Posts filed in: October 2010

Winter City Sweater

comments: 49

WinterCitySweater1

Should you be in need of some mindless knitting — and by mindless I mean the good kind that allows you to stop thinking too hard and just knit knit knit knit and then knit some more, and not even purl, and not even look at the pattern for looooong stretches of time — you could probably make an Elizabeth Zimmerman sweater in the round (which someday I swear I will actually do, maybe even for myself [I started one but didn't finish it] ), because she knew just how to make knitting as pleasureable as possible. Or you could do a garter-stitch sideways sweater. Remember the Lichen Sweater? This is the same sweater, done in different yarn and I one size smaller needle (can't find the 2.5mm).

I'm calling this one the Winter City Sweater (follow the link to Ravelry for yarn/needle/pattern details). That is because the colors remind me of winter in the city (genius!!!). That's as creative as my brain is able to be lately. When I made the Lichen version, I remember thinking, "Holy lichen, am I bored with this." HAH. This time around, my days are so hectic and charged that when I finally fall onto the sofa to work a few rows before I start snoozing, I am thinking, "Oh, this is wonderful. This is glorious. This is relaxing. This is just enough. This . . . Zzzzzzzzz." Awesome. It's very Goldilocksian: the perfect amount of required thinking (i.e.: hardly any) with the perfect amount of repetitive, mind-numbingly boring knitting (i.e.: a ton, as garter stitch grows slowly, so you need lots and lots). And mind-numbing is, after all, quite the perfect point: Nothing seems to massage the hectic brain into happy, long, smooth, agreeable waves like garter stitch, somehow. Especially if you've placed your markers and you can go for row after row without stopping to do anything fancy. Don't you love how what feels seriously boring at some times can feel seriously soothing at others? I think that's one of the best things about knitting: It's always more than a sweater, somehow. It's an antidote. You can pick a project to be almost anything you need it to be.

In case it's not obvious — I guess I should've explained this earlier — a sideways sweater is not knit from the bottom up or the top down. It's knit starting with the left-front edge, where you cast on the entire length from bottom to neck. Then you work what is called "short rows" back and forth along that edge: Knit up the first marker, then turn around and go back on the return row. Knit up the the second marker, turn and go back. Knit up to the third marker, turn and go back. Now go up to the second marker again, turn and go back. Up to the first marker, go back. Then knit all the way up to the top (neck edge) and come back. You've just created a little wedge: For every 12 rows at the bottom edge, you have 2 rows at the top edge. This creates that adorable A-line shape. When you get to the side, you place all of the stitches up to the underarm on a holder, then cast on a bunch more for the sleeve (which is knit straight, until the "second" marker, and doesn't repeat quite as often). See? Cool idea, huh?

Mom's Sauce

comments: 75

Lasagna2

Oh, hello there! Hello from the land of the loser blogger who never blogs. Andy says thank you very, very much for all of your kind comments about his post. The comments have been so funny lately! We love them — thank you. There is light at the end of several tunnels around here: I might even go outside today. If ever two people and one little dog were in need of a day-long walk in the woods. . . . Where to go? Portlanders, what are your favorite fall walks? Any suggestions?

Now: Would you like some lasagna? This is my mom's lasagna. It's the taste of home, for me. I told Josh and Keely, who came for dinner on Friday, that I couldn't be objective about it in any way. If I had to list words to describe it, "home" would come before "lasagna." It's one of a small handful of things of the present that can cross almost two thousand miles and more than thirty years and take me right back home: The cover of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. An empty pack of Newport cigarettes. The sound of a freight train at night. Humidity, and the smell of mulberries smashed on the sidewalk. The smell of an onion and a clove of garlic sauteing in vegetable oil on an autumn afternoon. That's the beginning of sauce.

Mom's Sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 pieces of bone-in beef short ribs (Note: Do not omit or substitute these — they are key to this sauce tasting like this sauce. Just sayin.)
1 16-oz. can whole tomatoes (break these up with your hands first, but be careful because they squirt all over the place)
5 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 2-inch pieces
Meatballs (recipe to follow)

 Meatballs

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 egg
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk

Squish all ingredients with hands in large bowl, making sure the breadcrumbs are mixed in well. Take a golf-ball sized blob and squish back and forth between hands about 15 times, then roll in hands to form a ball. Set meatballs aside.

