Time of Flowers Cross Stitch Kit Now Available for Pre-Order

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BeautyBlog

The TIME OF FLOWERS Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now available for pre-order. Please CLICK HERE to order.

Finished Size of Design Area: 6" wide x 8.5" high (15cm x 22cm); 101 stitches wide x 136 high on 32-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 14" x 16" (36cm x 41cm) piece of 32-count evenweave embroidery linen in Sea Lily by Handpicked by Nora from Wichelt
(53) 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

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Here in the shady hollows of northwest Oregon, spring comes early. It makes a quiet entrance as it slowly turns what was muddy and brown into something luminous and green. The green woods become an enchanted place. I wanted to capture some of that magic here. Time of Flowers is the second in a series of seasonal pieces I'm designing. The first, for winter, is called First Snow (a kit is available here; the pattern is here). Designs for summer and autumn will be forthcoming later this year. 

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.

This kit 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.

This kit will be shipping sometime toward the end of March. The fabric is on order but some of the floss is on backorder and won't get here until mid-March. We will pull floss and assemble patterns and ship as soon as we have everything we need. Please note that the fabric I've used for this kit has unfortunately been discontinued, so once our inventory is gone, unless there is substantial interest that makes it worth going back to the manufacturer to have them actually dye more just for me, this kit will likely be gone, too.

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

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.

I am working on doing a substantive cross-stitch-discussion post for you but I'm not done with it yet, and, if you are interested in ordering the PDF because you're worried the 32-count linen is too small, I think you'll want to read it. It will help you determine what supplies you need to purchase, particularly fabric. This is something I've been needing to write for many months, and I really am sorry it has taken me so long.

 

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

All supplies, and anything else you order at the same time, will be shipped along with your Time of Flowers kit. If you need other items before the end of March, when Time of Flowers ships, please place a separate order that will ship right away.

 

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. Also, please know that USPS overseas shipping charges are going up like wildfire lately. I'm having to adjust my own charges to reflect the USPS changes.

Thank you so, so much for your interest in this kit and my work in general. I'm always so touched by your enthusiasm for embroidery and I truly hope you enjoy stitching this as much as I loved designing and making it. I'm grateful beyond words to be able to do this work, and your support of it means more to be than I'll ever be able to express. Thank you.

With much love and hope for beauty this spring,
Alicia

Couch Lounge

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Amelia went to bed coughing and with a stuffy nose on Sunday night, so I kept her home for the first three days of this week. Aside from her feeling a bit poorly, we had such a lovely time together, mostly watching TV and movies, and snuggling on the couch, and reading and playing with Legos, and eating the soup that I told her I always used to ask for when I was sick as a little girl (that Lipton's chicken soup in box with the desiccated chicken and powdery bouillon and grass noodles). I brought her breakfast in bed, which she had recently mentioned she wanted me to do next time she was sick, so I did that. She was cuddly and quiet and sweet and sniffly, and as I knit she put her feet up on my legs and sang along to her baby shows, Blues Clues and Little Baby Bum (nursery rhymes and songs), stuff she doesn't watch anymore, generally, but which I think made her feel comforted and content. On Tuesday she baked cupcakes, doing almost everything herself except for the things she just couldn't do, and she was proud and I was proud of her. She missed Valentine's Day at school but late in the afternoon her friend's mom delivered a bag filled with classmate Valentines and a lollipop (not sugar free) so she was delighted.

Thank you so much for your kind words about the new cross-stitch design! I didn't get a chance to get a lot of Posie work done the way I normally would when she is in school in the mornings, but I did manage to take my cover photo and finish up the pattern. I'll start a pre-sale for the kits on Tuesday morning next week (the 20th). Three of the floss colors are on back-order so we'll pull the floss the minute it all arrives, and plan to ship at the end of March. This week I wore my new blouse (vintage Peter Pan calico made from Burda pattern 6592) and mostly worked on my granny-square blanket, which I'm calling Firefly Jar because it reminds me of little flickers of light against a dimming evening sky. By the way, I get my grannies perfectly square before whip-stitching them together by wet-blocking them all individually. The speckled yarn continues to charm me. Thank you for all the recommendations for other indie dyers. I have about ten skeins of speckled yarn now! I'll have to do a whole post about them. They are just so, so pretty. I started a spring sweater for Amelia with a few of the colors (Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in Pistachio, Pinky Swear, and Opalite) using the Flax Light pattern from Tin Can Knits and it's working up quickly, being mostly stockinette. It's light as a feather. I picked the green and she picked the pink so it's a collaboration. Thanks also to those of you who suggested that I try to do some dyeing myself with Wilton food dyes. I have tons of those so I am totally going to try it. I'm excited about that. That looks like a lot of fun.

My heart and Andy's are heavy with so much sorrow over the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. We talked and talked about it yesterday. My head is swirling, feverish with bitterness and fury over how this keeps happening again and again and again. I don't even know how to talk about it. I'm so disappointed and frustrated I really cannot find the words I want to say.

