Posts filed in: May 2006

Back to Work

comments: 16

Canisters1Yes, back to business. Busy, busy day, playing catch up, getting all orders out, paying bills, and hopefully finding a bit of time to make some new stuff that I've had in mind for weeks now. Just not had an extra second to do anything other than scramble through each day, pretty recklessly. This is the first week in about a month that will not be the beginning or the end of some major project. Sweet relief of just hammering away at the regular stuff. Oh how I love it.

Canisters5_1 We actually went antiquing a bit over the weekend and I found these cool canisters, a set of four. This is the top of a little bookshelf in the living room. (I know someone will ask me what the name of this paint color is but I don't remember! Sorry!) Lately I've been so attracted to yellow. Which is weird. Since I've never liked it much before. New bags will have lots of mellow brightness. I can't wait to work on them later today. I hope what I'm picturing actually works. You never really know until you start cutting and pressing and stitching.

Speaking of, have you heard of a new show on the DIY Network called Uncommon Threads? Melody Shafir, who is extremely nice, is looking for peeps who are handy with any of the needlearts -- except knitting -- to be on the show. So, crochet, embroidery, quilting, rug making. They'll fly you and a few friends to L.A. for the taping -- the show features your little group learning how to make a project of your choice. The details are here, and you can contact Melody directly. Taping for this season is in August/beginning of September. I've actually been wanting to go down to Los Angeles, but I'm not going to be able to make it this time. Sounds like a lot of fun though, no? I love L.A. I really do.

35 Birth Days

comments: 37

Birthday1What do you do with a guy who wants nothing more than a moccasin-making kit for his birthday? I don't know. It's tough. It's hard for a monger like me to relate to someone so unmaterialistic.

Birthday2After the party, it was kind of a lazy weekend. Sunday morning we stumbled around the evidence of Saturday's festivities (the couch suffered a severe freckling of BBQ sauce, but otherwise everything looked in good shape, thanks to Andy's pre-nursing career as a professional dishwasher in 1994) and finally decided to head out to the mall for California Pizza Kitchen and The Da Vinci Code. We hadn't read the book, but I was curious about all the hype. Hmmm. Zzzzzzz. I literally fell asleep a few times. Was I tired or was the movie really that bad?

Birthday3Andy made moccasins on Sunday night. Monday morning we had eggs and coffee at the Cup & Saucer, then were off to get a leafblower. I think it's our first piece of power lawn equipment. The sun came out. We headed to the science museum to see Dolphins at the Omnimax theater with our niece and nephew and brother-in-law. I would say we are across the board a dolphin-loving family. It was a wonderful day.

Birthday5Andy is 35 now! Wow. Time really does fly. I've now known him almost half his life, 17 years. This shirt he's wearing is almost 15 years old. It's from 1992, the year we started going out. How is that possible. It seems like five minutes. I think he's gloriously good company. I'm so glad he was born. Thank you, universe. And Suzan and Dennis Paulson. Oh, thank you.

Birthday4I think he was happy late last night, when the weekend was over. Apparently he doesn't actually like being the center of attention. I think he's more go-with-the-flow-that's-already-flowing. I can't believe he actually let me take all these pictures. I took about a hundred. I'm glad I did, so I could look at them over and over again today, now that it's back to business as usual.

I love you, hun. Happy birthday. I hope Year 35 is extraordinary.

Party Peeps Dog Tired

comments: 21

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Andy's party started slow but ended late and, in spite of the yucky weather, everyone had a great time. Thank you all for your very generous recipe suggestions, and thank you to all our friends and family who came out to spend the day with us! All Paulsons were tired last night, tired this morning, and tired today, assuming within the last 24 hours an ever-rotating repertoire of poses as illustrated above; I would except more of the same uninspired performance for the next 24, as well.

When It Used to Be Sunny (Not Now)

comments: 46

DinnerOh man, I'm tired. The weather is not helping -- cold and rainy again. I'm eating heart-shaped waffles and Andy is talking to me about Radiohead. When he starts talking about Radiohead he can't stop. He's still talking. It is interesting. But my head feels like fluffy batting. Radiohead is playing in the kitchen. It feels like a Radiohead day -- layered with clouds and heavy-ish things and potential for overthinking. He's still talking. Alien abduction, yuppies networking, what it's really like to sit in the car, thinking.

