Posts filed in: September 2011

Assembling and Packing

comments: 271

Room1

Hi! Have I ever been busy! Whew!

[Takes deep breath, and big sip of coffee.]

How are you? How is everything going out there? Good? Thank you EVER so much for the ornament kit orders. Oh me oh my. I am so thrilled. It's been a fantastic week of crazy work, lots of help, late nights, many trips to the post office, lots of laughing, lots of ordering in dinner and lunch, lots of snacks (as you know), lots of felt, lots of labels, oh, just everything. It's been a lot of fun, actually. But I literally haven't had time to talk. Usually we have this project done by the end of October; here we are, one month early, though we started at the same time we usually do. It was awesome. Thank you very much for every single one of your orders — they mean so much to us. We still have lots of kits left (though the Sweet Homes are going faster than the others, so I think those will definitely run out first), but everything is assembled now, and I am completely caught up on orders. So I'm very happy.

We have had one problem that I know of so far, and the fault is all mine. In the Sweet Home kits, I discovered after several hundred were already assembled and shipped that I never even ordered the Red #321 embroidery floss for the French knots and the hanger on the wreath. That was not a good moment!!! After I discovered this, we bought all of the red floss they had at our local fabric stores and cut those skeins into lengths of floss and included a length in each kit, so watch for that piece of floss, tucked in near the lace and rick-rack. You need very little of the red — just enough for a few stitches in decoration — so if you have received a Sweet Home kit that doesn't have a piece of red floss included in it you can totally use a few plies (I would double or triple it) from a spool of red sewing thread and you'll never know the difference. If you don't have an easy way to get a hold of any red thread or red embroidery floss, don't worry for even a second — just email me with your address and I will send you a piece of red floss ASAP.

Thank you also for all of the super-sweet and hilarious comments on Andy's post. He was home all day the day he posted, and he was checking the computer every few minutes and giggling over all of the funny things people said. It was seriously adorable. Thank you for that.

Oh, these days! They're intense! The adoption plans seem to be on track and going well so far! The baby's due date is November 11, but there are reasons to be concerned that she may arrive early, so we are living in a state of high anticipation, waiting for the phone to ring and feathering the nest in the meantime. I think we have everything we're supposed to have, which feels really good. It's sort of challenging to make sure that we have everything we'll need to have in Illinois as well as in Oregon. But I think I will finally have some time today to put together a box of things to ship out to Andy's parents' house, where we'll be staying for several weeks.

I'm so glad we've had this time to prepare. It's all still kind of surreal, I have to tell you. I say my prayers every night, and think about the baby and her beautiful mother pretty much all day long every day, and write my letters, and try to send all of my love and good energy to them both across all of the long miles between us now. I truly hope they can feel what I am thinking and feeling. With any adoption there is a lot of uncertainty. There's uncertainty with any pregnancy, as well, of course. But adoption seems to take baby uncertainty to a whole new level, since there are so many different kinds of uncertainty happening all that the exact same time. I try not to live in the uncertainty, and try to let myself truly cherish and enjoy every single minute of this preparation time. I really want to just enjoy it all.

Because oh man. WOW. We are thrilled. Words simply fail.

dispatch from the felt cutting table

comments: 150

Howdy everyone. It's Andy again. Okay, I've been hiding out a little bit because I never wrote the pizza post. The reason for this is that the pizza was bad. It was okay, I guess, at least it wasn't a pizza ball (remember that one?) So this is a picture of the kind of pizza I like:

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We stopped for it on our way from the train station to my parents' house. And I can see that I take after my dad. Look at that smile on him! What a nut!!

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And before I start going on and on about felt, I might as well show you some of the pictures of the trip from my phone...

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Okay. Felt. I love it. And this year, we tried to be as efficient as possible. For my part, I tried to streamline when possible. Take this snack station, for instance. I put both the sweet and the salty in one bowl.

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Check out my new rotary cutter. I love it so much. Titanium blade, oversized wheel. What! And it's white, like my iphone. I figure they make it white so you can see when you are bleeding a moment or two earlier than the older, darker rotary cutters. By the way, there were no equipment casualties this year (other than, maybe, my cutting mat - you may have little pieces of green on your felt - I noticed some of that and dusted them off when I saw 'em). But I have to say that Clover seems to be a bit stressed with all the commotion. She is a creature of habit and our routine for the past few weeks has been upturned. I keep trying to tell her that it's all cool and that we will manage change but you know corgis. They always think they know better.

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Aw. The corgi fell over.

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I caught this picture of her a couple days ago and her stress seems to be beyond the usual "hey no one is allowed past this step without a leash."

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But eventually, she gets herself settled into the new "normal" so I am pretty sure she will adapt to whatever changes come to our pack.

