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Ahhhhh, August. It's you. You with your parched-out lawns and your afternoon dust-devils, your back-to-school shopping lists and melancholy swimming pools. The air is hot and dry. The light is languid and golden-red from the smoke of faraway forest fires, and my heart has been heavy for California these many weeks. In the afternoon our yard is littered with the detritus of a kid with nothing to do: a baby pool filled with cloudy water and grass and Lego people. Two umbrellas (neither of which are the one pictured here, naturally). Several glasses filled with iced tea from three days ago. A Star Wars bike helmet. Playskool houseboat. "Welcome to Margaritaville" lawn chair. Lawn chairs (sans greetings) that I will sit on, and tired, sun-faded hippie pillows. A dozen desiccated former bouquets, left everywhere you look. Silly Putty (dehydrated). Dozens of colored paper clips that got taken out of the house for some desperate purpose, only to be scattered around and forgotten, minutes later. I wonder what lawn mowers make of paper clips. . . . Not that there's any cause to mow the lawn. It's completely dead, just like everyone else's. I've kept the flower beds alive; the lawn and the parkway garden are fried up and gone. All gone.

Summer is hard for me. It's been HOT most of the time, like literally too-hot-to-go-outside hot, at least for me. I'm a mushroom who looks like a roasted ear of corn, in spite of everything, everything. I try to go to the parks, playgrounds, run errands, all that stuff, before lunch. At lunch I drag Amelia around on my never-ending quest not for the best food but for the most-air-conditioned Thai restaurant in Portland. My questions, when considering what to eat: How far do we have to walk from the car to the door? Will they let me sit next to the AC vent? And do they consider 80-degrees an acceptable indoor temperature (I don't)? I can't believe I am this type of person. Amelia eats Pra Ram with tofu and I have my fried rice or green curry. She draws with ballpoint pens on napkins or on printer paper that the waitresses bring her because I never seem to have these things, or she stabs anything she can with toothpicks, or she makes pictures with toothpicks, or she snaps chopsticks apart. Sometimes I read my book (right now, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and I can't put it down) and she finds tiny plastic animals in a basket and makes them talk to each other. We frequently bring stuff home for dinner because it's just too hot to cook. We still have a month until school starts. Almost every single kid we know is in day camp, so it's been hard to make plans. Consequently, she tends to play with an ever-rotating cast of unfamiliar kids at an ever-rotating series of playgrounds. She's good at this, and will walk up to any kid anywhere and introduce herself (occasionally to be met by the other kid's sheer terror at being approached, or their indifference, or their outright rejection, which always makes my mama-heart secretly shatter into a hundred million pieces). But, in general, as Only Children need to do, she makes friends quickly and easily, and always, eventually, finds at least one little kid to pair off and run around with. Nevertheless, I think we both dearly miss the consistency of seeing our school friends (the same friends) every day, day after day, and having a routine, and staying more scheduled in our daily lives. Ironically, when we have gotten together with our old friends, the same kids who used to spend hours and hours every day together at preschool playing their various made-up games with unknown-to-anyone-but-them kinds of rules, they can barely manage to give each other the time of day. I've seen this happen almost every time! And now it makes sense — as easily as they make friends, they easily forget them. Because they live in the moment. And that moment, the old moment, has passed. I, however, am looking forward to being part of something again, and having that sort of regular interaction with people. I know I've said this before but one of the most shocking things about parenthood to me is how many people you get to know and then leave behind, never to be seen again. Moms (mostly moms, some dads) at school, moms at ballet, moms at swimming lessons, moms at the park (to a lesser extent, because you rarely see the same people twice, but sometimes you do). I honestly had no idea that so many mom-relationships are so temporary. I mean, I have mom friends in the neighborhood and in my life that don't change, etc., and that's good. But I'm talking about the people that you get to know a little bit through the various activities that you're there doing temporarily, and then when those things are over, it just goes poof! I think that's so weird! I mean, I'm not saying I really want to change it — I'm as pathetic at staying in touch with people as they come, and anyway, these aren't really those kinds of relationships (the staying-in-touch-kinds) yet, honestly. They're the pool-deck kind, and the park-bench kind. But I just have never had this kind of experience so often with anything or anyone else in the history of my life. It must be a bit like being a camp counselor, or traveling a lot for work, or running a bed-and-breakfast — you're constantly saying hello and then, very quickly (in the scheme of things), saying goodbye. And I'm just saying that I am ready for some consistency and stability myself, and more hanging around and less departure.

