Posts filed in: Embroidery

First Snow Available for Pre-Ordering

comments: 37

CoverBeautyBlog

The First Snow Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now available for pre-order! Please CLICK HERE to order.

Finished Size of Design Area: 6"wide x 9"h (15cm x 23cm); 104 stitches wide x 144 high on 32-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 14" x 16" (36cm x 41cm) piece of 32-count embroidery linen in Star Sapphire by Wichelt
(55) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
Stitching instructions
Illustrated stitch tutorial for special stitch
Full-color cross-stitch chart with symbols over color blocks
One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer

You will need your own:

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

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.

 

Hello, my friends. I have a new design for you. I really love designing cross-stitch patterns. I NEED TO DO MORE OF THEM. I love them. I love the process of designing them. I usually start with one element — in this case, I couldn't stop thinking about what happened this summer when the bird stepped onto my finger. I've seen on Instagram that this is a whole thing, people who feed birds out of their hands. I think my heart would explode in a shower of birdseed if that actually ever happened to me. But this summer a little chickadee did walk onto my finger. He had flown through our (open) window into the dining room, and spent the morning flying from curtain rod to pendant cord to lampshade, not seeming to be in any distress but singing merrily away for hours. I was eventually able to coax him onto my finger and carry him back over to the open window, where he flew off (but not before trying to climb a ways up my arm, away from the window — ha!). Nothing like this has ever even come close to happening to me before, and honestly, I still think about it more often than you might believe. Every once in a while, when I'm sitting in traffic, or listening to the news, or carrying groceries — in other words, something generally not-my-favorite — I'll suddenly remember: A chickadee walked onto my finger! And in that moment I can feel his nervous little feet, remember how light he was, remember how my heart raced, and how I held my breath. . . . It really was like magic. . . . Well, that's what initially inspired this piece. So I started with that.

But then, after that, it's always a little bit of a mystery where the rest of the elements come from. Things just start popping into my head. I can see a little scene, almost like a little dream. I peek in on it. It feels a certain way. I knew the air was cold and clear there. I smelled the pine and heard the geese overhead. And then, as in my real-life, ever-present dream, I saw the snow starting to fall. And all of this comes in a bit of a rush. And so I draw quickly, even though I can't draw. I just put vague outlines of the elements, moving the pieces around until it feels right. And then I begin to work on the details of each element. And this can take me a while. I look at old cross-stitch books and photos of animals and houses on Early American samplers, and start putting together all of these little things I love. And then I sit around with everything for a few days, moving things a stitch or two to the left or right — and sometimes even hastily scrapping an entire element and swapping in something else. I'm weirdly pedantic ("They don't make the right shade of mauve for this!") and then weirdly capricious ("I'm getting rid of everything on the left side. Delete!"). And when it finally comes together in a way that pleases me just enough, I STOP, and print the chart, and just get stitching. And then again, I go go go. When I'm focused on my Posie projects, I'm intensely focused until I'm finished. If I don't finish in a burst, woe to the future of that project. It probably won't become a product. I like a lot of quiet (though my life is not very quiet, ever) but I can be intensely verbal sometimes. I find it fairly easy to express myself verbally. But there must be this other part of me that communicates in pictures, because when I'm designing patterns, especially cross-stitch patterns, I find that they satisfy a deeper, more mysterious need, one that's both visual and tactile.

Because I think I enjoy the stitching of the pattern every bit as much as I enjoy the designing of it. There's a strange sort of existential (I'm getting deep) relief in just following the chart. I feel the same way about knitting patterns, and even sewing patterns. Just, seriously, give me the chart so I can turn off the decision-making part of my brain. I, personally, do not improvise on the fly too much. I like to get all my changes down — I like to think them all through, if there have to be any at all, and then I like to get them down on paper so that I can relax. I only ever do the actual handwork part of crafting at night. And I'm tired at night. I'm not a night person and I never have been. I'm industrious but only in the quietest, most specific ways, and they involve nightgowns. And travel shows. And needles and threads of various sorts. And feet up up up. And not much thinking. Patterns are a blessing.