Outside, spring continues to peek it's little fuzzy head out from under piles of brown oak leaves and the muck of winter. Around town, daffodils are starting to bloom in earnest now and crocuses cover tiny plots in a haze of lavender. The sky is bright gray, like a gray lightbox, with flat, dull light that leaves no shadows. I'll make tea and work and take care of little things. I wish you peace today. I hope your day has peace.

Dream of Spring

comments: 41

Time of Flowers blog

Oh, hello! I've been here, peeking in on my shady little glade. Frogs are croaking here. Mud is squelching. Winter's muck is being parted by new growth. In our yard, tiny choirs of tiny daffodils (my favorites are called 'Minnow') are starting to pierce the ground and prepare their songs. Our yard is still filled with brown — dead leaves, colorless stems of dead grass, old blooms, withered things — but everywhere below the surface the season is changing.

I come to the change a bit sullenly. Our winter here has been very mild, with almost no rain, and only one (beloved, wonderful) snowstorm. I guess it could always still happen, of course, but it doesn't feel like it will. As you walk around town you smell it — winter daphne. The fragrant harbinger of future blossoms. I do love it. And so it begins. Our plum tree is already dropping its first freckled fairy petals. The spirea begins to swell with its little buds. I have the bedroom window open behind the curtain every night now, and now we listen to the cold night sounds, and the early morning crows. Spring is coming.

I'm happy because I heard back from the distributor (Wichelt) about the discontinued fabric (I unknowingly chose) for this new cross stitch kit and they still have fifty yards in stock, out of which we can make four-hundred kits. I'm seriously thrilled by that number. I thought it would be, like, four. Or three. So I bought the fifty, and it's on its way. Yesterday I also ordered all the floss from DMC, and so it will be on its way soon, too. This will be another design, like First Snow, that will fit into an 8" x 10" ready-made frame. (I'm going to do one for each season, and just this morning I got my idea [pop! right into my head!] for my summer design.) I'll give you more details on this one for spring and will start taking pre-orders probably next week. If there is more interest beyond the four hundred, the manufacturer has agreed to dye more fabric (at, naturally, a higher cost, and with a six-to-eight-week lead time), but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. We've sold 492 First Snow kits of the 600 we originally made, so I'm a bit worried we could go over the 400, if everyone does want to do a series of seasons, and I do want everyone who wants one to be able to get one. With my luck I'll probably sell four kits, total. Well, weeeeeeeeee'll see. Now I'm just rambling. We'll figure it out when we get there, no worries.

My creative mania, as it reduced itself from a rolling boil to a gentle simmer, seemed to also direct its interest (I'm speaking about "it" in the third person because I've lost control and am now disassociating, apparently) toward hand-dyed speckled sock yarn. Exclusively. Only hand-dyed speckled sock yarn. I mean??? This from the woman who has only ever, in twenty years, knit one sock. But, seriously, how pretty are these yarns? And these? Why am I so late in understanding about these? I saw some of them recently at Close Knit and Starlight Knitting Society and Twisted and I walked by them without a backward glance, fixated on All The Solid Colors. Now, just weeks later, I have gone back and bought them, and for fun I literally open my iPad and staaaaaaare at them on-line, all of these freckly wonders, and try to choose between them. I have a pattern picked out for a new Easter-ish sweater for Mimi, and have ordered several other skeins to work into the granny-square blanket, etc. I've bought yarn with sparkles in it. I really never thought I would do that.

via GIPHY

Six More Weeks

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Well, it finally happened. The knitting mania I was experiencing burnt itself out, and I'm not really sad. I had been eyeing the Teru sweater for a while and really wanted to make it but after only one evening it had already bested me. You can see it above, that piddly little amount of neckline knitting in the cream-colored donegal with the beginnings of blackberry-colored fair-isle starting. I didn't make any mistakes or anything like that, and the pattern is, seriously, a work of art, but it is fingering-weight, and complicated, and, after knitting for many hours, I was literally only maybe an inch into it. I looked at it and I was like, "Yeah, I'm done." And it was kind of a good feeling, actually. Knitting-wise, I had been pretty wild-eyed in general for the past two months. My purple heather honeybee sweater is still happening but I've made lots of mistakes in the lace and it's feeling kind of sloppy. I have some yarn on order to cast on for a South Bay sweater, which is mostly just gobs and gobs of stockinette with only small areas of interest, so that will be nice and easy, and like something that a normal person with a five-year-old instead of, like, a lady who's getting paid by the stitch, or something, would knit. So yeah, in general, now that it is February, I'm mostly relieved that I'm breathing regularly instead of hyperventilating. That was intense. And thanks to Punxatawney Phil, we still have lots of winter left.

