiration, particularly finding inspiration after struggling with a creative block. When I am struggling -- not just with crafting inspiration, or work inspiration, but even life inspiration -- one thing that I do is find a project with boundaries, something that won't leave me wafting about for a scheme, something that allows me to relax into what's required, instead of floundering in a sea of endless opportunity, overwhelmed. Today, if I were feeling unsure of what to do -- not just what to make, but what to do -- I might make start a little book just like this, for someone special. I would write rhymes, and paint tiny pictures of fantastic places and things. I would dream some dreams for my friend, and make them real for her on the pages.

It Feels Wrong (or, Like I Really Care)

comments: 42

June_26_012My "I-love-summer" orgasm of last week seems so precious and naive now, I must say -- it reached, apparently, 101 degrees here in Portland yesterday, last I heard. Chagrined even further by my incessant running of the central air conditioner (and my only excuse is that the previous owner installed it, an amenity I scoffed at originally -- air conditioning? in Portland? wimps! -- but have now of course come to worship the thing), I refused to turn on stove or oven to eat dinner, or leave the house to run down and get salad rolls from Thai Thai II. So ice cream seemed better than anything cold we had -- cereal, lettuce, and my God enough with the turkey sandwiches already. Every day for lunch it's nothing but turkey sandwiches on toast around here, every . . . single . . . day . . . and I just couldn't bear another one for dinner. So, air conditioner blasting, I sunk further into shame by having this sundae for dinner. And yes, the Paulsons do keep a steady supply of things like whipped cream, crushed peanuts, and maraschino cherries on hand. And if you were wondering, just for fun, when the maraschino cherries expire, it's 2009. Nine. So, it's okay. Bring on the mocking and harassment, attack the easy target; I do deserve it. When the power went out on the entire block for a few minutes around 10 p.m., I was sure it was all because of my being a decadent, pleasantly chilly pig. I had singlehandedly overwhelmed the power grid.

Bittyicecream4These gallons of Neapolitan and pistachio, however -- they are beyond reproach, being only about one inch tall! These got packed up and sent off to one special someone who loves little things yesterday. I was so very relieved last night because I finally managed to get all of the orders that came in before last Tuesday packaged and out the door. I am sorry that it took so long to get them all done, but I promise I couldn't have gone any faster and kept my sanity. Nevertheless, I wound up with one more Little Bitta Paper pack than I should have, and I don't know how -- if anyone winds up with anything missing, (or wrong, or insufficient, or generally disappointing, heaven forbid!) please let me know right away. I'm hoping that I just miscounted somehow, and that all of the orders will actually be correct, but that is just a hope. I would be totally shocked if I didn't mess something up. I was looking at a pack of vintage wallpaper that the illustrious Pam, my original fairy godmother, sent me a while back and noticing with amazement how her papers were all cut with scallop scissors, and looked all charming and dainty. My edges, you will notice when you receive them, look like they were cut by a cleaver-wielding lunatic on a tight chopping deadline, so I do hope you will forgive that. I opted for haste.

Minty Valise for Jane

comments: 23

Janescase1Continuing on with the Jane Love here, I had been putting together a little batch of treats for Miss Jane when she conveniently posted about her Urban Knitter's Survival Kit. I thought about what I would choose for Jane if I had to put a kit together for her. So mine has:

  • Pale mauve nail varnish when she's going for "polished but demure"
  • A lemon-chiffon bath bombe, for a summer-afternoon soak
  • Vintage gray [grey] rick-rack, for emergency trimming-out of apron pockets
  • DVDs -- that's all I'm sayin'
  • Angora yarn, should the need to make a jellybean cushion suddenly arise
  • Embroidered fingertip towel, for show
  • Returned Persephone book, and one I thought she'd like
  • Sugar flowers, should the need to bake a dozen fairy cakes suddenly arise
  • Crocheted bon-bons, should Pastry Guilt convince one to forgo the real things

It has been recording-breaking hot here (er -- "I love summer" blah blah ?), so this minty color is pleasing me no end. My new quilt, I've decided, will be mint, gray, pink, yellow, and a bit o' melon-y orange. How psyched am I? Very. I'm almost caught up with my work, and then it'll be on to fabric-y things. Yeah baby.