I think you will like this because, although it has taken me years — like, years and years — I've finally learned something about framing finished pieces of embroidery. It should be less expensive and I should do even more of it myself. To that end, no more custom-sized designs from me. I'm only going to design things from now on that fit in a ready-made frame. Framing custom pieces is just way, way too expensive. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to understand this. I'd much rather save my money to spend on supplies and patterns or kits (yes, biased) than frames.

So, to that end, this kit (like Love and Joy, last year's pattern) is designed to fit in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame. All you need to do is make sure the frame is deep enough to fit a piece of foam core (and glass, if you want to use glass. I never use glass. I don't like it. I have my embroidered pieces hanging all over the house, and I don't feel that they suffer appreciably for being exposed). What you will do is wrap you embroidery around a piece of foam core, and stretch it with the help of about a million sequin (about 1/2" long) straight pins. You can read my tutorial about how I've done that in the past (though I finished the rest of the framing with custom frames at a frame shop). But with an 8" x 10" piece you can even buy the pre-cut foam core at the craft store (JoAnn's or Michael's, or easily online) for just a couple of dollars. A frame store can also cut foam core for you for just a few dollars if you ask nicely.

I'm not trying to take anything away from frame shops or people who do a really good job framing embroidery. In my experience, though, there aren't that many of them out there, and it does take some skill. You could obviously take anything to a frame shop and have it done by them if you want to. But if you don't, and you have the patience and the time, framing something yourself for very little money can be really rewarding and a really fun part of the project as a whole.

This kit is done with two plies of DMC cotton embroidery floss on 32-count linen. That means it has sixteen stitches per inch. If you are interested in seeing a tutorial on counted cross stitch, please read the one I did here. Also, because it will take us into November to get these kits out to you, it will give me time to post a more in-depth discussion of cross-stitching, so if, after reading that first tutorial you find that you still have questions, please ask them here so that I can address all of them in another post to come.

Okay! Phew.

 

This kit will be shipping sometime in the second half of November. We will order fabric based on the number of pre-orders we get over the next several days, and I'll keep you posted on our assembly progress.

The pattern-only option will also be available separately as a downloadable PDF, but not until sometime in November. I'll post here when that is ready, too.

 

As you probably know, I also carry my favorite supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. These are the exact ones that I use every day 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.

As I said last year, there is something so poignant and sweet about winter holiday crafting, to me. I honestly think it's the dearest, most optimistic kind of making we do all year. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to come from the heart. I hope this new little sampler kit provides you with many (but not that many; it's just the right size) quiet hours of peaceful stitching this season. And I hope it snows where you, and I, both are.

Love and joy to you,
Alicia

Couch and Cake Topper

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WHEW. There is little rhyme or reason in how these pictures are presented here. Everything's all over the place and that's probably a good metaphor for my mental state. Some of these things, like that sweater up there, I've been working on all summer. The pattern is called Carl's Cardigan and I used Woolfolk Far in Pollen for the yarn. I'm not even sure why this is the first time I've taken a picture of that sweater, since I've had it in my hands almost every single night for months. The stitch pattern seemed endless. It's basically ribbing, so you're constantly going back and forth between purling and knitting in each row, with a wraparound thing every fourth row. Et cetera. I finished it last night, now just need to block and add buttons. It's cute. The color is going to be really versatile. It's super stretchy, so even though it looks skinny, I'm hoping it will fit for a while. I'm turning into Practical Mom about kid-knitting anymore. It's weird how that happens. I never thought that would happen.

Okay, next. COUUUUUUUCH. I love it. I sit on it and never want to get off of it. It's called the Radley sectional from Macy's. I think the color was Chrome. It looks a lot like our old sofa but 1) it is soft and not scratchy, 2) it is tall instead of the height of a toddler bed (as was the Kivik, at least for me) and 3) it's firm and doesn't collapse like a souffle when I park myself on it at the end of the day. I got the protection plan thing with it so my goal is for it to be here for a long, long time. Thumbs up on that. Andy and I actually sit around at night and talk about how much we love our sofa. Middle age.