The house is a disaster. Small piles of I-don't-know-what are hanging around like beached detritus leftover from storm season. Thirty books, a fish mobile, a party hat, fourteen Calico Critters, pieces of yarn, peeled off stickers, apple peels that someone threw on the floor and tried to pretend she didn't throw on the floor, zillions of Legos, stray baby socks, broken crayons, snapped-off pieces of a bowling-alley-arcade crown, naked dolls, entire handmade XL sweaters, stitch markers, random pieces of paper, lip balm, a wooden spoon. Amelia, lately, has been trying out operatic responses to the smallest of tragedies — gales of tears when she scrapes a knee, shrieks of despair when something goes missing (as if it could not; see above). The other day in the schoolyard: wails of frustration when she saw that something had fallen into this deep window-well that houses a bunch of pipes and machinery stuff alongside the church in which the preschool is housed. The window-well is bordered by a metal railing which is covered in some kind of cage thing so the kids can't fall into it. Amelia stood and sobbed, pointing. She called me over and I went, expecting from her intensity to see, I don't know, a hurt kitten? a abandoned baby bird? a million dollars that couldn't be reached? Instead it was . . . a barrette. And not even one of her pretty felt-flower barrettes, but just one of those ubiquitous little metal clippies. I literally could hardly see it. Dramatic crying and continued pointing by Amelia into well. "Hmmmm," said I, "I think that one's been sacrificed, darling." I went back to the wall where I had been sitting and talking with mom friends. Within minutes, however, three dads and a handful of kids were all peering into the window-well through the fencing. Something was happening. A rescue operation had ensued. The guys were so into it I didn't have the heart to tell them we had at least two hundred barrettes per room, back at the house. Quiet peering into the depths of the well continued. We could see consultations and apparent breath-holding. Then, suddenly, a great cheer went up from kid and man alike: Aaron (dad) had found a magnet and Frank (dad) had produced one of those metal handyman tape measures from his pocket and they had literally fished the metal barrette from the depths of the well. Amelia, now smiling, was also mildly nonplussed; these dramas are rather short-lived and also half-hearted, for all their volume, and, anyway, she is already quite sure dads can do anything. I love our school friends. I'm already starting to have a lot of nostalgia over our time at the preschool, as none of the families with whom we currently go to preschool will be going to the school Amelia is going to next year.

So, the house is a mess and Amelia's room is completely nuts with tiny things covering every surface, rugs bunched up under bed legs, and clothes stuffed into corners, and instead of knitting, I'm now crocheting. My (lovely, I must say) Shetland Adventure shawl came off the blocking board on Tuesday and promptly went right 'round my neck, where it stayed for hours and hours, cuddling me. Hap shawls really are lovely in every way, and that one (I only made the top layer, as the bottom one felt a bit too fussy for the way I dress, which is, most days, still like an eighth-grade volleyball coach, with all due respect to mine) certainly was. It only barely bit into the third skein of fingering weight, so there went another almost-full skein of yarn into the stash. Hrumpf. Curious, I pulled out my old between-projects project, my Beatrix Blanket (which has, for months, been going nowhere). And suddenly I decided that I wanted to make something other than that for Amelia's bed — instead, I am going to do a little checkerboard granny square inspired by this one but with this pattern for the square. All fingering and sport and almost entirely stash. Random colors with a very creamy pale lavender (this yarn, gloriously called Oyster Mushroom, which I have four or five skeins of already) contrast. In the shower this morning I also had the idea to maybe add a few little fabric patches in there, too, but we'll see how that goes. Anyway, stay tuned for that. Amelia is getting a new full-sized Calicozy, too, out of fabric that I have been collecting just for her for quite a while, so I'm excited about it, though I still haven't done a bit of actual work on it. Nevertheless, I'm hoping it — both — will inspire me to start cleaning.

Luckily, my new spring cross-stitch design is finished. Unluckily, the fabric I chose (a piece of which I happened to already have in my stash and so did not call ahead to the distributor to see how much they had on hand or could get before planning to design an entire kit around it) has NATURALLY been discontinued. Thus I continue my winning record of picking out things that are mere moments from being discontinued. It appears to be my truest talent, honestly. Waiting to hear how many yards Wichelt has on hand before I decide what to do. But am still planning on releasing this new design this spring. It's also an 8" x 10", like First Snow, and my plan is to do one for each season.

A cautionary tale (or two):

My best friend, Martha, lives near Boston. We were college roommates and we now talk (text) every day, and have done for many years. She is a single mom and also has a little girl, so there's not a lot of time for either of us during the day. She is three hours ahead of me, so every night after I put Mimi to bed, I get back downstairs around 7 p.m. my time, 10 p.m. Martha's time, and we chat about everything and nothing.

