January Morning

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Cold and rainy this morning. Dark. Sloppy muddy outside. Most of the kiddos are having trouble with Zoom this morning. I feel sorry for the teacher. He is trying hard to suss out the problems (we're suddenly having problems, too) and the kids are totally helping and agh, you know there are other skills being learned right now: patience, perseverance, cooperation, listening. The teacher methodically asks each one whether making the copy is working for them, and what kind of computer they have. School-issued Chromebooks like ours aren't working. And then: A kid just figured out how to get the copy to work on Chromebook and explained it to everyone, and then it worked for Amelia. My god, I secretly feel like crying! Success! Success! This moment was successful, and they all got there together. Over and over and over again. January. We can do this.

Thank you for all of your comments on my last post. I so appreciate them.

Meanwhile, Agatha does what Agatha wants. Agatha sits on the table. Agatha sneaks onto the counter. Agatha methodically drags every loose ball of yarn up the stairs overnight, meowing like a lunatic. In the morning we wake to a dozen skeins tossed around the upstairs hallway; she works hard. She has her own sweater (it's this one) and it is so disgusting, felted and stained and full of holes, a mere rag now, when, in its day, it was so beautiful. She drags it around, too, and every half a day it's in a different room, crumpled up on the floor. Agatha, since her spaying, now that her belly fur has just started to grow back, has reverted to type. She won't let you pet her, won't sit on your lap, will only really let Amelia pick her up consistently while she moans resignedly, plaintively (fifty times a day, until I have to say stop because I just can't take it anymore). We finally filled our neglected bird feeders and she spent two days perched with her front paws on the windowsill and her back paws on the chair, staring with wild eyes at all the squirrel, sparrow, and chickadee action, her pupils down to paper-thin shards. Mesmerized. Mostly what she likes to do is eat, and the vet says she's at the top end of her recommended weight at 8.5 pounds. If she has no food in her bowl, she will come down and try to beat up Clover. You'd think all the dragging-of-things-upstairs would burn a few calories for her. Apparently not enough.

I do love her so, though. My goofy little kitters.

Amelia has joined the chess club after school. Isn't that cool? I am so proud of her. Her teacher runs it, every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 until 4:30. They play on a digital board that looks fun, and she really likes it. She plays with her dad on a regular board in real life occasionally. I've never learned to play. Andy is good at games and so is Mimi and they play stuff a lot. I was never that good at them, even as a child, though I remember I really liked Mastermind and Battleship. I don't think we even have those right now. We should get them. Maybe she's too old for them now. We probably have thirty games we should go through and pass on. I know I should be reorganizing my kitchen cabinets right now, too. Cliched but true. They're a mess. I've got teetering towers of baking pans stuffed into every shelf, forty-five little bottles of desiccated cake sprinkles stuck to the bottoms of their jars, bags of Andy-chips and popcorn falling off of piles of cookbooks on the top of the freestanding cabinet. It's not terribly terrible, but neither is it nice or helpful.

Continuing my cat obsession I got this adorable paint-by-number for my birthday a few days ago and I worked on it a little this weekend. I have always wanted to do one of these. The areas are small. It's perfect for me because I like that. My next-door neighbor, Gretchen, gave me this delightful book and I finished it in one day (probably the fastest I've ever read a book in my life). When I was done I wanted more like it and remembered I had this book which I'd never finished, so now I'm reading that. I sat in the cold car waiting for Amelia to do ballet class (they don't let parents inside anymore, and although it's only five minutes from the house it doesn't seem worth it to go all the way home just to come back in an hour) reading it yesterday after going to four coffee shops to get a chai to keep me warm (luckily it was this brand, my favorite) before I found one in the neighborhood that was open. Life. At night, I watch documentaries about the Windsors or mountain climbers or gardening. Just when I thought I'd watched everything ever made!

I'm not sure why but in some strange burst of energy I designed the first of a new series of embroidery patterns, even though I literally, in December, said to myself that I was done doing seasonal stuff (the deadlines!) for a while. Classic. So now I'm going to do one not only every season but every month. I'm not kitting it — it's only available as an instant PDF download. It uses Kona cotton in Fog and DMC 6-strand cotton floss (and one Appletons crewel wool, but you could easily substitute DMC floss for it).

The series is called A Tender Year, and this is January:

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It wraps around a 5" x 7" (13cm x 18cm) stretched canvas and is tacked on the back. I should do a tutorial on that for you, but I haven't yet. (It's easy, but let me know if you'd like to watch me do it.) You can get canvases pretty cheaply. Here's a pack of five for $5.99 but there are lots of places you can pick them up. It's kind of a cute way to finish a piece without a frame or without putting it in a hoop.

