Posts filed in: June 2016

Summer Spirit

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Oh boy. It's good. It's so good. Here, there, and everywhere. I have almost no time to work or be on my computer these days. No childcare at all, and every day at the pool for swimming lessons, then most afternoons staying afterwards to play in the pool. This is my dream, these golden-lit days, buzzing with children and water and wildness. We're on the go, and the go is good, though I can, if allowed, beach myself in the shallow end and sit for hours, hours. Hot weather is tolerable, even preferable, when I'm covered in four or five inches of sparkling turquoise water, and I find it very hard to leave the pool. There's no need. I sit and watch toddlers negotiate who's gonna get the ball and who's gonna get the pool noodle, have water poured over my legs fifty times from a plastic cup, help my girl learn to blow bubbles and lay on her back, see her enormous smile as her dad swings her around as fast as he can in the middle depth, over and over and over (he's one of those AWESOME DADS and never tires [insert starshine emoji here]). Joy radiates from her beautiful face and I just can't stop smiling. There's no photograph of this, but I'll never forget.

At home, the house waits for us to return with our damp towels, damp suits, tubes of sunscreen, snowcone-stained shirts. Every day we get home around four or five and try to find something to eat. For Father's Day I ordered Giordano's stuffed spinach and sausage pizzas to be delivered and oh, modern living, you got this one thing right, if nothing else. (I'm finding modern living and the state of the world at large to be very challenging lately.) Overnighting four frozen pizzas is ridiculously expensive but seriously, it tasted EXACTLY like home, and what a strange miracle that is. It was worth it, and the papa was psyched, so thumbs up on that, I think.

The house stays cool and clean. It reminds me of my grandparents' house in the summertime — climate controlled and quiet, the sound of the television at night playing Hallmark mysteries or Strangest Weather on Earth (I'm obsessed — and have you seen a shelf cloud lately? A haboob? Creeping ice? I find all of this ironically relaxing). After Amelia goes to bed, I put on my white nightgown and knit, two Lil Shepherds so far (and another one still on the needles), a sweet little green one for sweet baby Mae, born one week ago, above. My Christmas cross stitch was almost finished before I dropped it to knit, too [insert wide-eyed, startled-looking emoji]. I have made no moves to dismantle the stash but I do have a plan, so that's a start (I was fascinated that so many of you were feeling the same way, honestly). Sometimes I just have an urge to do something and I do it until I get it out of my system. Currently that urge is to knit and not purl anything, and also sit in some water for long periods of time while water is poured on me (see above), so things are working nicely. I try to keep it simple.

Middle of June

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The apples on our Cox's Orange Pippin apple tree are already turning red. I'm not sure if that's normal, for mid-June, but it seems early. The weather this week has been blissfully cloudy, cool, rainy, and it even hailed yesterday, but the weekend should heat up in time for swimming lessons to start next week. Amelia is excited, and practices "swimming" circles around the living room, showing me how she will blow bubbles and paddle and put her face into the water like a big girl when she gets there. This age, oh man. It is just awesome. It is busy. It is mercurial. But it is fantastic. There's just so much going on for her right now as she gains independence and confidence and grows in physical and emotional ways. When she's angry, she stomps her foot as if trying to freeze the entire kingdom (thanks, Elsa) and her fury truly blazes, hot and sure. When's she's cuddly she'll wrap every long limb around me and tuck her face deep into my neck, or put her hands on my cheeks and look into my eyes. When she's sweet, she tilts her head to the side and talks to her stuffed animals in the sweetest little mommy voice, explaining things patiently and patting heads and tummies with reassurance. When she's silly she squeals and launches herself in wild arcs around the king-size bed, flopping and jumping and bucking and kicking, trying to reach the mobile with her feet. She's very tall for her age, I think, taller than the other kids who were exactly her size when they all started playschool together last fall. Every week we measure her against the yard stick at the library, and she's grown four inches since her third birthday, eight months ago. My sunflower, stretching and swinging and singing for the sun, sweet and big and brave and true.

