Posts filed in: Shop Talk

Spring Things

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Oh, lovely spring. I love spring. Cold rain, squelching lawns, worms and robins, daring daffodils. Magnolias are so gorgeous (at first). I'm watching for the grape hyacinths, which I love. At school there's a regular blooming hyacinth in the foyer. Its scent instantly takes me back to the hyacinths that Andy used to buy for me twenty-five years ago, when we were first living together in Missoula. Spring comes late in Missoula. Very late. But we often had a grocery-store hyacinth blooming on our table and that scent is so pleasing to me. I need to get one for the house.

I've been dyeing a lot of yarn and I love it so much. I reeeeeeeeeeally love it. I'm finding my way into it and learning so much. I wish I had more time to do it right now but it really takes a lot of time. I made all of the yarns in these pictures except the ones in that basket of yarn and granny squares (though I did dye the yarn for the one on the very top; and to those who have asked, the pattern for that square is linked to in this post). I've been knitting up and crocheting up some of my yarns to see what they look like in practice. It's SO EXCITING to see them worked up. Concurrently, I'm knitting up all of the garments I've designed in the past for my stuffed animals and getting ready to send them, along with the old patterns and some new patterns I'm working on, to the technical editor. Among other things, she's going to review everything for consistency and style as I plan to reissue all of the old patterns and the new patterns with new pictures for my girl dolls when they come out this fall. To that end, I'm working on some patterns that I'll work up specifically in these yarns I'm dyeing and offer small batches of mini-skeins made just for these dollie clothes. The skeins will be in sport-weight only, about 25g each, which will knit up almost everything in the collection (though a couple of things, like the tiny dress and the tiny hooded coat will need two skeins). Anyway, I don't know. I have plans. My little head is swirling with plans and ideas.

I'm so happy this has come into my life at this time. It's really resonating with me on so many levels and I don't even know why. This month is the 20th anniversary of my accident and I'm so grateful for all of the things that my disability has brought into my life. It's seriously thrilling to be learning something new. I have so much to learn and I am loving every minute.

Our last two cones of floss we need for Time of Flowers are arriving TODAY. THANK GOODNESS. We need to get on it! Once alllllllll of the floss has arrived today, then we can pull it. Once all of the floss is pulled, then we package and send. It should go fast once it's all here. So start watching for your shipping notices next week, and give them a couple of days to register within the USPS system before trying to track them. It's all happening, finally, and I thank you for your patience. I have my design for the next kit (for summer) all finished and my sample fabric has arrived for it so I'm ready to start stitching on that soon. I've finished all of the samples I want to show you for my cross-stitch post, and once we get the kits out I will write that post and make the PDF-only version of the pattern available as well.

Do you remember this little sweater I made a million years ago? I'm making Mimi another one with my yarns, above. This type of sideways sweater has always been my favorite — I think it's such a cool way to make a sweater!

***Oh yes — I forgot to mention again — yes, we will have approximately 60 more kits to sell beyond the original pre-order group that is now sold out, but I want to wait until all of the floss is pulled for the first group so that I make sure we have enough to sell immediately. If we don't have enough floss, I will just have to order more, which is not a big deal but will take a bit longer and I want to make sure I can give you an approximate shipping date before I release them. But as soon as we pull floss, I will know, and I'll make an announcement here. Thank you!

How did it take me so long to try dyeing yarn???

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Well, helloooooo. How are you? I've been here, there, everywhere, and nowhere. I had a fit in my office and tried to clean it, and it feels better. Andy took the week off and is going to clean out the basement, which is long overdue. I finished gathering my tax data to send to my accountant. I checked in on our last two back-ordered cones of embroidery floss for Time of Flowers kits and found that although they'd been ordered by me four weeks ago, the sales rep hadn't actually put the order through. This, or something like it, literally happens every time. Every. Time. Luckily, the cones had already come in on their own, or something, and they are shipping them out to me today. :/ The printed patterns are due to arrive here on Friday. So if those look good and the cones arrive next week, we'll still be on schedule to ship out of here at the end of the month. The fabric is all cut and waiting. I'm planning to write my cross-stitch post next week now that I'm kind of caught up with my other stuff. And, yeah. The usual. Life.

