Randommmmm

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CatCloset1

I mean, look at her expression, as she's walking back and forth across all my newly hung hanging clothes (I cleaned my closet). Naturally she's giving me the stink eye. She walked back and forth across here several times, wobbling, meowing, knocking my clothes of their hangers, and looking supremely annoyed by it all every minute, even though she’s the one who put herself up there somehow and chose to stay. Alicia. Why would you put a clothes' closet here where I'm trying to walk?” Ah, we humans are such idiots, I know. This morning I went down to my office and was bewildered by the presence of dried flower petals all over my work island, which I'd literally just cleared and completely wiped down the night before. Looking up, I saw all my cute dried flowers hanging from my cute little driftwood ladder suspended from the ceiling. And now I know what Agatha did last night. Generally she likes to break into my yarn cabinet and drag skein after skein of worsted all the way up the stairs to the second floor, and then drop them all over the hallway while we sleep. But I also cleaned my yarn-cabinet area up and put all the yarn away AND locked the door on it with a twisted rubber-band so apparently she had to find something else to do to wreak Aggie-havoc. She finds things to do that I didn’t even dream were things to do.

For yes, it's been chaotic around here. I've been scrambling to get a handle on it all but no, my taxes still aren't done, my driver's license is expired, the back yard looks abandoned, there are magazines all over the bathroom, yarn all over the house, and, even though my new assistant Ivy is leaving for the summer on June 1, I haven't started any of my summer designs yet.

Nevertheless, I do say to myself every single solitary day, Girl, you did the best you could. I do say that. I say that to the pile of coats, boots, and shoes piling up in Amelia's outerwear corner of the dining room; and Andy's Snack Central bags of chips, salts, and popcorn seasonings scattered on top of our red Ikea cabinet and on top of the cookbooks up there (bags of Funyuns, on top of the cookbooks, good lord); and of course detritus from my own fourteen new hobbies (resin, polymer clay, pottery, and, naturally, metal-smithing among them) covering any available surface. I look around and I say that to all of those things. Girl, you did the best you could today. For what it's worth. Someday I'll get there. Meanwhile I sit on the bed with a giant breadboard on my lap, making soap dishes out of clay and re-watching season 1 of Keeping Faith because Where the hell is Evan??? Season 2 just came out so I will soon know!

THANK YOU thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your orders of my new spring designs and all of the soap and lotion bars and yarn I released. I sometimes cry in the studio and I did cry while packing all of these things, from gratitude and maybe just a little bit of exhaustion but mostly gratitude for all of you and your generous orders and patience and interest in and support of my ideas. Thank you. It means more to me than I can say. My words feel so awkward and hard to find anymore so I don't write often. But I thank you for being here still.

I wrote on my Instagram that Andy and I have been making soap together again, and this, too, takes up much of my sunshine daydreams, thinking about soap and planning for new soap. Milk soap, aloe soap, baby soap, pink soap. We've made two 3.5-pound batches every weekend for the past four weeks. I must say, oh my, I don't know why, but the soap is coming out SO GOOD. Something is good! Maybe we're finally figuring it out. We made an executive decision to stop using anything but natural ingredients in our soap, so no micas or synthetic fragrance oils at all — only natural colorants and essential oils and perhaps pure botanical oils for fragrance. So far we've made a beautiful, creamy pale-pink scented with Ylang Ylang; a pretty seafoam blue scented with Clary Sage and Bergamot; a dull, chalky lavender scented with Bulgarian lavender and peppermint; and the one I'm calling "Dreamsicle," which is a pale rosy orange with cream, scented with orange, pink grapefruit, and balsam Peru (which smells like vanilla), like our Summer Day lotion bar. The bars are cut to 1.5 inches wide, or about 7.5 ounces each, and they are whoppers. They’re huge. And there's just something so beautiful about the big soap. It's so creamy and has these sort of creamy waves on the top that I just smoosh on with a spoon. The consistency of the soap when it's wet is like pastry cream or pudding, but even smoother. It's so satisfying to just mush a spoon through it. It's so pure and beautiful and it smells so good. It plops into the molds with such a ploppy, puddingy sound. I love it. After we put it all in the molds I just lean on the counter and stare at it for a long time. It takes six weeks to cure.

