Posts filed in: September 2007

I'm gonna cook and then I'm gonna knit and then I'm gonna cook and then I'm gonna knit some more.

comments: 81

Sweater Next to my bed is a huuuuuuuuge pile of books and magazines. They lean perilously against the wall in a sloppy tower of rumpled pages, bloopy bookcover spines (I can't stand to read hardcover books with book covers so always take them off and slip them, flaps first, into the towering stack where their fragile edges bulge out and get battered), and glossy sliders. The magazines are the worst. They cause all sorts of trouble, making a slippery, unstable foundation, and occasionally the whole warren-like structure of reading material will come slithering down and create a massive Slip'n'Slide right there (and that's just a small one), next to the bed. And then I'll just step through it on my crashing way toward my pillow, already snoring before I even get there. No matter what I do, no matter how diligently I try to change it, this habit dies hard with me. This pile has followed me to the side of every bed I've ever called my own, since childhood.

So as I mentioned, I have lots of books and magazines I do want to tell you about. But the first thing I did on my First Night of Perceived Freedom last night was cook (lasagna, of course lasagna) and download this pattern for the Cable Luxe Tunic from Lion Brand Yarn, which I saw in a catalog that was peeking out from my big pile. As my first official long-term self-indulgent craft of freedom, I am going to knit the gray sweater on the left. (That long one on the right — wow — if only I taught Medieval lit at Oberlin and had beautiful long flame-red hair and played the piccolo I would so totally wear that!)

Now, the reason I say that I'm going to knit it in italics is because 1) I am not really a knitter and 2) I'm not really a knitter. I know how to knit but I rarely knit. And I've never knit anything as big as a sweater. But I want to try. I want to do something I've never done before. I especially want to do something that I will never, ever do "professionally," since sometimes when I sew, or embroider, or especially crochet for myself, I find myself, even in spite of myself, not just relaxing but designing, with my little brain click-clacking away. Working. Figuring. And I don't want to do that right now. I just want to chill.

So I say "I'm going to knit that thing" in italics because 1) it's going to be expensive, since I don't want to use acrylic yarn as called for (I agree that something lighter than the called-for worsted would be a good idea, too) and 2) it will be a very expensive unfinished sweater unless I really commit to it. In addition to my remarkable ability to build towering condos of books and magazines, one of my other many talents is spending a lot of money on and then not finishing things for myself (see: Granny Square Blanket). But then there's 3) where I have this lovely vision of fall, and the fireplace, and hot chai, and a puppers next to me on the sofa, and some, what, Gregorian chants? Softly playing in the background? And there's me, knitting peacefully. See me? In pajamas? Not even caring if I finish the sweater or if it fits or looks horrid? Just all blissed out and knitting. Pastitsio in the oven. Another log on the fire for dinner, then back to the needles. If I say it in italics it's like a command and also like it will happen.

*Update: I just discovered, upon my return from the yarn store, that I had the link to the long sweater dress and not the short tunic, so I hope no one bought the long one if you wanted the short one — they are totally separate patterns and it's not too obvious on the site. Sorry about that! I got to the yarn store and said, "Wow, this sweater takes almost four thousand yards of yarn!" So, it's updated now. Not sure if anyone else noticed this, but I am sorry.

Also, I forgot to mention that my friend Kristin Spurkland is having a launch party at Knit/Purl tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. for her very special new book of men's knits, The Knitting Man(ual). This is one of the books on my list to tell you about and if you can make it out tonight to meet Kristin, I promise you will love her and her work as much as I do.

Phew.

comments: 110

Doll2

I broke the sound barrier late last night with the sound of the deafening sigh that emanated from my very core when I had finally color-corrected the last photo, scanned the last diagram, and printed out the last page of my manuscript. The draft of Stitched Souvenirs is, for the most part, complete. I have several photos to redo, a few more paragraphs to write, and some backmatter to gather, but really, really . . . it's done.