Back to the book I am reading (points above). I want you to know that I found the link to that for you all without really looking at the computer screen because I do not want to know what ratings this book got or read a single spoiler about it or anything like that. Nothing. I barely read the flap. I'm on page 200ish of an 800-page book and I believe it's going to get me all the way through our vacation at the end of the month without me wandering away. And that's more than I can say for the probably twenty other library books I have checked out and returned, unfinished, this summer. I know it's me, not them (probably), but what can I say. Nothing's been sticking. Until now. Fingers crossed. I do live in constant fear that I'll get really into a really big, fat book like I did with The Goldfinch only to get to the end and have the world's biggest hissy-fit, which is what I did — I hated the way that book ended so much. I was furious. My roaring anger at it (and I mean, I really was shouting when I finished it) was in equal and direct proportion to how much I had loved it while reading it, and the whole experience was just waaaaaay too radical and insane, even for me, and I'm not looking to repeat that right now. So, you Luminaries, CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED. . . . Don't you let me down or things will get ugly. It’s hot here.

Now. I have finally gotten my Summer Storm PDF up in my web shop. I need to finish the pattern for my autumn cross stitch — I finished all of the stitching and the floss and fabric have been ordered, but I need to finalize the actual chart. Then, just as I woke up one morning thinking, "Hey! I should do some kind of hand-dyed-yarn advent calendar!" someone wrote to me and asked me if I was going to do some kind of hand-dyed yarn advent calendar. And then all hell broke loose in my brain and I started hammering ideas at Andy Paulson while he was trying to wrangle a small child and a small dog (paybacks). So all day today I've been sketching out ideas for what this would look like from me. In case you've never heard of this concept (it's pretty trendy in the hand-dyed-yarn community, but until I started dyeing yarn I'd never heard of it before, to be honest) you would basically pre-order this special box of goodies that I would ship to you sometime in November, so that you were ready to start opening on December 1. In the box would be twenty-five separate little packages, all wrapped up and labeled with numbers 1 through 25, and, just like a regular advent calendar, you would get to open one package each day. Among the packages would be mini-skeins of yarn, along with a full-size (100g) skein of yarn (for Christmas morning, of course), plus a special full-size lotion bar, plus various other luxurious little winter- or knitting-related presents for you, picked or designed or made by me. I don't even want to tell you what the things are yet because I'm too excited and my ideas aren't fully baked yet. But all day I've been thinking of ideas and running numbers and looking at clip-art and researching prices and sourcing packaging and calculating shipping costs, etc. Nanny Katie will be leaving the Posie studio to return to her full-time teaching position in the fall, but one of her friends may take over for her here, if everything works out. I know I can't do this alone, but if everything does work out, I seeeeeeriously want to do this, because it would be so much fun. I would do a very limited run, probably fifty max, just to see how it all goes. These can get kind of expensive because I can already see that they are a lot of work to put together, but people seem to like to buy them. What do you think? Have you gotten one before? How did it go? Tell me everything.

66 comments

Last year I became aware of the "Yarn Advent" through watching the mini vlogs of several "Yarn Community" folks I love.

You can do a mini "12 Days of Christmas" advent, too and still include a full 100gm skein plus all the other little bits. A smaller advent offering at a lesser cost would be more affordable for most folks.

I have seen the full sized "Yarn Advents" selling from $125. up to & over $300.

Good luck & I'm praying for rain ~ lots & lots of rain.
This awful heavily laden bad air is killing me.

I love Amelia's golden sun and pool bleached hair. I love your summer...I'm sorry I'm not very sympathetic but here winter at the bottom of the world is dragging on, not in a dramatic or exciting way, and spring is trying hard to squeeze through. The Goldfinch pffft! I read and read and kept thinking it was getting to just too many out of the frying pans into the fires and in then it lost me well before the end. And yet I know so many who loved it, journey and ending. But your writing I do love! I get drawn in to the poetry of dusty dragging on summer and bits just grab me; 'Dozens of colored paper clips that got taken out of the house for some desperate purpose'. You conjure up summer in the way of writers like Joan Didion and Katherine Mansfield.

Oh!! I would love to get an advent calendar with hand-dyed yarn and things that you love. I've never heard of this so it is very exciting. You have the greatest ideas. I love my cross-stitch pieces for the seasons. I can not wait to see the Autumn piece. Thanks Alicia for all you do!!

Oh my goodness!! If my very favorite maker (you!) did an Advent Calendar??!! What a dream come true!!

