A Busy Week

comments: 108

Oh, busy days! Andy has had four days in a row off so I've been flailing around in the studio trying to get my new animals and their stuff pulled together. Many, many, many, oh most pictures I've taken this week have looked thrillingly like this:

10Doe1

And this:

10Doe2

Oh, and this:

10Doe3

And far too few have looked adorably like this:

10Adorabibble1

MWAH. MWAH. MWAH. Eskimo kiss.

Well, it's one of those weeks. Time to make the doughnuts. I get up and showered as early as possible. I'm combed and coffeed by 7:00 a.m. most days. It's still dark outside then, but each time I look up from the work the sky is glowing a lighter shade of ultraviolet. There are four new animal kits (and patterns) in the works: Juniper Kitty, Dandelion Doe, Phyllis Mouse, and Basil Fox. The girls each have new dresses in two new Liberty fabrics, new boots, and new knitwear (cowl, kerchief, and legwarmers). The boy has a gingham shirt (in four color options), jeans, boots, and a scarf. There's also a separate kit/pattern for a hooded duffle coat, jeans, striped sweater, and a different scarf. And a pattern for the minty bed, and a kit/pattern for a nightgown, and all of the bedding. When I write it all out like that, I can see it's a lot. I've ordered nineteen different fabrics from seven different distributors or manufacturers, and thirteen different colors of felt from one. One hundred and eighteen cones of floss in thirty-seven different colors. Eleven thousand gray mini buttons. Twelve hundred 3/8" snaps. Two hundred and ten cones of sport-weight yarn. Sixteen different colors for that. Oh, and there's a teddy bear. I forgot about the teddy bear. Make that fourteen colors of felt.

It's both exhiliarating and terrifying. I've been making kits for a long time now, and I love it. I do truly love it. Of all of the things I've done in the past fourteen years of having a business, this has been the best for me, and the thing most suited to my abilities and interests. Certain things that I've done were so ill-suited to my abilities and interests (owning a shop, for one; I really have no words to say how miserable that made me) that when I get stressed out about these kits, I just remember how much I hated those things. But this part, this part where I'm figuring, and measuring, and ordering, and simultaneously designing, oh lord. It stretches me out flat. I burble and stagger. At night I sit like a zombie, watching my Alaska shows: Alaska: The Last Frontier. Buying Alaska. Coast Guard Alaska. Alaska Fish Wars. Railroad Alaska. Ultimate Survival Alaska. None of us can figure out exactly why I am, apparently, obsessed with Alaska. I don't even think I am actually obsessed with Alaska. (I also don't seem to be able to tear my eyes away from House Hunters International, though I have absolutely zero plans to ever move from this house.) Baby Mimi goes to bed between six and seven p.m., and oh, my goodness, that girl is a good sleeper (and is, once again, sleeping through the night, no problem). Isn't it just kind of a great moment when, after ordering fabric all day and being told that they have bolts that they don't actually have when it comes time to ship, and that four of the prints you've wanted are discontinued, and you'll have to pick other things even though you already have ordered several other things that go with those original things that you can't get, so you'll have to spend hours desperately scouring the internet to get those things somewhere else or give up and pick other things, isn't it sooooo just kind of a great moment when at seven p.m., after you've put your babylove to bed and put on your nightgown and taken out your contacts and brushed your teeth, you come back downstairs and pick up your knitting and then you get to watch a new episode of Railroad Alaska??? I mean, does it get any better than this, people?!?!?!?!?! No. Not for me. Ordering twenty-nine bolts of fabric does not seem as scary and difficult as, say, using an avalanche cannon, or trying not to get hit by a gigantic ice dagger. Or even using a dilapidated outhouse in the dead of winter. Perspective.

So, we're almost at the point where all of the ordering has happened, and the stuff is starting to come in, and the preparation of all the stuff begins. I work on the sewing and the knitting and the photographing and the writing, and the girls work on the floss-pulling and the button-bagging and the felt-folding. We are having all of the fabric cut now by Spooltown, the little factory down the road. Greta and I will go there today and drop off some fabric that's already come in. They'll fold it for us, as well. At night I talk to the animals and make sure we're getting it right: Do you want the pinkish dress, or the yellow? You want the yellow. That's what I thought. We usually agree.