Miss Clover Meadow Paulson had her second FRAP last night (and if you have never raised a puppy, you might not know about FRAPs — Frenetic Random Activity Periods — wherein the puppers goes berserker and careens wildly through the house for a few minutes). As I watched her, ears flapping, little legs spinning, eyes gleaming, skidding out whenever she crossed the small patch of hardwood floor between the living and dining rooms, I felt I could truly relate. I've felt like I've been in the midst of a summer-long FRAP since I started the book in June, lurching wildly around the place, feeling both joy and panic, skidding out, rubber-band legs going in every direction, crying and yodeling. When Clover finished her performance, she collapsed on the sisal, tiny ribs heaving, and looked at us in bewilderment as if to say, "What was that?" And I could relate to that, too. We tried not to giggle and kissed the sweet spot, where giant ear turns into forehead, while she caught her breath.

Thank you to all of you who have been here this summer, padding the sharp corners and removing obstacles as I've taken the tight turns at top speed, patting me gently when I've been tired, sending comfort when I've been sad and lonely. I can hardly express how much your generosity, interest, patience, and kindness has meant to me and to Andy, and I'm sure to Audrey, because I do believe she knows, and now to Buttercup Clover Meadow Pinkytoes Paulson. Thank you for everything. I'm always so moved by the people who read every day, or who say "I've never commented before, but . . . ," or our real-life friends we've known for years and years who we come to find out have been reading the blog quietly the whole time (which makes me blush). I sense you all out there and I read everything you say, laughing, sniffling, nodding, silently grateful for your interest, your wisdom, and your friendship. Several times over the last week people said "We're all in this together," meaning this life, these experiences, these dreams and dogs and days good and bad. And yes, that's so what I wanted to hear and exactly what I love about it all. This weekend is my two-year blogiversary. And what I've learned these past two years from blogging is, I think, simply that, that we're all in this together. I've felt that more than ever lately.

It's been hard not to show you everything I've made for the book, believe me, since designing these projects is pretty much all I've been doing every day for months. Marie-Clara, pictured above and who you might remember from last winter, inspired by the barf-o-rama, has been rechristened the "Nutcracker Doll" for the book, one of the few projects that is not entirely new. But to me she truly epitomizes the spirit of this collection. Each of the thirty projects has something personal at its core, something evocative of special times, something that translates the richness of daily life and gives back to it. At least, that's what I've attempted to do. We'll have to wait 'til fall 2008 see if I've succeeded in that.

But for now there's so much else I want to tell you about, things I haven't had time to show you, books I've read and discovered, meals I want to cook, projects I want to do, my puzzle, my cross-stitch, new movies and TV shows (Gossip Girl, you have big shoes to fill now that Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars are gone and I almost fell asleep during your pilot . . . I hope I was just tired . . . but I'm just sayin' . . . big shoes), plans I have for crocheted things. Magazines I haven't even looked at yet. My mother-in-law's visit in a few days. Family coming from across the country for Thanksgiving. Portland in the fall. I went out to the yard yesterday and saw that autumn has truly arrived. I think I completely missed the end of the summer. I hardly remember a thing. This morning, the sound of rain in the dark. But it was a beautiful sound. The first sound of my fresh start. Phew. (That's the second sound: "Phew!")

Oh, and did I mention I got a new couch?

comments: 151

Couch1

Yes, it's ultrasuede, and it came with this adorable pillow!

Let's just look at it again, shall we?

Couch2

Oh my. They do charge extra for a pillow like this. But I highly recommend the upgrade. Ask for the "Flirty-Flirt De-luxe" model. Or the "Pretty-Pretty-McPrettygirl." Or wait, I think, yeah — they also call it the "How Can You Resist Me You Cannot" upgrade. I think that's right. Actually, you know what, just say you want the Clover Meadow Special. I think they'll know exactly what you mean if you just say that. The Clover Meadow Special-oh-so-very-Special. 

so hard 2 type w/ puprs on lap

comments: 85

Cloverblanket1

we havent left this spot 2 much sigh sigh contented sigh. be back ssoon and thx 4 all so nice words much love clover and ali

