And Still Partying!

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Oh, guys! Birthday stamina! This kid has it, I tell you. Happy birthday to you, my sweet, sassy, spectacular seven-year-old darling girl. Your birthday was really beautiful. And I'm sure you're actually relieved to be back at school today, eating lunch with your friends and working on reading and going to P.E. :))) Andy's parents so graciously came from Chicago, and Amelia's birthfamily and my family were all here, as well. It was a blast. I'm so grateful for all the love and family and friends and neighbors that surround us. And now it's time to clean the house!!!

Fall is here in earnest. The trees are perfect right now — red and yellow and russet and gold — and yet our weather promises to be horrible this weekend. Thunderstorms and constant rain, so plans for pumpkin-patching might have to be scrapped. Boo. We'll see. I've been in my office all afternoon and the silvery light in here is so pretty. (By the way, I got this pretty window film for my skylights and I can't tell you how much I love it. I don't really see it, because I'd have to look up a whole lot to do that, but it has dramatically softened the light coming through the skylights in here and I am much happier.) I just reorganized all of the supplies that have come in in the past few weeks for Dovegray Dolls and pinafore kits and we now have everything in. I wound 82 skeins of blond wool yesterday, so all is on track and I am thrilled to be digging into this project full-time now that birthday stuff is behind us. I'm also working on turning some of my doll knitting patterns (forthcoming) into kid-sweater patterns so you can dress your kid like their doll, because of course you know you want to do that!!!

More on that soon.

By the way, her party dress was so much fun to make. It was a LOT of dress. It was almost like a square-dancing dress. She wanted me to take in the arms — they were really full, and she wasn't wrong about that. It's Simplicity pattern #5396 from 1981 and the fabric was vintage Peter Pan calico. (Here is my Instagram close-up of the pattern drawing and fabric.) I miss sewing a lot for Amelia and I have plans to make her a new comforter for Christmas, probably with my Calicozy pattern. I saved out all of my favorite calicos from the kits I used to do for these and have been waiting to find time to sew this. She is totally ready for the twin size now (has been for a while!).

P.S. Just noticed my body-text font looks super tiny? Not sure what that's about but am looking into it. Does it look weird to you? 'Kay, should be solved now. Refresh browser or clear cache and it should be back to normal? Thank you for your patience! Typepad comes through again! (Apparently I suddenly needed a piece of code on my style sheet.)

Party Time!

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The party was just awesome. I want to do it over again and have it be exactly the same. The kids were all so excited and so sweet and so giggly and had so much fun. Amelia was in her element, surrounded by friends and chaos and games and toys and fun. She likes to be right in the middle of things, the nuttier and more bonkers-crazy the better. When she slumped down in her sheepskin-lined chair to eat her cupcake with her hat on crooked and her eyes shining I almost burst into tears. She looked so content and comfortable and filled with joy. Actually, it does make me cry. Seven is such a magical age. They are made happy by pom-poms, ping-pong balls, and candy. They TP-ed the yard right away (the game of "mummy" went "wrong," but it was the best thing that could've happened, because they had a blast and got a lot of energy out before they came in) and played Bozo's Buckets and Pin the Tail (where Amelia brought the party to a screeching halt when she went first — blindfolded, she was spun around three times and walked straight to the donkey with her tail held out in front of her and pinned it perfectly into the place — everyone literally went silent, including Andy and me, looking at each other with sheepish expressions . . . ermmmmmm . . . Ha! Well, let's keep playing anyway everybody!!!). I had noted on the invitation that presents were not necessary but every single kid brought a little present, so that shows you what I know. They all sat around her in a circle while she opened them and it was actually very, very sweet. Some kids were definitely quite shy at the beginning, but all of the parents eventually slipped out and the quieter kids got quickly taken into the lively fold. They sat at the table and decorated cupcakes and ate fruit skewers and veggie sticks about halfway through, and it was so adorable to hear them all talking and giggling and being silly and making each other laugh at the table. Almost all of them are in the same class at school. They ended with the pinata, which wasn't mine or Andy's favorite but Amelia said it was her favorite. Anyway, it was just super fun and I thank you so much for all of your advice and suggestions. Andy and I both read them all and we got some really great ideas about what to be prepared for and we all had an awesome day.

Now we get ready for the family party, which is this weekend. Andy's parents arrive from Chicago on Friday and will stay until next week. Amelia's birthfamily is all coming, and her grandparents will come up from Eugene. I've left all of the decorations up and will be doing just some little appetizers, and a strawberry cake has been requested. She also wants roast chicken and mashed potatoes for her birthday dinner. I don't know why but I burst out laughing when she said that. God I love this kid so much.