My plan for 2014 is just . . . not to rush. When I decided to stop designing ornament kits last year, some of it had to do with the schedule that designing for a specific date — like a holiday — forces upon you. It turns out that it's almost never the actual work that is so difficult, it's the deadlines that make it so tough (for me, anyway). Since I work for myself, and only ever want to work for myself, this is something I can control. This is one of the perks. (There are downsides, trust me, but this is one of the perks, especially as a working/stay-at-home mom.) So, we're looking at this spring, sometime. I'm not going to set a date until we're very close to being done. But it feels good. I love working and I'm so lucky to have such excellent people helping me. So lucky to have them.

Thank you so much for all of the birthday wishes! We finished the cake a few days ago, and then there was another one over the weekend, because my brother-in-law's birthday is two days after mine, and my mom's is the day after that. I think everyone's quite partied and present-ed out. It's finally back to regular days. I'm looking forward to it, truly.

108 comments

sounds like a wonderful and exciting time for you!
We are obsessed with British mysteries and intelligence shows! MI-5 and Midsomer Murders - LOVE them, they just SUCK you in, and before you know it - it's midnight!

I'm yelling and squealing at my computer "I cannot believe Alicia picked the name Basil for the fox" because that's what I'm planning to call my fox too! It just FITS him, doesn't it?! So excited! OK, now I'll go back and read the rest of the post. You're a doll--you've made my day. Have a great one yourself with your beautiful family, oh, and Happy Birthday!

Excited for the new kits, but really no more ornament kits? It's the end of those?

Basil Fox...come to me now!!!...can't wait to see the finished kits.. as a Brit I am obsessed with Scandinavian dramas...go figure?x

Me again. Thanks so much for this post...made me laugh and helps me with MY perspective, as well. So glad you're being lead to run your business in a way that works for both you and your family life. It's the only way it will work, trust me, plus I have to think it will only enhance your creativity! Whatever you design, you know we're behind you and will love it and buy it. Once again, very excited about your new designs, and actually pretty glad that spring will likely be when they are available...gives me a little recovery time from Christmas bills. Have a good one.

Wow, you always think so big! Wished I had your vision! Love to see your creativity~it blows me away!

PRECIOUS picture of Mimi!

i think the problem will be to choose from the kits... The photos you've showed so far make them all lovely. And accessories? Wow! I can't wait (actually I can, so do take your time).
I'm sorry to confirm that you decided not to design any more ornament kits. I just made the kits this last Christmas and loved them - so did my son. They make our tree very special. Thank you for making those and for sharing it with us.

I totally approve of the Alaska shows. Love the Kilchers. I don't think I could be happy eating that much fish though. So much more pleasant than my Mystery Diagnosis/True Stories of the ER phase or my postpartum Storage Wars thing. Looking forward to seeing the kits, and always always the baby pics.

You're not the only one talking to the animals. It's hard to pass Maggie Rabbit without asking how her day is going or telling her how pretty she looks today. And why is Maggie Rabbit still a part of this family when I clearly made her as a gift for a co-worker's child...8 months ago?

I am almost 60. I have no need for stuffed rabbits...and yet...... I find it near impossible to finish her boots, the last piece, for when the boots are finished she can walk away. It's winter and too cold for a wee rabbit to be out in the world without her boots, isn't it?

Last night after dinner I noticed my husband had Maggie on his lap and together they were looking at something on the iPad. So boots or not, she is staying...and I suspect she'll be getting some mates to play with.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Alicia. You've brought magic to our world.

Basil Fox!!! Maybe one of each if I can't say no. Yay!!!

I have to say, I loved this post. I've worked for myself for the last 25 years and even though I also enjoy my part time job in a museum, having my own business is the most rewarding thing for me. The first 12 years I worked out of my house and since then in a commercial building. The outside space makes it easier to end my work day, but I yearn for †he flexibility and freedom that working from home gives. When my kids were young it allowed me to be available for things that only the stay at home moms could do.