On Wednesday after school, Mimi and I had gone to Fabric Depot to get some interfacing and ribbon for a blouse I'd made for myself. After that, I took her out to an early dinner, where she didn't eat anything and instead, as soon as her ravioli arrived, laid down on the booth bench and asked if she could take her socks off. This was quite strange, as she is a great restaurant kid with a hearty appetite who also generally never stops talking. But instead she was quiet, and on the way home she fell asleep in the car (unheard of). I started to worry that she might not be feeling well again, though she had no temperature and said her throat felt fine. But as soon as we got home we went straight upstairs and started her bedtime routine, even though it was still light out. By 6:00 she was in bed and I was back downstairs, telling Martha that I had just put Amelia to bed and was a bit worried that she wasn't feeling well. No sooner had I sent the text than I heard a warbling, "Mommy? I need to go pottttttttty. . . ." Cue me, sprinting upstairs. "Mama, I have a tummy ache. . . ." And this time the tears were utterly real. Her discomfort was heartbreaking. I suddenly remembered that there had been sugar-free gummy bears granted in line at Fabric Depot. Mimi is actually pretty good about not asking for that crap at check-out (there must be thirty different mini-packs of jelly bellies right there, where you get it line), and sometimes I say yes, and sometimes I say no. This time I'd said, regrettably, yes. "I can never have candy again!!!" she said, face covered in tears. "Next Halloween I'm going to put on my costume but I'm just going to walk around the blooo-ooo-oooock." Oh, my dear sweet honey! My heart was breaking. I assured her that one day there would again be some candy in her future. We sat there in the bathroom together for forty-five minutes until she was . . . finished . . . and I had her laughing again, and literally the second it was all over it was like it had never happened. She bounced off to bed, I tucked her in, she rolled over and grabbed Foxie, and we said our good nights and I love yous and sweet dreamses. I breathed a cautious sigh of relief and went back downstairs and texted Andy (who was at work) to tell him what had happened, and said I was mildly worried that she had the flu but I was much more sure that the episode was caused by the gummy bears I'd approved earlier that afternoon [guilty grimace]. Then I texted and told Martha, who had also been sick earlier this week. Before she could answer, Andy replied to me with this:

Sugarless Haribo Gummy Bear Reviews On Amazon Are The Most Insane Thing You'll Read Today

So, I'm reading that article and practically falling of the couch horrified-laughing (people are hilarious), and then sending it over to Martha and saying, "Uh, yeah, it was the gummy bears," when she answers back:

"I just threw up ten times."

Me [stunned]: "Oh no honey! You have the flu! Are you okay???"

And then she goes:

"I think I drank old daffodil water after I took the NyQuil."

Me: "SAY WHAT?"

I'm paraphrasing.

It turns out, she'd bought three small bunches of daffodils from Trader Joe's earlier that day, then put them in a glass of water on the counter, planning to bring them to her boyfriend's house for his birthday later that night. They were in the water for about four hours. She said that in retrospect she thought the water tasted funny but she had gulped it because of the NyQuil. Then this, from Jonathan (boyfriend):

"All parts of the daffodil contain a toxic chemical, lycorine. The part of the plant that contains the highest concentration of lycorine is the bulb. However, eating any part of the plant can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually last about 3 hours. More severe problems such as low blood pressure, drowsiness, and damage to the liver have been reported in animals that ate very large amounts of the plant but have never been reported in humans.

"The bulb also contains chemicals called oxalates, which are microscopic and needle-like. When swallowed, oxalates cause severe burning and irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat. They can also cause skin irritation.

"Usually, the only treatment required is rinsing the mouth well and drinking water or milk. If vomiting and diarrhea persist, watch for dehydration. If a person is having severe throat pain, difficulty swallowing, or drooling, medical evaluation and treatment is needed."

Source

Martha: "Apparently there are several posts about this. I'm not the first person to drink daffodil water."

Me: "I shouldn't be laughing at that last one."

Martha: "It's okay. It's kind of hysterical. Except not right now. For me."

Me: "Neither you nor Mimi is allowed to eat sugar-free gummy bears nor drink daffodil water ever again!!!"

Martha: "Okay. FINE!!!"

For the record, she felt better throughout the night and then went to bed. When Andy got home he was with our friend Jeff, also a nurse. They'd brought sandwiches and were planning to play Atari in the garage. I told them about Martha and then asked if they'd known that sugar-free gummy bears apparently "power-wash your intestines." Andy said he hadn't know, but he'd mentioned it to another nurse at work and she'd immediately gasped and said, "Oh my gosh, that's, like, a thing." And then they looked it up. So I'm here to warn you. The pains are real. #truestory

Winterland

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I don't want January to end. I don't.

Mimi and I were both fighting low-grade colds this past week. We were lucky, and we never really got that sick. But her nose was running a little bit, and her voice was raspy for a day or two. We had taken her out of school last Thursday to all go out to breakfast together and then take her to her first movie in the theater (Paddington 2 — loved it). Then Andy was off on Friday and he just wanted to hang out with her so we kept her out on Friday. Then on Saturday I had a funny feeling in my eyeballs, which is always my first symptom of sickness — my eyeballs feel hot. By Monday I had called her in yet again and she and I made a poorly bed on the sofa and snuggled in for the day. She played with every toy she had and we ate every meal at home, which trashed the house repeatedly, day after day. She insisted on cleaning up by picking up every mini Lego with a pair of tongs. She got all the pieces in that giant yellow box that makes no sense to me (if you have this thing, you probably know what I'm talking about). I was in the kitchen while she was putting it on her shelf and I just heard this tremendous CRASH and then the cascade of Legos spilling everywhere. And then, you know, HOWLING. Etc. Damn you, Legos. Legos at 5 p.m. So we trashed the house and I (mostly) cleaned it, and then we trashed and then I cleaned and then we trashed, etc. This continued through Wednesday. She went back on Thursday. I missed her terribly but it was nice to finally get to take some deep breaths and relaxxxxxxxxxx.