The weather has been so wonderful. Lots of sunshine, storms, and the leaves are turning bright red and yellow. By the way, I forgot to tell you what that one picture was with the white dots! There were a lot of good guesses, but I don't think anyone actually guessed exactly what it was. It was a picture I took straight on (not through a screen or a window or anything) of a pouring rainstorm in BRIGHT sunlight. It was one of the weirdest things I have ever seen. The rain was coming down in sheets, but there was a hole in the clouds right where the sun was coming through and literally every raindrop was shining with light. The camera captured the raindrops as white blobs. In real life it was a glitterstorm.

Finishing her birthday dress today. We've got almost all of the supplies in for the Dovegray Dolls (except for the muslin . . . need to check on that) and as soon as birthdaying is finished, it's full-steam ahead with that stuff!

Wildwood Walk

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***T H A N K  Y O U  so, so much for your kind words and the Dovegray Doll orders!*** I am so excited about these and we are working to get everything organized and starting to assemble the parts and pieces of the kits. The pattern has been sent off to the printer and now we are just waiting for supplies to be delivered. We are on track to start shipping in November and I will keep you posted on our progress! I will refund excessive shipping costs after we ship; I have my eye on this and will adjust. Also, I had a question about skill-level needed to make these dolls. You do need a bit of hand-sewing and machine-sewing experience to make these dolls and clothes. I would not say they are beginner projects, though it depends on your determination, of course. I had plenty of people tell me that one of my little animal dolls was the first thing they had ever made and it went just fine — but they really wanted to make it! :) So it just kind of depends. Practice makes perfect, as they say, and it's true here, too. Doll clothes ARE a bit tricky because they are small and can be annoying! But if you're in the right mood, they can also be really, really fun. You just kind of settle in with it and take your time. The pinafore is the hardest part of any of these projects but it is quite fancy and needs some patience. I'm always here to answer any questions you have if you get stuck, so just email me and I will always help you if you run into problems!

We have a super busy month coming up and things are buzzing around here. I'm spinning plates and juggling at the same time. Mimi has her "friend" birthday party here next weekend and then her family birthday party the weekend after. She has invited ten kids to her friend party and the house is small. I don't know most of the kids or their parents, because, new school, new friends, etc. EXCITING! Mildly terrifying. Small house. She wants to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Bozo's Buckets (she's never played either of them, I don't think), have a pinata, and decorate cupcakes. Any advice on having a kid party at home GRATEFULLY RECEIVED. Tell me everything. All I care about is that she and the kids have fun. I'm going to try to get the parents to drop off, first of all. Does that seem rude? I have no idea. I just literally don't know where they will stand. . . .

The photos above are from a walk we took last weekend on the Wildwood Trail. They re-routed my favorite little part of the walk (the beginning, by the archery course) but it was still just so nice. Mimi wore her Shimmer cowl that I knit a few weeks ago. This is the third time I have knit that cowl and for some reason I never enjoy knitting it. I love having them, but I don't enjoy knitting them. I think it's because I find it almost impossible to count my rows when I'm doing cables if I forget to put one on the counter. I just can't figure out how many rows go in the cable. I don't know why.

After the walk we stopped at Vista Spring Cafe and this is one of my very favorite places for a Saturday-afternoon lunch in Portland. I had this lasagna and it was literally the best lasagna I have ever had besides my mother's in my life. I could only even finish half of it. I highly recommend it after a lovely autumn afternoon in the woods. You may even get to watch the guys washing the firetruck at the tiny little fire station right across the street as we got to one time. I love that place.

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Dovegray Doll Kits (and Supplies to Make Them) Now Available for Pre-Order!

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Allow me to introduce the Dovegray Dolls, whose kits are now available for pre-ordering!

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These little dolls are entirely stitched by hand and made of wool-blend felt with wool or mohair-wool yarn hair (fiber content depends on which color you choose). They wear a (machine-stitched) camisole and bloomers made of cotton muslin, decorated with tiny silk ribbon bows. The dolls are about 14" (35.5cm) tall.

There are ten different dolls to choose from. Each doll kit has one of three skin tones (dark, medium, or light) and one of five hair colors (black, dark brown, red, auburn, or blond). Let me show them all to you and then we will talk more. Pictured above is Bridie, who has light skin and brown hair.

 

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This girl above is Dorie. She has medium skin and black hair.

 

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This girl above is Honey. She has light skin and blond hair.

 

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This girl above is Mollie. She has medium skin and auburn hair.

 

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This girl above is Sophie. She has dark skin and brown hair.

 

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This girl above is Poppy. She has light skin and red hair.

 

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This girl above is Hollie. She has medium skin and brown hair.

 

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This girl above is Lucie. She has dark skin and black hair.

 

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This girl above is Rosie. She has light skin and auburn hair.

 

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And lastly, this girl above is Sylvie. She has light skin and black hair.

PLEASE NOTE that we are planning to ship all Dovegray Doll kits (and any supplies ordered to complete them) by MID-NOVEMBER 2019. After we get a good idea of the pre-order numbers we will be ordering the rest of the specific supplies we need to complete these kits and get them ready to go. I really did NOT want to guess on these numbers as I have no idea what people will like, so we want to make sure we have everything available for everyone for at least the next couple of weeks.