I'm only barely thinking, actually, and my thinking is rather lightweight. What I'm thinking is -- will it rain tomorrow. Of course it will. It hasn't stopped for a week. Big party scheduled for Mr. Wonderful over here, whose birthday is in a few days and whose rose-planting ceremony is next week. I was so hoping the weather would be nice, but I think I have to resign myself to the idea of several dozen people in the house instead of the backyard. It's been so long since I've had a party I can't remember how it works. Perhaps we should rent some chairs. I used to be stressed out about parties. At my own wedding I think I went up to every single one of the 120 guests to make sure they were having a good time. Twice. My dad said if I asked him if he was having a good time one more time I was gonna get it. I still worry that maybe no one had a good time. Now I see that parties have a life of their own. It'll be okay. People don't go to parties to be harassed into having a good time. But I might be being too relaxed about it. I was wondering if it's completely inappropriate to greet one's guests while lying on the couch. That's actually all I feel like doing. Curling up under a polarfleece blanket. And I hate polarfleece. This week has been insanely busy. Everytime I do sit down I immediately start staring off into space.

I think I need to get some food and some party supplies. Maybe I should bring all the Everyday Foods to the shop and figure out what to make for the dessert bar. Suddenly my ice-cream sundae bar doesn't seem so appealing, since it's about 50 degrees. Above -- pasta with prosciutto and peas from the new Everyday Food. Soooooo good. You should make it. I've tried to make a lot of things like it, tried to make them taste the way they do at Italian restaurants, and this is the first one that actually has. I'm no Top Chef. (Yay Harold!) Prosciutto is one of those things that tastes completely different to me when its eaten alone (don't like that) or when it's in something (do like that). Anyway, I thought this was really good, and pretty. I wish I could make it for everyone. Unfortunately, I don't think it will work for 30.

I do need a good cold pasta salad recipe though -- maybe even two, one creamy, one not. Do you have a reliable favorite you can point me toward? The one that will assure total-party success? You must. You guys know everything. I need you. I think I need to pull a trick out of my sleeve here. Perhaps another cup of coffee would be a good place to start.

Wall of Charm

comments: 35

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My friend from college, Jeanne Marie, offered me some books to supplement the Summer Reading List (which, let's face it, I am not too far through. By the time I crawl into bed every night lately, it is only mere minutes before I am snoozing, completely zonked out. But I aim to change that, since it is, amazingly almost June -- can't believe that -- so many books, so little time!). Anyway, JM was planning to send the books, and then she casually asked if I would like some old hankies that she had inherited through various means. I said (of course I said) Yes, please! I finally had a chance to open the box yesterday and completely flipped over these babies. (Oh, and the books are great, too [wink] -- thanks JM!) So, I need to check the comments on this post for framing ideas again, as this haul is going to be promptly installed in the downstairs hallway, along with the others I have. I'm loving these. So psyched here. So very psyched. Thanks for thinking of me, Jeanne Marie. And I promise I will be good and read something someday, too.

Did anyone watch the Nigella Lawson biography on the Biography channel last night? Were you as confused by the narrator's voice as I was? Was he not making it sound like a parody of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, or something? It was so bizarre. I watch Biography all the time and I've never heard that narrator before. Anyway, not important. I am completely fascinated and very moved by Nigella Lawson. This is the second biography I've watched about Nigella, and she actually spoke throughout most of this one. She says things like, "I always worry now that if children are too happy, they'll never read." I've never heard anyone actually say this. I think she could probably say anything and I'd listen. I have all her cookbooks, and I actually read them. I mean, I cook out of them, but I just drag them upstairs and read them page by page, too. I've learned a lot from Nigella. She believes in grabbing whatever happiness life allows, I think. I'm glad she's shared her story and herself with us. I wish she'd have a show again. I miss looking at her house.

Wow -- is that the sun I see here in Portland this morning, instead of torrentially downpouring rain? My peonies are smashed like fallen pavlovas (a Nigella word) all over the front lawn. Poor girls. I forgot to put those corset things around them again. I think Nigella's waist naturally is that small.