I was thinking about something I think I've written about before — I'm sure I've written about this before but I don’t remember when. I was thinking about this little jewel-box of a store called Essence that used to be on Lake Street in Oak Park, next to the Lake Theater where I worked as a candy girl when I was in high school. Essence sold Crabtree and Evelyn soaps and stuff and all sorts of pretty apothecary stuff, perfumes and soaps and potpourri sachets. The store was the shape of a rectangle with a center entrance and had wooden tables in the center and dark wood shelves on all the walls, and it just smelled so good in there. I used to spend so much time in that store, usually before work at the theater. I still think about it all the time!!! So weird! I also remember this other store that was in Galena, Illinois, on the Mississippi River, where I went for a weekend with my family when I was in high school, because my parents were thinking of buying property out there. There was an apothecary store there, too, and I think it was in an old barn? Maybe? It had dried flowers hanging from the ceiling and it sold herbs and soaps and bath stuff, I think. It was dark and warm and fragrant, like a Tasha Tudor sort of place. And I always remember that because my dad said to me that day that I should own a store like that when I grew up. And I was so flattered. Usually the things he wanted me to do only ever royally pissed me off (I won't get into it, but let's just say I did not want to learn to do martial arts — not judging martial arts but I had zero interest) and he also usually did not say very nice things in general. I remember the few that pleased me, and this was one. Another was that he told me, at my cousin Michele's wedding, before I was dating Andy, that he thought I should marry a hobby farmer and have a rural life (I would've done that). Another one was that I reminded him of Sigourney Weaver, and I will never forget that. I remember those three things. Those things aligned with how I saw myself or wanted to see myself and that was rare for us.

Anyway, I have this vision, those visions, of those places, around these soaps and I don't know why. I don't know if it is tapping into some childhood dreams of mine, or a fiercely beloved version of what I wanted my room to look like in high school (white, with whitewashed siding, and lavender-blue stuff, and dried lavender hanging from the ceiling, and rafters, and a little window, and slanty ceilings, and I swear I got this from an old Laura Ashley catalog I had and can no longer find even though I literally bought all the ones from 1983-1987 on eBay several years ago, I had such a longing to see whatever picture it was that I was "remembering," though I never have found it. Did I make it up?), or something sweet and beautiful that is just literally soothing me right now, in these days. I don't know. I spent a long time looking at '80s calicos again on eBay the other night, thinking this time of how they would look in little strips wrapped around soap. So I guess I haven't gotten it all out of my system. Maybe I'm just homesick. I don't know. I don’t know what it is. Or why it’s happening now.

What's your favorite kind of soap and do you use handmade soap? Do you think about this?

Oh — and also — I went to my P.O. box for the first time in over a year, and thank you very much for all of your kind notes and gifts! I am so sorry it has taken me so long to pick them up! I have not done a good job responding to emails and other contacts this year, and I hope you'll forgive me. I sincerely thank you and am hoping to respond personally soon. XO

Spring Things Now Available!

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Oh man, this morning I was just lying in bed in my nightgown drinking a second cup of coffee watching soap-pouring videos on Instagram at 8:50 a.m. thinking, "Gosh, Andy's got some work to do, he really needs to make sure Amelia is logging in for school, yeah buddy" when I remembered, "Oh mercy mercy me I'm having a sale in one hour and ten minutes and I haven't written my blog post!" Forgive! I am linking every one of these pictures to its product page, which, according to Shopify's new feature, is scheduled to automatically go live at 10 a.m. PDT. Let's see if this works! Above is Whan That Aprille, the first in my 2021 seasonal series. There will be one for each season, starting with this one for spring. The Whan That Aprille PDF pattern is here.

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Above is my new hoop=framed design, Spring Wreath. The kit comes with the printed pattern, floss, fabric, ribbon, and hoop for framing. I just love this one. The Spring Wreath PDF is here. There will be a summer and a fall coming in 2021.

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Okay, this: This is my baby. This is the Flower & Frond  embroidered jewelry kit. It contains a whole lot of what you need to make four embroidered necklaces and one pin. I think my method for mounting the jewelry is a bit different than other tutorials I've seen. Mine is better. I'll tell you all my secrets. We are only making 200 of these kits. I never know if I am going to reissue kits once they are sold out. There is no PDF-pattern-only available for this design. The instructions and templates are specific to exactly these findings that I have sourced. I'm excited and nervous to launch this one! I've never done a kit like this before! In fact, there is nothing even remotely like this available anywhere that I can find. I can't wait to see what you make with it.

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I dyed some yarn. There isn't much but it sure is springy. The worsted-weight skeins are here.

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Fingering-weight is here.