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The pattern costs $6 to download and there will be a new one every month. I have February's stitched and I will be better about launching the next ones on the first of the month. (I got this idea pretty late, so I apologize that it's already the second week of January, but it goes quick. You can probably finish it in a couple of days.) The product page has a list of supplies needed and details what is included in the pattern. I really enjoyed doing this and I hope you like it. If this isn't in your budget just shoot me an email and let me know and I will send it to you, on me. I want everyone who wants to be able to do this to do it. XO, a

Edited: I think Shopify is having some problems right now so the web site might not be working properly. Their status report says they're investigating, so I'll update when it's solved. Thank you! Update, 4:30 p.m.: Looks like they fixed it! Sorry about that!

New Year's Eve

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A Christmas wish came true when we got snow last week in the days after Christmas. It was just the perfect snow: big, fat flakes that swirled and stuck, no wind at all, temps not even that cold. We walked all over the neighborhood and then down to the bakery. It reminded me of the hundreds of times I walked there with Amelia in her stroller, warm under her Sunshine Day and in her little knitted boots. The sun came out and make everything sparkle. It was a wonderful present.

I know it's been a hard year for everyone, and it has been harder for me than I can even say. I pray that you have found blessings in the challenges and I pray that I can focus on the blessings, and appreciate them and cherish them, and even grow stronger from the challenges. I'm so grateful for every one of you who has been here this past year (and before that) with your kind words and your generous advice and your stories and your orders and your recipes and your pictures of crafts that you've made. Every single one of the ways you've shared support with me has been important to me, and I sincerely thank you for being here with me when so often I feel that I've lost myself, sifting through the days, looking for things to help and hold on to. I'm going to try to be here more on a regular basis to help me remember and honor the little things. I have every hope for a brighter year and I wish each of you good health and every happiness in 2022. Love always, Alicia, and Andy, Amelia, Clover Meadow, and Agatha Raisin Paulson

We and the Trees

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Ugh, this last one would've made such a cute Christmas card! Alas, in an uncharacteristic burst of organization and wherewithal, I've already had mine printed. But they're not as "Amelia" as this photo. This photo is just so her.

T H A N K   Y O U   G U YSSSS! Thank you so much for the orders. XOXOXO I appreciate them so much. Every order that came in before 10 a.m. yesterday morning has now been shipped. Because of all of the reissues we worked on this year we still have tons of stuff in the shop for Christmas and for the new year, and that makes me so happy. Usually we end the year with absolutely nothing. I have a few new design ideas brewing, including that nursery-rhyme design (that I did a few years ago and never stitched — or rather, I tried to stitch it but I was making so many major mistakes I literally gave up) that I want to get into a shape to release. Not sure if it will be a kit or just a pattern. I also want to do some hand-embroidery patterns for you to frame in little grapevine wreaths (we'll probably make a kit for it that doesn't include the wreaths, but you can get those easily at any craft store these days — it's really hard to get large quantities of stuff like this in a timely way these days, and it would probably go sideways if I tried). I'm also going to think about whether we want to start packaging our soap in little boxes so that they can be shipped in eco-envelopes instead of boxes. That was the trickiest thing about selling soap and embroidery kits together and gave me complete fits when shipping: Soap wants to go in a box so that it doesn't get smashed, kits obviously can be shipped for much less cost in envelopes. If we boxed the soap itself, we could put it in envelopes with the kits. I don't know. Still thinking about whether we even want to make soap to sell. Andy wants to! 

Anyway! Here we are with a lot of trees. We went to the Christmas-tree farm and to the woods. We've had some really nice weather, actually, and it makes hiking really nice. That said, I won't lie, I'm getting sick of going to the woods. Amelia gets her second vaccine tomorrow and then I think life will open up for us a bit more. Planning Christmas stuff outside is a little tricky. There are some things to do outside that we do like to do every year, including seeing the lights at The Grotto and going to Zoo Lights at the zoo, but now you have to have reservations and buy your tickets ahead of time — and what if it's pouring? Or freezing? Or like, no one (probably me) feels like going that night? Agh. I'm really not good at planning stuff in advance, I have to admit. As soon as I have something on the books I feel anxious, especially if I've spent money on it. Maybe this is an introvert thing! Anyway, I find it hard to commit to outdoor stuff at night in the middle of winter. What can I say.