I love winter so much, even though winter in Portland pretty much sucks. No snow, just gray. The yard is seriously disgusting. Rain. Everything's brown except the sky, which is low and gray. Or kind of white. But I don't care. Be gross, Portland. I don't care. Let it rain. Nothing out there needs me. The garden doesn't need watering, the pool is closed. The evening comes early. The morning starts late. I drink coffee and bake. We stay home. I have things delivered. I knit. Apparently, I don't work. :| Yikes. I should be working, but I don't feel like it. I have so much to do but apparently I don't care about that either [insert freaked-out-looking emoji guy]. I have taxes to do and a doll pattern to design and kits to develop and a spring cross-stitch pattern to work on. I gave myself January. I see daffodil and iris shoots starting to appear and they are making me feel anxious. I'm just not ready to be done with this rest.

January.

I finished my Ranunculus cardigan and I absolutely love it. Love it. It's just perfect for me. I still can't believe it. That's THREE SWEATERS now that I've made and that fit me. This one's big and floppy and airy. It's DK-weight yarn knit on size 10 needles (for you non-knitters, that means this yarn is fairly thin and the needles are fairly big and this results in a fairly porous fabric) and the sweater is meant to be quite wide and oversized to begin with. The sleeves grew quite a bit with blocking, so they are a longer than I would like — full-length on me instead of 3/4-length, which is what I was going for. The yarn is kind of strange. I used Arranmore Light, which is mostly wool with a bit of silk and a bit of cashmere (goat). I loved it in the skein but knit up it almost feels like cotton to me. I guess that's the silk. So it's not, like, the coziest sweater in the world. There's very little halo on this yarn, and that's not exactly what I was going for, either. But I still love the sweater and the whole thing was a great experience.

Thank you ever so much for all of the knitting podcast recommendations. Wow. I'm so excited. I haven't had a chance to watch any because I've been with Mimi almost every minute of the past week, but I can't wait to check them out. Thank you!

I'm thinking more about yarn than I ever have. More and more I realize that I'm partial to a very specific kind of yarn, plain wooly with some halo, fairly soft but with good definition, too. I started yet another sweater yesterday. This one is, once again, based on the Ellen Cardigan. I did some math (I did math!) to figure out how to make it a straight raglan instead of a circular yoke and added the honeybee lace panels to the front. The yarn I'm using for this one is Cascade 220 Heather (and the color is Iridescence). This is a very popular yarn that comes in gobs of colors for nice price and for some reason this is the first time I've ever used it, I think, and I really like it.

Shockingly successful knitting balanced by baking fails. That thing with the swirlies was the Butter Cake from Scandikitchen Fika and Hygge and it blobbed all over the oven and turned into goo in the middle. As I said on Instagram, I should've taken a picture of that but I was in crisis and didn't think to. Womp womp. I need to start making soups. Or, like, any food that isn't dessert would be a good start. That might be a good place to start.

Not Much

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Doing not much. Knitting and knitting and knitting. I have so many chores I should be getting to but . . . it's January. I just want to knit. So I am. And trying not to feel guilty about that. I'll catch up (won't I?) in February. . . .

Cinnamon rolls from Scandikitchen Fika and Hygge cookbook :: Sweet little baby Mimi :: Shawl is My Shetland Adventure pattern in Sunday Knits Angelic fingering in aqua :: Breakfast with my loves at our favorite, Besaw's :: Illustrations from My First Little House Books (which I like as much if not more than the original novels) Going West and Sugar Snow :: Andy and Mimi at the store right now getting ingredients for chicken soup tonight, as we all try to stay healthy :: Ranunculus sweater yoke in Arranmore Fine in progress :: Watched all of the first season of Victoria. Wow. So good!

Anyone watching or listening to good knitting podcasts? I am familiar with Woolful, The Gentle Knitter, and Kammebornia. Are there any others I should check out?