To make one Dovegray Doll, each kit includes:

For Doll:

  • One 12" x 18" (30cm x 46cm) piece of wool-rayon felt from National Nonwovens in color TOY002-0615 (Champagne) for light skin, TOY002-0624 (Camel) for medium skin, or TOY002-2655 (Safari Brown) for dark skin
  • 1 skein DMC 6-strand cotton floss for all body stitches in color 945 (for light skin), color 3863 (for medium skin), or 869 (for dark skin)
  • Small amounts of various colors of DMC 6-strand cotton floss for facial features, including eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, eye highlights, and lips
  • 14 yds (14m) Brown Sheep Co. Lanaloft single-ply worsted-weight yarn in color LL41W (Buckwheat) for blond hair, LL69W (English Saddle) for brown hair, or LL03W (Black Bear) for black hair; or Lamb’s Pride color M-154 (Rooster Red) for red hair, or M-89 (Roasted Coffee) for auburn hair
  • 3 yards (3m) DMC 6-strand cotton floss for tacking down hair in color 739 (blond), color 310 (black), 355 (red), color 3371 (brown) or color 3857 (auburn)

For Camisole and Bloomers:

  • One 9" x 44" (23cm x 112cm) piece of 100% cotton muslin fabric
  • 1 3/4 yards (1.6m) elastic thread
  • 8" (20cm) 4mm silk ribbon

 As well as:

  • Stitching instructions with photos
  • Embroidery tutorial
  • Pattern templates

 

You will need a fair amount of supplies to make each doll. Check your sewing kit to make sure you have everything else, or order some of them with your doll kit and we will ship everything together.

You will also need:

 

As I've mentioned, probably more than you can stand, all of the clothes designed for Dovegray Dolls and animals in my Little Animal Family are interchangeable and will fit all of the dolls and softies in these collections.

To accompany the Dovegray Doll kits, we are also offering the Peasant Dress, Pinafore, and Stockings kits in so many different prints and colors:

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To make one Peasant Dress, Pinafore, and pair of Stockings each kit includes:

For Peasant Dress:

  • One 18" x 18" (46cm x 46cm) piece of calico 100% cotton vintage fabric
  • 1½ yds (1.4m) elastic thread

For Pinafore:

  • One 6" x 44" (15cm x 112cm) piece of solid-colored 100% cotton fabric
  • DMC six-strand cotton embroidery floss in various colors, including two shades of green and other colors to compliment dress and pinafore fabrics
  • 2 snaps, 3/16" (6mm) wide (also called 4/0)
  • 2 buttons, 1/4" (6mm) wide

For Stockings

  • 40 yds (1g) lace-weight wool yarn

 As well as:

  • Stitching instructions with photos
  • Embroidery tutorial
  • Pattern templates

You will also need (not included):

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So, as you can see, there are actually TWO separate kits you will need to order if you want to both make a doll and dress her in this sweet outfit.

We are assembling hundreds of Peasant Dress, Pinafore, and Stockings kits out my personal stash of vintage calico cottons that I've been collecting from eBay and estate sales for years. These fabrics are just so lovely and they are getting very hard to find. I have spent hours and hours searching them out and have been holding on to this stash for a long time, intending to use them for these doll kits. I'm so excited about them. Here is just a small sampling of fabrics you can choose. Keep in mind that because these are all vintage fabrics (mostly Peter Pan and Joan Kessler fabrics, if you remember those names), there are a totally random number of each fabric combo available, depending on how much of that fabric we have. There are anywhere from 2 to 38 kits of each of the fabric combos listed, and they are first-come, first-served!

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There are so many more. Look through all of them here.

We also have some new supplies that you will need in order to complete your doll (see the full lists of supplies needed above). We are taking pre-orders for these now and will ship them with the kits. They include:

Doll Needles

Dritz Doll Needles in three sizes #157

 

Fabric Marker

Dritz Mark-B-Gone fine-tipped water soluble fabric marker

 

Fray Check

Dritz Fray Check seam sealant

You will also definitely need hemostats for stuffing, and a #5 embroidery needle, and scissors and hoop, and other notions that we also carry. The supplies lists will link to all of the supplies that I also carry in my shop; check out my supplies page for everything I carry. I will ship anything you order together with the kits.

 

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. International shipping has gotten very expensive so please check things carefully.

Yes, PDF patterns for both the dolls and the dress kit will be available in mid-November, when we are planning to ship the kits. I will make an announcement here, so please stay tuned if you are interested in those!

Also: The Dovegray Dolls are special and are not meant to be played with by unsupervised babies or small children who might swallow the small pieces of their wardrobes, or chew off an arm or a leg. Please use your judgement and watch your baby or child carefully when they are playing with handmade softies, or any toys with smaller parts. Thank you!