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There are stitch markers made by me.

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A very, very small amount of soap. But we're definitely making more.

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A few Early Spring lotion bars. (And we are definitely making more lotion bars, though probably not any more of these, very soon.)

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Oh! And some finished hand-embroidered jewelry! You know I never do this. But I did it.

We also have restocked Dovegray Doll kits, Time of Flowers kits, Love and Joy kits, and a few Misselthwaite Mitts kits.

Let me know if you have any questions, and thank you so very, very much for your interest and support! XOXO, alicia

UPDATED, 1:03 p.m.: Andy and Amelia just made a few Forest Flower and Summer Day lotion bars! Homeschool!

UPDATED AGAIN, 1:19 p.m.: Yep, I can combine shipping if you place two orders. No problem! :) You don't even need to let me know; the computer should find them and I will refund extra shipping charges from multiple orders at the end (refunds are on a different app on a different computer than shipping).

Web Site Update: Tomorrow, March 18, at 10 a.m. PDT

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Been busy! Lots of pretty new things for spring! I'll be back to talk about them tomorrow! XOXO, a

Waking Woods

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9Woods1

Headed toward home plate on a year of this. It's hard to remember how we did things. Did Amelia actually go to school with a roomful of other kids? Did I sit side-by-side with the moms on the playground and talk about genealogy and Shopify and in-laws? Did we eat at restaurants every other day? Did I take her to Ikea every other week to play on all the furniture? Did she touch everything in every room of the children's museum, where there isn't a single window and it smells like dirty diapers and microwaved food and lifesaving espresso? Did I sit in the front room of the ballet school, talking to sweetest Teacher Michelle and knitting as the high-school girls filed in and the little ones held hands and fell into each other's arms on the old couch? Was there ever a time when it wasn't just Amelia and me somewhere in the woods, building fairy houses, searching for tiny mushrooms, listening for woodpeckers, and hoping no one else shows up? I have a terrible time wearing a mask. My glasses just fog up no matter what I do and I can't stand it. My asshole eye doctor won't release my prescription to me so I can get new glasses because it's over four years old. Glimpsing another person coming from far down the trail fills me with adrenaline. God, I just hate the feeling. Hello, person fifty yards away! I'm terrified of you!

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The woods receive us nonetheless. Everything is still very chilly and very sleepy. There's usually at least one bird singing. The sound of traffic far off. The smell of red cedar. I watch the time because we have to get back so Amelia can go to math class online at 1:00. We drive-thru McDonald's for frozen lemonades and Happy Meals and eat them in the car, blasting Lizzo on the way home.

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Last week a nutria swam out of the beaver lodge and sat in front of a log in the water, staring at us. I had to rub my eyes because I couldn't believe it. Later he came up out of the pond right near where we were sitting and started snuffling around just yards away. It was adorable (however, invasive)! We sent a video to Andy. He's been at work a lot lately. I think we're both very tired (and our brand new hot tub is BROKEN). When he gets home there's a short, happy reunion and then I race to my room and shut the door and turn on the TV, knit something, call my friend, make some jewelry, surf Instagram, eat Chipotle carnitas burrito bowls delivered to the front porch by a rotating cast of GrubHubbers. I'm embarrassed by what my neighbors must think about how much I order GrubHub. I try to work. I've got spring stuff coming. My hand-dyed floss order got lost for a while at Weeks Dye Works so we're a bit behind, but it's here now and I'm hoping we'll launch stuff next week. Andy pulls the floss. It's kind of complicated. The cat has to be locked up the entire time. He's going to make more lotion bars soon. (The kid works hard. He does anything he can to help me every single day.) My new assistant Ivy is just a dream. And I still have my goal of reformatting my cross-stitch patterns for wholesale. I was supposed to do that in 2020. I still want to make it happen. Right now I desperately need to pull my stuff together to send to the accountant to do our taxes. Ugh. Whatevs. Send food and nap dresses.

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I started making resin jewelry. I enjoy this very much. I'm totally new at it. I learned a lot from my first batch: Let the resin sit for about fifteen minutes to get rid of some bubbles. Don't pour it in, just dab it with the popsicle stick. Don't ever put open bezels on whatever kind of packing tape I have (it sucked). Don't take the sticky residue off with a scratchy cotton ball (not sure how it can be scratchy, but it was?). I mean, in a lot of ways I did a mostly good job on my first batch. (I had watched a lot of tutorials about how to do it before I tried.) But I need more practice. I need to pop every single bubble. I bought a new full-face respirator and signed up for a beginner's metalsmithing-at-home class at Portland Community College that concentrates on all cold connections (no soldering). I want to make my own bezels. Right now I'm using the batch of them I bought online. I think my technique needs to get better before I use really nice bezels. All of the botanical material I used was from our yard or our walks in the woods. Tiny ferns, little Robert geraniums, plum blossoms, a few vinca and veronica from the parkway. All these sweet little baby greens keeping me from despair.