CAKE TOPPER. I made it. :))))))))) SUPER FUN. I started it this summer and I wish I could tell you exactly where I got everything for it but it was either JoAnn's or Michael's — I went to both places when I was shopping for supplies for this. The cake is made out of Fimo and I didn't make that — I got it years ago from someone's Etsy shop but I can't remember whose. The present is just a wooden block wrapped with origami paper. The bunting is washi tape cut into flags. The flag poles are stripey straws topped with mulberry-paper flowers (also had those, from way back when, when we used to sell clothespin doll kits). The balloon is made out of yellow Model Magic. Her dress is made of the same fabric Amelia wants her Hunca Munca birthday dress made out of (still gotta do that). I basically hot-glued everything together when I was done with the pieces and it was a total blast. I spent a long time looking at cake toppers on Pinterest for ideas, and then I actually whipped this out in a day or two, as I tend to do. This will go on top of the cake for Amelia's family birthday party, here in a few weeks.

The felt birthday crown: I got the idea for this entirely from the one that Ginny made for Mabel's first birthday. The embroidery pattern comes from this book. I forget how cool waste canvas is, because you can cross stitch (or, in this case, evenweave stitch) on anything. Then you soak the whole thing in water and that canvas becomes totally pliable. You use tweezers to pull the waste canvas threads out from under the stitches. It really isn't hard at all and it's really cool. The crown shape I just drew on a sheet of paper — well, I drew half of it, then flipped it. The crown is lined with really soft, thin pink polar-fleece. Amelia was mildly disappointed when she saw the birthday crown. She wants flowers all over it. She's sure I can do this. I'm not sure how I'll do this. . . .

I knew I'd taken a picture of her school dress before she wore it and put it on Instagram, but I wanted to post it here so I would remember it, because she didn't get to wear the blouse on the first day of school, since it was 100 degrees. . . . It's McCall's pattern #7590 from 1981. It's the same dress that I made her for her first day of school last year, but that one was plaid. I loved that one, too. This is one of my favorite-ever patterns on her.

Okay, what else. I rearranged Amelia's room for her last weekend. The lovely artwork in her room is from various places, but my favorites are the things made by friends and family: Amelia riding a bunny, which is possibly the coolest thing ever, and was a gift from Emily when Amelia was really little; a floral monogram from my friend Rebekka; the sweetest deer pair painted by my sister, Julie; the gorgeous dandelion photograph was taken by Amelia's birthmama; the silhouette of her when she was one was made by my brother-in-law. The mushroom light I got years ago and I don't remember where now. Maybe Smallable? It's European, I do remember that. The alphabet samplers are my designs and patterns are here (and by the way you can get a wool pack for that project now) and here. The pillow on the chair is a project I made for my second book, years ago. I'm going to make a new one with my punchneedle and I can't wait to start it. I found vintage Laura Ashley sheets on eBay and I was psyched. They are hard to find.

I'm finished with my new wintertime cross-stitch sampler for this year, and will open pre-orders for it in few weeks, after Amelia's birthday parties when I'm more organized again. You can see a glimpse of it up there. I am excited about it. I have some ideas for the cover photo I want to try. So stay tuned for that. I don't have a good sense of what the numbers will be for this kit so that's why I want to do pre-orders to make sure we get the quantity right. Not too many, not too few. Normally pre-orders make me ridiculously nervous. But we have the floss in hand already for up to 600 kits, and the fabric manufacturer has the fabric coming in in a few weeks, so I think it will be a good idea to do pre-orders this time. These projects are easy to do when I'm doing them but hard for me to re-issue once they're sold out, so if you're interested in this, I'll keep you posted. Many of my old kits are sold out and won't be reissued. Now that Amelia is in school every morning, I have more time to work, and I want to focus on my new ideas for patterns and kits for 2018.

Anyway, what else. My charity quilt. When Hurricane Hugo Harvey (!) hit, I wanted to make a quilt to raffle off for charity. There have been several other heartbreaking disasters since then, including Irma and now Maria in Puerto Rico, that I would like to contribute to as well. I haven't started the quilt yet the way I thought I would have time to, but I'm still planning to do it soon. I'm not quite sure how to make it available — someone told me they did a raffle and got in trouble for it because it was considered gambling, or something like that, so I will have to look into it and I just haven't had the wherewithal yet. But it's all on my list. The needs are great. I don't even know the best ways to help. Helpless feeling.