Clover Meadow had two teeth pulled on Tuesday without incident and Agatha Kitters was spayed the Tuesday before that. She gets her silly cone off TOMORROW (she won't believe how happy she'll be) and we all rejoice that our pets are alive and well and good lord, December is an expensive month. . . . Agatha's personality seems to have completely changed, and she has become either freezing or incredibly sweet, as all she wants to do now is snuggle with someone. I was just upstairs brushing my hair and she was meowing and meowing at me and I swear she was telling me to get back into bed. She likes to be completely under my legs under all of the covers and blankets. She would stay there all day. I would, too, if only. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Amelia has made me her Christmas list and it is filled with such sweet, homely things I had to swallow hard when I saw it. A new sweatshirt. A velvet jacket (red or blue or pink or cyan). "Carmal" candy. Oh how I love her! Next week is the last week of school before break and I am ready for it. School's going really well but it's a lot, and I . . . just want to bake cookies and make ornaments and watch movies and reflect and recharge and quit the hustle of trying to keep her on task a lot of the time. Online school has been an awesome experience so far, for the most part. It’s actually kind of a combination Zoom-with-the-teacher-and-classmates and then independently doing computer modules, which, surprisingly, Amelia loves — but I mean, our lives at home pretty much revolve entirely around school. Within the first few days of school this year she made it clear she intended to navigate it all all by herself, for better or worse, and Andy and I actually have very little to do with teaching the actual content of her assignments other than making sure she is staying on track with the work every day. That she wanted to do everything herself really surprised us — this was not at all how things were last year — but we have totally supported it, and her independence and self-direction has been an unexpected and delightful consequence. And she needed that! We had definitely gotten into a pattern of Andy and I providing any and all direction and that never was what I wanted for her. The teacher is awesome. The new curriculum is pretty challenging. She gets a bit tangled up in language arts for sure but it’s seriously beyond. At our conference, the teacher told us that he and the other third-grade teacher think the language-arts curriculum is at more of a sixth-grade level, and I believe that — they're already trying to write opinion essays with a hook, a controlling idea, three paragraphs for supporting details, and a conclusion, and it's like, whoa, I swear she was literally just learning to read, let alone write! I think it's a bit too much. My neighbor, who is an elementary school librarian, told me at the beginning of the year that in first and second grade they “learn to read.” And in third they “read to learn.” That was really helpful to me, just to understand, yes, there’s a leap in third. It’s still been a big leap but she is so far very game, so we obviously protect that. Anyway, school things sort of fell apart for us last year at this time, so I am watchful. But I mean, wow, so far, so very good, and I am just so proud of my girl.

I have literally no idea what to cook anymore. No idea. I'm so over it. I make chicken verde in the Instant Pot every week, and I've developed an addiction to this not-diet-friendly but delicious version of bang-bang shrimp, and I guess I regularly make my childhood favorite, "pizza spaghetti": Cook a pound of spaghetti, mix it with 2 cups of milk and 4 eggs, dump it in a 9"x13" baking dish, top with Ragu spaghetti sauce (my mother only ever used Ragu in this and that’s what I use, too, or it doesn’t taste like childhood) and shredded Mozzarella and bake at 350F until custard is formed and top is golden and bubbling; I think it's probably 30 minutes.  But otherwise, I got nuthin. Please advise.

*** I hated Madam and didn’t finish it and do not recommend. I tried to watch Only Foals and Horses on either BritBox or Acorn but it was too intense so I went back to Gardener’s World and Escape to the Country. I want to plant all wildflowers in my raised beds this year and once again will try to keep them alive. Dang, that location is rough. I watched The Biggest Little Farm. I am knitting the Sirius sweater in Nature Spun sport and the color scheme I’m copying is way out of my usual wardrobe palette and didn’t really come out how I wanted, but hopefully I will like it.

***Darling nine-year-old Hannah suggested adding something for Hanukkah to Winter Rabbit so I made this Hunukkiah that you can substitute for the Christmas tree on the hill, or add elsewhere. Thank you, Hannah!!!

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* Winter Rabbit Now Available *

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Oh, I got so lucky with this design! It just hopped out of my fingers into the design program. Like, I drew the rabbit the way I wanted to on the first try. That literally never happens for me. I just really love this little guy. He scampers happily through the first snow of my imagination.

This embroidery is done on 32-count Natural Brown linen from Wichelt with 2 plies of DMC floss. The stitching area at this fabric count is 6" x 8" (15cm x 20cm), and that's 96 stitches wide by 128 stitches high. You can fit this in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame. All of the floss is included in the kit, along with the fabric, and the printed full-color pattern (if you prefer a black-and-white chart, as always just email me and I will send you the PDF for your use).

To order the Winter Rabbit KIT, please click here.

To order the Winter Rabbit PDF pattern only, please click here.

Cross stitch is done with #24 tapestry needles, so don't forget those if you need them. Our beautiful Hardwicke Manor hoops and Bohin heart scissors are back in stock, too.

And if you need any of the other kits in this series so far, we still have them all in stock. Click on the image to take you to the "Embroidery Kits" page where they all live.

Natural Series

Thus ends the "natural" series, as we called it around here, never having come up with a better name. I was inspired by old-fashioned seasonal woodcuts for this series, and I really haven't exhausted that inspiration so it might come back. Gosh I love how they all look together. I don't know. 2021. The work of 2021 was rough. It makes me feel so many things to look at these, and to see beauty in them after all. I can't stop looking at them all together. How strange. I feel like crying. Why am I crying!