Happy Birthday Amy

comments: 24

Cupcakes3 Darling Amy, happy birthday. I'll be dropping these off for you later. I don't even know what you're doing today, but I hope it's something very special.

I love our little chicken. She knows me in real life and she still talks to me, which I always think is sort of a miracle. Amy is completely responsible for my having a blog at all. I started it because I met her at my shop one day, and she encouraged me. I only vaguely knew what a blog was, back then. (Back then in September.) Little did she know she was spawning a blogging evangelist. I think everyone should have one. You should have one. Just have one. It's fun. Amy, tell them. (She says it better.)

Cupcake4 Actually, what Amy said was "It's really good if it can come from the heart." And the way I heard it wasn't like "It'll be a good blog if it comes from the heart" but "It's really good for you if it can come from the heart." Good for you like oatmeal is good for you. Warm, honest, hearty, straightforward, earnest, a little bit cinnamon-spicy sometimes, a few raisins here and there to keep us guessing, some lovely whole milk straight from an old-fashioned glass bottle, all served on a small-quilted placemat. That kind of Amy-ish oatmeal, straight from a big, sweet heart. Happy birthday, sweetie.

And thank you to all of you who stopped by here yesterday to be excited about the studio with me -- thank you! Oh, thank you. Has anyone ever told you you are the nicest people in the world? I am so happy with that space. I think Virginia was right -- having your own room is super great. (If you can't have your own room, make sure you have your very own corner, shelf, or drawer -- your very own one all to yourself.) But a whole room is like -- oh my -- it's as good as having your very own (very safe but still extraordinary) fireworks show! An in-ground pool! A 1964 robin's-egg blue vintage Volvo! A pony!

Okay, well, not as good as the pony. But still. Pretty great.

The Studio Makes a Full and Speedy Recovery

comments: 164

Studioblue2Oh my. I really can't believe it. I don't know how the room went from this to this in only three days. Actually, I do know how. It practically wiped all of us out. But it had to be done, and it had to be done quick, because Andy only had one day off to paint, and I had two to put back together. We had been talking about painting the studio for several months. How it was possible for me to pick the exact same paint color that I picked for the pantry about two years ago I'll never know, but it turns out it is the same -- River's Edge, from Behr.

Studioblue31 I'm fairly sure I've never been so happy. Or relieved. On Sunday morning Andy went to work and I started trying to put things back into the empty studio. I finished last night around five. I needed to heavily edit my stuff. I brought two huge plastic boxes or extra fabric to the Back-Tack party, brought probably another four boxes of general stuff down to the basement, and threw away probably three. It was just too much. I never want to let that happen again. I do have two enormous cabinets in Andy's office full of felt, yarn, patterns, stuffing, supplies, things like that.

Studioblue29This studio is a full-on working studio, not just a craft room. It has to hold all the paperwork, the computer, the packaging stuff, the cardboard boxes, all the mounds of materials, everything I need to run the business. As such, it gets so overrun with stuff that it is hard to actually work in it. I used to have curtains, and pictures, and artwork, and all this extra decoration that I thought was cute. But for this re-do I wanted as little as possible actually up on the walls because it gets so cluttered with the necessaries as it is. This cabinet of stacked calicoes looks like an exquisite monument to impracticality to me, but I don't know how else to store little pieces of fabric and have it at my fingertips, do you?

Studioblue27All those round white boxes up on the top shelf need labels, and I think what I'm going to do is make some labels on the computer, print them on iron-on paper, and then iron them onto pieces of felt, or if it's readable, pale calicoes. Then I'm thinking I'll affix those to the boxes with removable double-sided tape so that when I want to change the contents of the box I can easily switch out the label. These boxes and jars are filled with sewing notions, paints, fake flowers, cagelet supplies, trims, embroidery stuff, rubber stamps, paper stuff, rick-rack, buttons.

Studioblue18I'm so excited to get back to work in here now. Isn't it amazing how having enough room to do things makes such a big difference? When I was growing up, my sisters and I sewed with our little sewing machine on the floor. We made dresses and patchwork quilts. We sat on the edge of my futon, watching Beverly Hills 90210, eating Domino's pizza, ironing on the ironing board in my mom's room, where her ancient sewing machine was. It was always about 90 degrees in there. My dad would turn on the attic fan and our patterns would blow all over the place. When someone would come in the room, they'd have to step over the sewing machine to get into the back of the room, which snaked around the corner. It was kind of fun, actually. In hindsight only, of course. I do miss 90210 though.