I made honey/garlic/butter/coconut milk shrimp for dinner, and it was delicious. I made a couple of pairs of baby-doll pajamas (from vintage Simplicity pattern #5562, c. 1982) and a couple of shirts (from vintage Simplicity pattern #5757, c. 1964) and a couple of skirts (from vintage McCall's pattern #7882, c. 1982). I made plans for a birthday dress (vintage McCall's #2661, c. 1970) and ordered some beautiful Tana Lawn (Michelle, in Blue) for it. I finally started knitting a present for a friend (more about that later). I think I may have resolved to give away almost my entire yarn stash. I feel like it's just holding me back somehow, and I can't really explain that, because it's not that big, and I did feel like I was making a good-sized dent in it this past year. But there's just something about it that isn't helping me anymore. Maybe it can help someone else. I feel like my palette and my fiber preferences have changed, and my stash is reflecting a me that was, and not the me that is. I don't even want to have a stash at all, in fact.

Weekend Ways

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Thank you ever so much for all of the kind comments about 'Night, Neighborhood and for all of the orders for the kit and pattern. Thank you, thank you. I am so thrilled that people are excited about this and can't wait to see how everyone gets on with this one. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and I think you will. I have some things to tell you about cross stitch in general and I'm going to work on a post about that soon, one that answers some questions that non-cross-stitchers might have about getting started, and some general information about stitch counts, fabrics, flosses, etc. For now, I believe all of the orders that came in last week have shipped, and we will ship everything that came in between Friday and today on Wednesday. A huge thank-you also to my intrepid assistant, Stacey. She single-handedly pulled all the floss for this kit, and packaged it, and assembled every kit itself, and processed and shipped every single order. I don't have that much time to work these days, so I concentrate solely on design and stitching and pattern writing and printing, and she does all of the hands-on work of managing our floss inventory, pulling all of the floss, all of the assembly of all of the kits, and then all the processing and shipping of orders every day. It's a pretty good system we have going, and I'm so grateful for her careful, diligent, tireless help. She'll be working on the grape harvest at the end of this summer and I won't have her help for about four months during harvest season this year (August through November), but we're hoping to get a Christmas kit happening here soon, hopefully ready by September.

I sewed a bit for Amelia yesterday, a couple of pairs of babydoll pajamas and two little swingy skirts. I will take photos and give details when I can find them all (flung, right now, all over the house). I had wanted to make her a dress for the Midsummer Festival at Oaks Park this year but I found the golden stripey one at the Hanna Andersson outlet for 40% off and it just seemed perfect. We had a nice day there, although it was a bit chilly! I'm not complaining, but it was chilly. So many hard things going on in the world; our hearts are breaking for the city of Orlando, and the LGBT community, and all people who love freedom and pursue the right to gather — and dance — in public everywhere. Have courage, have courage, spread love. My heart feels weary today. I sew and think and pray.

Sweet treats: my homemade vanilla ice cream, and a peach cobbler. I doubled the biscuity topping (for some reason, I had a box of Bisquik and I thought I'd try to use it up), which I don't necessarily recommend. It's also quite clear I have absolutely no idea how to slice fresh peaches — well, get the peach part off the pit, specifically? I truly mangled these babies, and that just wasn't pleasant. I looked at some directions on the internet that said cut it in half and twist one half off of the pit, but there was absolutely no way mine was going to come off the pit. . . . Oh well, it was still pretty delicious! Tonight we will have our new standby — the chili-lime chicken tacos with the Mexican street corn salad (links in this post). This is just too good, and it goes on the table about once a week, now.

Andy's home, and he's planning some fun activities with Meems for the day. It's cold and raining again, and I'm going to enjoy that — ride my bike out to get some lunch, read my new library book (Us by David Nichols) by myself, make some tea and sew. I don't get a lot of days like this, so I am a little excited. I try to soak it all up, and wait for my loves to get home.

'Night, Neighborhood Cross Stitch Sampler Kits (and Pattern) Now Available!