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I hope you are all well and finding vaccine appointments if you are eligible and finding ways to stay occupied until you are if you're not. I hope if you have little kids you are not fried. My friend told me yesterday that a local newspaper said that Oregon was going to have enough vaccine for all adults by the end of April. I want to believe that. Thank you for the emails and comments about the playlist. I'm so glad you like it! If you've made one, leave a link in the comments? Thank youuuuu. I'm grateful.

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February 2021 Playlist

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River

Note my extremely creative title of this playlist. Good, huh? I know. It's been a very long time since I've made a playlist, and this one has some songs from my old playlists that I hadn't listened to in a long time (probably since I made my last playlist, which has disappeared) but still like. I just got my own Spotify account. I usually listen to Pandora because I've worked on my stations there a lot (liking and not-liking things so that the station is more honed for you). My newest favorite Pandora station is Mother Falcon and that is still so varied for me that I never get tired of it. But Amelia is listening to music more often and Andy got a family plan on Spotify so we can each have our own accounts rather than kicking Andy off his at work whenever Mimi wants to listen to JoJo Siwa or I want to listen to Valerie June (yes, I've listened to that song probably a hundred times and tried to learn the words).

The last song, "Meaning" by Cascadeur, was played at the end of the last episode of Lupin (and if you haven't watched that, we totally loved it). The Michael Hurley song is in the movie Leave No Trace, which I though was an amazing film. (And thank you so, so much for the mystery and other show suggestions! I love them, and yes, I absolutely love Last Tango in Halifax! One of my favorite shows ever! Will be making my way through the rest of the list!)

 

Doing Random Stuff

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Jewel

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The biggest news in my life lately is that I bought a new duvet cover and king-size pillows. And also these shams. I just felt like our bedroom, which has become my Mom Cave, needed some cheering up. I also wanted those red gingham shams from Zara. They are a really weird size — they call them for "big pillows." A "big pillow" is 27.5" x 35.5". That's huge. That's like the length-of-a-standard-pillow high, and a yard wide. Those pillows sell for like $85+. There was no way I was paying that. I spent hours on Google looking for the same gingham shams (dark red gingham, not red gingham) but in a normal size (like, a king-size pillow, or even a standard) or big pillow inserts that weren't $85+. I Googled every word for dark red — maroon, wine, burgundy — and I couldn't find the right gingham that was like the Zara gingham. I finally found  floor pillows with yucky covers from Overstock that were the same size as "big pillows" but were about $30, I think. Then I gave up and ordered the Zara shams. I went totally crazy. I spent a week doing that.

So you see, you have missed nothing re: my lack of blogging.

Andy has received both doses of the vaccine, so that's been a huge relief. Amelia and I still live as if we are under house arrest but I don't care how long we have to wait, now that Andy is more protected. I send my prayers for all of you adversely affected by this virus. It's been hard. I'm eager for spring to start arriving. Amelia and I have spent many mornings watching for beavers at a local pond, but we're not having much luck. I need to start going very early in the morning because beavers are nocturnal, and I think they start heading home at dawn. . . .

I'm working on the three projects I told you about, and almost all of the things I've ordered for all the kits are here. The jewelry kit will include Weeks Dye Works hand-dyed embroidery floss, so that is still being dyed. The are going to be such nice kits. I am so excited for them. My assistant, Ivy, is working on cutting fabric and assembling jewelry pieces at her house and I'm trying not to overwhelm her with stuff to do — she has a full-time job and works for me only when she can. But we will get there. I'm hoping we can start shipping stuff sometime toward the end of March. I will definitely let you know when everything is ready.

Here's a list of the British mysteries and cop shows I have watched on BritBox and Acorn TV and Netflix this year: Happy Valley (my favorite), Vera, Shetland, Broadchurch, Scott & Bailey, Grantchester, No Offense, Dr. Foster, Unforgotten, The Sounds, The Nest, Marcella, Collateral, London Spy, and lots of Marple, Midsommer, and Morse. Also Loch Ness. What am I missing. Case Histories. I finished Catastrophe (loved it) and lost my mind for Normal People. Gosh that was good. What should I watch next?