Ryðrauð-y Sweater for Me

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I finished my Ellen-ish version of a Ryðrauð-kind-of-yoke sweater and I wanted to show it to you before I get on to other things and forget to do it. Lately I feel like I'm getting behind in certain things and then they just disappear from my brain somehow. But I finished my navy-blue sweater yesterday and I am so pleased with it that I decided to have a nice time this morning taking its picture on the dining room table.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I used the Ellen Cardigan pattern in size XL and made no modifications to any of the math used in the pattern. My original version of that sweater (I finally put some stuff on Ravelry, and my Ellen is here, for what it's worth) fits me perfectly (for once). I was so excited about it that I cast on for this navy sweater almost immediately after I finished Original Ellen, and decided to use a modified/simplified version of the Ryðrauð yoke and pretty much plug it into the stitch counts for the Ellen yoke. The construction of the original Ryðrauð is bottom-up and completely different than my navy sweater, which is top down. But I think my flower pattern definitely gives a nod to the original Ryðrauð and that makes me happy. I still think the original Ryðrauð is really gorgeous and maybe I will make that actual pattern someday, I don't know. The chart I used is on this post and I think anyone could modify the number of repeats to use with the Ellen (which is a free pattern) yoke in any size if you wanted to.

Anyway, a few things about it: The floats were huuuuuuuuuuge between the first three rows of colorwork. Thank you to those of you who suggested different links so that I could look at potential solutions to that. In the end I sort of jerryrigged it (mostly because I had already knit it but also because the solutions seemed kind of complicated!) and literally just used a bit of embroidery floss to tack down the longest floats in the center. I didn't actually sew through the yarn there, but I sort of wove the floss over and under the strands, keeping them together but still letting them move. That said, I don't even know how much they needed to move. I probably could've tacked them all the way down. Either way, it seems to have worked just fine and it was super easy!

Also, I did cast on and knit the neckband before doing the colorwork, and then when I knit the button bands on I just picked up the neckband stitches, too. For some reason I got a lot fewer stitches on my buttonbands than last time and I had to kind of recalculate the buttonhole placement, which I did but I still kind of messed up by  couple of stitches at the end. But the buttons at the top look good and the placement is better for me than on the original Ellen.

What I really wanted to tell you, though, was how I lined the button bands. I really, really like this treatment of button bands because it adds some stability to your bands and knitted buttonholes and prevents the knitted button bands for stretching out and gaping when buttoned — I really do not like it when the button bands gape on a sweater. And also, the button bands are just so pretty and nice and kind of like a little secret luxury. No one really sees them while you're wearing the sweater but for some reason just having them on my very own sweater feels so luxurious and special and sweet.

I got some questions about this the last time I did it on a sweater for Mimi so I thought I'd elaborate on how I did it here: After the sweater was blocked, I laid it out on the table and lined up the knitted BB's (button bands) and measured how long and how wide each of them was. In my case, they were 21 1/2" long by 1 1/8" wide. Adding a 1/4" hem on each edge meant I cut two pieces of fabric that were 22" by 1 5/8". I cut these on the straight grain (instead of using bias tape, which you could also do) so that they wouldn't stretch. (You could also use a ribbon for this but I can never find exactly the ribbon I want when I need it.) I carefully pressed under 1/4" along all edges. Then I laid one of the pressed strips face down on the table and then laid the BB of the sweater right side up, directly over it. You'll want to take some time to make sure that both sweater and strip are carefully placed here; you could pin them together if you want to, but I didn't. I used a water-erase fabric marker to mark where each knitted buttonhole fell on the fabric strip, and then marked that through to the right side of the fabric. Then (after some testing on scraps of the same fabric) I used the automatic buttonhole feature on my sewing machine to stitch all of the buttonholes vertically on the fabric strip. (This feature is totally awesome. You put the button that you want to use in the back of the special foot, pick the correct setting, and press "play." If your machine doesn't do this, stop in a machine shop sometime and ask them for a demonstration of this feature; it's pretty life-changing if you like to sew clothes.) I opened all the buttonholes as you usually would, with a seam ripper, and then just whipstitched, by hand, each fabric strip to each knitted button band using thread the color of the sweater. Typically, if you use a ribbon you usually don't stitch down the inside edge. But with fabric you have a folded/hemmed edge instead of a finished edge and so I sewed it down.

I should also mention that my linings here are a bit different than the way you would do them if you've steeked your sweater. (This sweater was knit back and forth, not steeked.) Usually the lining ribbons on steeked sweaters are used to cover the cut edge of the steek itself, and I've always seen the ribbon falling just shy of the buttonhole. But I suppose you could make the lining or ribbon wider and do buttonholes in that, too, as I've done here. It's a bit of a laborious process but after all of that knitting, it's really nothing, and such a nice way to finish a sweater. If you've done this, or if you have any suggestions of questions, let me know. I'd love to hear them.

Mimi and I went to the fabric store yesterday and she helped me pick out the buttons so I sewed those on when I was done with the bands. I'm wearing the sweater as I write and couldn't be happier with it.