We went with our pre-school to see the swifts the other night. That's an event that happens here every fall where the Vaux's swifts use a local school's (unused) chimney to roost in at night on their annual migration. See all of those little freckles in the photo of the school chimney up there? Those are the birds. Here is a pretty rad video of what this looks like when they final spiral in. It was a really fun night. Everyone brings blankets and picnics and watches from a hill — it's a perfect viewing spot for the show. The weather was excellent, too.

Well, that's it for me, I guess! I hope you are all well! Thanks for looking at all my stuff! Have a great weekend!

***Ooops, forgot the sweater picture originally but it's there now, and thanks for the head's up on Harvey! Doi! Slaps forehead.

Snow Day

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Oh, snow. I wait, I wait. When it comes, I'm beside myself, even though, almost every time, snow in Portland quickly turns to ice. I can't get off my own front porch. The enormous orthopedic shoe I wear on my left foot has as much traction as a salad plate, and is almost as big. Nevermind; the winds were too strong to brave going out, anyway. The branches on the black trees whipped and whistled. The air was ice cold. I pushed open the back door against the wind and scooped cup after cup full of snow; she ate it with an espresso spoon. We sat in the upstairs windows and watched the slice of neighborhood we are granted to observe. No one came, no one went. The mail lady came and quickly went. Inside, Amelia nibbled on raspberries and watched Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I drank hot chocolate and took a bath and read Farmer Boy. By dinnertime it was raining ice. I flung salt toward the front path from the front porch. Not even from the porch — from the door. Ice covered everything. On the way home, around 9:00 p.m., Andy's bus broke a tire chain on the bridge. Everyone but Andy got off the bus and onto some other bus. He sat and chatted with the bus driver, who was from Cleveland. Eventually, someone came with new chains. He made it home and I relaxed. This morning, ice still covers everything but it's raining hard. We're having a party tonight.

Above: the ornaments I made for Amelia's little tree and our mantel. I loved making every single one of them. The gnome and mushroom and raccoon and owl are from Little Dear (Aimee Ray); the running bunny and animal portraits are from Bumpkin Hill; the angel is from I. Manufatti; and the winter girl is from Mimi Kirchner. I bought a bunch of these patterns last year and just never got around to making them. I made almost all of them over Thanksgiving weekend, and stitched the year on the back of each (unless I forgot, which I did sometimes). I got the stockings from Etsy, too; just search for "vintage quilt stocking." There are tons of them.

Every night, for weeks now, I have been knitting Amelia this sweater. It's bottom up, and I'm not even to the sleeve join. I've never knit anything so slow in my life. I love it but . . . ugh. Every. Single. Night. That lace pattern just doesn't grow. I've looked at a few versions of it on Ravelry and I like the look of the lace unblocked and sort of squished down, so, there ya go — even slower, then. Hopefully I'll finish it while it's still cold out. Last night while I was putting her to bed, we were lying in the dark and she said, "Mom? I want you to knit me a [insert me bolting upright here] sweater . . . with buttons on it, in the front." Me [feigning nonchalance]: "Oh, a cardigan? Sure, baby. I'd love to. What color?" Her: "Pink . . . no, rainbow!" It took every ounce of strength I had not to jump out of bed and run downstairs and start surfing Ravelry for patterns. Fifteen hours later and I've got pattern picked and yarn on order. . . . Hurry up, Faunajakke lace!!! I've got an order for a sweater from my kid.

Another conversation: "Meems, don't you think it would be nicer to keep your room cleaner and not have so much stuff on everything and falling off of everything all the time?" Her: "No." Me: "But don't you think that when it's too cluttered and there's too much stuff on your nightstand you can't see what you have to play with because there's too much stuff everywhere?" Her: "No."  Me [flailing]: "Oh. But if there's too much stuff in your way it's kind of overwhelming and you can't, like, play with it . . . very well . . . because it's falling . . . everywhere?" Her: "No." Me [twitching]: "Um. . . ."

Santa Lucia nightgown at the ready. Milk-white flannel. Tiny lace trim and a silk ribbon. Simplicity 3586. We do agree about this.

Thank You Very Much!!!