Studioblue5This office-supply arrangement is pretty precious, I know. But what can you do. You always set things up this way and are really good about putting everything back in exactly its place for a few days until it all gets messy again. But this time I'm determined to be good! I must be good! It's hard though. Worth it, but you really have to pay attention if you don't want it to get out of control.

Studioblue6_1 That silhouette was made by my mom when I was three. I need to take it off that board and put it on some acid-free stuff, I think. Maybe even retrace it. That basket below it? Filled with ribbons. I'd thought that they would take up less space if I took the ribbon off the spools. I was wrong about that. They don't. This little paper mache mannequin came from a store called Willow Nest on the way to the beach. My mother-in-law bought it for me as a surprise, several years ago. I sobbed when I saw it. It is one of my absolute favorite things, ever. Ever. I just love it.

Studioblue22 I'm excited. Don't hate me because it's beautiful! Or, if you have to, it's okay -- I don't think I need friends now that I have Miss Blue Room here. I'm glad we didn't wait any longer to work on it. The best part is that we spent no money, except for the new paint and a new garbage can. It was a little bit of a painful process -- oh the aches and pains  and moans and groans that rung through the house you can't imagine! But a few Aleve and a good night's sleep have worked their magic, and it's all good now. I wish I could work in here all day today, but I must get moving and make it to the shop on time this morning. I've barely left the house in three days. I think I forgot how to get dressed.

Studioblue33 Thank you for taking the tour of my "new" studio. If anyone needs me, I'll be here, hugging myself with total, unabashed joy.

The Camera Is Somewhere. . . .

comments: 26

BelladressWell, it's official -- you guys are nuts! In the very nicest of ways, of course, but honestly -- you thought that mess looked cute??? Maybe my photos did not display what a disaster area the whole first floor turned into over the weekend. They were taken pretty early on in the process, after all. How that much stuff fit into one room I do not know -- that was one densely packed room. It's about halfway put back together, but I can't even find the camera right now so it'll have to wait. I escaped briefly on Saturday to stop by Mariko's Back-Tack party (said I was making a lunch run) -- so nice of Mariko to do that! Thanks, Mariko!

Right now I am so tired and achy I am actually lying down as I type this. Now that I know it's possible to lie down while typing I might do it more often. I'm so heartbroken over Barbaro this morning. I feel like crying. I am just so hoping that he recovers and has a nice rest of his life on a beautiful farm somewhere. Dear sweet horse. I'm saying a little prayer for you.

Cecilycardi_1 Remember how much I love Susan Cropper from Loop in London? When I get over my fear of flying, I'm going directly to Loop, I've decided. Susan is the nicest person in the world. She has been so supportive of me and my crochet work I can't even tell you. I have not marketed my patterns to yarn shops at all, though I really did intend to do that. I mean, I still do intend to do that, when I get on top of things. Lucky for me, Susan found me on her own, several months ago, and I'm thrilled to have had my patterns at Loop. Susan has just launched the on-line shopping section of the Loop web site, and it is as gorgeous as the rest of the site, and, I imagine, the brick-and-mortar store.

MardicardiThese photos are of some of my original crochet patterns that Susan sells at Loop -- they are, from top to bottom, the Bella Dress, the Cecily Cardigan, and the Mardi Cardigan. They are all done in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, and fit tots from 3-24 months. Everything I design is very simple, perfect for someone who is just getting started or just wants to do a relaxing, easy project. I've sent several samples of these garments to Susan, so if you're in London you can stop by Loop and see them in real life. And now you can buy my patterns on-line from Loop, as well as lots of their other, wonderfully unique and fantastic things. I love this place.

Also, many of you have sent me photos of garments you've completed based on my patterns, and I should start a Flickr group for them because they are really wonderful. You guys did so great. The color choices, the work itself, all of it -- I love seeing them. If you've made something and photographed it and would like it included, please send me the photo with the subject line "Crochet Photo" and I'll put it up there. Maybe if you already sent one, you could resend it with that subject line? Or just leave a comment here with a link to it, if it's on your blog or something. If it's not too much trouble. Then I'll have them all together.