I made Amelia some pretty legwarmers from the Rambler legwarmers pattern by Derya Davenport, and the yarn is Eden Cottage Yarns Tempo 4-ply in Antique Rose.

In the kitchen, I bubble wool on the stove and make pretty colors. This has cracked open a whole new world for me. Andy backs up and watches the whoosh of my enthusiasm take over the house. I read probably twenty online tutorials about how to dye yarn with food coloring. Here's how I wound up doing it: I soaked a few mini-skeins (about 25g each) of sport-weight natural wool (and some was white angora yarn I'd had hanging around for years) yarn in water with a a few glugs of vinegar thrown in. (Disclaimer: I'm not precise about any stuff like this — I just go for it and see how it goes, FYI.) I whisked some Wilton's gel food coloring into a little pot of water on the stove, with some more vinegar. I moved the yarn into the dye pot and heated it up until it was almost simmering. Then I let it stay that hot for a while, until the dye was "exhausted." Do you know what that means? It means that all of the color has moved into the yarn and the water has turned clear again. Completely clear. It's really cool. Then I took the yarn out of the pot with tongs and let it cool down. They say you're supposed to leave it in the pot to let the water cool down, but I didn't do that. I couldn't figure out why you would have to do that, but maybe I'm missing something. Then I washed the wool with a bit of Dr. Bronner's soap and rinsed it (gently) and hung it to dry. I felted some of it in my impatience. Basically you want to not shock the yarn with drastic temperature changes or a lot of agitation. It also kind of depends on what kind of wool you have. The wool I got at the Pendleton outlet store, which they use to bind the edges of their blankets, did not want to felt much (though they insisted that it wasn't superwash). The Brown Sheep Nature Spun sport wanted to felt like crazy and did, when I wasn't careful.

I also made some speckled yarn by flinging cake sprinkles and dry Kool-Aid and other drinks powder at the damp yarn and then microwaving it. You can lay down some Saran Wrap and then dot the yarn with dye on a toothpick, or shake on some cake sprinkles, or drop on some food-colored powder, and then wrap it all up and microwave it for 30 seconds at a time until it is steaming. A few minutes. People say that sometimes the yarn burns, but mine didn't. Take it out, let it cool, then wash the candy off. Some of the dye colors struck and some didn't. I think I might not have had enough vinegar for some of the sprinkles to strike, though when they did it was great (and the Kool-Aid has citric acid in it, so that acts as an acid to help bind the color to the yarn). It was a fun experiment. I have so many plans to do some more. The fun thing about it is that all of these dyes are food safe, so you can just play around with them in your kitchen. I have no interest in doing other kinds of more complicated dyeing in the house, but just this is so much fun. I have an entire box of cake decorating supplies, so it was really simple to just start trying things out.

The dollie ballet sweater, above, is the Pendleton wool and I love it. It's a bit sticky to knit with but I think it's making brilliant doll sweaters. They're quite sturdy. I was going to do it in angora, but for several reasons I think I'm going to stick with wool. At night I'm in the process of re-editing all of the Little Animal Family knitwear patterns and designing new items for the new dolls that I want to launch this fall. I will be carrying a new line of sport-weight wool (Maine Line from Jagger) in a gorgeous palate for these patterns, and I'm also going to offer up some of my own hand-dyed yarn in mini skeins wound just for these patterns I've got planned for the dolls. Anyway, stay ye tuned for more on this in the coming months.

This soup was literally the best soup I've ever had in my life. You wouldn't think so, but it really was. I served it with the Anadama bread from Little T bakery and, wow.