For sauce, in very large pot or Dutch oven, saute onions in oil over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. Add short ribs and brown on each side. Add sausage pieces and brown well. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir. Gently add meatballs and stir. Bring to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for 2 1/2 or 3 hours, stirring bottom often.

To make the lasagna, just place a layer of cooked lasagna noodles in a 9" x 13" pan, top with with two pounds of whole-milk ricotta cheese (mixed with a giant handful of chopped fresh parsley and two eggs), sprinkle with mozzarella and some sauce, add another layer of noodles, top with more mozzarella, drizzled sauce, and a bit of salt, and bake for 40 minutes or so at 350 degrees F. Serve with a giant glass of ice-cold milk. Mmmm, milk (I know, apparently I am the only adult in the universe who drinks milk with dinner, or asks for a glass of it at fancy Italian restaurants).

One Man’s Thoughts on Cutting Felt

comments: 175

I know what you’re thinking. What makes this man’s thoughts any better than the thousands of other men’s thoughts on cutting felt.

I really have no answer to that.

Roller-cutter

1. Rotary cutters are awesome. CRUNCH! Exactly straight. Every time.

Cutting-board 

Wear and tear. Alicia says I should get a new board. Pah.

2. Math is awesome. You can count by fours. You can count by threes. If you cut three 6” strips and start three different stacks, in three more reps, repeated three times, you’ll have three piles of te3n. Wait. Let me count this again. Yea. Thrity. I mean Thirty.

Cutter-ruler-corgi 

3. When you’re cutting felt, your hands start to manage themselves. Your brain is free to do whatever. In my case, it wanders. Julius Peppers, right? The Bears’s defense is back, I think. Neil Caffery – how does he stay so calm? I love that about him – in spite of those hats. That fall feast was so good. Morel mushrooms. I wonder where they come from really, the woods? A clearing in the woods? I wonder if there will be a baby here next year at this time and if I’ll be cutting felt in the nursery. Will I have time to cut felt at all? I’m hungry. What time does Chipotle open I wonder? (Alicia knows: 11.) Look at this cute corgi! Scritch scritch good dog. We'll go to the p-a-r-k (spelling)later. I should prolly count these stacks of felt again. Right. Thirty.

Work-station 

4. Setting up temporary work stations is necessary. In front of the TV? Sure! Outside? OK! By Alicia? Always. Look, there’s my mom watching TV and playing Cut the Rope or Sneezies on her ipod.

5. The Posie Sweatshop Carryout Meal Plan is awesome. Burgerville, Chipotle, Pizzacato, Kettleman. As Shawn and Gus would say… what!

6. Listening to album after album of music. This time: Avett Brothers, Wilco, Electric Wizard (after Alicia goes to bed), OCMS, Sufjan Stevens, Wild Tchoupitoulas, My Morning Jacket, Bob Wills, Radiohead, Willie Nelson, Modest Mouse…

Snack-station 

7. Set up snack stations by temporary work stations. Obviously. M&Ms, candy corn, Gardetto’s… what!

Roller-cutter-casualty 
Oooooops. Wheel casualty. No one got hurt.

8. Working at home is awesome. You almost never have to worry about a defective foley bag busting open on you and then having to take a shower after throwing your pants away and begging the administrator on duty for an extra pair of scrub pants that won’t fit and don’t have anywhere to put your wallet anyway. That just does not happen at home.

8. Imagining these little squares of felt becoming polar bears and mittens and skates somewhere out there, all over the world, is awe… pretty cool. I love being part of it.

 

See you guys soon with thoughts on assembling kits. Thank you for buying them! Stay gold.