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* * * T H A N K   Y O U   E V E R Y B O D Y ! ! ! ! ! * * *

Thank you, thank you for all of your orders and enthusiasm for the Love and Joy kit.
I was just not expecting that.
We sold out in a couple of days.
Then we raided all of the Winterwoods kits for their fabric and made some more Love and Joys.
And then we sold out of those. :(

BUT!

The fabric supplier is shipping more fabric to us today.
I've put another 100 kits in the shop, as we have just enough floss to make 100 more.
If you missed out the first time, here is your chance to order.

Click here for a Love and Joy kit.

We won't ship until sometime next week, after the fabric comes in.

If you already purchased the digital pattern but you would like a kit instead,
I will refund the cost of the digital pattern (because you will get a printed pattern with the kit).
Please leave  me a note on the order page (not the Paypal page) or
send me an email and let me know to refund for the pattern and I will do that.

I'm sorry for the frustration! We try to guesstimate these numbers as well as we can so that things sell quickly but not too quickly, but it is hard with some things.

I will be writing to everyone who sent me an email about this or left a comment.
I'm rushing around trying to get lots done today.

Sorry for writing in centered-speak. I thought it was kinda cute.

* * *

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, and a peaceful time of cooking and gathering together.
Thank you all for paying such loving attention to all of our daily comings and goings and for being such bright lights in my life. I am very grateful for you and your kindness, and all of your kind words and support throughout these many years.
I truly appreciate the efforts you make to share yourselves here. You are the nicest people ever.
Thank you.

Love,
Alicia
and Andy and Amelia and Clover Meadow and The Beeeeeeee
XOXOXOX

Love and Joy Come to You

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LoveAndJoyBlog2

Stitching is just plain good medicine. Put on your coziest clothes, turn on the twinkly lights, make some tea, find a good movie or your favorite music, get a full-spectrum spotlight (that's the one I have) for those dark nights, call your puppers or your kitters or your friend to your side, thread your needles, and stitch your heart back together. If yours feels good but you know someone who could use some love, stitch one for them. Even if cross stitching is not for you, I sincerely encourage you to find one of the needle-arts that appeals to you and make something sweet and simple by hand this season.

DetailBlog

This one, of every cross stitch kit I've ever designed, is probably the easiest. It's fairly small (the design area is about 9" wide by 6" high), fairly simple, doesn't have too many colors, and has elements that connect just enough to make counting fairly easy.

What is also nice about this, unlike almost every other cross stitch pattern I've ever designed, is that it can fit into a standard (8" x 10") frame. Wow, is it ever cheaper to frame things this way. What you can do is go to your local frame shop and ask them to cut you a piece of white foam core just slightly smaller than fits into a standard frame. (My local shop literally charged me $3.00 to do this.) You are going to wrap the fabric around this board, so you probably need the board to be about 1/8" shy, on every side, to make room for the fabric in the frame. Get some sequin (short, about 1/2") pins and follow my directions for stretching your finished piece here. Make sure that whatever frame you choose is deep enough to hold the foam core board and still put a backing on. I think that you could also get a frame shop to cover the back with paper and put hangers on it, if you did everything else (to keep costs down). And of course, a frame shop could do this whole thing for you but you would still save money not needing a custom-sized frame, because frames can be just ridiculously expensive.

The Love and Joy 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: 9.14" x 5.79" (23cm x 15cm); 128 stitches wide x 81 high on 28-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 14" x 16" (36cm x 41cm) piece of 28-count Zweigart Cashel linen in Smokey Pearl
(29) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
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

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.

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 also have a limited number of wintry older kits left. There are 101 Winterwoods ABC Samplers:

WinterwoodsBlog

Winterwoods

We have 42 Ice Skating Afternoon Ornament Kits left:

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We have about 60 of each of Snow Day and Night Before Christmas, which we did reissue again a couple of years ago:

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We only have  21 Phyllis Mouses:

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And about 100 each of Basil Fox and the Cold Day outfit (for boys and girls, sold separately but fits all the animals)

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Of everything else, we do have a pretty decent stock or none at all. Any kits that you do not see on the web site most likely will not be coming back, especially animal softies and ornament kits. I am probably going to bring back a limited supply of My Sweetiepie Sampler kits sometime in 2017, but it won't be anytime soon. I really, really want to make room in my brain and in my space for some new ideas and new kits in 2017.