Roasted Carrot, Parsnip, and Potato Soup
Adapted slightly from original recipe by Martha Rose Shulman for The New York Times

1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled and cut in 3/4 inch pieces
½ pound (2 large) parsnips, peeled, quartered, cored and cut in 3/4 inch pieces
1 medium or large red onion, cut in large dice 1 medium (about 6 ounces) Yukon gold potato, quartered
6 garlic cloves, in the skin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups chicken stock or broth, enhanced with a couple of extra teaspoons of Better than Bouillon chicken stock concentrate
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, tarragon or chives, for garnish
Crème fraîche for garnish (DO NOT LEAVE THIS OUT — it is amazing with this soup)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan or a baking dish with parchment or foil. Toss vegetables, including garlic cloves, with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread in baking dish or on sheet pan in an even layer and place in oven. Set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir vegetables and turn heat down to 400 degrees. Roast for another 20 to 30 minutes or until very tender and caramelized on the edges, stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. You should have about 4 cups roasted vegetables. Put them all in your big soup pot.

Hold garlic cloves with a towel so that you don’t burn your fingers. Squeeze out the pulp into the pot. Add the chicken stock and blend all with a stick blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper and heat through. Serve each bowl with a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs and if you wish, a swirl of crème fraîche or yogurt.

 

***Time of Flowers is sold out right now, though  we will have 60 more kits to put on sale as soon as I count up all floss we have left and let you know if we can ship at the same times as the other kits, or if these will be shipping a bit later than the original 400. Thank you to everyone who has ordered!

***Oh — and the PDF Only option for the Time of Flowers pattern will also be available in a couple of weeks, as well. I'll let you know. Thank you!

Spring Snow

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Ohhhhhh, it was wonderful. It's always like a dream. Just when I thought our chances for snow were gone for the season, we had a few of the most beautiful days I've ever seen. The first day, it had been lightly snowing without sticking most of the day. Around dinnertime, though, I looked out the back door and saw flakes as big as feathers. I've never seen such big snowflakes. They fell and fell, into twilight and through the night. It piled up. Sunrise was every shade of pink and white. I stood in the front yard in my nightgown taking photos at dawn. The day was like a dream. And then it all melted in a rush. By the following day, everything was gone. Spring snow. It was perfect and unexpected and even better for that.

Thank you soooooo much for all of the Time of Flowers kit pre-orders (and other orders)! I'm so happy with the response and thank you very sincerely for all of your orders. Right now we have 63 Time of Flowers kits left for pre-order. Andy cut fabric this weekend and we could even have another sixty extra, based on how much fabric we received, but I want to wait to make sure before I add them to inventory. I'm so glad that all of the numbers worked out okay. I always make my best guess on this stuff and this worked out just fine, which is such a relief. I get very stressed.

So, things are on track, fabric is getting cut, floss is on its way, the pattern just needs a final proofing and then it is off to the printer, and everything's well in hand. I even designed the next kit, for summer, last week and I'm hoping to start stitching it later next month. Yesterday, though, I was back to working on my new dolls and all of their MANY new outfits. I am hoping to have all of those launched for the fall, FYI to those who have wondered. This is going to be kind of a massive project for me, which will include reissuing a lot of the older clothes patterns separately from the animal patterns, either bundled or completely a la carte so that you can get lots of new clothes patterns for your doll when the dolls are launched. Today I'm trying to finish the ballet wrap sweater, now that Amelia is back in school (they had no school for conferences week last week), and will try to source some angora yarn for my shop. I'm going to start carrying a whole new line of yarns (still sport-weight wool, but in a really pretty color palette) for all of the new knitting patterns, too. Anyway, rambling again, but I have a ton of things on my mind, I'm sorry.

Anyway, I'm chipping away at everything, including the cross stitch tutorial I promised (the fabric for my samples for that post is on its way, too). Thank you again for all of your sweetness and and kindness and enthusiasm. I honestly can't express how much it means to me. I hope you know. It means so much. Thank you.

***I wish I could remember where I got the cookie cutter, but I can't! I searched my Etsy purchases and it doesn't look like it's in there. I got it online somewhere but I'm not sure where. I'm sorry. :(

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.

