Posts filed in: February 2017

Whirl and Swirl

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One by one I've been reading all of the Beatrix Potter stories to Amelia at bedtime. They're quite edgy little stories. Some are too long for her right now. Some I knew and some I've never read before — actually, most classic children's literature was not actually a part of my childhood reading. But I'm enjoying them so much (likely more than Amelia, but isn't that always the way). When we got to The Tale of Two Bad Mice the other night I could not stop laughing: Tom Thumb and his wife, Hunca Munca, notice that the dolls have gone out for the day, so they venture into the dolls' house to have what they think is going to be a marvelous feast. When they find that the beautiful food is all made of plaster, they basically have a fit and trash the doll house. They smash the plates and then try to burn them in the kitchen fireplace, but that's fake, too. Tom Thumb throws all the doll's clothes out of the window. After pulling half of the feathers out of the doll bolster, Hunca Munca (who "had a frugal mind") remembers that "she herself was in want of a feather bed" and they set about stealing the bolster by dragging it to their mouse hole (along with a bunch of other furniture, including the doll-baby cradle). In the end, the dolls return (and silently survey the scene) and the little girl who owns the dollhouse puts a policeman doll in front of the house to guard it. Tom Thumb redeems himself by putting a crooked sixpence that he found under the rug in the doll's Christmas stocking to pay for the damages, and Hunca Munca sneaks in every morning with her broom and dustpan to sweep the dollhouse. I love this story so much. The first time we read it I went downstairs the next morning and stood gaping at Amelia's own utterly trashed dollhouse. "Did the two bad mice do this?" I asked. "Yeah," said Meems, chagrined. I convinced her to put it to rights, but I suspect that Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca might be up to their old tricks in our dollhouse again. . . . The funny thing is that when you start buying miniatures made by miniaturists, tons of it says, literally, "This is not a toy suitable for children under fourteen." Fourteen! Ha. I get that. Like, I think I had my first job at fourteen. When you go to high school you can play with your dollhouse, kid.

I've done almost nothing but cut calico fabric for weeks. Weeks. I stand in the studio, cutting strip after strip for the quilt kits I'm building, and think about things. Often I think about my own inspirations for these quilts in particular, which feel like a story I've been telling myself for a long time. I thought you might like to see some of the images that swirl and twirl around in my head when I'm coming up with a project, so I made this little collection of things, woven together with pictures of some of the actual fabrics that will be going into the kits. These are turning out to be kind of epic, if I do say so. I will give you more info as I get closer to releasing them in the next few weeks, so thank you for your patience. I will be offering a pattern for the quilt-comforter (in sizes from toddler through king, including throw) that you will have to download, and then about a hundred (total) toddler-sized kits to make the quilt top in seven or eight different general colorways. There will be options to purchase kits for larger sizes, as well, but I'm still working that out. I will say that, as with a lot of things that I do, these are a totally limited edition, even more so than usual. All of these fabrics have come from eBay and Etsy or estate sales or my own stash. They are rare. I've spent the past month combing every listing, looking for all of the best stuff, and it has been a massive project. I've cut close to 225 yards of fabric into 4.25" strips by myself. And I have more to go. But I honestly think you're going to be really thrilled when you see these. They're pretty special. Again, stay tuned for more info on these over the next few weeks as I get closer to finishing them. It's taking a long time, I know, but honestly, I pretty much spend every single free minute I have working on them and it's just been a huge project. I think, short of my books, it might be one of the biggest projects I've ever done.

There's no school again this week, for teacher in-service this time. Poor kids. It really never stops raining. We're way ahead of average rainfall for February. Oh that we could have some of this rain during the summer months!!! Yesterday, despite the weather, was a great day. Andy was home and we all went out to lunch and then came back and laid around the house, me knitting, Mimi and Andy playing for hours with the Matchbox car track. Andy made a roast chicken while Amelia and I watched the season one finale of The Great British Baking Show. You get so attached to everybody. It's a very sweet show. Thank for the recommendations of some of the other shows, too. I will check them out.

I finished reading The Orchardist last week, as well, and I don't know that I've ever been so disappointed with a book. (Not since my hissy fit about The Goldfinch, anyway.) When I finished The Orchardist I literally just sat there (alone in my favorite Thai restaurant) shaking — it was, in some ways, so good. But ultimately it felt so empty to me, and it wasn't until the very end, when I finished it and then just put the book down in slow motion, stunned with a very particular kind of Reader's annoyed-disbelief, that I realized how much more I wanted. Demanded. And it was a demand that felt entirely created by the beauty (the almost-beauty) of the book itself. There were so many places where it could have and should have pushed, where something should have been made clear and bright, where hard things to write should have been written and not just circled around and ultimately, almost stylistically and willfully avoided. Toward the end, when Evangelene throws her arms around Talmadge's neck in the wagon after he gets out of jail? There? Right there! That was a massive moment that should have been cracked wide open — even one brilliant sentence could have saved the book there, and it didn't get written. Well, I was mad about this. It felt like plaster food. I marched right upstairs and, though I didn't quite hurl the book, Tom Thumb–style, out the window, I did grab my copy of Howards End (which for me, does the hard things) and huffily opened it, needing my faith restored. Now I will expect too much from you, E.M. Forster. And so it goes.