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Here! This is the Winterwoods ABCs Sampler Kit, now back in stock. It might have been the first cross-stitch kit I had ever designed. It is stitched on 28-count Cashel linen in Smokey Pearl with Weeks Dye Works hand-dyed floss.  I will design more kits with hand-dyed floss in 2022, I think. I love it but it's very expensive and it's nice to have kits, I think.

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We also have First Snow kits restocked. This was the first in a series from a few years ago. It's done on 32-count linen with DMC floss and fits in an 8"x10" frame.

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And Things of Winter is also now back in the shop!

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And we also still have Winter Wreath kits in the shop (along with the other designs from the hoop series). These are so quick to stitch up and make such nice little gifts.

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Last year we reissued one of my very favorites, Love and Joy. We still have them in the shop. It's done on 28-count linen with DMC and fits in an 8"x10" frame. Easy to change that year to 2021.

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And Anna has made a new batch of lotion bars so all of them are in the shop right now (but they go fast, so don't wait on them). They make perfect stocking stuffers! This one is Peppermint Cream.

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I also still have packages of pretty winter postcards available. Eight postcards with eight white envelopes.

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And ornament patterns (just one kind of kit left of these, Sweet Home).

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And don't forget this free pattern for A Flow'ret Bright crown for Santa Lucia Day. Just look at that sweet girl. Gosh. Four whole years ago this was, now.

I hope these early winter days are warm and cozy for you. Thank you again as always for your orders and your interest in my work. I'm more grateful that I can say. I wish you the simple joys of stitching this season. I will be back with more of what I'm up to next week and show you how we decorated our house this year. Our tree is up, our mantle is fancy, and want to bake some gingerbread cake right away. Love you guys. XOX, a

Natural Beauty

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I mean, what can I say. Mother Nature speaks for herself here, much more eloquently in a single arc of wild rosehips than I could ever hope to. I wish you could smell the forest, and hear the birdsong, hear the soft gurgle of the streamlets as they meander through the tangle of trees. Oh, soft days. Soft light. A line of black geese across the white sky. Amelia can't stop talking, bouncing ahead of me down the trail, carrying the trail map, looking for a spot to stop and have her snacks she packed. She's just so happy in the woods. After the arboretum (first set of photos; second set is from Mt. Talbert) we stopped at "elephant park" (it's near the zoo, and has a now-broken elephant statue in the sandpit) and then to Elephant's Deli and had lunch on the patio under the heaters, just us girls. It was just the absolute perfect day. After a summer of near-constant outdoor activity, it's rare that we have such perfect weather on the weekends, when she has no school. Wondrous nature and walks with my family, my healing salve, my joy. These days sustain me through the dark and the rain.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and then the Christmas season will be upon us. I had lunch with my darling friend Beth Twist last week. We sat outside in our coats and scarves on the heated patio of the California Pizza Kitchen and ate and talked for four hours. We were the only people out there, ha! :) I had such a great time talking shop. My new design is coming, I swear — we just need to pull floss for it, but the fabric and the patterns are here, so I'll release everything early next week and we'll ship at lightning-speed. I never did show you the digital for it so now I guess I'll keep you in suspense for the real thing. It's my favorite yet in the series. Once we release this guy and the reissued winter kits next week we will be completely done with the reissues and this 2021 seasonal series. For once, the end of my work for the series is coinciding with the end of the calendar year. Aside from the wholesale-pattern-project I keep yammering on about, I have no idea what I am going to design for 2022! I really don't know! I have a lot of vague ideas but I haven't really dialed in a concept. Should I keep doing 8"x10" seasonal cross-stitch designs? Should I do some small little designs? Unique framing options (little grapevine wreaths as frames, for instance)? "Regular" embroidery (not cross stitch)? What should I do for 2022???

At night, I've been doing a lot of knitting. I just knit another sweater. I'll finish the last sleeve and then take a picture of it. I used bulky yarn that was in my stash. Bulky knitting on size US10 needles is not my favorite, but boy is it fast. I really like the CQ sweater and might knit that. I've been keeping my house pretty cold so I can wear all my knitted stuff. I've also really wanted to make a Gamaldags in this color combo for years. I need a hat. I never seem to have a hat for when it's really cold. Maybe this one. I love this sweater in this color. I bought myself two early Christmas/birthday presents and got this paint-by-number kit and this one. Are those not just so utterly adorable and weird??? I've been really indulging in the "selfish" crafting lately. You gotta kinda take what thrills you can get. I am reading this pretty spooky book called Madam that I saw on Melissa's Instagram. I'm about halfway through and I can't put it down. It's so creepy! I started reading it before Halloween but I am a slow reader. Fast knitter, slow reader! Update: I read the next thirty pages and then started skimming through to end and did not finish because it got seriously insane and disturbing. Do not recommend. Blech.