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I'm going to Wisconsin this summer, back up north to, among other places, the little island at the top of the Door County peninsula where I used to go, year after year, on vacation with my family when I was a child. On Washington Island, we stayed in a campground — such a pretty campground — in our pop-up trailer. It wasn't a loud or raucous place, and it was pretty empty most of the times we were there. The camp sites were in a little forest, light and airy with pretty, light-green-leaved trees. I remember waking up in the morning in the trailer and watching the shadows of the leaves dance on the canvas pop-out, and it would be hot in there. At night, we would cross a big meadow to get from the camp sites to the lodge where the pinball and pop machines and showers and bathrooms were. You had to pay for the shower with quarters and that shower was gorgeous. (It was either that one or another one, but in my mind it was that one.) Back at our old house in River Forest, we always ran out of hot water. At the campground shower, with a baggie full of quarters and an enormous, cedar-paneled, skylight-lit shower-room to myself, I stood under the hot, rushing water until my three bucks ran out, and it felt like forever. At night, walking across the meadow, you could see a million stars, the whole Milky Way above you as you tried not to stumble in the long grass, or drop your toothbrush or your towel, or wonder if it had been a bat that had just buzzed you in the cricket-filled night-silence, for fun. I loved that night walk so much. Coming back through the woods, you'd pass everyone else's little tents, little twinkle lights, little campfires, and soft laughter in the darkness. Enchanted evenings. I'm so excited that Amelia will get to see fireflies this summer. We don't have them here in Oregon, and I miss them.

I think this sampler was inspired by those long-ago summer nights. I started designing it shortly after I found out we were going to Wisconsin, and to Chicago. I think it also reminds me of our walks with Amelia around our own neighborhood here in Portland, which occasionally, at certain times of day, reminds me of the one I grew up in (outside of Chicago). She's just starting to draw — numbers, letters, flowers, wings, sun, moon — on the sidewalk with chalk, and the simple beauty of her marks makes me so nostalgic and I can hardly breathe, sometimes. "Moms cry when they are very happy!" she announced to her grandma the other day. "That's true," said my mom while I swallowed hard, and smiled at them.

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So, this is 'Night, Neighborhood. It's a pretty decent size, as designed, with a design area of 12" x 14". It's done on Belfast linen (which is the same linen that My Sweetiepie ABCs sampler is done on) in Amsterdam Blue, using two plies of DMC floss. I love it. I loved designing it and I really loved stitching it. Every element is interesting enough that you never get bored, and small enough that by the time you're ready to be done with that element, you are done. That's sort of the perfect project, for me: parts and pieces that are, in and of themselves, not too difficult and fairly interesting, but that also add up to something that's unique and cool. I'm a bit smitten with this one. (You can click on the images above to see them enlarged.)

The 'Night, Neighborhood Cross Stitch Sampler KIT is available HERE.

If you would like just the downloadable PDF PATTERN, it is available HERE.

 

Here are the details:

Finished Size of Design Area: 12" x 14" (30.5cm x 35.5cm); 192 stitches wide x 224 high on 32-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 18" x 20" (46cm x 51cm) piece of 32-count Zweigart Belfast linen in Amsterdam Blue
(64) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
(2) 24" (61cm) lengths of specialty thread
Stitching instructions
Illustrated stitch tutorial for special stitches
Color cross-stitch chart with symbols
One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer
*Frame not included.

You will need your own:

#24 tapestry needle(s) for cross stitch
Embroidery scissors
4" (10cm) embroidery hoop
Frame and framing supplies

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If you are new to counted cross stitch, or need a refresher on the basics, please see my "how to do counted cross stitch" tutorial here.

As with the Sweetiepie, I think one of the "hardest" parts of making this sampler will be organizing the 64 lengths of floss (in 39 colors) that you will receive in the kit. The floss will come to you in two separate hanks, with 32 24" lengths in each group. The pattern includes a list of floss colors and numbers, along with their symbols as used in the chart, organized into the two groups. I've included a piece of chipboard (thin cardboard) and the instructions for making floss organizers like mine.

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To help you separate the colors, which can be a bit tricky but not really too bad (since you are given the number of lengths included and the color name, which provides a general description of the color itself) I've put some large photos of my floss, all organized, up on my web site here. This should help you figure out how to tell the colors apart, relative to each other. 