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I know there is an absolute ton of information in this post. Take your time and read through everything, and please let me know if any links are broken, anything is confusing, or if you have any questions. I've done all of this computer stuff myself so do let me know if you need me to correct or clear up anything and I will do it as soon as I can. Thank you again so much for your orders and your interest in what I do! It means so much to me that I keep getting to design these patterns and kits and I am sincerely grateful to you for all of your encouragement and support! Thank you! XOXO

Dovegray Dolls Coming Soon

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Well, hello there! How are you? It is raining here this morning and I am well. It's been a busy, exciting, intense couple of weeks since school started. All is well and we are each getting used to our new routines, together and on our own. Kids are so dang brave. It's really incredible to watch, isn't it? It's beautiful. I'm constantly in awe of their abilities to do things they've never done before, go places they've never gone, walk into rooms filled with people they don't know, and basically figure it all out within days. If that. It's so inspiring.

Andy is back at work today after a few days and an entire weekend off, which was so nice. He was home for three weeks on vacation in August and I got used to that. I was antsy to clean the house while he was home. But once he had gone back to work and I had done that, I really missed him and Meems and the long, lazy days of summer, and all the summer things that I've never missed until this, the Summer of Perfect Weather. Suddenly I'm having the summer's-over emotions that most normal people have. I'm looking longingly at the sodden cushions on my front-yard chair, where I sat and read for countless hours, Mimi swinging from the branches of the tree beside me, and I will miss those afternoons. I'm usually just so ready for fall to start that I don't care what's gone. But this time it's a little different, and I am feeling all of the changes.

Thank you so much for all of the Leaves by Hundreds Came orders! They are sold out now. I am busy trying to get my dolls finished and photographed and ready to launch, probably next week. Andy has been in the office during his days off, cutting fabrics for me and generally helping out. We are hoping to have them available for pre-order next week. I first started working on these dolls a couple of years ago. They are based on the animal-doll patterns, and they all share the same body and construction. They can all wear the same clothes. There will be ten different combinations of three skin colors (dark, medium, light) and five hair colors (blond, dark brown, red, auburn, black) you can choose from. Each doll kit comes with a pattern for the doll and her muslin camisole and bloomers and many of the supplies needed to make those things (I'll share full lists of contents at the launch).

There will also be a separate kit (with pattern) available for a calico peasant dress, embroidered pinafore in solid-colored cotton, and knitted wool lace stockings. I'll show you the dress next week. All of the calico fabrics we are including in these kits are vintage calicos from the '70s and '80s, mostly Peter Pan and Joan Kessler that I've spent the last several years collecting either from eBay or estates. It's been such a labor of love and I really have no words to tell you how excited I am to be able to share all of these things with you soon. This is going to be such a cool collection. We will take pre-orders next week and are planning to ship doll kits and dress kits at the same time, by mid-November. We aren't sure how many orders we will get for what skin/hair combos, so we will order supplies on our end after we get the pre-order numbers and begin putting kits together and shipping as fast as we can.

I'm naming the collection the Dovegray Dolls. I wasn't sure what I was going to call them until earlier this summer, when I was starting to work on them a lot. And one night, Mimi and I were sitting in the front yard and we heard a mourning dove.

The sound of the mourning dove is one of the sounds (along with freight trains and thunder) that I miss so much from my childhood. We had them in River Forest (a western suburb of Chicago where I grew up) but we do not have them here in my neighborhood in Portland. (My sister regularly hears mourning doves right across the river in Lake Oswego, but we don't have them here.) If you don't know what they sound like, here is a sample. It's a pretty unmistakable sound.

When I heard it, I couldn't believe it. Mimi cocked her head and listened, too. After just a few calls, she could imitate the dove perfectly, much better than I could. We went and got Gretchen, our next-door neighbor, who also grew up in River Forest (I know, crazy right? Total awesome coincidence. We both graduated from Oak Park River Forest High School in the same year, too, though we didn't know each other. [The high school had almost four thousand people in it, and she and I had gone to different grade schools.]) We all listened. I texted Andy (at work) to tell him what we were hearing. I was excited. It had been decades since I'd heard a mourning dove. We sat out there for a long time, but eventually he stopped cooing and it got dark.

The very next day, the weirdest thing happened: We got a postcard (pictured above) from our local bird shop with a mourning dove on it! (It was a coupon for bird seed.) Andy came home from work that night and saw the post card on the table and said, "OH my gosh, you got a really good picture of the mourning dove!" I started laughing and told him I hadn't taken it, that it was a postcard that had just happened to arrive, etc. We continued to hear the mourning dove for a few days. Mimi and I took the coupon and went to the Backyard Bird Shop and got some special bird seed that mourning doves supposedly like. (She also broke a glass thing while we were there and the ladies at the shop were so incredibly kind and generally cool about it that we will be customers for life.) We put the new seed (I think it was millet?) in the flat feeder right away. Naturally, the minute we did that, we never heard the mourning dove again! Granted, he was never actually in our yard, just somewhere near. The bird shop said that sometimes they sort of find their ways over to this side of the river, but they don't often stay very long. Sad face. I'm still hopeful! I love them.