I wish you all a peaceful and abundant Thanksgiving weekend. I am so grateful for your friendship and presence here in my life! Thank you! XOXOXO P.S.: Amelia was horrified that the girls on the trail ahead of us pulled up the mushroom in the photo above and "left it alone there to die." I think they must have done it accidentally because I heard them talking but didn't know what they were talking about until we got to where they had been and saw the mushroom right there. Amelia wanted to replant it. Andy and I had recently watched this movie on Netflix so I didn't think it would work. It wouldn't have worked, would it have? Anyone know what kind of mushroom it is?

Mud Days

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Soggy is an understatement. It pours and pours. It pours every day. It's warm, windy, and wet. I feel like I'm slogging through mud, inside and out. Inside, I knit and knit. Hundreds, thousands of yards of stitches, on fingering-weight yarn for my Soorik and bulky-weight yarn for my Getting Warmer. When I'm not doing that, I'm surfing Ravelry early in the morning under a pile of down and flannel, drinking coffee by the light of my iPad, looking for something else to knit. I bought two new raincoats this year, one dark green and one like a dark . . . bark green? Like pine-tree trunk. I meant to return one of them, depending on which one I liked better, and much to my chagrin I liked them both and I am keeping them both, even though they're really similar. They are both perfect Pacific Northwest winter raincoats, in my opinion. I hadn't gotten a coat in a few years and I've made up for it this year. Now I want to knit a hot pink cowl. I think it will look cute with either coat.

We also got two new plug-in sconces for the kitchen and two new lamps for the living room. I am happy with all of them. Andy did a pro-job hanging the sconces and then getting cord covers for them (the cords were black, and plug in under the cabinets). The sconces take 60w bulbs, which is very nice in there (and a lot brighter bulbs than we usually use around here, ha!). So now I can take pictures of dinner in the dark. The other day was Helen's rice pudding to serve with Ikea Swedish meatballs and gravy. This is just the best rice pudding in the world. It's a recipe from Andy's (Swedish) grandmother and we make it regularly. It's perfect for meatballs, and I actually have started baking it for about ten minutes less than the recipe calls for. That leaves a lovely, jiggly layer of custard on the top and it is all just [chef's kiss] perfect for a sloppy, soupy rainy day.

Thank you so much for the blog recommendations on my last post! I am enjoying checking everything out! I sent my last pattern of 2021 in to the printer a few days ago and it will be here on the 22nd, and then we will get to work stuffing kits. We are reissuing Things of Winter, First Snow, and Winterwoods ABCs kits later this month, as well, so stay tuned for that! (Those are all links to the patterns, BTW.) And when all that is done, that will be the END of the reissues and the end of 2021! Yippee!

Clover needs to have some teeth pulled and they can't get her in to do that until next month. She is otherwise healthy, which is good news. Agatha continues to destroy every houseplant (I only have three left) while also being incredibly cute and also mildly savage. I'm planning to make my way through this list of ice-skating documentaries and videos. I have so many texts and emails I need to answer. And I should probably order some groceries. Blah. Not inspired to do that. Every outdoor play-date and hike has been canceled this week due to the rain. I'm already over it and it's only November.

Autumn Skies

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The weather has certainly changed and fall is here here here. The yellows are vibrant, the skies are gray. Amelia and I found a glorious patch of cosmos flowers near the muddy soccer fields near Reed College. Purple and pink, glowing in the rain. She doesn't have any Zoom meetings on Wednesdays and I just love that. The wet woods receive us, their slippery, leaf-covered paths slick with shining maple leaves as big as your head. We stop and get chai and hot cocoa on the way, and Amelia desperately wants to carry her cup into the canyon. She has visions. I try to accommodate if they don't mean that you fall down a flight of stairs (there's a flight of stairs) into the pond. The days while the leaves will still be hanging on the trees are drawing to a close. Soon the black branches will be bare, and it will rain more, and it will be colder, and wetter, and harder. Goodbye, social life! It was nice knowing you!

At home, I work while she's in school. This week I've been making a database of all of the brick-and-mortar cross-stitch stores around the United States. It's taking me a long time, but I like this type of torpid busywork. When I get tired of that I go back to reformatting my patterns for eventual wholesaling. By "reformatting" I mean a couple of things. They need some text changes and omissions; my patterns tend to be pretty beginner-friendly, and people who shop at cross-stitch stores generally don't need instructions about how to, say, press their fabric, or use a cross-stitch chart, or frame their work, etc. I also made an executive decision, based on some discussions we had here around this issue, to only offer wholesale printed patterns with black-and-white, not color, charts. Black-and-white charts are also (from the anecdotal evidence I've found and the pros I've asked) the industry standard. For almost two years, since we had those chart-y conversations, I've offered black-and-white charts in my PDF patterns, but I still print only color for my kits (and I will continue to do that). But printed patterns for shops will only be available in black-and-white. And before I get them all printed, I have to do a lot of reformatting of my files — re-exporting new charts and redoing the color-chip lists. I had my graphic designer, Greta, make new product line sheets and an order form and stationery for me, and it's all so pretty (she always gets where I'm trying to go, even better than I do).