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Remember, you need to separate two plies away from the six-ply embroidery floss length to work the cross stitches throughout the sampler. Special stitches, including backstitches and French knots, use one or two plies, as indicated in the instructions. If you don't know how to do these stitches, I've included illustrations and directions for working them in the pattern.

The chart you will receive is quite large, larger than the actual size of the finished piece, and it is broken into four separate full-color one-sided pages. I used a new printer this time and the printed photos and the chart look gorgeous, if I do say. You can use the pages individually or cut them out and tape the chart together, overlapping the grayed areas. Each color has its own symbol, keyed, as I mentioned, to a list of color names and DMC's assigned floss-color number. To work the design, you follow the chart, counting stitches as you go.

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It also really helps to have something white, like a dishtowel, on your lap as you stitch. The holes in the fabric that you need to stitch through are so much easier to see.

Also, as you probably know, I also carry my favorite supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. For this project, we have:

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Gorgeous little embroidery scissors.

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Hardwicke Manor 4" hoops.

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Twill tape to wrap around the inner hoop. You don't need to do this, but it's nice, and provides more tension to keep the fabric from slipping out of the hoop as you stitch.

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And size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch on linen.

All supplies will be shipped along with your kit.

We do ship overseas! To place your order, you will be required to read this information, which contains details about international shipping and customs fees you may incur when ordering outside the U.S. (If you are overseas, the shipping cost charged by Posie does not include any further charges you may incur when importing goods.) To see the shipping-only costs for your order and location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. If you do need to add things to your order or change your address after you've placed the order, just email me and we'll figure it out, no worries! I just like to remind people of this ahead of time, because it's a bit easier.

Thank you, as always, for your enthusiasm for and interest in my work. Posie is a true cottage industry. I love what we (my assistant Stacey, Andy, and I) do and am hugely proud of how we do it. I'm sincerely grateful for your support of all of my interests and endeavors. Your attention is such a gift. Thank you for it, and for being here, all these years. Xoxoxoxo.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will get back to you here. Thank you!

Summer Starting

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Andy had a birthday over the holiday weekend and it was one of the nicest ever, I think. We went up to Multnomah Falls for lunch, which has become sort of a birthday tradition in our family. It was crawling with people (on a Saturday, in May — of course) but it's still a beautiful place and a nice lunch. Andy and our brother-in-law went to see a band on Saturday night, then Michael spent the night. I made homemade dirty-chai cinnamon rolls with this recipe for the rolls and using this filling and glaze and, oh my. Ridiculously decadent and the perfect treat for a birthday morning. We had lunch at Por Que No and then I baked a cake in the afternoon. Amelia and her friends had an almost-sleepover down the block on Sunday night while all of us parents barbecued in the backyard. We were all home by 9:00 p.m. and sleeping within the hour! Har! But happy birthday, my love. Forty-five looks very good on you, dear papa bear!

This week we're putting the finishing touches on the 'Night, Neighborhood kit, and I am thrilled about this. The floss is almost all pulled and the fabric is here. The patterns arrive tomorrow, and I am nervous; I used a new printer this time, and I'm hoping everything looks good. If it does, we'll put kits on sale next week. It's a weird time of year to launch a new product, but it just worked out this way, and this one has such a summery feel I actually think it'll be perfect. If you are looking for a good project this summer, stay tuned. I will talk a lot about this one next week. I'm so happy with how it all turned out.

Today, oh glory be, it's rainy and cool. Birds are singing, Mimi's about to take a bath, and then we'll go to the grocery store and make some kind of pasta tonight (I'm thinking bacon, chicken, and mushrooms, since it feels like fall). I have a stack of library books it would be lovely to crack. Yesterday we spent the afternoon at Ikea, playing house in the fake kitchens and living rooms for hours (I was the baby and she was the mommy), finishing the day with a fruit bowl, chocolate cake, and a cup of coffee for mum in the cafe. Highly recommend.

***Sorry I forgot the links to the cinnamon roll recipes — all fixed now. And for those who asked, those are just rock pies in the tins above. :)

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.