I think you're wise to limit the number of deadlines associated with your business. Once Mimi starts pre-school (and for the next 14 years after that) you will be inundated with deadlines, many of which you will only find out about moments before they are due ("It's wear-yellow-day, Mom!") If you find at some point that you want to do some ornaments, there's no rule that says you have to have them ready for a particular date. Lots of people work on Christmas all year long.

Last Saturday I watched all the Hallmark Channel movies as I practiced Continental knitting on a garter stitch blanket and I made some real progress on the blanket! Maybe I will follow your lead and explore Alaska and see if I can keep up my pace :) I'm so glad you are enjoying this season in your life, Alicia, and allowing us to enjoy it as well through your blog and your wonderful, creative home business. Your new family of Felt Friends are so winsome I can imagine them being welcomed into many loving homes. xx

karen on bainbridge island says: January 14, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Basil the Fox is looking…well…quite foxy! Looking forward to seeing the Finished Foxy Fox.

Brilliant post, as always. I'm so happy that the animals agree with you. Peace and harmony in the home :-) Oh... and here's another one for you: Alaskan Women Looking for Love...

Be still my heart.....your kit creations are just so....fantastic. Echoing other posts - Basil is the perfect name for your Fox. He is at the top of my list. Make many, many, many kits....

A very Happy Healthy New Year to you and lovely family,

Bordergirl

So cute! They all sound adorable. I loved working in the pre-dawn hours when my kidlets were small too (now they are grown I still occasionally get up at that magical hour, just because)! Would love to see a photo of your eleven thousand gray mini buttons when they arrive! That's a whole LOT of buttons!

Cannot wait for the fox! And maybe another little animal :) I'll find out if baby #2 is a boy or a girl in February! I'll have to finish your ABC sampler before I start another project.

If I sewed, and if I had young kids around still, I would definitely order your kits. They are so, so sweet.

Here's another thing to add to your to-do list:/ Graphing out the winter mitten ornament pattern on to a real pattern for doing fair-isle mittens! I love the mitten ornaments and want to knit them up. Of course, I guess I could do the pattern - but in your spare time.....
You really cheered me up this morning - thanks for your post. I get a renewed sense of wonder and coziness.

I so enjoy your posts... Mimi is...well, there are just no words! I have to agree with a previous comment regarding ornaments. With me, gifts are under construction through the year, and sometimes, I just find myself celebrating Christmas with gifts, in any month! This has relieved me of the pressure and feelings of being overwhelmed, so that I can truly enjoy and savor the Season.
I always enjoy seeing what you're working on...isn't inspiration just scrumptious!

I just adore you & your work/life.

Oh, my. I, too, am absolutely fascinated (and addicted) to all the shows you mentioned. My husband will try to bribe me to stop puttering and come to bed to watch TV with him by saying "we can watch one of your Alaska shows".

One of my most favorite books is "One Man's Wilderness", it's a wonderful book about Richard Proenneke, a craftsman who chose to build a cabin and live in the Alaskan wilderness. I've read it so often it is looking rather shabby. If you have not already read it, give it a try, see if you like it as well.

Years ago, I tried to convince my husband that if we ever had a son, we should name him Basil. He sounded a resounding "no" with the explanation that, no matter how much I wanted to be, I was not, in fact, British, and was actually from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and that even though we do not live there we would have to visit, and the name Basil is just not right for one of such heritage. As it turned out, we adopted the most wonderful little boy who came to us with a name bestowed on him by his lovely bmom.

But now! It seems, in the spring, I shall add a Basil to our little home!

I will miss the ornament kits, but am so glad that I have them to cherish and pass on.

first, belated happy birthday. what joy you must have had celebrating with your dear ones, especially the wee darling. I am so very glad for you. and how wonderful that you have this great creative work that suits your spirit. You are an artist! as to your zone out times: I don't have Alaska distractions here but when I am at my busiest I chill on house search programs: A Place in the Sun, A Place in the Country, Location, Location, Location and best of all, 60 Minute Makeover (in NZ we get these British shows but when I lived in US, I zoned out on HGTV), although, like you, I am not in the market for any of the above and I would absolutely hate for someone to execrate my home behind my back, but I adore the shows. I look forward to seeing more of your new characters, they are very Brambly Hedge!

darn you autocorrect, I meant * to decorate* (I guess it means to decorate in someone else's style)

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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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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.