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.

There is something so poignant about holiday crafting, to me. I honestly think it's the sweetest, most optimistic kind of making we do all year. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to come from the heart. I hope this new little sampler kit provides you with many (but not that many; it's just the right size) quiet hours of peaceful stitching this season. And I wish you all the love and joy in the world.

XOXOXOX,
Alicia

'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!

Buds and Birds

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Grandma Paulson was visiting all last week, and Mimi had an absolutely wonderful time playing with her grandma pretty much non-stop. She also had her last day of her lovely, wonderful playschool, wrapping up two years of this perfect experience that fills me with emotion. She has grown and changed and thrived there in every way. For an only child (in our family at least; thankfully she has three birthsiblings that she knows and loves and sees often, but obviously they don't live with her), having friends to play with, talk to, learn with, walk with, fight with, make up with, laugh with, and share her days among is invaluable. I'm so grateful for our time there. I'm excited for next year (she's going to a pre-school in the neighborhood, and her friends, only one of which is a close neighbor, are going elsewhere), but I will miss these sweet days. (I will also miss the free eight hours a week they afforded me when I don't have them this summer, but that's another story.)

The weather has alternated cold and rainy with only mildly cold and rainy. I haven't spent too much time reading in my Adirondack chairs, but when I have been out there I've been nothing short of enchanted by all the little birds that are coming to our new bird feeder — a suet feeder that keeps squirrels and bigger birds out. Black-oil sunflower seed got spilled on the porch recently and not cleaned up; the squirrels went absolutely mental after they ate it all, and attacked the plastic milk jug we've used for years to fill the feeders, and destroyed the cap to the jug, and threw the jug across the yard and down the stairs to the sidewalk, and then threw the two empty feeders off of the trees, and completely destroyed the squirrel-proof one (I have two seed feeders — one is squirrel-proof, and one is just for the squirrels) by shredding the plastic tube inside and losing half of the parts. ANNOYING. Anyway, when I went to the store to get a new squirrel-proof seed feeder, I also got the new squirrel-proof suet feeder for the smaller birds. And now we have the sweetest little bushtits and chickadees. We've always had a lot of very friendly hummingbirds. Andy told me my red feeder (not squirrel-proof) was down on the sidewalk again this morning. Hrmmmm. Obnoxious. One squirrel sits on the fence and stares at me and thwacks his tail with fury the whole time I'm out there reading. He's quite annoyed that I'm in his yard, apparently.

My roses, good lord. Too bad I can't remember what they're called. I have two different bushes and they have been nothing short of fairy-tale quality this year, I do say.

I made a barbecue-chicken chopped salad like California Pizza Kitchen's from this recipe, but I used this chili-lime chicken that I've been making about once a week since I discovered the recipe. The salad tasted EXACTLY like CPK's. Exactly. It was awesome. Andy ate it (standing, still in scrubs, watching ESPN) when he came home from work.

Him, shouting from kitchen: "This is good!"
Me, shouting from living room: "I know, it's the jicama."
Him, mouth full: "The WHAT?!?!?"

Pfffft. I used the chicken on another night to make chicken tacos with this Mexican street corn salad, a vaguely unappetizing picture of which is up there, but I assure you, oh man, it was crazy good. So, chili-lime chicken, soft tortillas, corn salad, Spanish rice (from a box, I think it was Zatarain's). Boom.

Up there as well, Molly's Granola #5, the only one I'll eat anymore, originally gifted to me by the lovely Andrea for Christmas and which I've made several times since. I use cashews, sometimes almonds, and sweetened coconut. Very, very excellent granola. Simple and plain and toasty.

And then, magic custard cake. When I made this last summer, it occurred to me that it is exactly what I always want a clafoutis to be, but never is. So yesterday morning I pitted a bunch of cherries and added them to the bottom of the pan before I poured the batter in. It worked perfectly, though next time I would use more cherries, and actually more sugar. The cherries were seriously tart, and the cake just needs to be sweeter. Maybe a pinch of salt, too. This cake is really cool. It's a little bit of work, with beating the egg whites and all, but I've never seen anything like this before, and it is really delicate and delicious.