I actually bought my first Advent Calendar last year. I participated in the Adventurous KAL by Ambah O'brien on Ravely. She designed a pattern that incorporated Advent Calendar yarn. It was THE MOST FUN KAL I have ever participated in. Partly because of the joy of opening that little yarn surprise every day and partly because of the fantastic group on her Ravelry Forum. They were all delightful and we had so much fun sharing the season, and seeing everyone's wrap grow using their various kits. I loved it so much, I have already ordered a kit for this year's (Ambah is releasing a new Advent KAL pattern for this year's kits).

But if you sold and Advent Calender - I would absolutely HAVE to order it! I am already thinking I will tell my husband this is the one thing I want for my birthday!!!!!! So yes - yes, please! Count me in!! I can hardly wait!!!!!

You are the best, Alicia!!!

susan hall says: August 16, 2018 at 04:05 AM

I've never heard of a yarn advent calendar but its sounds really good the way you describe it . i would love to have one but the postage and customs fees are probably prohibitive so i'll have to keep my nose pressed up against the sweetie shop window :-) my sons always either make or buy beer advent calendars which makes me laugh.
thanks for the book recommend , I'm always on the look out for a good read xx

Lynn Marie says: August 16, 2018 at 04:58 AM

I feel about winter the way that you feel about summer so I can totally relate to your feelings. I am not a knitter although sooner or later you will inspire me to delve into it---I can feel it brewing! I am a stitcher and a sewer and a quilter so I know your knitters will LOVE the advent calendar idea and bless you with all of them being ordered in a minute or so of posting it ☺. Love the picture of Andy and Amelia. I can't wait for the Autumn stitchery--I have all the others and have decided that I want to find an old window to display the finished pieces in--you know? A different season in each opening. I will need to see if this is possible--idea is still in my head yet. ☺

Kristy L. says: August 16, 2018 at 06:57 AM

Please Please Please do a yarn surprise Advent calendar! That sounds so fun and just like the little thing I'd need this year. I hope I get to sign up in time to get one of the precious 50!!
Happy rest of the summer to you.

I would buy one of those! For me! For Christmas!

It has been raining in NY for most of August. You guys can have some of our rain...

And I realize why I work all summer - I don’t like heat. We stayed at my parents house while our floors were being done (not recommended - it takes forever), and they are the best people, but they don’t believe in AC. So, there we were, melting. And then, my son became dehydrated. And oh, last week was just rough.

Your postings always make me feel so much better!


Oh, I would love an advent calendar thing for us embroiderers! Threads (you can dye those, too), mini-samplers, pieces of linen to make pin cushions, wee buttons, needles, stitching patterns for pillowcase edges or tea towels (yes, I still love those things). A girl can dream!

Thank you for your blog, I enjoy it so much. Let's hope this smoke goes away soon. Never thought I'd crave rain, but yes!

Penny J Holliday says: August 16, 2018 at 12:48 PM

Yes, please! The hand dyed yarn Advent calendar sounds as delicious as the adult chocolate Advent calendar I ordered for myself several years ago!

Please offer a sock yarn option if you do the advent calendar! I have bought them before from Opal and I have belonged to a group on Ravelry that did a mini swap so that you ended up with kind of a homemade advent calendar, but one from you with a lotion bar and some other stuff from you would be so amazing! I just hope they don't sell out before I even find out about them.

Stitchy Box does an advent calendar like that, only with cross stitching goodies. They are loads of fun (I did the Halloween one last year) but yes, expensive. I'm debating whether to do their Christmas one this year. If you start one, I don't know what I'll do!

Just wanted to say......I THINK I LOVED READING THIS POST MORE THAN ANY OTHER POST YOU'VE EVER WRITTEN.

It’s quite chilly in NZ but I don’t envy you ... I loathe ongoing heat 😅

Moira Joan Brown says: August 16, 2018 at 10:03 PM

Hiya
from Moira in Australia. Ive been following your posts for years. Absolutely lovely. You really make me laugh, and think ,and love, and laugh a bit more!! I started reading your posts because of the knitting etc but quickly fell in love with your little baby girl's progress as I was looking forward to my first grandchild's birth. Anyhow on Amelia's first birthday, I thought I'd take a peek back to her birth and see how it went for y'all.... Anyhow WOW WOW WOW. I was completely amazed and the beauty and love in that and how she was yours...It still brings a tear to my eye to even think about it. A little miracle happened there in Portland half away around the world( from me here).I suppose they're happening all the time everywhere, Ive seen a few here and you still find them too ( the little wild bird that flew in to your lounge room and hopped on to your hand!). Anyhow thanks so much and wishing you rain and continued Blessings for the family. Moira Brown
(ps I got a granddaughter, now nearly three called Mackenzie and she's amazing and funny and naughty and the whole darn thing :)