Anyway, in honor of the summer days we spent listening to the sweet cooing of our mourning dove, I named my little dolls the Dovegray Dolls. The one pictured above is Bridie.

***By the way, that picture above with all the little white dots on it? Does anyone want to take a guess what’s going on there? :)

The Leaves by Hundreds Came Kits Still Available

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I just wanted to pop in quickly because I was just looking at the inventory for this kit and realizing that I wanted to let you know that there are still 24 kits for this design left in my inventory. Once they are gone, they are gone! This is such a fun kit to do on autumn evenings. It fits into a ready-made 8"x10" frame. You can purchase the kit here. And if you'd like to read the original blog post about it, that post is here! Thank you! More blogging (and info about my new dolls) from me soon. I'm just starting to get caught up, yippee. Xox, a

End of Summer

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The end of summer is so bittersweet, even for a winter-lover like me. Dahlias, these exquisite state-fair square-dancing skirts, are the perfect finale. We went to their festival on a red-hot blue-sky day a few weeks ago. I'd never been before and had always wanted to go. It was too hot to be in an open field, but oh, my, it was so worth it. What a voluptuous display of summer's finest bounty, these petal-heavy beauties. We grew a few of them in our little parkway raised beds this year and I am well and truly hooked. Andy and Amelia and I started making a list of our favorites and then we just gave up; there were too many to love.

School started last week and it has been life-changing for all of us. The first day was much anticipated and was a great success. The teacher was amazing and the playground is fantastic. The school garden is teeming with fruits and vegetables and plenty of places to hide and shade and play. The parents are awesome. The kids are great. It's just all been — astonishingly and unexpectedly, in some ways — great. We are really appreciating everything about it, even the things that I thought would be really hard about it. The playground has a picnic shelter, right in the midst of everything, so you can actually hang out there and linger, and linger we do. Every day after school, even though it's been some of the hottest weather we've had all summer, Amelia runs and jumps and hangs and swings and slides and chases, everywhere and on everything, racing around, making friends, wiping out, getting upset, working it out. And this is just brilliant compared to last year, where, at our old school, there was zero playground culture; literally zero. People didn't do it, because it was a commuter school with a locked campus. I didn't know how important it would be, and it turns out it is super important to her and to us. Some kids go right home. Our kid has always, always wanted to stay, no matter where she is or who is there or what's going on or whether it's pouring rain or blazing sun. Even in preschool, we had some epic leave-takings. They still make me shudder. I can't find that one post where I wrote about her tearing through the rose bushes in the play-yard as if on fire when it was time to leave school, a small ball of pure fury. I still remember what it was like to stand there, catatonic, totally out of tricks, utterly unable to convince her to leave by any rational method, watching her throw handfuls of pine needles at me from the top of her hill, breathing flames like a tiny dragon. Oh my lord. It cracks me up, now. At the time I remember thinking, "I literally have no idea how to get this child off of that hill. At least this place is mostly fenced." It can still be very hard for her to leave. I still feel a mild pang of panic every time it's time to go. However: this, yesterday, to her younger friend (kindergartner), who was having her own hard time leaving: "I know it's really hard, and sometimes you get really cranky when it's time to go. I do that, too." And then she tried to aggressively wipe her friend's face with some kind of paper towel (she pulled from out of nowhere) while her friend ran circles around her mother to get away. (Ack.) But THEN she (Mimi) pulled herself together and proudly marched right out of the playground, as if remembering she was going to try to model some good behavior for the littles. And good lord, it was JUST SO HOT. I stood there melting in the late-afternoon sun, carrying backpack, lunch bag, water bottle, my bag, hoping they would both just depart without drama. And then . . . wow . . . hugs . . . goodbyes . . . they did!

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Got lucky there. But the first week of school has just been really great. I couldn't be more proud of her, or happier to be exactly where we are. (Her first-day-of-school dress was made from Butterick pattern #4833, from probably somewhere around 1977.)

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The stories and images from The Bahamas right now are just so incredibly tragic. My heart is breaking for everyone there who is suffering these most unimaginable losses. I’ve donated to MercyChefs.com. If you have good suggestions on how else to help, please let me know. 