Frost Fields

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Oh, hello! How are you? I've been doing almost nothing but making dolls, doll dresses, doll stockings, doll capes, doll hair, doll sweaters, doll blouses, doll skirts, doll collars, and doll hats, and then remaking them trying to get them how I want them. It is so much fun. I have so many ideas. I'm thinking about all the details quite a lot. I dream about them at night and wake up with potential solutions in the morning. Then I try to work them out that night. Yesterday we forgot Amelia's ballet slippers and had to borrow some from the ballet mistress. She asked me what size slippers Amelia wore. I told her I wasn't sure, but said I knew what size my doll's feet were (16 sts around on size US5's in sport weight yarn). Everyone in the foyer laughed nervously. The teacher turned and asked Amelia. Amelia said she was size 11. I knew that!!! Sheepish.

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S.? We sure did. My family came and squeezed around our table and it was great. My sister Susie stayed on afterwards and made me laugh for hours with her work stories. Me, in nightgown, falling asleep: "Good lord, this story is taking forever!" Her: "Dude, I told you, I work 12-hour shifts! A lot of stuff happens!!!" On Friday I hung my two new prints that I got for my birthday last year from the English artist Jo Grundy. I had wanted these forever and I am so glad that I got them (for Andy to give to me [wink]). They inspired my mantel decoration this year, which is a frosty-winter-fields theme. Andy worked on Saturday and Amelia and I went out to Craft Warehouse and got some new little things: the lighted willow garland and a couple of little resin birds and her absolute favorite, the snowy owl. Believe it or not, I had almost everything else already, and a lot of it came from Craft Warehouse (a local indie craft store here in the Portland area) over the past few years. The little wooden plinths and the woolly trees and the metal houses (not sure where those were from, actually) and the cottonwood wreath I already had. Andy's grandfather carved the tall Santa many years ago. We bought a spray of fake frosted fern leaves and cut them off and scattered them around, along with a couple of little bottlebrush trees and juniper sprigs. The teapot was from Goodwill for $3. The snowflake garland I've had for years and years, and the stockings are from Etsy. We couldn't find Amelia's bunny stocking but I think it's in with the Christmas ornaments; we're getting our tree this weekend and I'm sure we'll find it when we open those boxes. Speaking of, Andy brought up everything seasonally related from the basement — Christmas stuff, other fake-foliage stuff for spring and fall that makes Andy insane, wreathes and such. We went through it all on Sunday and that was sort of an exhausting exercise. At some point while Andy was still cleaning I tried to pluck Amelia from the fray and took a bath while she played on the side of the tub. This is one of our favorite winter activities. I love winter baths and I never cease to give thanks for them, and for hot water. Afterwards, when everything in the living room was clean and pretty, Andy put on carols and made us some hot chocolate and it felt like the perfect start to this lovely (my favorite) season. Winter is here. I wish you peace and warmth and kind shelter and love in the days ahead. XOX

Wild Week

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Good morning, my friends. Hello, hello. I hope you are well! We've been well and buuuusy! Which I like, but now I'm tired. I didn't even take any pictures this week. But we have all of the First Snow pre-orders out and on their ways to you. The downloadable PDF-only version of the design is now available here. (And yes, the kit is still available, no problem — it is here.) I hope you like this pattern and kit. I wound up doing all of the shipping myself — Stacey was in Japan and is now back but will be taking more classes in January and won't have time to work with me anymore (tears). Andy and I wound up doing everything on this kit together. He pulled all the floss and cut all the fabric. I stuffed all the kits and did the shipping. But it was quite an excellent experience for me to do all of the shipping myself again. It's been a long time since I've done it. I found it very poignant, and got a little bit emotional. I love seeing everyone's names, and your addresses, and your streets and towns and cities and countries. I recognized sooooo many names from over so many years of doing this. It made me think of all the years, and all of our conversations, and all of your comments and your sweet notes and just . . . I don't know. How much I love all of this and how lucky I am to do it and how, when I was a little girl I think I actually always wanted to do this. My parents were into mail order and they had a few little businesses throughout the years. I had my first mail order business when I was thirteen. It was called Autumnbrook Farm and I made model-horse blankets and saddle pads and little stuff like that. I made enough money to buy a pair of really pretty dark-brown suede chaps at Hinsdale Tack Shop and I wanted to write a tearful letter of gratitude to the readers of Just About Horses magazine (where I advertised), thanking them for their orders of tiny horse halters and for making my greatest dream (chaps) come true. I did love those chaps so much. I guess I thought better of it then and did not submit that particular letter to the editor, but I feel the same surge of emotion every time I get orders and every time I ship. Thank you. You'll notice that my handwriting on your postcards looks deranged. Sorry about that. I don't really write by hand anymore ever. Do you? Compared to how much you used to? It's so weird! I was speed-writing, admittedly. But I can usually write much more nicely, FYI.