First Day

comments: 298

Clover2_2

Oh, thank you for all the Clover love! She is sleeping on her little plaid blanket right now, quietly moaning to herself while I write this, for she is a groany, moany dog — much more talkative than her auntie. She has a repertoire of noises that would rival an old-time radio show. She vocalizes liberally, and at first it was so confusing, because her sounds wouldn't seem to jive with what she was doing. Like, she'd be playing what seemed like happily with her toys (chewing, tail-wagging, all attention focused on the leg of a plushy pink octopus) but at the same kind kind of crying softly to herself in a way that just breaks your heart — missing her brothers and sisters? Talking to her toys? Who can say. We're kind of used to it now, tentatively acclimating ourselves to our new, tiny, unique creature, so much like and yet so different from Audrey I can't help but smother her with twice as many kisses as she can probably stand. Though, unlike her auntie, as well, she is a cuddler. You roll her over on her back and tickle her in the sweet spot behind her right ear, and she shudders with pleasure and closes her eyes, happy to stay in the crook of my arm as long as I keep tickling. I'm completely in love.

Clover4

Poor Andy is on a work bender, five straight 12-hour days (eeesh) so he and Clover hung out much of Saturday, but not too much since; at night she mostly cries in her crate before falling into a few hours of exhausted, twitching slumber. Saturday afternoon, someone came to the living room window to be let in, and boy was she surprised: a tiny, yelping Audrey look-a-like, barking at her from behind the glass:

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Clover6

Clover7

Clover8

Clover9

Clover10

After that, the Bee has been strangely indifferent. The cats are actually taking it all very well. Phew!

Clover11

Oh my, what a day! What a privilege.

I marvel at her — she's like a tiny, exquisite deer — and have mellowed.

Clover12

When we brought Clover home, we stopped off at the backyard before we came into the house via the back door. At the end of the back hall, there is a picture of Audrey that I framed and put there about a year ago. I've looked at it a million times in the past month, but it wasn't until I walked up the hall with Clover in my arms that I saw something in it I hadn't noticed before.

Audreyplumpy Clover, there the whole time.

Introducing . . .

comments: 366

Clover1

Clover Meadow Paulson, our new puppy!

Happy happy joy joy love love love. xoxoxox

Breathe, and Re-boot

comments: 116

Baking1

Whew, well, I learned a lot yesterday. In the afternoon my niece came over. As we played together, and read, and sat on the front stairs in the late sunlight and watched the acorns fall, I felt some heavy tension I'd been carrying around for a few months leave me, finally. In the wake of my bad behavior and subsequent public hissy, I squeezed back out of this little dark space I'd been in — Phhhhbloop! — and slowed down, and saw things more clearly than I had in a while. Thank you for sharing all of the perspectives and stories in the comments yesterday, even the ones that stung. I could appreciate all of them. I was needing to hear it all. I did go back to the Super Cuts to drop off a note for the guy, and they said they would get it to him. I'll be paying that one forward, a check I'll happily write. Audrey did not raise me to act like such a jerk, to anyone, so I am anxious to do better.

I see the blessings today, as I do most days, almost all days. But it seems like it's the bad days, when you can't remember to see the blessings, when all you can do is feel jipped and jagged and raw — it's those days that put the good days, and all the good things, so sharply into perspective. Those days humble me completely, and renew all my most sincere intentions to be grateful, and kind, especially to strangers, as so many more than I deserve have been kind to me.

Breathe, reboot. On we go.

Apology

comments: 208

Yesterday I was having such a hard day. I woke up in the dark, crying about Audrey, and just couldn't stop. I was incredibly mean to this guy who had parked way too close to my car — pulled him out of the Super Cuts where he was getting a haircut to move it. He had a nametag on his shirt, from his job somewhere in that busy, hot neighborhood by the Home Depot and the Olive Garden — and I was such a bitch to him. I was so cranky and so unsympathetic, as if it was some major transgression and not a small, stupid thing, and he had that big old huge Oldsmobile like my dad's — he had been smiling before I walked in. And I was so sad already, and felt so unhappy in my very bones that morning, that when I came out and saw that his car was six inches away from the whole left side of mine, I just thought, "NO!!! I am so sick of this!!!" Like I was already hanging by my fingertips, and when I saw the car it just pushed me right off. But he and I — we should've been on the same side. He was a nice guy, getting a haircut, with a job, and a silly old car that he probably loved, and I could be, on any other day, moved by all of it. I was just like him, trying hard all the time, keeping things going, doing my best. But yesterday I was stony-faced and small, coming back from the fabric store for the umpteenth time, standing there with two Cokes dripping all over my hands and a bag of Orange Chicken from the Panda Express for Andy, and when he moved the car and I pulled away, I drove all the way home bawling, thinking, "My dog is dead. I want my dog back."

