Posts filed in: October 2005

Doggies in the Window

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Stuffiegallery Be careful what you ask me for. Predictably, I tend to get a little carried away. My niece asked for a amigurumi kitty cat for her seventh birthday, so of course she's getting a whole litter of critters. Here are, from left to right, Meggie, Cocoapuff, Herb, Holly, Peabody, Fleur, Dilly, Maggie, Merry, and Bun. They all have little I-cord collars and will have their own Shrinky Dink nametags by the end of the afternoon.

It's a rainy, blustery day here and I have a sore throat and feel like I'm getting sick. But these guys are so bright and cheery I hardly mind. Happy Halloween!

Aimee in Paris

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Art_dreamsofparis_lg We're doing a painting series, Andy and I, for our big olive-y green hallway, currently devoid of art. We just repainted the hallway, and I love the color. We bought a few dozen 8 x 8-inch canvases, and all the little bottles of acrylic paint we could allow ourselves, and we plan to have all our friends over some Sunday afternoon to make paintings for us. Doesn't that sound like fun? Make chili and sour cream apple pie, set everyone up with a canvas and brush, and let them paint whatever they want. We don't care what they paint as long as they enjoy it, of course. Andy has big plans to offer silk-screening services to anyone who is inclined to do a paint-by-number, so be thinking of your design now. . . .

I don't know how to paint, but I always think that it sounds like a lot of fun, and I love having real paintings in the house. This little collage is my first foray onto the 8 x 8 canvases -- I gave it to my dear sweet friend Aimee M. for her birthday last week. Somehow Aimee became connected to the idea of the Eiffel Tower -- she wears a teeny-tiny one with a teeny-tiny diamond around her neck -- a few years ago, and I liked the dreamy quality of this for her in particular. I really enjoyed making the painting, and finding things to use on it. I think what keeps me from doing it more often is getting all the stuff out and then putting it all away, etc. It's not the stuff (i.e., yarn) that I usually have out, so it actually seems harder to find the supplies (which seem to live in all corners of the house) and the paintbrush I want and get everything set up than it is to make the painting itself, I think. Good grief. Maybe it's just me.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

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Audreybeach When I look at this picture of Audrey on Cannon Beach this August (you should click on it and see it big, if you can), I can't help wishing I was back on vacation. I honestly think that watching dogs run on the beach is one of the best things in the world. The dog was so happy -- Andy or I said, probably a hundred or more times a day, "Ohmigod, she is so cute." We laid on the beach, day after day, watching the water and watching the dog play. She was a different little lady by the end of the week. More of a grown up, somehow. Maybe the way a kid looks taller, older after returning from summer camp.

It was a hard summer. After moving the store this spring, and being (frankly) overwhelmed by the process, and the sheer physical toll it took on me, I wasn't really ready for the publicity coming in Country Living in August, although I was so excited about it. I spent every day of May, June, and July getting the Posie and Ella Posie web sites redesigned and rebuilt, and every minute I wasn't doing something on the computer I was crocheting something, or sewing something, or in the shop, or on the phone trying to fix some problem with something somewhere. By the time the article hit, I was feeling sort of floppy and light-headed. I could hear the pitch of my voice rising in even the most casual of conversations. I was so strung out to begin with that when the orders started coming in, I could only feel a remote, wavering happiness somewhere beyond my exhaustion as I packed and shipped and packed and shipped. It made me sad, because I was so looking forward to the article and the experience and when it finally came I felt in some ways like I was just trying to survive it, more than anything else. I was so worn out.

There's something about owning your own one-person business that over the years has manifested itself more than once. It's the strange solitude that accompanies the big moments. I don't know if solitude is the right word. It's probably, actually, "aloneness," or something closer to that. I remember when I worked in offices, as part of  various "teams," going through crunch times, doing major pushes to finish a book we were working on by deadline, or get a catalog out before a sales fair. Small breaks felt like stolen and decadent luxuries. I once made a dramatic performance out of pouring a can of Coke into a big glass of ice in the conference room where we had been proofing bluelines for hours and hours -- "Yummy," said I. People looked on, longingly.

My boss said, "Hmm, that looks really good. I should go get one." (The Coke machine was down the hall.)

"Oh, you should," I said. "Absolutely. It's so great." Then, whoosh!  I knocked my full glass over and flooded table and bluelines with pop and a million cubes of ice. Everyone at the table sprang into action, lofting the huge, dripping papers to safety. My co-workers looked at me in terror and disbelief, as if I had just started singing at the top of my lungs. It was so horrifying and ridiculous that we all started sort of laugh-crying with exhaustion. I burst into paroxysms of apology and embarrassment, sure I was about to be fired. But my boss was like, "Dude, calm down. It's fine. We'll deal with it. No biggie." Carry on, troops. Things happen. That's life. Let's just fix it. (And that was a super-cool boss moment, too, which made me love my boss and pledge to act as cool when some doofus wrecks my project -- but I suspect there is no way I will, being hardwired to have hissy fits, as I am. . . . Anyway, Tim Frew if by some fluke you ever read this, thank you for that lesson.)