Okay, as Bridget Jones says, "Back to the studio!"

The Studio Blows Chunks

comments: 44

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Uh oh. The studio finally got so mad it threw a temper tantrum. We couldn't calm it down, so, heaving with sobs, it puked up its contents all over the living room. Andy Paulson is sporting a scowl a mile wide. Audrey Paulson is nervously pushing herself up against anything that looks like it won't fall over. Alicia Paulson, wearing an expression of monumental panic (think red-faced, with hands slapped to both cheeks), is considering breathing into a paper bag. If she can find one.

A Wee Bit o' Back-Tack III

comments: 27

Backtack1 Nicole, look away now.

Remember last time, what happened with the Lops and the peeps? This time, with the Back-Tack Wee (whose name is Nell) I decided to go for the candy-variety extras. They are so much better behaved, let me tell you. Candy is so popular, so self-assured and used to being loved and adored that it makes for a nice, relaxed, professional photo shoot. No pushing, no shoving, no insecurities flaring. Just love all around. That's how we like it.

My sister and I took my nephew out for lunch and ice cream yesterday and wound up at a little tiny candy/ice-cream store where I got all this stuff. I'm not a big candy person -- I like a Milky Way Dark every once in a while. Now, old-fashioned candy packaging? Yes, please. So darn cute. There's some more here. All this stuff reminded me so much of my little Back-Tack bun-bun, though I actually finished her before I found the candy; I thought she might like some cuteness for company, and Nicole might like some American sweets. I know I always like the packaging from other countries as much as the stuff inside, most of the time.

Backtack2Speaking of packaging, I almost fell over the other night on our walk (also to get ice cream -- Ben & Jerry's this time) when I saw the window display at the Red Light Clothing Exchange (where they have one of these, Meegs). In the window? Dilettante housekeeping mannequins with cheery supplies! So I'm not the only one! Relief. But anyway, back to the bun. My first Wee Bunny. The gallery at Hillary's is adorable. After I saw it I knew this was the one I wanted to make for Back-Tack III. My first Back-Tack. I was concerned by the requirements, I'll admit. If you aren't playing, here's the deal: Make a stuffie using one of three-ish patterns, in black and white and 20% of one other color. Add the recipient's initial, and five buttons. Oh, and think outside the box.

Backtack3Turns out, predictably yet still much to my dismay, I am very much an inside-the-box thinker. Darn it! I wanted to come out so bad! But I like the box. I like the safe little box. I tried so hard to peek my little bunny nose, quivering nervously, out of the box, but only two seconds out and I hopped back into the box. I couldn't get out of the box. I couldn't imagine how to get out of the box and still follow the rules. I'm also a rule-follower. You tell me the rules and I'll follow them, and if you break the rules I'll completely freak out and start twitching and look at you as if the Rule-Setting People are right on the other side of the box, ready to pop out and throw you in jail. And they will!!! I think they will. They do that.

Backtack4 This is Nell, being coy. She's black and white with a little bit o' watermelon pink. Her initial (and Nicole's -- convenient that they had the same initial, no?) are embroidered in my favorite though little-used monogram stitch, the French Knot. I love this stitch so much -- it gets all nubby and retro when grouped. My friend Lori said she almost called me one day from the bus, when she finally "got" the French Knot. She was jubilant, on the bus, where apparently no one else really cared. (Why not???) I had shown her several times but it just wasn't workin' for her. You have to hold the thread pretty tight in your left hand until it's almost "done." Don't worry, that wasn't enough of an explanation for Lori either. Try it on the bus.

Backtack5I love Nell. She is so nice. I think she's going to like Australia a lot, but I will miss her. I need to get her in the mail pronto. I have no idea how long it takes for things to get to AUS and I am trying so desperately not to be late with my stuff these days. All pending orders are going out Monday, if you're waiting. It's supposed to rain around here this weekend. My sister Susie and I have decided that we are both going to watch one of my favorite movies, Ruby in Paradise, on Sunday afternoon; she lives in Charleston, South Carolina. I miss watching movies with her. Her favorite movie is Searching for Bobby Fischer.

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




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.