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And luckily, some things never change...

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Okay that's it for now. It has been so fun working on these kits and my wandering mind has been all through the meadow and the clearing and the path ahead. Thank you all for the orders so I could have that time to think about stuff while I am cutting felt.

Oh! And I actually did write a silk screening post back when I was printing the ABC samplers, so watch for it this season. It's sort of instructional. I'll get it all ready for Alicia so she can put it up. That is if she doesn't ban me from the computer after this!! Or this next one...

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I Love Coming Home

comments: 80

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I think it's kind of weird that I had already designed and named this year's ornaments before we had any idea that we'd be away from home at all this summer (and this upcoming fall). As we prepare to leave again soon, this little collection feels particularly poignant to me right now, and just makes me happy.

Please meet my 2011 ornament collection, SWEET HOME!

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It includes a Blue Door, with a wreath to welcome you home . . .

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A Glowing Candle, to light the night . . .

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And a Wild Bunny, playing with his woodland friends in the yard.

Each Sweet Home Felt Holiday Ornament Craft Kit contains materials to make one of each of the three ornaments, including:

20 pieces of wool blend felt in assorted colors
12 skeins coordinating DMC cotton embroidery floss
1/4 yd imported French gingham ribbon (for hanger)
1/2 yd imported French eyelet lace (for hangers)
Beads and sequins
Stitching instructions
Pattern templates
Illustrated embroidery tutorial

You will need to have your own:

Wool batting or Polyester Fiber-fill
Sharp embroidery needle
Dressmaker's chalk pencil or fabric marker
Dressmaker's chalk carbon paper
Sharp fabric scissors and paper scissors
Motivation
Snacks
Fireplace
Television to watch the new season of Psych if they ever start it for goodness sakes!!!!!!!

We have also put together limited editions of previous years' kits, including:

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2010's kit, SNOW DAY:

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It includes a Red Wool Coat, to keep you warm and dry . . .

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A traditional Norwegian Selbu mitten, to keep your hands toasty . . .

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And a Polar Bear, far from the Arctic Circle, peeking out from behind the trees.

2009's ornament-making kit, WALK IN THE WOODS, is also available:

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It includes the Cozy Cottage, with the wood fires burning:

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The Snowy Tree, sparkling with ice crystals:

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And my favorite, the Little Deer, who watches shyly from the trees:

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And there are also a few of 2008's kit, ICE-SKATING AFTERNOON, as well!

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There's the Hot Cocoa Cup, to warm you up:

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The Ice Skate, with pom-pon for good measure:

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And lastly, the Gingerbread Girl, the sweetest of all:

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Please click on the links for each of the kits above to take to you the web shop pages, which list what's included in each and what you will need to have. All ornament kits cost $30 each. I must tell you a couple of VERY IMPORTANT THINGS before you order, though:

1) Because our life in the near-future is extremely unpredictable, we originally decided that we would not ship these overseas this year. But NOW we have changed our minds, and have decided that we will ship kits overseas and to Canada, but only electronically through Paypal, and not by handwriting customs forms and standing in line at the P.O. they way we usually do. This means that your overseas shipping will be very expensive, because shipping internationally on-line is more than three times more expensive than taking your package to the P.O. International shipping is pricey, complicated, and time-intensive process when you are sending hundreds of kits overseas, as we do, and we just don't have the ability right now to take on the extra hours of work it takes to keep the international shipping costs lower, the way we usually do. I don't know why there is such a difference in cost when shipping international on-line or at the P.O. counter, but there it is. I sincerely apologize, but I promise that this is the best we can do right now, honestly.

2) If you do place an order, please (begs, pleads) make sure that your shipping address in Paypal is entirely correct. Every time we ship kits, I get dozens of emails asking me to change an address that has been placed on an order. Tracking and accommodating these changes is a complicated process (for reasons I won't bore you with right now), and I definitely won't be able to do it this time. It may happen that someone other than me (hi Julie) needs to take over the shipping process in coming days, and with close to 1,500 individual orders expected to ship all over the world, I cannot trust that your kit will get to you unless you have an accurate address on your Paypal account. If you do send in an order and realize later than you need to change it, you can email me, but the best I will be able to do is cancel and refund your original order (if it hasn't already shipped), let you make your changes with Paypal (not me), and ask you to place another order with the corrected information. If you are in the process of moving, perhaps you can have a friend or a relative order a kit for you with their account, and then they can ship it on to you when you know your new address?

About the skill level needed to complete these: In previous years I said that, while I don't think of these kits necessarily as a children's or a beginner's project, if you have some experience working some basic stitches, these ornaments take more time and patience than skill. I will include directions on transferring the designs to the felt, and basic diagrams for completing the types of classic embroidery stitches you will need to know — backstitch, lazy-daisy stitch, satin stitch, French knot, and blanket stitch — but once you are comfortable working those stitches, if you just take your time and settle in, you will be fine.