I'm stitching on my winter design and am almost done. Next year I've decided not to do as many seasonal designs, mostly because they really lock you in to the calendar! And I need more freedom right now. I have some other design ideas. It probably won't work but we'll see. I really want to be a part of the cross-stitch community but I don't think I'll ever have a floss-tube (i.e.: a YouTube channel where you talk about cross stitch). I just don't have time to watch it and I definitely don't have time to do videos. But I think it's great that they have such a vibrant community when so much of blogging has fallen away (personally heartbreaking to me, but hopefully it will come back — if you have a blog, please comment here so I can check it out!).

I've been trying to buy some new lamps for our home. Almost all of our lamps are the same ones — simple stick lamps from Ikea, over ten years old by now. We have at least ten of them that I can count offhand. The problem with these (I'm sure I've mentioned this, I am obsessed with it) is that they use chandelier bulbs and you can only use Ikea shades with them. (You can't use clip-ons because, chandelier bulbs.) Well, Ikea makes only one shade for these lamps right now and they are dark gray. So, blah. I would cover the shades I have but they are all made out of basket-woven wicker. :| Except for the kitchen ones, which are black, and with a bunch of pleated fabric on them they would be completely opaque. So I've been surfing Wayfair (I need matched pairs and have joy for retiring) for hours, looking for new lamps. I've been doing this for like a year. I can't seem to commit! Ah, silly obsessions. Thank goodness for them!

Chit-chatting about the little things here. Tell me yours.

I'm kind of taking the rest of the day off. Andy is home to run homework this afternoon and I've ordered some lunch (banh mi sandwiches and Vietnamese coffees, my weaknesses) and I'm about to start the colorwork on my Soorik tunic. (I still need to make an entry for that, sorry.) Amelia is going to be a "vampire queen" (her idea) for Halloween (I did not make this costume, I just bought it online) and she and Andy will carve pumpkins tonight. It's supposed to be sunny on Sunday which is really wonderful. Halloween on a sunny Sunday, wow!

***Her sweater is here. It still fits, yay.

October Birthday

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Oh, this girl. I love her so. She is such a sweetheart. Her birthday was lovely. It started the day before her birthday and went through the weekend. She wore her fancy dress for much of it. She decorated her own cake. She is so big and grown up and wonderful. I was so grateful that her family and friends celebrated her, near and far. We rented a pavilion in the park on Saturday and the weather could not have been more glorious. It was a busy and delightful week (and in the middle of it all, schoolwork!). We go big! But how can we not! Baby girl is already nine years old!!!

(Big pavilion photo by my darling Holly Klein.)

Make It More Mellow

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Gosh, the light has been so harsh lately. Every time we go out it feels like blazing sun in a cloudless sky, or in a sky where the clouds are of zero consequence, and it's harsh. It hurts my eyes. Last weekend it was, like, 86 degrees or something and I am so over it. I'm ready for things to be a bit more mellow. We are staying home today, and I am glad. In fact, right now I'm up in bed in my nightgown with a second cup of coffee, laptop on top of the comforter, light just starting to come through the windows. I'd like to stay here all day and knit, and drink hot things, and watch TV, and do no chores. Amelia's birthday is coming up in a few days and it will be a busy week, so I'd best recharge. I don't feel ready.

Thank you SO much for all of the orders last week and beyond. I am eternally grateful for every single one of you. Orders come in a bit differently than they used to — the trajectory of orders is lower but longer. We get fewer orders than we used to but there are still over two hundred. I try to ship as fast as I possibly can while sharing the office with Amelia. I make so much noise in there that I have to do it when she's not in school. The office is getting heavily used! Haha.  Actually, every single part is in heavy rotation. We're definitely getting our mortgage-payment's-worth out of this little house lately.

Many trips to the post office later, I have cleaned up the offices and have designed the last (winter) design in 2021's cross-stitch series. Do you want to see the digital? I never know if people want to see that before the finished, stitched photo. And sometimes I think, in my spare time I should be one of those designers that launches PDF patterns based on digital pattern covers; there's a way to export cross-stitch patterns so that they look like they are made of "virtual" stitches. It's not as fun or as pretty but I would have more designs that way. I have more ideas than I have time to stitch. I don't know. Just a thought. I still need to work on my wholesale pattern efforts, which was my New Year's resolution in January of 2020. That got stalled out because of pandemic, but it's still on the list.

Andy's been home on vacation for the past week, mostly to have oral surgery last Tuesday. We spent most of the day on Thursday at the vet with Clover Meadow, who is now fourteen and is probably battling some dental issues herself. Our vet's office says they have lost six or seven of their vets over the past year. I don't know if you've experienced this where you live but it is practically impossible to get a vet appointment that isn't four-to-five weeks out. We had to go way out to the suburbs and wait in the parking lot of a different walk-in emergency vet for two hours to get seen on Thursday. Clover still isn't exactly right and probably needs to have general anesthesia for some dental investigation. It's really hard with dogs this old. Aging has been pretty hard on her. It's tough. I can't seem to talk about it! Urgh. Hurts my heart.