I wish I could've done all that differently, could've found a different way to behave that would've made me feel better and not worse than I was already feeling. I was wishing I was doing it differently while it was actually happening, and I felt so ashamed. I wished that so much had been different, not just with Audrey but with me and how I am, and with my dad and how he was, now gone, too. I know that it all will pass, as things do, even though you don't think they will, and I'll be okay again, as I've been before. I know that the rough edges will smooth over with time, that I'll be able to remember Audrey when she was well and not suffering and scared, and that when the puppy arrives I will be able to turn this energy back into love for a little creature that needs me. I know that will happen somehow, though I don't know when it will feel like it has. Everyone says that will happen, and it seems accurate, historically, even in my own life. But yesterday it all felt hard. And I just wanted to write this so that I could apologize to that guy, somehow, although he'll probably never know. I really am sorry I acted like such a total jerk.

The Luckiest Girl in the World

comments: 96

Puppygirl2_2

Yep, that would be this little munchy-unchkin. Don't you wish you were her right now? I do!

The pups are now almost seven weeks old. They are so beautiful. Here is the video Andy made of when we went to see them about two weeks ago. Can't even count how many times we've watched this. (My favorite moments are at 1:14 and 2:29, the one with the shaving on its nose? Ack!) No wonder my draft ms. is late.

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Jane, who I've been neglecting terribly and whose blog is so stunningly gorgeous lately it, too, is burning out the rods and cones in my retinas (Andy was of course shocked to hear yesterday that I knew about the rods and the cones, BTW) tells me I can only have one puppy. Jane, why would you do that to me? How will I ever choooooooose??? When they are all so cuuuuuuute???

Don't they say your puppy chooses you?

Looks like that one is hers, yeah?

Wrong Impression

comments: 36

Notions2

Remember that game Telephone? Reading the comments, I think I may have worried some people yesterday (sorry about that!) who thought I was wallowing in bagels and blues, but no, no. Far from it.

No time for that kind of fun, baby!

No, it's just the Scrambling Phase, where one is buried under pages of manuscript and drawings and templates and photos for the book, all of which are late (due in part to August's wallowing in blues and barns), most of which are only partially done, but all of which are, finally, coming together in one big document now (a Word document that insists on deleting all of my tabbed indents, but we won't go there), instead of a million disparate parts and pieces, as they've been for the past few months.

I messed up several of the projects the first time so when I burn out the rods and cones on my retinas Photoshopping final images, I perch anxiously on the sofa and frantically sew things by hand for a while (Lifetime TV). Next to me sits our new puppy bed, filled with new toys and waiting patiently for Puppers, who we pick out and bring home a week from today! Sometimes I skid across the room and into the kitchen for a quick bite (giant paper bag of salt bagels [and enormous jug of OJ] ). This morning I actually slept, snoring like a bulldozer, until 8 instead of 2:30 a.m. (which is apparently my new wake-up time) so to celebrate I changed my shirt.

See? Really, it's just the same old story, the one I always tell to anyone who will listen (or who won't — you know I don't discriminate in my telling). The one about the girl, buried under a ream of paper (so sorry trees — it's recycled), waggling a little finger out from under the fluttering pile: "You-hoo! . . . YO!"

It won't be long now, but until then each hour is densely packed, so I might not be around 'til Puppers Day. (Except that I just received new Puppers Pix of the litter so I might be back to show you those, so you can help us choose :-)

To be honest, it's all actually fun. Like cramming for finals. Without the sobbing-in-the-shower part. Okay, I maybe did do that once. Last week. But during finals I'd do that every day.

So you can see how I've matured, no?

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.