Park-on-the-River Quilt

comments: 24

Quilt2_1 The word "quilt" has such connotations, doesn't it? Much like "crochet," when you hear it, you immediately have some image flash across your mind -- sometimes good, sometimes bad! The medium yields as much variance as any I can think of, and is infused with so much history and personality that quilts seem to me like snowflakes -- no two could ever, no matter what, be the same.

About fifteen years ago, my college girlfriends and I were really into making these straightforward patchwork quilts -- I think each of us made at least a few, for ourselves, boyfriends, friends' babies. I always liked the simple square thing because I love printed fabrics -- I like being able to see each fabric, just plain like that. If the fabrics themselves collectively made a pattern, that was incidental somehow.  This one was a checkerboard, but generally I literally picked the patches up out of their piles and slapped them together, not even caring if two of the exact same prints were next to each other. Though it's hard to make things feel completely random, that was the sort of freedom that appealed to me. This checkerboard one is about fifteen years old, I think, and it's the one we keep in the trunk of the car and use in parks and at the beach. I looked at it yesterday and noticed many rips and spots. I haven't made a quilt since the big disaster of 2000.

I've been thinking about doing another one since last week when I saw Jane's new quilt. It, like all of Jane's quilts, is an incredible exploration of color and pattern and ideas and even language, somehow -- that's Jane. I haven't been completely forthcoming about it, but I have a serious addiction to Yarnstorm. Jane has a patient, thoughtful, sophisticated, entirely unique way of looking at everything -- she inspires me daily to be a better looker, not to mention a better thinker, and a better maker. Everything she does is infused with her warmth and tongue-in-cheekiness and calm wisdom. Her sense of color seems to me unparalleled in blogville, and beyond. Jane works in color and words, and translates what she sees and thinks into gorgeous quilts, flowerbeds, embroidery, pastries, knitted stuff, and home. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Yarnstorm (and I don't see how that could even be possible because I am just one of many, many faithful readers but let's just say), I envy you, because you have a treat waiting. It's my favorite blog. Jane, you are totally awesome.

Thanks to everyone for liking the new banner image yesterday -- I can't believe I hadn't changed the banner, just for fun, until now. So not like me. Well, it is like me to be lazy, but not like me to do anything for longer than four or five minutes. (I also increased the font sizes, but I'm not sure if I like that.) The patchworky collages above, you might remember, were gifts, inspired by gifts, and remind me every time I look at them of all the gifts that blogging gives, inspiration not at all the least among them. I admit I've been such a crap friend lately I haven't even been able to stay on top of writing thank you notes, let alone make individual collages -- seriously, how in the hell and the hootenanny did I ever do that -- but for all the comments, orders, emails, cards, and gifts that have come my way lately, with my very sincere appreciation, thank you. I continue to be flabbergasted and humbled by your attention. And even if I can't reciprocate in kind, I am grateful for these kindnesses in every form. They mean very much to me.

I remain,
Ever your faithful servant,
Alicia

Starfish Sunrise

comments: 23

Morning3Ah, morning at the seaside. Just kidding. We're landlocked. Which is too bad, since it's going to be in the 90s today around here. Water sounds totally wonderful. I'm thinking Jamison Square, and park picnic, later, for dinner.

Dinner last night with the Family Angry Chicken was lovely. I really can't think of four kinder, cooler people than Mr. and Mrs. and their tiny chicks. Amy and Pete grilled delicious spicy shrimp for us, accompanied by pasta with asparagus, and topped off with rhubarb pie mounded with fresh whipped cream. Damn, it was good. My first ever rhubarb pie, believe it or not. All my life I've been afraid of rhubarb after some kid in the neighborhood pointed at some and said it was poison. I think this was the same kid who threw firecrackers at me, too. That kid was an idiot. (I know, the leaves are -- but for thirty years I've avoided every part of it, in fear.) Rhubarb pie by Amy is awesome. Thanks you guys. We had so much fun with you. As always.

It's early. Thank you again, OHSU, for your 5:00 a.m. phonecall. Someday I am going to be happy that you've roused me for so many, many, many golden sunrises. Oh I'm just kidding, I don't care. I like getting up as early as possible in the summer. Makes the day that much longer, and as per yesterday, hello -- I love summer. And so do you. I hope everyone has an absolutely fantastic day. My coffee, July's Vanity Fair, and the dappled backyard are calling my name loud and clear, ready to begin it.