If you are interested in ordering any of these kits, the very best advice I can give you is do not wait to place your order. Unlike previous years, we are not taking pre-orders this year: We have instead made up a limited number of each kit, and will ship them out as fast as we can. In previous years, these kits have sold out every year long before Christmas, and once they are gone, they are absolutely gone until next year (and even then, there are no guarantees that we will continue to do them, of course). Usually, Andy and I put these kits together ourselves, sourcing all of the materials, cutting the felt and the ribbons, packaging the embroidery floss, scooping beads and sequins, winding yarn, and then doing all of the shipping. This year, we are so lucky to have a lot of people helping us with every aspect of this operation, because the reality is that we could get a phone call summoning us to Illinois any day now, and we'll have to pack up and go as fast as we can (and then we'll be gone for several weeks). My trusty assistants will take over, but this is a big job, and if at any time they (or I) get too overwhelmed, we'll stop taking orders. So, all that said, my advice is to order early, because I'll start packing up orders for some of the kits tomorrow, and do as much as I can before that important phone call comes!

I also don't think I'll have time to write postcards for everyone the way I usually do for all of my orders. But I'll do them next time, I promise!

I will eventually be offering all four patterns as downloadable PDFs — but I do not know exactly when they will be available. We usually make them available sometime in October, but again, I'll just have to see how everything goes.

THANK YOU again, everyone, for your patience and for your very generous enthusiasm for these projects. I absolutely love making these ornaments and these kits, and I can't tell you how cool it feels to imagine you at home making these for yourselves. It's one of my favorite things, and I'm so grateful that you collect them, year after year. I really like how each collection stands alone, but I also really try to make each of the collections work together as part of the larger group. It's just fun to see them all together, and they are SO much fun to make. I really, really hope you enjoy these!

Good Shape

comments: 39

AssemblyLine

I think we're in good shape with the kits. We're about halfway done with assembling everything, and I expect we will get through all of it over the weekend. It's barely controlled kit-chaos here, but somehow it's coming together. I think I'll be back later today to roll out the new ornaments for you, and start taking orders. Eeeeeeeeeeee! Back in a bit! Excited.

There's a Chance

comments: 90

Darling1

. . . that this highly intelligent incredibly adorable sweeter-than-sweet most excellent and gorgeous dearest darling knows there's Something Going On. Oh precious love.

[Kiss kiss kiss. Snuggle snuggle snuggle. Giggle giggle. xoxoxo :-) ]

Felty Frenzy

comments: 150

Bunny1

Before we left, I was just finishing up this year's holiday ornaments. I love them. I'm going to photograph them and show them to you next week. We are still going to try to do kits this year. Andy's home today, cutting felt. Our awesome house/petsitter, Nanny Katie (she's also our neighbor's nanny), is out in the dining room assembling patterns. I'm winding yarn. We aren't going to take any orders until we have a whole bunch of finished kits this time. Nanny Katie is in training in case she is suddenly called upon to take over my whole life here should we get called back to Illinois early.

Poor Nanny Katie!!!

Clover Meadow is infatuated with Nanny Katie, so this is really good. She's out in the dining room, lying under the table at her feet. Warms my heart.

I have so much to say, but I think I haven't even begun to really process everything that's going on. It's a lot. Every day of the past few weeks has stretched my heart in ways I have never experienced before. Thank you for being patient with me, and just being here. It means so much more to me than I can possibly express right now.

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We are home safe and sound now. It was such a privilege to travel across this magnificent country of ours last week. I took these photos of the sunrise somewhere in eastern Washington, I think, on Saturday, September 10, 2011. Thank you again so very, very much for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers these past few weeks! I can't tell you how touched we were by all of the love and support we felt as we went through each of these (long!) days.

In our absence, autumn arrived! It feels good to come home to cool weather and falling acorns. I'm spending a few days getting caught up on everything, and figuring out what to do with all of these glorious tomatoes. I also owe this sweet little corgi a week's worth of cuddles. Ahhh, it's good to be home. :-)

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Our trip has been intense and incredible. Seriously epic. Thank you so much for all of your beautiful words, thoughts, and prayers. We've carried them all with us through every mile, every step. Everything has gone as well as we could have possibly hoped. I'm overwhelmed, excited, exhausted, and, frankly, sort of speechless (though I don't think I've ever talked so much in my life as I have this past week). I took all of these photos (chronologically) with my cell phone on the train coming east; later today we will leave Chicago, and get back on the train to go west. We are planning to return once again in November. The world is so mysterious and extraordinary. I feel utterly grateful, cracked open, humbled to the core.

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.