It’s A New Year

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Happy New Year, guys.

Eeeee-yipes, am I ever lazy. That's January. I usually lay around. The other day I stayed in my nap dress and got back into bed and put my computer on my lap to work on my cross-stitch pattern and watched TV all day. It was glorious. Andy busted out laughing when he came upstairs and saw me, a stack of dirty dishes next to me on the nightstand. I'm finally starting to get into lockdown. Nowhere to go, no one coming over, nothing to do, no guilt about that! I did feel vaguely guilty about not even getting dressed. I only get to do things like this when Andy is home, of course. Generally he works four 12-hour days in a row, and yes, I am almost shrieking by the end of Day Four, especially when Amelia decides to throw a wobbly right at bedtime. Why is it only at bedtime?! It only seems to happen on Day Four. It's only Day Two today, so hopefully we're good. . . . I can’t take it.

Last night Agatha Kitten was just attacking me relentlessly for an hour! Biting my hands, stalking then lunging at me, and trying to jump up from the side of the bed to get under the covers and claw my feet. What is her problem! She was possessed. She just wouldn't stop. I put her in the hallway and shut the door and then she howled and banged on the door. I'm not kidding. I got up and let her in and she just started biting me again. She is a very bitey cat. It's been so long since I had a baby cat that I can't remember how long this attack-stage lasts. I remember Violet when she was little attacking my feet under the covers, too. That's very annoying. I'm ready for her to start acting a little more mature instead of like a rabid goblin. (And, BTW, she did very well with the Christmas tree and couldn't have cared less about it, but she was absolutely obsessed with the decorated mantel and went up there almost every day and tried to throw things off of it and knocked everything over regularly.) She has no fear and is utterly indifferent to our displeasure. But then she can be such a little lover! Agatha is like a Garbage Patch Kid. First she's sour, then she's sweet. Currently napping sweetly and adorably on the sofa next to me.

I cleaned the house for several hours yesterday. It was so messy. We put all of the Christmas stuff away and I redid my mantel with nothing but a few fake candles, a fake snowy owl, a little vase of fake eucalyptus, and two baskets. I ordered new curtains to cover the shelves on either side of the fireplace (they hold nothing but all of our photo album and old VHS tapes that we can't part with on one side, and a bunch of toys and junk on the other side). I used to have two matching curtains for those shelves but apparently one is lost. I might get two new lamps for the tops of those shelves. We just really need a change. I have two little Ikea lamps up there right now and I've probably had them for twelve or thirteen years. I don't like Ikea lamps because you can really only use Ikea lampshades with them (unless you want to do a clip-on, on the lightbulb). Ikea lampshades are kind of lame. I enjoy surfing Wayfair and maybe I'll do that later.

Andy got his first vaccine on December 26. He gets the booster in ten days or so, depending on his work schedule; I can't remember. So grateful for this. Beyond words.

I got a plug-and-play hot tub for my birthday! It's absolutely awesome. We go in it almost every day. It's really, really good. We need a cover lifter. I don’t enjoy staggering through the mud trying to heft a giant cover onto the table so we can get in when I’m here alone with Amelia.

Currently obsessed with documentaries and reality shows about polygamous cults and other cults. Naturally. Andy was mildly disapproving every time he came in and saw me watching Escaping Polygamy again, goggle-eyed, munching on my lemon cupcake in my nightgown and pointing at the TV like I can’t believe this! But then he'd sit down for one second and start watching it and couldn't look away! I told him! And have you watched Wild Wild Country? Rajneeshees in Oregon. Andy and I are glued. We have one episode left. Incredible story. Well worth watching this. ***Finished it: WOW. What a film. I highly recommend it.

Good times!

I have three embroidery kits I am working on. One is a new 6"x8" seasonal cross stitch (to fit an 8"x10" frame), one is another little hooped wreath (for spring), and one is the embroidered jewelry I was making last year. I'm trying to source everything for that now. I've never done this kind of kit. It will include four pendants with jump-rings and chains, and one pin. I think it's going to be really cool. I am happy with my cross stitch design; I was inspired by woodcuts and I think I have pretty good ideas for all of the upcoming seasons, too.

I hope you are all well and cozy. Tell me what January is like for you.