Now, can you believe this, but I'm done with almost all of my Christmas shopping. I was getting up at 3 and 4 a.m. recently and decided to do something productive with my time instead of surfing Pinterest in the dark. So I just did it. I did it all. On my iPad. That's a first. My friend had texted just the night before that she was done herself and I was inspired. I also bought myself five new books to read in the hot tub. I can't remember what all of them are. Mysteries. I also bought Amelia what I thought was a pretty cute birthday present — I got her a new apron, new cookie cutters, fluorescent food coloring, her own icing tips, and a few new bottles of fancy sprinkles. Do you remember when Sears used to have a WishBook catalog that came out every fall? Oh gosh how I loved that thing! I would spend hours as a kid just paging through it and marking things I wanted. I really wish they still had something like that. They have an American Girl doll catalog, and Amelia does love those. But there's just something about the WishBook. Like, I think it must have had every single toy in it. And do any of you Chicagoans remember Service Merchandise? Oh I loved that place! I used to go there with my dad. Wasn't there a conveyor belt or something? I don't even remember how it worked! I just remember that I adored it. I remember one time my parents left us at home with a babysitter and went shopping together and brought home a White Stag sweater dress for me, with a zipper neck. It wasn't from Service Merchandise but I swear I think it was from Madigan's (that was another old Chicago department store that I used to love). Ahhh, sigh. I was just telling Andy yesterday that I really miss going to Amling's for Halloween, too. Does Amling's still have a carnival and caramel apples and pumpkins in the parking lot and stuff like that? Aww, I'm getting so old and nostalgic. When I look at the pictures above, I think, These will be Amelia's memories of getting pumpkins for Halloween in childhood at Dolan Creek Farm. . . . Nicest people ever, and every single member of their family came and found us on the property yesterday and said hello to us, remembering us from last spring when we stayed the weekend there for Andy's birthday.

I bought a cute cereal bowl with a flower design on the rim on eBay the other day, and when it gets here I'm going to make soup and take a picture of it in that bowl. OH! And I found the old poetry books I was talking about in my last post and I will show you those, too. They are so cool. I meant to do that. I'd best press "publish" on this now, though, and get on with the day. Of relative leisure. I hope you are all well and wish you a peaceful weekend. Xox.

(Riverside pictures above from Milwaukie riverfront, not Dolan Creek Farm.)

Edited to add: More from the western suburbs of Chicagoland memory tour: Kiddieland! Come Back Inn! Russell's BBQ! (And obviously Marshall Field's and Weiboldt's.)

Autumn Designs Now Available!

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My third design in this year's seasonal series is called The Mist and All, and it is now available! The name of it is taken from this lovely poem by Dixie Willson:

I like the fall,
The mist and all.
I like the night owl's
Lonely call —
And wailing sound
Of wind around.

I like the gray
November day,
And bare, dead boughs
That coldly sway
Against my pane.
I like the rain.

I like to sit
And laugh at it —
And tend
My cozy fire a bit.
I like the fall —
The mist and all.

I just love that poem. I'm not sure when it was written; it appears in a book called Poems for Boys and Girls which was compiled by Marjorie Barrows in 1945. I love those old books of illustrated poetry compilations for kids. My mother had a few of hers from her own childhood that I remember just staring into for hours when I was a kid. I need to find them for Amelia. They're so cool.

This embroidery is done on 32-count Natural Brown linen from Wichelt with 2 plies of DMC floss. The stitching area at this fabric count is 6" x 8" (15cm x 20cm), and that's 96 stitches wide by 128 stitches high. You can fit this in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame. In this design I combined one ply each of two separate colors of floss for the areas of the owl head and wing, the mushroom cap, and the oak leaf. All of the floss is included in the kit, along with the fabric, and the printed full-color pattern (if you prefer a black-and-white chart, as always just email me and I will send you the PDF for your use).

To order The Mist and All KIT, please click here.

To order The Mist and All PDF pattern only, please click here.

Cross stitch is done with #24 tapestry needles, so don't forget those if you need them. Our beautiful Bohin heart scissors are back in stock, too.

And if you need any of the other kits in this series so far, we still have them in stock. Click on the image to take you to the "Embroidery Kits" page where they all live.

Autumn Launch Cross Stitch

 

Now, here is our hoop design for fall, Autumn Wreath.

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This is the fourth and final 4" hoop design of 2020-2021 and I have loved developing these. They are inexpensive, quick to work and frame, and make great gifts. The kit includes a printed pattern, two pieces of muslin fabric (one for stitching, one to use as a liner when framing), all of the floss you need, a hoop for framing, a piece of felt for the backing, and a ribbon for hanging.