River Resting

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River days and river ways. They're slow and steady and golden, like the river. The river rolls past the house like a shimmering ribbon, day and night, night and day. At night, the crickets come out and it's loud. The screened windows look out toward the river, and they are black with night. It's quiet, just crickets, occasionally geese, far off, honking in a group. One night at dusk a flock of them swooped over the house and Andy ran out to see. There are a lot of trees, so you can't always see. One night at dusk, in the rain, I watched a giant charcoal-gray bird (eagle?) glide down the river like a highway. He flew low and near the shore, right above our chairs. He was in no hurry, but clearly going somewhere on his highway. Trees block the view far to the left and far to the right, so you literally watch things come into view on the river and then go out of view, like a filmstrip. On sunny days, lots of people float by, some in colorful rafts tied together in flotillas, beer coolers floating, tinny radios playing. Some come in pairs, and they're serious, in serious kayaks, with khaki hats with chin straps and long sleeves to protect from sun. Some come in silent groups, senior citizens on a tour, perhaps, in rafts being manned by young men, and everyone's quiet, looking forward. You can hear conversations on the river, even from the house. It takes each group a long time to float past the house. That's how slow the river is there. That's how I like my river: lazy.

When we get there at sunset on the first night, Amelia changes her clothes goes right down to the river in a nightgown. She did this years ago and she does it now. Many things she does at the river she does because she's done them before. She remembers the fairy house she built last year and she builds one again. She remembers the crayfish she caught last year and she looks for one again. She sets the table with flowers and napkins. She falls in the river and changes her clothes three times a day. I read and read, not happy with any of my books but so happy just to be there, doing that. Hour after hour, passed in the chair, basket of tricks (yarn, books, camera) and iced tea by my side, watching the river and knitting or reading. The river shore and river bed are made of giant, round, slippery rocks that my bad foot likes not at all. I watch from the sidelines as usual but here I don't mind. High above, turkey vultures, eagles, and hawks circle, and ducks diving and bobbing keep me company. Swallows. Bees. The sun moves across the sky and I move my chair along with it. Andy takes Mimi on adventures to Paulson Island and Mimi Beach, pulling her in the raft. Oh I love them so. They find a beaver den, crawfish claws, rocks and walking sticks. I can hear them upriver even when I can't see them. It rains on the second day and she and I take a two-hour bath, playing in the water with our only toy, the travel toothbrush holder, and lazing so long my fingers wrinkle. There is little to do, and our needs are few. We plan menus and bring groceries and forget half of them, so meals are a funny abbreviated version of the meals we know from home, too. Pasta, prosciutto, and peas without the peas, still at home in the freezer. At night, we make popcorn and watch rom-coms on Amazon and go to bed at 10. I would not change one single thing.

***I finished her pink sweater literally minutes before we left and it was worn constantly and is now filthy. Success!!! It's Karoline's Cardigan by Trine Bertelsen made from Schachenmayr Bravo (acrylic). And I highly recommend both.

A Revelation, of Sorts

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The summer days roll on by, an ice-cream swirl of open swim and lazy mornings, library books and watering the flowers, Ikea trips and riverside afternoons. It's already August, and time is about to enter super-speed. At night, I knit, and knit, and knit, listening to the sound of evening traffic and neighborhood noises through the open windows. Never has there been a more perfect summer to knit, as the weather here still continues to be entirely civilized in every respect, while the rest of the country and the world is more or less on fire. Not here. Here it is cool in the morning, hot in the afternoon, sometimes cloudy. Occasionally it even rains. It’s vacation weather, come to life.

One fine day, Amelia and I went to JoAnn's to get yarn for a new ballet sweater. I've made two in the past, and both went unworn due to "scratchiness." I didn't think they were scratchy, but she did. One got given away and one sits unused in the sweater basket. Thought I, "That's it." Off to get some very soft acrylic yarn we went. She needed black (there's a dress code) so it was not hard to find. We settled on Premier Yarns Everyday Baby. I had two 50%-off coupons, and got two skeins of yarn, totalling $4.99. I knit the sweater and — great experience. The yarn was nice. It did not annoy me at all. It says it's anti-pill. She deemed it soft enough. I was PSYCHED that it cost five dollars.

Amelia is almost seven and has no sweaters that fit her. I went zooming off to my computer to find more yarn. Everyday Baby comes in colors I don't like. I wound up ordering Stylecraft Special DK and Paintbox Simply DK and Schachenmayr Bravo. The color palettes of each were huge, and I could make a sweater for, again, about $6. This was astonishing.

I spend, in general, a lot of lazy time late at night or with coffee at 5 a.m. browsing Ravelry for patterns. For me, the browsing is a huge part of the creative process, and I love it. The new yarn came, and I started re-looking at every sweater pattern ever written for kids in DK-weight and worsted-weight yarn. I'm not kidding. I looked at hundreds and hundreds of sweaters. It was weirdly relaxing. I knew what I wanted. Naturally, I could not find a pattern for it. How is this possible. Hundreds and hundreds, literally hundreds, of sweaters. Oh, Alicia. . . .