Love and Joy Come to You

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Oh, my, the sun is shining brightly through all the windows here today. The light is so beautiful. It makes the high-ceilinged stairwell glow. I've finished wrapping, shipping, and delivering all the presents — except for my poor sister-in-law's, whose gift is lost in the mail to me somewhere. I hope it turns up. We have the same birthday in a couple of weeks so it might have to be a birthday present. Amelia has the biggest pile of presents I've ever seen. (I saw a funny meme this morning: Kid: "Mom, I know it's not Santa who gets all of our presents, wraps them, and puts them under the tree on Christmas . . . it's Dad!" Mom: "I can, with 100% certainty, tell you that you are wrong.") I bought her a new American Girl doll and Andy got her a checkerboard that she's been asking for and another Lego set. Her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have given her the rest of the moon, and I think she is going to be thrilled when she sees what's under the tree. I know that Christmas is about more than the presents, but this is the first year Amelia has actually asked for anything (thanks to hours of TV watching, probably) and I think we are all happy to make those sweet, simple wishes come true for our girl right now.

The weeks have gone by in a bit of a blur. I knew Christmas would come quickly without all of the usual events. I haven't really tried to make up for that. It's been nice. We've baked stuff and learned about Christmas carols and played with the kitters and watched movies. There will be Zoom calls with families tomorrow, and present-opening for us, and Andy and I are going to make Swedish meatballs from scratch, with rice pudding and buttered noodles. My friend Amy gave me a caramel-apple crisp that she got from her realtor but couldn't eat because of allergies, so we will bake that up for our dessert. Andy works on Christmas Day, and I'm planning to watch The Sound of Music that afternoon with Amelia. I'm not sure she'll make it through the whole thing, but I will. I often watch Heidi or maybe an old version of A Christmas Carol on Christmas night. My dad loved that movie. For a few years when I was a kid I sang in the children's chorus of Oak Park's Village Players in their yearly production of Ebenezer (a musical version of A Christmas Carol). That always feels like "my" story, and I still love it.

Mostly I sit around knitting my Porty Cardigan and it has been a great project for these months. I have made many mistakes on it but none of them were deal-breaking, so I just keep going. I finished the first sleeve (see my Instagram for how I felt about it) and I'm starting on the second sleeve. This is a fingering-weight sweater in size XL so it feels like there are millions of stitches in it and it is literally taking forever. BUT I absolutely love the weight of this sweater — so much better for my climate and lifestyle than a worsted-weight sweater. So, I am already planning my next fingering-weight sweater, and I will probably use the Jamieson & Smith 2-ply yarn I bought for this one and didn't wind up using. First I have to finish this one, though, I know. I will try to make a video when I cut the steek because you know everyone likes that drama.

Andy and I are hopeful that he will be getting the vaccine sometime this or next week, maybe even on Christmas. What a great present! He said he saw a few of his colleagues posting pictures of themselves getting vaccinated on Instagram, and this morning the hospital sent a questionnaire in preparation for its employees' vaccinations. It can't come soon enough. I can't thank the people who worked on this enough. I still just feel like I am in a daze about it all.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays and I have the highest of hopes for the new year. Please take care of yourselves and your families, and enjoy the small joys of this season. Thank you for being here with me this year — I'm so grateful for your friendship toward me and my family, and I send you our warmest wishes for these sacred days.

Love always,

Alicia, Andy, Amelia, Clover Meadow, and Agatha Pirlipat Paulson
XOX

Into the Woods

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Helloooooooo out there! Hiiii. How are you?

I'm sitting on my bed. Amelia is crying because she just fell down five stairs while wearing her new slippers and carrying a gigantic toy piano (everyone's fine — that was scary). Andy is handling the general chaos today: Children crashing. Dogs repeatedly going upstairs even though they can't come down (anxiety). Cats jumping on wide, high, plant-holding windowsills and knocking plants to the ground in a crash of ceramics and soil (four times now). Dog and cat standing six inches away from me no matter what I'm doing when they're not doing those things. Child recovering quickly and now playing "Good Morning Dear Earth" on the same piano. Husband is absolute saint and most skillful manager of creatures big and small, encouraging me to stay out of it all today and let him know if he can do anything elllllllllse for me. Too good to me, that guy!!!