So Nice

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I had the nicest birthday. Every minute of it was so nice. It's wonderful to have a birthday fall on a Sunday! I loved it. I had a plan to make my birthday cake (I decided, after all, to do the usuals) and then make bolognese sauce and stuffed shells (from Craig Claiborne via my NYT cooking app). Stuffed shells have been my favorite food since childhood. Andy and Amelia went grocery shopping and got some very fancy ingredients, including handmade ricotta cheese, which was delicious. I made the sauce (but forgot to add the basil and cream at the end) and then my back was bothering me from sitting in the wrong chair for too long at lunch at our neighbor's the day before (it seems fine now) so A & A took over and made the cheese filling and assembled the shells for me while I knit and watched ice skating. It was great. Outside it was cold and gray but inside it was warm and cozy. I got sweet presents and cards and texts and talked on the phone a lot. Before we ate the cake, we put the big camera on the tripod and took some timer selfies of the three of us, which was so much fun. My mom had been reorganizing some things in her house and found a picture of my grandpa with me when I was a baby. She found it in his passport, where he apparently kept it for years and years. I was really touched, and I don't think I've ever seen exactly that picture before. The other picture is of my dad holding me above his head while my sister watched. He used to do this with us all the time. We're standing in front of his teal blue Cadillac. My dad passed away on my birthday, eighteen years ago. It's always a bittersweet day. But I was surrounded by love and family and friends and food and animals and light and warmth, which was the best present in the world.

Here's a delicious present for you:

Stuffed Shells from Craig Claiborne/New York Times

Bolognese Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup (2 ounces) bulk sausage
1/2 cup onion chopped fine
1/3 cup celery diced fine
1/2 cup carrot diced fine
1/2 pound beef ground fine
1/2 pound pork ground fine
2 chicken livers, chopped fine, about 1/3 cup
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt to taste, if desired
Generous grinding of black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups imported canned Italian plum tomatoes
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy saucepan or casserole and add the sausage, onion, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring, until onion is wilted.

Add the beef, pork and chicken livers and cook, stirring down with the side of a heavy metal spoon to break up lumps, until meats lose their raw look. Add the rosemary, nutmeg, salt, pepper, wine and tomato paste. Stir to blend.

Puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender or crush them by hand. Add the tomatoes and the broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer, skimming the surface of fat, 1 1/2 hours.

Stir in the basil and cream and remove from the heat.

 

Ricotta Cheese Filling (stuffs about 18 large shells)

2 cups (1 pound) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup finely diced Mozzarella cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup finely chopped prosciutto
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drop jumbo shells into boiling water and cook about 10 minutes or until tender but not overcooked. Drain.

Spoon layer of sauce over bottom of casserole large enough to hold stuffed shells in one layer.

Fill each shell with equal portions of ricotta cheese mixture. Arrange shells stuffed side up in casserole. Spoon remaining sauce over shells. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake 25 minutes.

Happy New Year!

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Well, hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! Hello. Happy New Year! I hope yours is starting out well. Lazy days turned into lazy weeks, here. It was glorious. It snowed. Things got cancelled. Things got rescheduled. Family came. Family went. The house got trashed. Movies were watched over and over. I knit and knit. Toys were played with. Books were read. Lots of treats were eaten. Lots of snuggling happened. Lots of days involved no driving whatsoever. Lots of mornings started incredibly late. Lots of baths got taken. Antidote to occasional intrusions of holiday stress: hours of mind-tranquilizing tasks. Like knitting row upon row upon row of stockinette stitch. Winding about a hundred skeins of embroidery floss onto tiny plastic bobbins and arranging them by color into boxes (a job that has needed doing for YEARS now). Cross stitching, ripping out, stitching again. Middle age descends: here's me, sitting in my cozy corner under a comforter doing these things while wearing a new flannel nightgown and watching Just in Time for Christmas. My happy place. I think I was purring. Ohhhhh, you know. It was lovely. I needed it. We all did. I hope your holidays were just as wonderful.

I blocked and put buttons on my Ellen Cardigan (still have yet to put it on Ravelry, sorry) and oh, how I love that thing. I'm really proud of it. It's the third or fourth sweater I've knit for myself and the first one that's ever fit me perfectly. As I mentioned before, I followed the colors of the original pattern exactly, and I made no modifications to the knitting (size 48). I loooooove it. I immediately started  another one based on the exact same sweater pattern, but changing the yoke design. For a while now I've been wanting to make the Ryðrauð sweater but I was nervous about doing any sweater from the bottom up, or, honestly, any sweater other than the Ellen (from now on, forever and ever) because I find it almost traumatizing to make sweaters for myself that don't fit. As I said, I've only made a handful for myself but, if I'm honest, there is something about every one of them that I just don't like. The neck on my Ramona cardigan is just way too big and falls off my shoulders. My Strokkur I made too short and I'm constantly pulling it down (well, I would be constantly pulling it down if I actually wore it). My Birkin sweater was tragic (yoke too deep, my colorwork too puckered, the neckline too funneled, body too big, sleeves started way too low on me, etc.). It just doesn’t fit my shape well. And that was size XL in fingering-weight yarn [shrieking]. I’ve seen plenty of people make this pattern now and it looks so gorgeous on them in all of the photos I’ve seen, but I just didn’t succeed with it. I don't have very much experience knitting adult-sized garments and I find it to be very intimidating and weirdly heartbreaking when I do finally take the plunge and it just doesn't work out. I know I should just chalk it up to experience but I don't. Instead, I just stop trying. But for some reason the Ellen Cardigan seemed like it would work out for me and then it did, and I don't know that I've ever been so happy with anything that I've ever made for myself, sewing included, and it gave me a lot of confidence. It was such a good feeling. Has that ever happened to you?