I thought of that day with the Coke and the table often this summer, and thought about my old friends at work, and how there was a irrepressible  camaraderie in sharing the stress and tight deadlines and impossible tasks that seem about to overwhelm. Even though everyone has their own job to do, there is something comforting in the collective  suffering -- a shared context that  doesn't need explaining. But when you own your own business and do almost everything yourself, you sometimes miss that context (not to mention, of course, the physical help, but that's something else completely). You have to tell complete strangers how busy you are -- you tell the mailman who's bringing you more mail-order yarn, "Oh man, I am so busy! I'm freaking out!" and he's like, "So what, who cares?" Because there's no one else in your "office," no one who is really a part of the hard times, when things get messed up or aren't going right, when balls that have been dropped need to be picked up, and, often, to be launched back into the air. It's just you -- little, overwhelmed you, in sweatpants and glasses with no time to eat lunch -- who bears the responsibility and the challenge. You don't want to crash and burn. At the same time, neither is there anyone who has had a significant hand in the work around to celebrate when something really great happens -- a big order, a little publicity, a pursued opportunity granted. You walk around the studio grinning like a fool, and calling your friends who are in other offices, doing other jobs, on teams of their own. Bearing the brunt of stebacks and successes, is, for the most part, your task alone, and finding the ability to keep in all in perspective -- well, it can be lonely sometimes.

Don't get me wrong; I mean, I am never happier than alone with a new skein of yarn, a hot cup of coffee, and a private plan. But still -- some days, the harder days, there's nothing like a team to get you through.

Anyway, by the end of August, I was beat. We hightailed it to the beach for a vacation planned months before we knew what a busy month it would be. I was extremely anxious about leaving at such a busy time. Turns out, it was just what I needed. I am the type of person who can lay on the beach from noon until night and not get bored. We stayed at our friend Susan's darling beach house, and it was so lovely to be there surrounded by Susan's sweet touches (she is an interior designer, to boot) as opposed to staying in a hotel or an anonymous rental. I felt myself finally deflate. The dog was so tired every night she lay contentedly flat on the linoleum floor and barely lifted her head until morning. Andy worked on a paint-by-number of whales breaching and got tan and happy. I read mysteries about Italian cops and closed my eyes in the sun. It was so great to get a break I can't even tell you. I think I need to work more beach into my regular life.

Who Doesn't Love a Stuffie?

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Pho_stuf_mickie_lg In the midst of our recent decorating binge, I went through our shelves of personal photos last month. On top of the neatly arranged albums I made when I was in my photo-album phase was a plastic grocery bag filled with odds and ends that had gotten left out, somehow -- handfuls of childhood photos, high school embarrassments (remember the Disc camera?), and absolute piles of pictures of my horses. Model horses, that is. Posed realistically in puddles, in leaf piles, next to tiny twig fences, wearing felt horse blankets and pleather bridles. On the back of each picture, in my curly-cued 7th-grade handwriting, were the names of the horse, her "sire" and "dam," and her stable (Autumnbrook Farm, i.e. the Ieronemo residence).

For those of you unfamiliar with the  secret world of model horse showing, you aren't alone. I personally have never met anyone in real life who had this same obsession (what else is new, for me), but what you do is take pictures of your model horses, and then send them to another horse-crazed girl across the country who is having a "show." The horses are entered in "classes," where they "perform" against other (often the exact same) Breyer model horses -- meaning, that girl looks at the pictures and decides which picture she likes better, I guess, since like I said the horses are often exactly the same. Then she sends your pictures back to you with some, often homemade, ribbons. I still have a few of my ribbons, which are cross-stitched by hand to say "First Place" alongside a cross-stitched picture of a horse. Amazing. Who made these? Where is she now? We would probably be fast friends, I think.

But this was back in 1981 or so, when I lived in a constant state of horse-craziness (though I didn't have a real horse) and pen pal mania (I did have pen pals -- many pen pals). All day long, in school, I drew pictures of horses and wrote letters, mostly full of made up lies about myself -- I had a twin sister and a puppy, was a ballet dancer, was from the Isle of Man (I have no idea where I got this idea -- I'm sure I barely knew where the Isle of Man was, but I told people this a lot, for some reason). Not one of these was true; in reality, of course, I was only a fantasist, and horses occupied most of my imagination -- and imaginary horses occupied much of my reality. I cantered home from school each day. I was pleased when my parents built a new red and white garage, because it looked like a barn. I knew exactly how much it would cost for us to keep a horse "at grass" and rattled off long catalogs of facts about Pony Club (which of course no one I knew had ever heard of, this being suburban Chicago). My parents stared at me nervously -- where did I get this one, and when was it going to end? I stomped my hooves. I shook my mane in disgust. What was wrong with everyone? Why couldn't we move to the country?