Just the Beginning

comments: 84

Paint1

Painting. They make it sound so easy. I've always thought it was actually pretty hard. I thought it was pretty hard yesterday as I was lying on the bathroom floor trying to paint behind the toilet. Again. Two coats of primer, two coats of paint, and in a few spots it needs another. Painting new wainscoting is like painting sandpaper. The brush dries out before you finish the first stroke. I creakily unfold myself and stand in the middle of the room. There. Everything is glowing, glossy as freshly poured cream. I like that moment. The one where you are finished painting and the room is actual sparkling. If it's a golden October morning, and you are happy with the color you chose (for once), the feeling of pure satisfaction is hard to beat, and worth every brushstroke. I'm still much happier at the end of the painting than at the beginning of the painting. Some people actually enjoy painting. I think I'd rather alter someone's pants for them (not) or back a trailer into a parking space (not) or have a root canal (sure!).

Think about how many rooms you've painted in your life. I counted twelve bedrooms that I've lived in in my life, including childhood rooms, dorm rooms, rented houses, apartments — and I think that's actually a pretty low number. I've watched Andy paint more rooms than I can even count. He's relentlessly cheerful — gets his iPod all ready to go, cranks it. He's fast and whistling. I'm like this: "Agh. This sucks. Ouch. Oh crap [spills paint]. Agh! Towel! TOWEL!!! [like it's going to fall out of the sky directly into my hand]." Yep. Little Miss Sunshine.

If you paint one room so that it glistens, and then you go out into the hallway and you see that the hallway is now as dingey and gray as an old milk jug that's been kicked up and down the street a couple of thousand times (no, I don't know where I come up with this stuff either), and so is the bedroom, and so is the kitchen, and so is the back hall, you realize that, er, Honey? Better download some new music. The whole house now needs a fresh coat. . . .

Dispatch from the Assembly Lines

comments: 78

It is cold and foggy out this morning. Right here on our street is a layer of wispy fog, made obvious by the pale sunlight filtering through. Red leaves and cobwebs. Frost on the grass. It's very, very pretty today.

You were right — the root canal was no problem! Of course, I did have IV sedation which my beloved dentist strongly recommended (she knows me), so I missed the whole thing (yay). I was nervous. The endodontist's chairs faced this huge wall of windows that were about six feet away from the most gorgeous stream, peppered with lazily swimming wild ducks and bordered by long grasses and small trees. This was a real stream, not a hallucinated stream. It was ridiculously beautiful. I felt a little sorry that I was going to miss it. Right before the drugs kicked in I said to the doctor, "Are they working?" and he said, "You tell me." I said, "No." He said, "So what do you do for a living?" I was about to say, "I wind skeins of lace-weight yarn so that people can knit tiny scarves for miniature polar bears," but instead I said, "I . . . ."

The next thing I knew, people were smiling at me and telling me it was over, and Andy was escorting me out the side door. An hour and a half had passed, but it had felt like about four minutes. As we walked out, I had a strong urge to sit down on a little patch of sopping wet grass in the parking lot and take a rest. Everyone thought that was a bad idea and I let them think that ('cause I'm cool like that) and instead clambered into the passenger's seat. Then I proceeded to sleep for about fourteen hours. There was a pumpkin milkshake and a small hamburger in there somewhere, and I think I watched Leap Year and Green Card, but mostly it was all a long, pleasant blur. I was plumb tuckered out by the past couple of weeks, during which I've spent many sleepless nights worrying over (the usual existential questions like) which tile to choose and whether or not to add wainscoting to things (yes). I had to get a root canal to catch a nap, apparently.

Today I have GOT to stop fooling around and get back to work. We are almost finished with the cutting of felt/bagging of beads and sequins/winding of yarn/packing of patterns part and about to start the actual kit assembly line part. Kits are all still going to go out as planned, by the first of November. Andy has a post for you. He's already styled and photographed his snack station, I know that.