Anyway, so, thank you for everything you do here and for all of your kindness and support. I means more to me than I regularly say. XOXOXOXO

I've spent the last few days working on a new doll design based on my animal patterns. She will have the same body shape and size and will be able to wear all of the same clothes. The idea for her sort of exploded out of me the minute I was finished shipping everything. I actually do get a lot of ideas in the shower. It's really cliched but true. It's the only time I'm just sitting there not doing anything else at all. I think I had thought about doing a girl doll for a long time but I didn't really know it. I started cutting and sewing in every little spare minute, littering the living room with needles and felt and floss and yarn in a way that I haven't done in a while. My first animal patterns came out maybe in . . . 2013? It's been a few years. Maybe it was 2014. People ask me about whether we'll make more of those kits (there are five animals total). And no, we won't. There will now be these new doll kits sometime this spring, though. I've been thinking relentlessly of all the ways to do it. Andy cracks up when I have the making-fever. I read him the list of all of the clothes I had planned for the doll: new blouse, new skirt, and cable sweater, cardigan sweater, beret, flounce-collar blouse, cape, cable cowl, knitted skirt, bloomers, pixie bonnet, detachable collar, lace legwarmers. Your basic insanity. He gets me. Right now the doll prototype looks mildly feral. This is possibly no coincidence. I've turned into a wild animal.

I made a pattern for a Santa Lucia (which is December 13) crown with hellebore flowers, mistletoe, and holly for you. My model was freezing when I took her picture in her nightgown on top of Mt. Tabor on the only not-raining (though totally freezing) day we had a couple of weeks ago. She is part Viking-descendant but she doesn't like the cold. I love her.

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The pattern is free and you can download it here: A Flow'ret Bright Winter Crown Sewing Pattern. The candles are removable, so you could take them out and just wear the crown. It's adjustable in the back (elastic) so you can make it any size you want. I hope you like it.

It's Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. We're having Thanksgiving here at our house and I expect we'll get our Christmas tree this weekend, and maybe start decorating. We usually do, anyway. I'll be back to show you next week. Until then, I wish you all a wonderful, wonderful week of peace and joy and slowing as we enter the holiday season. I'm very grateful for all of the love and kindness and deep thoughts and un-deep thoughts and humor and joy you share with me constantly. It helps me understand the world and understand myself so much better than I would otherwise. You all bring light to our days here and for that I sincerely thank you. Thank you. XOXOXO

Full Swing

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We're in it, here: full fall swing. Halloween came and went in a frenzy of costume-sewing/meowing/negotiating for candy. Kids are so obsessed with candy!!! Amelia says she wants one piece of candy after dinner after she accomplishes her "chores." The things she considers her "chores" include: setting up the pillows on the couch in a nice way and propping up various stuffed animals at charming angles to greet me when I come back downstairs after putting her to bed; putting her eighteen pairs of shoes and boots back in her baskets instead of leaving them in the middle of the floor; hanging up her coat instead of dropping it in the middle of the floor; putting away her scarf and hat instead of dropping them in the middle of the floor; climbing on all manner of furniture to reach the wood blinds to pull them down and close them before she goes up to bed; remembering to wash her hands without being told after going to the bathroom. Hrmmmmmmm. . . . Good deal for her, eh? These are all the things she is supposed to do anyway. . . . Maybe it's really a good deal for me. Now she does all of them in lightning speed while singing the clean-up song and then comes skidding to a halt in front of me, smiling and holding her cupped hands out to receive her treat. I don't bribe with sugar under normal circumstances, but hellity hell it really works! Good thing she only has three pieces of candy left. This is too easy. . . .