Lots of girls fall in love with horses. I haven't thought about it in a long time, but I'm sure there are dozens of dissertations out there analyzing this special obsession particular to teenage girls, and maybe even to city girls. But I know that part of my own love for the creatures had everything to do with their sweet, soft noses blowing oat dust into your hand, their sad eyes so earnest and willing, their impossibly soft-but-hard ears flicking toward the slightest breeze. I loved the velvet whiskery-ness of their noses the best. I had read somewhere that you should always stroke a horse's face the way you would stroke a bird, and I did this, wandering up and down the aisles of the riding school where I took lessons, softly petting each and every old beast waiting at the gate. The physical reality of horses still makes me cry when I'm around them. I've never gotten to own one; although I rode them in lessons for many years I've always lived in urban areas and I've never been rich. But to this day, whenever I see a police horse on the street downtown, or a pony in paddock on the side of a highway, I get a actual jolt of love and longing that rivals anything I've ever felt.

Well, sniff sniff. All that said, who the hell doesn't love a stuffie. We city dreamers take it where we can get it.

A Double-Agent

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This picture of felted balls represents the sum total accomplishments for my weekend. The paranoia can't be photographed, but it's there, too. It's the result of an entire Sunday watching Alias on DVD to try and catch up with a show I'd never watched until about two weeks ago. Being a Spy Girl wanna-be (Harriet the Spy, Veronica Mars), I am shocked that we are so slow to catch on to this. I've never watched a TV show on DVD until this, and I have to say -- FUN. No commercials, plenty of behind-the-scenes, gag reel stuff to satisfy, and none of that "Ohmigod-I-can't-believe-that-just-happened-now-what-are-they-gonna-do?"-until-next-week stuff. Now we just keep pressing play, play, play. And we still have several seasons to get through.

That said, however, and feeling completely secure with the choice to do absolutely nothing on a beautiful fall day -- you just gotta have one of these every once in a while -- a new, more paranoid reality seems to haunt my non-TV-watching life. A guy crossed our street yesterday afternoon carrying an umbrella and talking on a cell phone. He glanced up at our house. I happened to be passing the window and instinctively ducked behind the curtain. So he wouldn't see me, apparently. I don't know. A few nights before I dreamed that I was part of SD-6 and we had invented a new kind of Swiss cheese, but it was called "coco." We had also invented a new kind of lunch meat, but it was called "wormwood." People chased me all night long trying to get to them. Unlike Sydney, karate kicks don't come naturally, and I dragged legs made of sand around after me, through the foggy, orange-y streets. . . .

The antidote to this high-tech brain melt appears to be felting balls, by hand, all afternoon. It's the absolute antithesis, I think. Spy Girl/hand-felter. I'm a double agent.

The Opal Month of the Year

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Ah, October already. It's hard to believe that summer really is over, for some reason. I don't know why it always takes me so long to come to grips. This fall in Portland has been particularly sweet so far -- cool and crisp with lots of swirling leaves and even a few frosty mornings when woodsmoke has been in the air and the dog stands, unwilling, at the back door -- she does hate having cold paws. I try to shoo her out, but she prefers to plaster herself against me on the couch while I have my coffee. My ambitions run simple: Basic groceries? Check. Bills paid? Yup. House fairly clean? Um, sure. Now: time for knitting socks on the couch and watching Alias from the beginning. That's all I really want to do -- curl up and play with yarny things.

Truth be told, we've just come out of a serious domestic quarters' reorganization: repainting, redecorating, going through closets, donating a huge number of books and clothes. Feeling lighter, I consider the possibilities inherent in empty space. My books, categorized and shelved attractively, wait to be used. My clothes, warm old friends, actually fit in the closet. Can these really be my spaces? This tidyness will not last (historically, we are more of a binge and purge family, letting things get completely overrun and then flinging half of it away in a frenzy of frustration and good intentions) but oh how I love the honeymoon period, when everything is perfect.

We're getting the shop dressed pretty for fall, too, as our new products slowly but surely fill up the shelves. Posie felted bags,  tons of newBla Bla stuffies, incredible body care confections from Jaqua Beauty (like Chai Spice Latte shower syrup and the classic favorite Buttercream Frosting body butter), lots of crochetwear -- all have just come in and won't be around for long. I am stopping myself from taking it all home for personal indulgence. On Saturday, we're having a trunk show for one of our favorite jewelry designers, Penny Carter. She'll be here from 11-3 p.m. with tons of gorgeous new jewels for fall, and 10% of the proceeds will be donated to Mercy Corps for hurricane relief.

Come and join us. We'd love to see you. And I promise, Posie sneak peeks coming soon (she said, determinedly). As soon as I get off the couch. . . .

About Alicia Paulson


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