Even though our lives are hardly running in parallel in any way at all, I always find so much to nod and agree with in your writing because I was there once and you bring it all back.
And with two grandchildren now the house and garden fills with kiddy detritus on a regular basis. We too have been desiccated this summer but there has been some rain now and the sun is lower in the sky. It's a fallow time. It would be lovely to have a parcel from you although I'm really not quite sure what I'd do with it. I'm sure you'll have great success with 50 or 500. But what a lot of work for you.

a big huge YES on the advent calendar idea!! I would buy one to make for sure!!!

I managed to get halfway through The Luminaries last Christmas holidays, and I think it's a book I need to concentrate on as there's so many characters and scenes
So I've put it down until next Christmas when I can fully concentrate on it. My dad's family is from the area in New Zealand where it's set and I'm familiar with the locations on the book which makes it a lot of fun to read.

Hot here in Northern CA too - and not liking it one bit! Cannot wait for nice, cool fall weather and rain! I agree with your comment about friendships and it is disappointing - not sure why it happens, but many people don't want to commit maybe? Your Advent calendar box sounds great - I've only heard of the monthly gift boxes that are everywhere and are pricey for the most part, but I'd love (and need ha,ha) an Advent calendar box from you! Loved Goldfinch and could hardly put the book down and yes, the ending was a huge disappointment - why do authors do this? So hard to find good books and at times an "best seller" doesn't always work for me either :(

Alicia! Wow... it’s true, great minds really do think alike! For about a month now, I’ve been mulling over ideas, gathering supplies, and creating prototypes for the 15 (or so) advent calendars that will need to be done by the middle of October. (So they can travel with us, and visiting family, to their final destinations... more on that later.) I wish I lived in Portland, because helping you stuff 50 advent calendars sounds blissful to me! (I would probably try and talk you into doing another 50... just because their so much fun to make!) I know I’m a little crazy, but there’s something so calming and soothing about the organizing and repetition (assembly line?) of making advent calendars. (I’ll send you an email shortly with supply ideas...)
I wish I could send you some rain, here in Colorado we’re having a lot of it. I’m not complaining about the rain, it’s the hail I can live without! Billiard ball size hail at my house, biggest hail storm I’ve ever been in. The neighborhood looked like a war zone after, big holes punched through front and back windows on all the cars left outside. 20 minutes after the roofers finished installing our new roof, another hail storm passed through, marble size, and thankfully, no new damage. Crazy weather!
Thank you Alicia, for your lovely blog. It helps me stay connected to your beautiful state.
Kind regards,
Tina

Melissa L. says: August 20, 2018 at 08:59 AM

Yarn advent calendar?! Oh just TAKE MY MONEY! Seriously, you would have to have a lottery for those 50 boxes. PS: As you know, crocheters are yarn-mad too. ;-)

The light has been so yellow and flat and odd, and it's awful not being able to see downtown from the top of Mt. Scott. I feel like we're all just waiting for something...who knows what. Meanwhile I'm buried under a sock-yarn shawl I'm crocheting because summer + yarn = makes total sense.
PPS: The lotion bars are fab. xoxo

I can only imagine how lovely your yarn advent will be, Alicia! I ordered one last year and thoroughly enjoyed it! I ordered another this year from the same yarn dyer (Sweet Sparrow).

I'm with you on summer. I try to make the best of it but I'd way rather be in the midst of any other season. I am not a fan of the heat, like all the women who came before me in my family!

Susie Moten says: August 20, 2018 at 05:09 PM

Oh goodness I would love to participate in your Advent Calendar!!

I would love if you did an advent calendar. I love your colors and it would be so special. Count me in. I am going to put the Luminaries on my book list too. Thank you Alicia for your beautiful posts, photos and creativity.

Late to tbe party here, but loving this post. Anything you make is exceptional. So do it with impunity they always sell out. Always a special whimsical treat.
As for fleeting frienships I know and long to connect. But it seems harder these days. Fragmented lives or busyness, is that a word lol.
At any rate it seems efforts are sometimes.just to much. Weather and schedules render me inert and feeling just a little off. Things will shift and realign I'm sure. In betweens are tricky.

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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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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.