First Fall Feast 2010

comments: 44

Feast1

Oh, it was good. It always is. Way back in 2006 when we got our Dutch oven, we made our first fall feast using it. We've obviously used the D.O. a hundred times since then (still looooooving that thing), but our annual first fall feast is still my favorite thing to make. This year with Andy's mom it was Ina's chicken with morels, those Brussels sprouts with chanterelles from Fine Cooking I mentioned, and an enormous tray of roasted winter vegetables, including squash, carrots, and parsnips. We also made a sour-cream apple pie with the most delicious apples in the whole wide world, my favorites, the Honeycrisps. I looked back to see the apple (note singular) we used for the FFF in 2007 (I think it was a Gravenstein — and Andy's mom was here for that FFF too!). I noticed I made my mom's creamed spinach last year. No, this is never a meal for the lactose intolerant.

The Brussels sprouts were insanely delicious (though next time I would roast them at a bit lower temp, or for a little less time) — kind of bitter in the best way, and then the chanterelles have that woodsy floppyness. I'll be thinking about it all while I have my root canal tomorrow [fake cries/bites nails/grimaces nervously]. . . .

A Week Only a Mother Could Love

comments: 48

SickBed2

Andy's mom has been here for almost a week now and we have had such a wonderful visit. She has been a great sport, since there has been almost constant remodeling here (it was all supposed to be finished before she arrived, but you know how it goes — I didn't, but you probably do) and other broken stuff (including a shower, a toilet, my back molar which I broke [it was already cracked] on a crispy noodle in some kao soi, and the Volvo [which essentially fell apart in the parking lot at the mall yesterday, necessitating a tow across the city and a rental car] ).

Andy had several days off, so we shopped (new shampoo and shower curtain for me and new shoes for Andy), we hung around Powell's for a whole delicious afternoon (I printed off Andrea's brilliant autumn-inspired picture book, middle-reader, and young adult booklists and am collecting titles), we went to the brew pub and the magazine store. On Saturday we got groceries and I cooked all afternoon, which was wonderful. On Sunday I hit the wall and sat on the sofa in a state of stupefied laze while Sue packaged ornament-kit pattern pages and wound yarn and cut rick-rack, and Andy cut felt. I stayed in my nightgown all day and knit and occasionally agreed to cut eyelet lace while lying on the couch. We watched Dan in Real Life. Pets sat on me and refused to move. I mostly refused to move (great hostess).

Sue leaves today, unfortunately. I love having her here so much. After I drop her at the airport, I'm going to come home and clean. Andy's back at work. It's almost time to turn the heat on for real. That will leave no excuse for sitting in a flannel nightgown under piles of quilts and cats because it's too cold to get up and do anything else. Drat.

comments: 127

Clover1

We never go anywhere.

Clover3

Did you indicate that we are maybe going to go somewhere.

Clover2

I believe someone indicated that we were maybe going to go somewhere.

Clover4

Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese. Please please please please please please.

Clover5

DUDE. We are Somewhere! [THROW IT!!!]

Clover6

Yay . . . yay . . . yay . . . yay . . . yay . . . yay . . . yay.

Clover7

Yay . . . yay . . . yay . . . yay . . . yay . . . yay.

Clover8

Good . . . good . . . good . . . good . . . good . . . good.

Clover10

YAY!

Clover9

GOOD!

(Photos by Mr. Andy Paulson. Dialogue by Miss Clover Meadow Paulson.)

Thoughts on Working at Home

comments: 72

Kitchen1

The first thing to go is the cooking. When I get really busy, there's nothing to eat around here.  I try not to let this happen but it always happens. And since, when I'm this busy, I'm usually always at home, I just need to get out anyway. I seriously considered thanking the staff of the NE Weidler Street Chipotle on the acknowledgements page of Embroidery Companion, I went there so often during its making. They kindly pretended not to know me, or know my (always the same) order, and I nonchalantly pretended that I, always alone (in pajama-ish pants that could almost pass for sweatpants but probably don't) with my lunch book, had never been there before. I pretended to thoughtfully examine the menu. They pretended that they had to explain to me that guacamole costs extra. When I realized with some chagrin that I had seen the guy Who Made the Rice Today more than I had seen, say, my friends and family, I pledged to go to the grocery store. But then that would mean staying home for lunch and having a sandwich, and, like I said, when I'm that busy I really feel like I need to flee the property for at least just that one hour a day and be around other people (my friends at Chipotle).