 

Photos and illustrations, from top to bottom: 1. Cecile Veilhan, My Treasure 2. Eloise Wilkin 3. Unknown, from Pinterest 4. Carmen Hawk 5. Unknown, from Pinterest 6. Erich Heinemann, Siebenpünktchen 7. Ross Laurence 8. Beatrix Potter, from The Tale of Two Bad Mice 9. Girls in Laura Ashely Dresses with King Charles Spaniels, 1970s, from Paris Vogue 10. WIlliam McGeorge, Picking Blackberries 11. Anne Andersen 12. Jill Barklem, from Brambly Hedge: Autumn Story 13. Still from Tess of the D'Urbervilles, 2008 14. Stevie Nicks 15. Tanja Kuvaa, from the Pretty Gingham blog 16. Edouard Vuillard 17. Beatrix Potter, from The Tale of Two Bad Mice 18. Sarah Freeman and Emma Ashley Photographed in Laura Ashley Dresses, 1960s, from Paris Vogue 19. Eloise Wilkin, from My Goodnight Book 20. Sleeping Mimi (by me) 21. Tasha Tudor 22. Jill Barklem, from Brambly Hedge: Spring Story 23. Sydney R. Jones, The Village Homes of England

More February Flowers

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Oh, I've been poorly. Sick all week. Hot, cold, sore throat, headache, so tired, no sleep, lots of sleep, achy. Ugh. I actually felt too gross to knit. I'm feeling better, a little bit better, but not great. I started the above, Pickles' Thousand Tiny Tulips, yesterday. It was a rough start, with incorrect counting on my part (duh), too-big needles to start (corrected), some wandering off before finishing an entire row (nope) and coming back and re-starting at the wrong place in the pattern. Pfffft. I really wanted to do it but I was outmatched, even by simple counting. The yarn, however, the yarn. Pickles' Summer Wool. It's 70% cotton, 30% merino. The palette is gorgeous. I've never liked knitting with cotton before but this is so nice (except that there are little tiny fibers in it that I have to pick out — not a huge deal, but they would definitely scratch her if I left them in). The fabric is smooshy and super soft. She's rejecting all my knits lately because I just can't find something soft enough for her. She says they feel soft enough on the skein but then when the sweater's done, she wants to take it off. If she won't wear this, I'll throw up my hands in defeat. I made Amelia another ballet wrap, this time in baby alpaca (and she's still saying that's too scratchy). I wish I had made it out of Summer Wool. For those who asked about Amelia's cowl in my last post, the pattern was this one, but I didn't follow the pattern exactly. I can't seem to tell you what I did do, because for some reason I can't find this on my Ravelry page and I made it years and years ago. I don't even know what yarn I used. Malabrigo, or maybe Madeline Tosh? That one she actually will wear.

Last weekend Andy put up wallpaper on three walls in our house — one in the dining room, one in the living room, one in the kitchen. All of them are from Brewster and the collection is called Andover Miniatures VI. I've been wanting to do this for ages and I really love it. A true testament to Andy's incredible cheerful spirit is that he actually enjoyed wallpapering for two straight days. I did it for approximately seventeen minutes over the two days and it was sixteen minutes too much. He is amazing. Thank you, sweetheart. I love it.

Amelia and I made Valentines inspired by these yesterday. I think they're very sweet. I wound up doing most of them while she brought half of her dollhouse stuff over to the table, plunked it down on top of all the craft supplies, and preferred to play rather than craft. I tried to get her to sign her name and I think she made it through two. (Andy had more success with it this morning than I did.) I sat at the table all afternoon making twenty-eight Valentines. It was really fun, but it was a lot. They're suncatchers, so I need to hang some on the window. Today it is beautiful and sunny, but all week it's been pouring rain. I've never seen so much rain. I got to teach Amelia what the phrase "sheets of rain" means first hand, because we literally couldn't see across the street. Flooding, sinkholes, landslides. We've got it all here this week. My sister Susie lives way out in the country now, up on Dairy Creek, and she slept over a few nights this week because she wasn't sure she'd be able to get out of her area and go to work. It's intense.

I love this Irish soda bread from our local bakery. Love it. I just started watching The Great British Baking Show and it's really fun. It reminds me of that recent Onion headline: "Mom Just Wants to Watch Something Nice." And I do. :)

Took a break from working on the quilt kits while I was at my worst but received five eBay boxes of fabrics this week, all stacked up in my office, waiting for me, so when I'm up to it it will be full-steam ahead. Thank you for all the suggestions on displaying these kits when it comes time to sell them — I was thinking along the exact same lines, so that's good. Fabric previews coming up. Stay tuned.

Oh jeez. It's pouring again.

February Flowers

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Hello dears. The wind whips around the house today. Out every window is flashing daylight and blowing branches. Something on top of the roof of the studio clanks and clanks. It's some sort of metal flap. Over and over again it's slapping against the roof. The power went out once this morning and then came right back on. Every few minutes comes a raging, howling gust. I'd better write this quick, before all electricity leaves, as it seems it surely could.

I've been tucked into the studio, spending most of my free time with floral fabrics. This is good medicine. Why should it soothe? I don't know. Thank you for your kind words and enthusiasm about the new quilt and the pending quilt-top kits! I couldn't be more thrilled, and am trying to collect so many fabrics that I want for these. They're more rare than I thought. I can't believe how beautifully they all work together, though. In the back of my mind I'm constantly thinking about how to offer these kits. The amounts of each fabric that I'm able to get are so varied. I'm not sure exactly how to display what you'll be getting, as there will be too many different arrangements to photograph each individually. Maybe I'll have to describe them in general terms and let you trust my design sense. I'm not sure yet. I'm pretty much finished with the pattern, which offers a toddler size, throw size, twin size, full/queen size, and a king size. It's been kind of fun working on all of the layout diagrams for each size. It's not all there yet but it's getting there.

February. I don't feel quite ready for it. I think we'll make Valentines today. Spread a little love around.

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.