So, back to the Ryðrauð. I first saw Lori's version of that sweater a few years ago and I just thought it was so pretty. But, as mentioned, immediately after finishing Ellen I was nervous about ever making a sweater that doesn't fit like Ellen. So I took the Ellen colorwork chart for my size and figured out (on my cross-stitch software) a modified, simplified version of the Ryðrauð flowers that would fit right into the Ellen yoke and also could be done from the top down. And that kind of looked like this:

MyYokeSweater

I really had no idea how to do the chart the right way re: the repeat, so this is the whole yoke. Pffff! It worked out pretty well, except that as you can see there are huge spaces between the contrast color stitches of the taller motifs on the first few rows. I tried to float the yarn as loosely as I possibly could but it's still puckering a bit so we'll just have to see how it goes. But I think it's okay-enough. Also, I knit the neckband directly onto the yoke in the navy blue version; the Ellen has you pick that up last and I found that it curls a bit (and also makes the buttonholes space out rather poorly at the top, then).

Anyway, this morning I was trying to get caught up with my overflowing and neglected email in-box (yes, I pretty much suck at everything that has to do with answering all but the most urgent emails, even on my best days) and noticed that a blog reader named Kristi (hi, Kristi!) had suggested that I watch a podcast from Nicole at The Gentle Knitter. I follow Nicole on Instagram and love her work so much but I didn't really know about the podcast. I tuned in to the first few episodes and was totally thrilled to find that she was (or, actually, had been a year ago) knitting the Ryðrauð sweater (also inspired by Lori's version)! Snap! Well, Nicole is, like, the most patient, lovely, gentle creature on earth and she explains everything in such a calming way and she has so many interesting things to say about the Ryðrauð that it is well worth watching if you are interested in knitting it. She also talked about how you can catch long floats on the back of the sweater and I didn't even know that, so I will definitely have to look into that for next time. Also, I don't know, but if this navy version works out and I find myself with at least two sweaters in my closet that I love to wear, I might branch out a little more and risk making more things for myself. I purled the colorwork, above, and it's kind of a giant pain. So, all this is to say that 2018 might be my year of steeking more sweaters (I've only done it once before, for Mimi), and that's kind of an exciting feeling.

Ramble, ramble. I haven't gotten out too much lately.

What kind of cake should I make for my birthday?

This Little Light

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Christmas is coming. Funny how it makes you think of things. I was thinking about how my dad always saved all of his Christmas shopping for Christmas Eve day. I'd go with him to the Oak Park mall. We called it the mall then — it was a pedestrian mall where Lake Street used to be and now is again. In those days the street was closed and it was all pedestrian. When we were done we'd go to one of the two old-fashioned-type restaurants on the mall. I wish I could remember what they were called. One was on the corner, across from the bank. And the other one was a few doors down from the theater. They were both the types of places that served club sandwiches and Crab Louie and milkshakes in those tall glasses with the rest of it given to you in the big metal tumbler. At home my dad would burn frankincense and myrrh and cedar cones, and our relatives would come for Christmas Eve evening, or we'd go to my aunt and uncle's, or my grandparents', or my cousins' in Chicago. It was fun. It would snow, or there would be snow. It would surely be freezing. We'd be tired on the way home, and fall asleep uncomfortably in the car, then not want to get out. I miss those days. Christmas makes you remember things.

Here at home, Mimi and I are lazy and warm. Andy's just finishing up his stretch of work then he is gloriously off for a few days. My family is coming here for Christmas Eve and I'm going to make lasagna with my mom's sauce and another yule log. My sister Susie is going to sleep over and make sticky buns for Christmas breakfast. Mimi and I have been eating rice pudding (just make some jasmine rice, then keep adding milk to it along with a cinnamon stick and some cardamom and cook it on low for . . . quite a while, actually — it will keep absorbing the milk and get thick and yummy; serve with cinnamon sugar and a bit of butter and more milk). We're going to bake chocolate sandwich cookies with peppermint frosting today. It's kind of ridiculous, how decadent all this is. We should eat raw vegetables for dinner. Likely, once again, we'll have ham sandwiches on waffles with mustard. Christmas.

I probably will be too busy then idle to come back here before Christmas, and, likely, you will be busy with your holidays, too. Thank you for all of your kindness here throughout this past year, and many past years. I wish you ever so much peace and love and light this season of celebrations and slowing. Slow days, laughter (and mania) of children, friendship, fellowship, family, lots of movies, good food, snuggly animals, and lots of love. I wish you all of that from all of us here. XOXO

With love,
Alicia, Andy, Amelia, Clover Meadow, and Bridget Paulson

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.