This week, ah . . . this week. I have a whole day — today — to myself. I'm sending the 'Night, Neighborhood cross stitch pattern off to the printer. Stacey's going to start pulling the floss tomorrow. The fabric should be arriving any day. This one has taken a while because I just have so many things going on at home right now. It's almost done, we just have to get it together around here. Things are a little rough around the edges. I could use a whole day to start smoothing them out. I'll be back soon.

***It's shaving-cream paint, to play with in the bath tub :).

***The upholstered dollhouse furniture was a long-ago sweet gift from Leigh. Thank you for that, Leigh. Meems set up this Calico Critter phalanx herself. Xox

May Days

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This season is my favorite. Everything is still so green and fragrant and glorious. The days alternate cold and rainy with bright, white sunshine that makes us squint and run. We've planted a bit in the parkway raised beds, which have been sorely neglected the past couple of summers. The hose just doesn't reach down there very easily and the place just fries. This year, a bean teepee for Amelia, cherry tomatoes, beets, nasturtiums. Peas. Keeping it simple. Maybe a bed just for pumpkins to turn into jack-o-lanterns this fall. I assure you I am dreading the hot temperatures I feel sure are coming, even earlier this year than ever. Over the weekend it was 85 degrees, and that ain't right. Our Adirondack chairs stay blessedly shady for a good portion of the afternoon. I read an entire book in three days (unheard of for me). That was Claudia Silver to the Rescue. That girl made some horrideous decisions. She reminded me a lot of the girl in the book I finished just previous to this, Twelve Rooms with a View. These are all library books I've been picking up quickly at the library, and pretty much devouring. I can't say enough how liberating this has been. I'm just mentioning them here mostly because I've been kind of excited about how much I've been reading lately and was wanting to keep track of the titles somewhere, because I'm usually awful at remembering. I usually pick up four or five every week and finish one of them. I read a few pages of the others and if they don't grab me immediately, for better or worse, I put them back in the return basket without a smidge of guilt. Everyone knows this, I don't know why this is feeling so novel (har) for me. . . .

Yesterday I worked on my new cross stitch pattern pretty much all day long, and by that I mean the actual pattern itself, which requires figuring out which colors I used, how much of each color I used (like actual strandage), making sure the pattern reflects exactly what I did on the fabric (you'd be surprised), picking out all those little symbol things which go over the color blocks in the pattern, and then chopping the pattern up into four pieces so it fits on the pages in a way that's readable. That last part almost destroyed me. As I was in my sixth hour of doing it wrong, in one way or another, I had a distinct sense of deja vu, and of having done pretty much every single (wrong) thing in pretty much the exact same order over the exact same (ridiculously long) amount of time for the Sweetiepie sampler (of which there are literally only nine kits left, so get those while you can because they're not coming back). By 5:00 p.m. I had figured it out — I was determined to figure it out before I got out of my chair. I did. It wasn't pretty (I could see my reflection in my computer screen). But, I did it. And now to order the fabric for those kits, and get that show on the road. Should be just a few weeks before the Night Neighborhood kits are available. I'm excited about these. The finished piece itself looks really, really cool. And thank you for the framing recommendations! I almost forgot. I wound up ordering frame samples and supplies on-line from americanframe.com (thank you, Sharon, for the recommendation!). I'll let you know how it goes. I think I'm going to paint the frame again, so I can get the exact color I want. The wood seems to have a veneer on top of it, though, so it may not work. . . .

Have you heard of the thoroughly talented Carrie Hoge's gorgeous new print magazine, Making? I'm so honored to have a little cross stitch ring, inspired by my next-door-neighbors' dogwood trees, in the first issue. Thank you so much for asking me to contribute, Carrie, and thank you for putting up with me. Usually I say no to things when I'm asked to participate because I'm an unreliable disaster when it comes to meeting deadlines or providing everything required. I stand in bewildered awe (as Hugh Grant would say) of you, and all people who can put incredible publications like this together while raising small children, seriously. Very, very well done, dear friend.