Howdy, Summertime!

comments: 30

Berries1_1 Oh, summer, I love you so. I love you raspberries. I love you strawberries. I love you cherries, and sage, and lavender. And jam. I love you sunshine. I love you breezes. And parks, and barbecues, and public pools. And corn pudding and  roses. I love you long nights. I love you, June.

Just a Few Little Things

comments: 27

Dollhouse Well, I'm getting a dollhouse. I feel kind of funny about it, for some reason. Possibly because I don't actually like dolls. At all. But I do like small things. I feel vaguely like those parents on Oprah the other day, living vicariously through my children, except that I don't even have children. But the temptation was just too great, since I'm pretty much done redecorating my own regular house, and I just can't stop. Did you know that when you have a dollhouse you get to pick out things like wallpaper? And dishes? And paint for floors? Who secretly doesn't want to paint their floor? For further inspiration, you must see these. Click on Mini Scene, and then Wedding Table 2005 and be amazed. It's kind of a hard web site to navigate, but honestly, everything you click on will yield wonders, so check it out.

I ordered the house from a little shop in Beaverton called Mary Paul Miniatures. It's called the Lemon Twist and is pretty popular I think  -- I'm sure you can just do a search and find it around on-line. I didn't like any of the Victorian-looking ones because I don't like Victorian-looking stuff, but this one felt sort of 50s and nice and plain, and I even like the paint job. The house comes as a kit and you have to put it together and paint it yourself. Not like I have any time to do this, of course, but you know, Sundays. . . .

I received a bunch of mail that I want to photograph this week, and I'm about halfway through with all the orders, so many of you should be receiving your Posie-ish things this week, and the rest of you next. Thank you, again, for all these orders. I got a little lump in my throat looking at all the paperwork yesterday, feelin' the love. Thank you.

And thank you to everyone who contributed suggestions to the "what should we do in Portland?" post. I went back through and tried to add links to the comments to make it easy to track the suggestions, and I'll try and continue to do that as new ones come in. I really do appreciate everyone taking the time to help with that. I'm looking forward to printing it out and trying some new things myself. I really hope this is a helpful resource for everyone. I'll put it on the sidebar, too.

WeewonderfulsbookAnd speaking of one more little thing, the Wonderful Woman of Wee has released her first, limited-edition pattern book. Hillary's adorable, original, charismatic critters -- bear, bunny, and kitty here -- are well-known throughout blogville, but if you somehow missed the news that this book is now available, please head over quick-like and get one before they're gone. I see litters of critters in the future. It looks just darling, Hillary! I can't wait for mine to arrive.

From City Mouse to Little House

comments: 25

Club Little House members have swapped, and my treasures arrived yesterday. I think I was one of the last ones to receive my package, so I've been purposely avoiding Flickr and other blogs that might reveal what was in store, but I have to say, it was so very worth it. Club Little House was organized by my dear, wonderful friend Amy Powers, whose wonderful web site Inspire Company is where I go when I need the most special, gorgeously wrapped presents for the most special people in my life. In Club Little House, there are twelve members -- we each made twelve of the same little item in 1/12th scale, sent them to Amy, and she wrapped one of each for every member and sent them to us. Unfortunately, I didn't keep the tags with each thing, so I need to go back and research stuff to give credits. But I couldn't wait to show you what came.

Clh2

A little bed quilt, with linen-cased pillows.

Clh6 A little craft cabinet filled with supplies.

Clh4 A tiny box of the most "perfect pastries."

Clh7 A diminutive suitcase to pack for the Riviera.

Clh11A charmingly instructive sign.

Clh14 A pink cabinet, a mod coffee table, and supplies for a bitty birthday party!

Clh10 A very small sewing basket in its own case.

Clh12An impossibly small hand-sewn jointed teddy bear from Italy, with his own embroidered pillow.

Clh17 A tiny flag banner, for summer celebrations.

Do we so love the small and cute, girls? Yes. All the little chairs photographed here are part of my own personal collection, but I am psyched to start looking for a real dollhouse in which to keep all my new prezzies. I've never had a dollhouse before. These beautiful things absolutely made my day, and I am so excited to participate again. I'm not sure how Amy will organize the next swap, but please read her blog if you're interested, and I bet she'll let you know how to get involved.

Thank you, fellow Club Little House members! I love every single solitary thing. And thank you for organizing this, Amy, and for providing all those sweet, conscientious, wonderful little touches that make everything you do so very beautiful, and inspiring.

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

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.