I thought back to 1995, when I was trying (again) to learn to knit. I wrote a long blog post about that here. I still find it very moving to read, if I do say so. I think part of why it moves me is that I hadn't often done things in my life that I wasn't good at, or that didn't come naturally to me. Knitting did not come naturally to me. I tried to learn to knit several different times, many years apart. The fact that I stuck with it mystifies me; it was not my style not to quit. I must have really wanted to learn, and I don't know why I did. I didn't really know anyone who knit, it was years before there was any sort of internet community around crafting, Pinterest didn't exist so there were no pretty pictures to be inspired by, and . . . I don't really know why it was so important to me that I kept trying to do it.

If you read the post I wrote in 2010, you'll see that I took a beginner class at a knitting shop in Missoula, sometime around 1996, and it didn’t go well. In retrospect, it affected me profoundly. The teacher was super intense, and went so fast. I remember thinking at the time, "This is seriously the last person I would think would be a knitting teacher." She was like a hummingbird. She had a frantic, edgy energy. I was a frantic, edgy person. I fumbled, exasperated. Her voice was high and fast. She wasn’t trying hard. She made hats for Andie MacDowell's kids! She knew so much and I was lost. Her knowledge came flying out, making the room spin. And her first rule of knitting was only ever knit with wool. Only wool. I was so intimidated by the whole experience that I think I internalized that directive on command. Only ever wool. (Years later, when I finally learned to knit here in Portland, the first thing I made was a baby sweater for my niece out of a super fluffy mint-green acrylic novelty yarn, and I remember that there was freedom — my new teacher had told me to pick anything! — but also guilt in that choice.) I have hardly used 100% acrylic since. Not that I have always used wool, far from it. I've gone through phases. Alpaca is okay but stretches out of shape. I don't like cotton at all. Bamboo and silk are much too shiny — I hate any kind of sheen in my yarn, generally. Ease of care has never motivated me — I'm always knitting and blocking something around the house, so hand-washing stuff is not a big deal (if I wash it at all, quite frankly). I think I was used to thinking that acrylic would be 1) too shiny and 2) not have any give to it, and so not feel that nice to knit with. Also: There are microplastics produced by synthetic fiber, and that is a major downside; I never feel good about consciously choosing to consume plastic and try pretty hard otherwise to do it as little as I possibly can. Hmmmm. Not really good. 

I was never a big Elizabeth Zimmerman fan, for no other reason than it feels so hard to just access the patterns and the writings somehow. Is it just me, about that? Maybe. The format, layout-wise, is totally daunting. I keep thinking that someday I’ll relax and dive in. People love her, and with good reason, I know. I have The Opinionated Knitter and I did try to read it once, but I just got so confused by both the crowdedness of the page layout and all the references to various newsletters that were out of print (when you wanted to follow the thread on something, for instance) or other books I didn’t have. I'd missed the EZ trend and kept stumbling, trying to catch up (go back?) afterwards. It's both charmingly and frustratingly analogue, in a way. Also, I'm still not a very intuitive knitter at all. She is the thinking-person's knitting teacher, and I don't like to be a thinking person when I knit, apparently. I like to be a direction-following robot so I can continue to stay with the plot of whatever episode of Vera I am on. Ravelry says I have knit over a hundred things. I would guess that almost none of them have deviated from any pattern more than the slightest bit to accommodate whatever yarn I had or, I don't know, something else small. I can follow a knitting pattern. Now I even write (doll) knitting patterns, even though I said I'd never write knitting patterns. Going off-trail does not come easily to me.

But I ran into this sweet little sweater by Adele Louise and I just had to make it. I literally became obsessed with this sweater for Mimi. That happens sometimes. It's a heady feeling. There's desperation involved, some mild bewilderment. Whyyyyyy do I care about this? I once spent hours in the middle of the night trying to track down a pattern for a pair of gloves I'd seen on a Norwegian Instagram account, with no reference to the pattern at all. I. found. it. Silly "problems." I specialize. Adele Louise mentioned that she used the percentage system to calculate her cast-on and then all of the other counts for making a round-yoked bottom-up sweater. My eye twitched. I Googled "percentage system" and saw that it was an EZ–invented thing. And suddenly I remembered that first knitting class in Missoula, and how, for our first sweater, our teacher was having us make a sweater based on the percentage system. I didn't realize that that's what it was — the Percentage System, a thing — at the time. I was so confused and overwhelmed by it all. This is how you have to make something? She took my gauge and my measurements and did the percentages and the calculations and literally nothing was coming out right. My sweater, in my fraught, anxious, self-defeating hands came out miniature, practically felted from go. It all seemed much bigger than knitting. It was much bigger than knitting. I never finished the sweater. I have no idea why it wasn't working, or what I was doing wrong. I threw it in a bag and never looked at it again. (Also, the sweater was made from Lamb's Pride Worsted, which is wool and mohair and is what I use for my doll hair. I would literally never be able to wear a sweater made out of this yarn. It is way too scratchy for me [personally]. But it was wool I could afford.)