THANK YOU for the discussion on working from home vs. renting a remote space. That was really fascinating and I truly appreciate so many of you taking the time to share your experience and thoughts with me. I really needed to hear all of that and I am so appreciative of the perspectives. I would only be going to an off-property space during the time that Amelia is in school, and I would still probably keep my sewing stuff here, but honestly, I really am now thinking it's probably too complicated and too expensive to consider. I think I have fantasies of having a really cool, big, shared, white-washed space where other people would be hanging out doing creative things, and I could have room to store my stuff and still have it all within reach, and also not have it anywhere in the living space. Like, embroidery floss, for instance. When we work on kits, we have a palette of probably sixty? seventy? different colors that I routinely use in my designs. Each color has a big, fat 500g cone of floss. For kits, we break down the big cone by winding it onto several different smaller cones, depending on how many strands of that color you need in a kit. So in First Snow, for instance, we have over thirty colors and over fifty separate lengths of floss. Each length needs its own cone since we pull all the floss at the same time. So that's a lot of cones sitting in the office over the weeks that we are working on this. It's just not realistic to be schlepping them up and down from the basement every day. Felt and fabric, too — they take up a lot of space. Welllllll, you get it. But honestly, I took every single comment truly to heart and you gave me so much to think about. And I think the obvious conclusion Andy and I came to was that we need to clean out the basement thoroughly, and think of more creative storage solutions right here on our property. We have a pretty small basement, as half of the house only has a crawl space underneath it. We do have attic storage, although it's truly just storage, not standing room, and you have to use a ladder to get up into it through the ceiling in the hallway. But these are all just details I need to think through more thoroughly, and I think I can do that, especially when I have more time to think. As I said, I definitely have time to decide, as we wouldn't be doing anything (except reorganizing here) until the year after next. But just reading through everything you wrote gave me a more hefty appreciation for all of the great things about working from home, and that was really helpful, so thank you.

It's about the most blustery, Winnie-the-Poohish day you could imagine here today. The trees are whipping around outside my rain-spattered window, and the wind is howling. I keep hearing things thwack against the house and the porch. Tonight is our school lantern walk, and I don't know how those little lanterns are going to stay lit in this gale. I've been cooking and baking lately. I made a frittata like Megan's with roasted delicata squash, sauteed mushrooms, fresh spinach, and chevre, and it was delicious. I made the NYT's curried cauliflower soup and it was really nice, especially with the famous but no-less-delicious-for-that Dutch oven no-knead bread. I did Mark Bittman's speedy version as well as the long version, and quite honestly, there was no appreciable difference that I could taste or tell, so it's Version Speedy for us from now on, and bread in 4.5 hours. That bread is so good. I mean, what in the world? How is it even possible to get something that tastes like this out of a regular kitchen, with so little effort? I can't even deal with it. I don't even like bread that much (unless it's really, really good) but that thing is amazing. I've made it probably ten times over the past few years and it works every time. I also made Mark Bittman's Everyday Pancakes and those were very good. I've totally been getting my money's worth out of my New York Times Cooking subscription and highly recommend it. Everything I've made from it has been great. I love surfing it on my iPad for relaxation. The photos are beautiful. I don't know. I needed some cooking inspiration, and this has been good for me. I seem to need a lot of hand-holding in the kitchen. I love to cook but even after all of these years of cooking I absolutely need recipes. I cannot think of a single thing that I know how to cook by heart. Not one single thing! I'm also kind of a picky eater, so, in all honesty, a lot of cookbooks don't really work that well for me as anything other than inspiration or eye candy, because I find that I might make one thing out of the whole book. Maybe two. I keep the books because they're beautiful. But they aren't that practical for the way I cook. I totally cherry pick, and I like the "search" function. Anyway, this isn't an ad — I mean, I guess it is, but it's unintentional — I have just been happy with that subscription and it's getting me out of my cooking shell, or rather my non-cooking shell, and Andy and I are both happy about that. Maybe it's also just the season of cooking for me. I love fall and winter food so much more than summer.