December 3rd, then, and these pictures are several weeks old. The leaves are gone from the trees, and on Tuesday the wind whipped the around the house so hard the windows rattled. Not a fan of wind. I grit my teeth through it. Winter in Portland includes white skies, cold rains, and lots of wind, generally speaking. We've been out to the woods a bit and there was some complaining about being cold. I like the cold (though I do find myself dreaming of the river house frequently [which I believe survived the fires this fall, fingers crossed]. I picture myself sitting in the middle of the river reading my book in the sunshine.) We haven't decorated for Christmas yet, though that's on the schedule for today. Maybe driving out to the country to get our Christmas tree tomorrow? Will Agatha Kitten destroy the tree? Seems likely. She does not hesitate to wreak kitten-havoc wherever she can. She sits on the mantel, steals and hides stuffed animals and balls of yarn, and tries to run out the door every chance she gets. Soaking wet, she cares not when she gets sprayed with the water bottle for climbing and hanging on the screens. Oh, but I love her so! I love that little hellion!!!

THANK YOU so very much for every single order you placed here over the last few weeks! I'm so, so grateful for that. Ivy assembled everything and I shipped everything and somehow, in three days, I got all of the orders out before Thanksgiving. Now I'm just back to shipping a couple of times a week. I hope you all enjoy making these things. It warms my heart more than I can say to imagine you stitching in your homes across the country and in Europe. I love it, and thank you again for supporting my work all of these years. I recognize so many names every time I do the shipping and . . . it's just so nice. Thank you. XO

We've decided to take December off of Oak Meadow and study Christmas carols and The Nutcracker. I bought the curricula online but they're not super comprehensive and I don't know that I recommend them yet. Yesterday Amelia and I finished painting our cardboard Christmas village that we made out of box sides. I really have had the urge to bake lately. We made yeasted doughnuts and they did taste exactly like my grandma's; she used to make doughnuts (but she didn't call them doughnuts, she called the "pizzared" or something [Italian] like that?) once a year, some time in the winter. It would be a special treat. Our whole family would go to her house in the morning and eat them as she fried them. She cut the dough into strips with a pizza cutter, and then into rectangles. She stretched a hole in the middle of the piece and friend it in her cast-iron frying pan. When the doughnuts came out we sprinkled them with plain white sugar or honey from the honey-bear bottle. They were so delicious. I haven't had one in forty years. But the ones I made the other day were perfect and tasted almost exactly like my grandma's. I used this recipe. I highly recommend it. I have pictures of the doughnuts on my Instagram if you want to see them.

(Mentioning my grandma sort of makes me want to talk about DNA testing and my experience with it and my [many, intense] feelings about it, but I will save that conversation for another day, because I think it will be hard for me to write.)

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It was strange not being with family for Thanksgiving and I know Christmas will be strange too (and Andy is working Christmas Day, as well). My heart breaks for people who have lost a loved one to the virus. I just can't even get my mind around it and am still just in a state of bewilderment and sorrow, to be honest. I wish you all peace as we move into the holiday season. Peace and joy in the little things be with you, friends. And thank you for being here with me. XO

Catching Up and New Designs

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Thank you so much for all of your kind words to me on my last post. I really appreciate the encouragement. Man oh man. I am feeling pretty good this week. I have been working a lot and things are coming together that way, which makes me happy. I like to be busy and really dug-in on my projects, and I think that's been part of the problem — it's just so hard to get into flow now, you know?

Time is kind of all broken up in a different way now, and there is very little quiet time. BUT Amelia is doing really well and continuing to thrive in lock-down. She never complains. Well, there was one time that she completely fell apart. She was at a Zoom birthday party for her friend Lillian who moved away last year. Lillian lives in Detroit now, so the party started late for them in Michigan but before school was finished for us, with the time-zone change, so by the time Amelia got off her school call she was ten minutes late to the party. Lil's mom had sent a little envelope of treats and a packaged cookie and a party horn and a party hat for all the girls to wear. Mimi was really into it. I went upstairs to sit down but just a few minutes later I suddenly heard howling. She came running upstairs with her tiny party hat on crooked and her party horn in her hand, crying, "Mama! Mama! The call cut off!" She collapsed on the bed and she was sobbing so hard I thought my heart was going to shatter. Lillian's mom texted and said they had restarted the call for a few minutes so everyone could say goodbye but Amelia was having none of it. I just held her while she cried and I tried not to cry myself. She just cried and cried. She said, "I just want to go back to school!" And man, that was a hard moment. "I know, baby. I know." That is the one and only time I've ever seen her completely lose her shit during all of this. Most of the time she carries on with a smile and a sparkle and really good attitude. I don't think I've ever seen her cry that hard about anything else, ever. I write this because I don't want to forget that she felt this.