2019. Adele Lousia's knockoff, then: I got my gauge with the copper-colored Stylecraft (4.5 sts/in) and took Amelia's measurements. I did the calculations and wrote them in my notebook. I worked out the lace pattern from my dear Nadia's original pattern on my cast-on number. I had a plan. I kept going. I figured out how to join the sleeves to the body at the yoke and still stay in lace pattern. I kept measuring. The yoke should decrease at a specific rate, three times, and wind up a certain length (5 3/4"). I kept going. I kept going. I finished it.

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It's a weird, sort-of full-circle knitting experience (that apparently took twenty-five years), with major thanks to not only Elizabeth Z. but Adele Louise and Nadia Crétin-Léchenne, who has inspired my knitting for years and years. And even my first teacher in Missoula, whose name I have no idea of anymore. The yarn blocked out soft and drapey, with nary a shiny highlight in sight, and fits my darling child like a dream. I am so proud of this.

Fireworks and Flowers

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Slow day, today. Meems and I have decided to just stay home, which we don't often do. I think it can be stressful to stay home all day. I'm not sure why, exactly. It always surprises me. Parenting an only child can be seriously bonkers sometimes. You don't get much of a break. My days are long — Andy is gone from 6:00 a.m. until almost 9 p.m. three or four days a week, so I'm on my own a lot. It's a lot. When he's home he's super hands-on, but we also then, all three of us, do a lot of stuff together. So I don't get much time to myself. Most of the time it's fine, but sometimes, when the days have really stacked up, by Day Four I'm fried, no lie. The cooking and cleaning gets old, too. Mimi is easy to feed — veggies, rice, fruit, chicken, yogurt, tofu. Granola. More fruit. But during the day, we eat out a lot. Self-care, Alicia-style, I guess. We eat a lot of simple Thai food out. She's been ordering for herself since she could talk and, aside from spilling entire glasses of water almost every time they don't have lids, she is pretty great in restaurants. And I like to just sit and catch my breath. I frequently read my book while we eat lunch together. People think that's weird, but what can I say. Introvert mothers gotta do what we gotta. She draws, I read, someone else cooks, we eat, someone else cleans up.

Today, apparently, we're going to bake a cake. Vanilla with vanilla frosting and flowers, I'm told. She's downstairs watching Secret Life of Pets. I'm procrastinating watering the garden but I will do it, because I really am sticking to my resolution. It's been nice. My silly little garden, bringing me so much joy. We got the giant, 100-foot-long hose, which makes it easier to take care of things. The weather has STILL been cool and cloudy and occasionally rainy and, yes oh yes oh yes, just plain glorious. When it's so nice like this you can actually go to a park and play right in the middle of the afternoon. It's amazing! It's not 95 degrees! It's 75! Life-changing. No exaggeration. I’m so sorry for those of you sweltering in heatwaves right now. It’s so hard.

I made the sweet little romper for the @knit.beyond.borders auction that's running right now to benefit @raices.texas . It's from the Billie romper pattern from Strikdet. It is 100% merino and has sweet little buttons on the back. I used snap tape, hand-sewed in, on the crotch. I love these little rompers and I wish I had made more for Amelia when she was little. I have a lot of knitting projects going on right now, and a future lot going on in my head. I just sent off the last batch of new-doll knitting patterns to Laura, my tech editor, so there will be probably ten or so new knitting patterns for dolly sweaters, skirts, stockings, cowls, and other things coming out this fall when the dolls are launched. All of the knitting and new sewing patterns (also coming) will fit all of my animal softies, as well; they all, dolls and animals, have the same bodies. After I sent off the tiny samples, I started thinking about what Amelia needs for fall. First up was a new ballet sweater. I've made this one and this one so far, and she wore neither of them, claiming both were too itchy. New sweater is being knit off of the same pattern, which is perfect. But this time I'm using very soft acrylic yarn because 1) cheap and 2) soft. Cheap and soft are now my guiding priorities when knitting for Amelia. It's a relief, on some level, to finally realize how much going Cheap-and-Soft is increasing my joy in knitting for this kid, at least for stuff like this which is worn close to the skin! I had two coupons for 50% off two separate items at JoAnn's, so we wound up spending $4.99 on the yarn, total. The sweater is black (she's moved up to the next class, so black-leotard dress-code) so choosing pretty colors, which a lot of acrylic yarns, I've found, do not come in, at least in my opinion, was not a problem here. The yarn is also washable and anti-pill. The best is, though, that knitting with it is not as annoying as I was worried it would be. Acrylic notoriously doesn't stretch or give or feel that nice to knit with. But this really is not so bad! I'm quite pleased. I need to find the yarn label to see what the yarn is called because I can't remember. But I will post a picture here and details on Ravelry when I'm done (and I'm almost done). I have a lot of things to put on my projects list, I think. I'm behind with that.

At night I knit and knit and watch episode after episode of Gardener's World and Monty Don (on Acorn TV, I think?). It is literally the most relaxing television show in the history of the world. I love it so much.

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

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.