I've also been knitting hats and gloves and cowls. I don't have any photos of any of them, apparently, but I will take some. I'm using this pattern and have bought lots of colors of Worsted Twist yarn in many of the same colors they show to make us a bunch of stuff that we need for cold weather, and I'm really enjoying this kind of knitting — lots of stockinette, lots of knitting in the round, nothing very complicated, small things that go quickly and feel soft and warm and utterly practical. I seem to need a lot of direction lately. It's kind of a wonderful relief, I have to say.

Fall Frolics

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Happy Halloween to you! We have a fluffy pink kitters here that hasn't stopped meowing for three days. She's also hardly taken her plushy duds off since they were finished (by me, and no, I don't enjoy sewing polarfleece, but this is what she picked out, and it is, at least, very forgiving to sew!). Her fur is already matted and filthy, mostly from crawling around on all fours (while meowing), which cracks me up. She's showing you her paw here, FYI.

Thank you sooooo much for the First Snow pre-orders! Yaaaaay! I'm thrilled. We are going to go ahead and make all 600 kits that we have enough floss for. This should get us all the way to Christmas without selling out, so I'm very pleased that there is interest in this. The fabric has been ordered, the pattern is finished will be sent to print tomorrow, and Andy is going to pull floss for me this time. So we are on-track, and I will keep you abreast of our progress. We'll ship as soon as we have everything together; I'm still thinking it will be about three weeks (and the PDF-only option will be available at that time, too). But again, thank you so much for your enthusiasm for this design. I couldn't be happier with the response, and I will be doing a few informational cross-stitch posts between now and ship time. I've been meaning to do these for a while, so I'm looking forward to them.

The weather here has been ridiculously excellent. We never get autumns like this — crisp, cool, colorful, crunchy, perfect. We've been sincerely spoiled this year, and it's really nice. We've been able to get outside quite a bit and it's been wonderful. Today is Halloween, and the weather is gorgeous. I'm so happy for all of the kids!

I've been toying with the idea of moving my office out of the house. I would love to hear what those of you who work at home OR have space to work outside the home think about it. I've been working at home for seventeen years. It has mostly been a wonderful experience. But as Amelia gets older I'm wondering if we need more space for living instead of me working. Posie is pretty bulky. Right now my business takes up two fairly large rooms in our fairly small house. We've thought about building a second story over my studio, which is already an addition (built by the previous owner). But it's too expensive. We've thought about maybe putting a shed in the backyard, but the yard's too small and I think the shed would be too small for what I really need. I really like the convenience of working at home. But it does feel isolating sometimes. I feel like I'm in the house too much sometimes, and I get antsy. But maybe I just need to take myself out to lunch. I've thought about getting a studio space closer to where Amelia will be going to school next year, which is about twenty-five minutes away, so that I can be working while she's in school and I'm not driving back and forth quite so much. But that neighborhood doesn't really seem to have any spaces available, at least ones that are advertised. You know what neighborhood does? My own neighborhood. :/ Womp womp. Sort of defeats half of the purpose. Also, I don't know if I could afford to pay rent on a space outside of the house, because my dumb neighborhood has gotten so trendy and expensive. Oh, decisions, decisions. What do you think? Any thoughts about this? I'm in no rush, but this will be a future consideration, and I feel like I want to get my bearings on it. If you've lived either of these experiences, I'd love to hear your advice.

First Snow Available for Pre-Ordering

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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

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.