I went to the Art Wolfe seminar all day Sunday. That was pretty fun. He showed some slides of his house. Oh my goodness. He remodeled a tiny little cottage in West Seattle to be quite incredible. He brought in a bunch of enormous rocks with a crane. He talked about how his house reflects so many aspects of his life. He's integrated his travels and the things he cares about into his house. I can't say it all exactly the way he did. I can't remember the details of what he said about this, just the essence. The essence was: You should care what your place feels like, down to the details. You should try to surround yourself with only the things that are important to you. If you love photography but you don't have any of your own photos on the wall, that's not right. I realized with a shock that I love photography but I don't have any of my own photos on the wall. Well, actually I have one, from the beach, but I only put it up a few weeks ago. The house was like a retreat. A place that buffered from the stresses of the world, and recharged him, enabling him to go back out there and travel all over the globe. We all know this stuff. But there was something about how he explained it that really resonated with me on Sunday. I think he talked about camera lenses and composition and focal points, too. But it was the house stuff (which he said in about the first ten minutes of a six-hour day) that I latched onto with an inner sob. Not surprising, given the current state of our house (disheveled). But he said it with such conviction and enthusiasm and sincerity. And authority.  Just do it. I really needed to hear that. You could tell that he cared about everything a lot. I truly enjoyed listening to him (and I can almost never sit in one spot for an entire day). But instead of the lecture making me want to go travel, it all made me want to go home and clean. (?!?)

Kitchen2

Weird. But then I realized that the house is sort of my world right now.

Friday Morning Thoughts on Remodeling Stuff

comments: 123

1. Holes can be put in floors and walls can come down much more easily than you thought.
2. This is both alarming and encouraging.
3. You can live with things that look horrideous for a long time and not even notice them anymore.
4. When your contractor asks you how to turn on the light in the basement and you wade in the dark through a maze of benches, boxes, Christmas lights, and laundry to get to the far back corner where you twist a bare bulb that's hanging gingerly out of the ceiling until it turns on and he looks at you like you are completely out of your mind, it occurs to you that perhaps you should see about asking someone to install a light switch. That you've lived here for ten years and this is the first time that it's occurred to you that you could see about asking someone to install a light switch is, literally, a lightbulb moment.
5. Make mental note to find therapist with which to discuss.
6. Which will increase the budget.
7. When it comes to picking out flooring, it's shocking how much unattractive fake-tile flooring in earthtones there is in the world.
8. You don't like earthtones. Or dark tones.
9. The salespeople, everywhere you go, tell you that everyone likes earthtones and dark tones. Except for you.
10. You are freakish. You like gray. There was one fake carrara marble one, but it was discontinued and unavailable. Because "nobody" liked it.
11. You have a lot of work to do on ornament kits, but you can't seem to stop reading Scandinavian blogs about gray walls, wainscoting, whitewashed floors, painted floors, gray floors, and navy gingham.
12. Enjoy myself during the day to decorate the room of the bathing.
13. You have started speaking English as translated out of Norwegian by Google translator.
14. Thus even further complicating all communication with Ron, the contractor.
15. You have decided to stick with only colors from the Bejamin Moore Historic Collection, since the last two colors you painted anything (Wythe Blue and Buxton Blue) were perfect.
16. Which has never in the history of your life happened before.
17. There are some things you are willing to splurge on (light fixtures) and some things you won't pay a penny more than fifty cents to five dollars for (tiles and towels).
18. The reason that bathrooms look so pretty in books in magazines is because they don't have the self-propogating piles of hairbrushes, hair dryers, shampoo bottles, bathmats, mouthwash, plungers, L.L. Bean catalogs, electronic football games, toilet paper rolls, ponytail holders, and pumice stones that seem to clutter up yours. Because you have pedestal sinks. (And the bathroom is literally only four feet wide.)
19. You decide to only allow Kiehl's products into your new bathrooms, like your friend Linda. You will ban Darling Husband's ginormous bottle of generic bright orange mouthwash that doesn't fit in any cabinet and frisk all incoming grocery bags at the door.
20. And now the budget really is completely blown.

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.