To order the Autumn Wreath KIT, please click here.

To order the Autumn Wreath PDF pattern only, please click here.

You will have to trace the design onto your fabric so it can be helpful to use this fine-point water soluble marker for that (sold separately).

And if you'd like to purchase any of the other kits in this series, we have those as well. Click on the image to take you to the "Embroidery Kits" page where they all live.

Autumn Launch Rings

We also have re-issued a limited number of autumn kits from last year and the year before.

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This is the Things of Autumn kit from fall 2020. It's also done on 32-count fabric with 2-plies of floss. It's part of the "Things Of" series, and yes, Things of Winter kits will be reissued in a few weeks, too. (Things of Spring kits are entirely sold out because very unfortunately the fabric has been discontinued. Things of Summer kits are still available.)

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This is The Leaves by Hundreds Came from fall 2019. It's also done on 32-count fabric with 2-plies of floss. Its reissued companion pieces, Summer Storm (summer) and Time of Flowers (spring) are still available, and First Snow (winter) will be reissued in a few weeks.

Last month Andy was putting things away for me up the attic and let me know that there were four boxes filled to the brims of already-cut fabric strips for Calicozy ComfyQuilt top kits, just waiting to be assembled. I honestly do not know why these were up there and why I had not yet made them into kits, but now I have. You might remember these quilts from when I originally made them several years ago:

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They are made almost entirely of vintage cotton calicos from the 1980s (some might be before, some a bit after) and Kona cotton solids. This quilt is set on-point, so the square patches actually display as diamonds. It is designed to be turned inside out instead of bound, tied at each patch intersection, and filled with a poufy, inexpensive comforter from Ikea (though you can use batting, if you like). The Ikea comforter can be purchased both at the Ikea store and on-line.

To make the Calicozy ComfyQuilt, you will also need to purchase the Calicozy ComfyQuilt PDF pattern, available only as a digital download, HERE.

And then if you are interested, you can purchase a quilt-top kit of ready-cut 4.25" solid and calico strips (please note that the kits are for the TOP ONLY — please review the pattern page to see what other supplies you will need to finish this quilt) in one of several colorways, shown below. The kits that I've made up come with all of the fabric, including calicos and solids, you need for a Throw size quilt (58" x 58" [147cm x 147cm]). That is the only size I am offering. The fabrics are already cut into 4.25" strips so all you need to do is cut those into 4.25" squares and go, go, go! I made these composites on my computer to show you the fabrics that are likely to be included (though you might not get every single one, and you might get one or two that is not pictured). Click on each image to be taken to my web shop where you may purchase a kit in the Throw 58" x 58" (147cm x 147cm) size.

COUNTRY HOUSE

Country House Blog

 

HOLLY JOLLY

Holly Jolly Blog

 

COZY RAINY DAY

Cozy Rainy Day Blog

 

IVY LEAGUE

Ivy League Blog

 

SAILING VESSEL

Sailing Vessel Blog

 

HOLLY JOLLY BUT MAKE IT PINK

Holly Jolly Pink Blog

 

MERRY WEATHER

Merry Weather Blog

Okay, now! We also found some Phyllis Mouse and Dandelion Doe supplies in the attic, and I have made these up with vintage calicos as well. Do you remember these girls?

Miss Phyllis Mouse kit

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Miss Dandelion Doe kit

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We no longer have Liberty fabric dress fabric available for these kits, but I've used a large range of vintage calicos (with 100% wool sport-weight yarn from Brown Sheep) for them instead. Click on all of the little thumbnails on each product page to see all of the prints that are available for each animal. All of the items included in the kit are listed in detail on the product page, so please have a look at those and let me know if you have questions.

And last but not least, we have more Autumn Woods lotion bars, too! These are made with beeswax from local bees; coconut oil; unrefined shea butter; lanolin; and essential oils of cedarwood, fir, balsam Peru, and a drop of cinnamon. They have an earthy, spicy scent, and are perfect for fall. I just used mine last night on my elbows and it was nice.

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WHEW. That was a lot. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I hope these projects bring you some joy and peace this fall. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to respond directly. Thank you!

UPDATE, 9:30 a.m. PST: The USPS has temporarily suspended all First Class International shipments to Australia, as of September 17, 2021. I have disabled shipping to Australia on my web site for now. When the USPS resumes shipping, we will be able to ship to Australia again. So sorry for the frustration. If you are in Australia and you would like me to hold items for you until further notice, please send me an email or leave a comment here and I will get in touch to arrange that, no big deal. Thank you! Xo, a

Also: We ran out of the temporary tattoos we have included with orders for many years! It looks like the original company we used doesn't make them anymore. Let me know if you liked having those and want me to find another company to make them. Or let me know if you didn't care either way! It's always good to know these things and I don't think I have ever asked!

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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