I hope May goes slowly. I feel like things are moving quickly, maybe because it's been so hot. But I want this green to linger, and I want to linger over it. I want to do some things that are just plain indulgent, like perfect my chai recipe for iced chai this summer, and read more library books in the front yard, and watch New Girl from the beginning, and make summer pajamas for Amelia to wear to her end-of-school almost-sleepover at her friend's house in a few weeks (they're all bringing sleeping bags, watching a movie, eating snacks, and then sleeping at home :). I want to make Indian food and go to the river. I want to pull some weeds and feed some birds and watch my little girl whirl and twirl in the sun.

***That's Barefoot Contessa's pasta, pesto, and pea salad, above. And I forgot to mention, for those who have asked about the quilt, we got it at the antique mall (Stars, in Sellwood) for $18 a few weeks ago. Score.

Big-Girl Ways

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I couldn't be more proud of my girl these days. Every week brings new challenges and new accomplishments, and it's all just so thrilling to me. I'm starting to feel nostalgic about entering the last month of her little playschool. For the past two school years (they don't go in the summertime), she and three of her friends have attended a little "school" at a neighborhood grandmother's house, and it has been just the best experience for all of us. Next year she will go three mornings a week to an official pre-school, and while I know she will be very ready for that, I will miss our bouncing morning walks through the neighborhood (because she can't wait to get there), our lingering after-school traipses to the bakery together, the ease of walking home with friends for playdates. The Portland school system being what it is, and our location in it being what it is, these past two years will likely be the only time in both of our lives that I will get to walk her to and from school. Her new school for next year is about a mile and a half away, and that's too far for me to walk there and back on my bad foot (and too far for a three-year-old to walk anyway). Her kindergarten, if she winds up going to our local public school, will also be just over a mile away, as well. Next year, I'm probably going to drive but park several blocks away, so we can still get that walking experience together. One thing I can do is ride my bike very slowly on the sidewalk so that I'm basically just sitting on it next to whoever is walking. I'm not very good at this and there are a lot of crashes/near crashes/crushed toes, and it's hard to hold someone's hand when they're walking and you're riding a bicycle. But anyway. I'm enjoying every minute of our current playschool walks, and every minute of this time. My girl is growing up, and I am so excited for and proud of her. She loves everything and everyone and every day, and is doing so many new things that it's really quite exhilarating and awesome to watch her. Her sweet, funny, cuddly, goofball personality is blossoming, and I love it.

Weaving all but abandoned, I've been stitching like a madwoman, watching the Night Neighborhood come to life. Pattern and kit will be forthcoming. I have a 65%-off framing coupon for JoAnn's if I can finish by Wednesday, but I'm not sure I can. . . . I hope I can because framing is so expensive, and, for various reasons, I'm looking for a new framer. I always stretch my pieces on foam core myself (trust me, unless you have some sort of master-craftsman-framing connection, you want to do it this way; you will do a better job than anyone else will on your piece, and it really isn't that hard, just time-consuming) and I'm not sure JoAnn's will let me do that. I've never had anything framed there before. I'll keep you posted.

In between all the stitching, I actually designed yet another cross-stitch sampler. Two, in fact — these are birth announcements, one for a boy and one for a girl. It's just bizarre to me, even after all of these years, how the creative process works. I never, ever seem to know what I am going to do, and sometimes I'll feel like I don't want to do anything at all. I'll go and do something else, something that has nothing to do with work (recently, the weaving), and I'll be totally consumed by it, and having a very, very good time when suddenly, zombie-like, I just get up and walk away as if in a trance and go straight into my studio and put my little head down for several hours in a row and BLOOP, out pops something else entirely. There must be some whole other process happening that is just totally invisible to me that brings this condition about. It feels like magic, though.

Morning Light (and Night Neighborhood)

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Oh my, the mornings! Honeygold and fragrant with apple blossoms and lilac. We moved some chairs to the front yard and that one hour, from about seven a.m. until eight, is now my favorite of the day. Andy had the whole weekend off, which rarely happens. The weather was consistently beyond glorious, which rarely happens. I said I wasn't going to make a cross stitch pattern and then five minutes later I did, which often happens. Good thing my capriciousness is so predictable. It keeps me employed. And out of trouble. More or less.

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.