Most mornings I sit at my desk with Amelia on her school meetings at the computer behind me and I can hear her teacher and her classmates on Zoom. Every day I give thanks for her teacher and her friends. They make me laugh every single day. Teacher: "Maybe someone in your house can help you with this later today." Seven-year-old: "Maybe. But when my dad gets home from work he usually puts on a tank top and plays video games for a while." Ha! Tank top. I don't know how the teacher doesn't dissolve in peels of laughter every single day but she keeps it cool. I miss the kids and my time reading with them in their classroom every week. They are just all so cute and so sweet to each other and so willing and so adorable. I miss them and I miss Amelia being with them. But I am grateful that she gets to connect with her people on screen, at the very least. Kiddos are resilient but it doesn't mean that things don't still hurt, and thank goodness for the consistency and familiarity of screen-school.

I have DECIDED to make myself a sweater. Out of fingering-weight yarn. Tiny stuff. It's a sweet sweater, called Porty Cardigan. There's a knit-along happening for it on Instagram, I think. I'm going to join in as soon as my yarn gets here. I'm not much of a joiner and I've never done a knit-along but I am excited. This is a steeked cardigan. I had started another steeked cardigan for Amelia last week but I'm frogging it. I just didn't like my color choices (I was using all stash yarn). I ordered all new yarn for my Porty. I bought Jamieson & Smith 2-ply like the pattern calls for. I don't like shopping for yarn that I don't know well online. It's so hard to know what the colors will really be like! I looked at several different web sites and they all had slightly different colors for the same yarn. So who knows. I wonder if I can get the tracking number and stalk it every step of the way until it gets here. Hopefully I'll like what I get but if not, WHO CARES. Alicia, you just need to dig in and FINISH SOMETHINGGGGGG. Finish it. Stopping starting things and then putting them down.

I have a new assistant. She is delightful. Her name is Ivy. She is taking alllllll of the kit supplies home and stuffing all of my kits at her house now. This is amazing. This is life-changing for me because it has been a while since I've had an assistant, and I've NEVER had one that worked from home. It is excellent, though I do really miss getting to work with her here in the office the way I used to do with all my previous assistants, especially Greta and Stacey. I love working with those girls. But someday. Ivy goes to a local college here and is taking a year off. Not only is she willing to model things for me she is also gorgeous, which is just so convenient. I mean:

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Like, ADORABLE. It was literally pouring rain not two minutes before we took this picture yesterday on my front stairs. She's modeling the cowl I designed last month. It's called the Drip Glaze Cowl because it reminds me of the Zoom pottery class that Andy and I took a few weeks ago and the many nights we have enjoyed watching The Great Pottery Throw-Down (love it). The cowl is done in fingering- or sport-weight yarn and I recommend having one of those be hand-dyed and speckled, because it looks cool that way. I used 100% cashmere for the neck ribbing. I love cowls and I love this one and I hope you do, too. To purchase the downloadable PDF pattern on my web site click here. To purchase it on Ravelry, click here. Thank you, Ivy, for all of your help.

I also have an embroidery kit for you. It is quick to do and to hoop-frame; I finished it in a single day. I think it would make a lovely gift. I'm selfish and am keeping mine for myself. I forgot to list the ribbon on the list of things included in the kit, but you get that included (and the Hardwicke Manor hoop, too).

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This is done on plain muslin with two plies of DMC embroidery floss, and that's all included, too, of course. To purchase the Winter Wreath kit, click here. For the PDF pattern only, click here.

And, last but not least, I have the last installment of this year's seasonal series, Things of Winter:

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I have really enjoyed doing this series, and I loved stitching this one in particular. Thank you to every single one of you who has stitched the designs for every season this year. I really like doing seasonal stuff and I have no idea what I will do next year. Throw some ideas at me and I'll see what I can come up with. To purchase Things of Winter kit, click here. For the PDF pattern only, click here. Since last spring, all of my PDF patterns include both color chart and black-and-white charts. Kits only include printed color charts. But if you buy the kit and you want the black-and-white PDF, just email me and I'll send it to you.

I'm going to be doing all of the shipping of these kits myself, and I'm hoping to get every single thing out by Thanksgiving. That's my goal. I wish you all a peace-filled week and I thank you again for every kindness you show you here. It helped me a lot, and I am thankful for you. XO

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.