Posts filed in: February 2007

Ripple Finale

comments: 187


Ta-DA! I made a ripple blanket and a cat to go with it! Phew. That was hard work!


Please be impressed, because clearly the cat is not. As long as there is "some kind of wool" on the bed she will sit on it for hours and hours, and still look at you like she'd prefer a fireplace, and a view of the mountains, if you would. To block this thing, I just spread it out flat and sprayed it with a water bottle, which was kind of fun at first and then my arm got tired, so I don't know how much good it did (because I didn't get all that much water on it after all, I don't think). The light was so dim yesterday, these were the best photos I could get, too. But you get the idea, at least.


I wound up doing two dc rows of a charcoal-gray border around the whole thing because the edges were pretty wobbly, and the border worked out well and kind of sucked the whole beast together. My gauge changed significantly by the end of it all; things were much looser at the end. Which makes sense, I guess. When you start, you're all like, "Oh, isn't this precious. Me and my big basket of yarn, and a hot chai, and some beautiful snow, just crocheting contentedly away. Double crochet. Double crochet [flourish]. Why, is that a cardinal? How lovely! [Sip.]"

But let me tell you, 197 rows later, you feel like you're on the ripple assembly line in the ripple sweatshop at the end of a 12-hour ripple swing-shift with carpal tunnel and a dirty shirt, going dcdcdc2dc2dcdcdcdcdc2togdc2togdcdcdcAGHHHHH!!! Make it stop!!! Yeaaaah. I was ready to be done. I ran out of charcoal-border yarn with about fifty stitches to go, too. And I think I'm just going to stick a lighter gray on there. I really don't think I can drag myself back to the store for this again.

But I'm very happy with it! A good night's sleep under it last night wiped out all traces of angst and I'm left just feeling that it's really cool — my first crocheted blanket! It's my favorite thing I've ever made. I started snowily here, went slightly mental here, pulled out the hide-a-bed here, and now I'm done. We had fun, didn't we?

Now, if you are toying with this idea, firstly, you should toy no longer and find your hooks or get out that how-to-crochet book or find your grandma to teach you immediately. Because the girls over at the No-End-in-Sight Ripple-Along have already started and they won't be able to wait too long for you, because I'm telling you, once these things get going, there is just no stopping! Dawn and Kim created this crochet-along for everyone who is making a ripple blankie and it is awesome to see how everyone interprets this project. And the Vintage Stripe Blanket group on Flickr is a beautiful collection of all the striping going on out there. Soooooo fun and pretty. Do it, seriously. You'll love it.

People mentioned in the comments yesterday that there is a lot of granny-squaring going on out there, too. I didn't have time to follow any of the links but if anyone starts a Flickr group for that or a granny-square-'ghan-along, will someone tell me? I want to join. I made four squares yesterday and, though, not as easy as the rippling, squaring has its own charming appeal. I'm on board.

When Violet and I came out the guest room, the Bee was sitting in the hallway on her thrifted crocheted tuffet. One gets Baby Cashmerino, one gets thrifted Red Heart. That's how it is around here. The next one's just for you, baby Bee. (That's what I tell them, jokingly. And then, of course, when they take over my stuff, the joke's [of course] on me. The four-thousand-dollar cat blanket. Yep.)


And now for my next trick . . .

comments: 71


A granny-square afghan, similar to this one, from one of my favorite designer's homes. This is a photo of a bedroom in Petra Boase's house in Norfolk, England. It's from one of my favorite books, Flea Market Style, by Emily Chalmers, though I first saw a different photo of this afghan a year ago in another book called New Country Style England, where it was featured in the context of her so so so very adorable home. Very few photos of things stick to my very-bad memory, but this one has. I figured it was better to test out whether I really liked it or not with a picture that I looked at for a year before I jumped into making the real thing.

What I love about this afghan is how big the squares themselves are — they're about eight or nine rows around and that appeals to me both aesthetically and practically, since I've been avoiding the whole granny-square thing mostly because I don't want to stitch four zillion twirpy squares all together. But I have to tell you that the whole ripple-blanket thing really bolstered my confidence that I could complete a big project like that. I honestly didn't think I could, but, turns out, I can. I'm going to block the ripple 'ghan today and show you a photo of the finished thing tomorrow.

Grannysquare3 Obviously, the granny-square 'ghan is a true stash blanket, because you need so very little yarn to make, say, the first round of a square. So you really can literally bust the stash completely, and that's satisfying. I still have stash left over after all the rippling. Like I said, I had some serious stash to start with. How many times can I say stash. Nevertheless, the cream part of this GS 'ghan will take a hefty supply all its own; I believe mine will be mint green. I have about ten skeins of mint green (don't ask). If that looks gross I'll have to rethink it, but it might be cool. I like the way the squares look varied in size, too, simply by adding a few rounds of the background color before the square is officially "done." Breaks it up a bit.

You can find free patterns for all kinds of granny squares all over the Internet, of course. I kind of like the classic, like these, so I'm going to use a version of Erika Knight's "Modern Afghan" squares from Simple Crochet. Just with a few more rounds.

Butterscotch Sunday

comments: 34

Icecream1_1 Icecream3

We have some serious ice cream lovers in our family, mostly among the underage set. Getting a restaurant sundae, no matter how humble, is very exciting.

The little sundae glasses reminded me that I have a set of sundae glasses myself. I spent a lazy Sunday watching documentaries about the royal family, finishing my ripple blanket, making butterscotch pudding from scratch, and really enjoying the Academy Awards with my little sister, who was visiting this weekend. I thought Ellen did a great job, and those dancers that rolled into different shapes for each movie — how cool was that. That was my favorite part of the whole thing.


Making pudding is pretty easy. I saw this recipe in the newspaper last week and thought it sounded interesting.


With brown sugar and browned butter, it was very nutty and intense. I did my little mise en place thing and that was nice. It works out well on a lazy Sunday, I think.


And the butterscotch pudding reminded me of Gwyneth Paltrow's dress, which I thought was really pretty, too. I always love that part in The Royal Tenenbaums when she orders the butterscotch sundae. It seems so unlikely, but then so right, somehow.

Forced to Force It

comments: 24


I accidentally hacked off a big branch of my clematis yesterday when I was cleaning up the yard. I wonder if this will work.


Vanessa Bell Smock

comments: 36

Shirt2 First, I needed the right shirt to wear while sewing. This is a rough draft. It looks a bit maternity. But I was going for Bloomsbury Artist at Charleston, in fact. Like this, but not for $68. I just took a t-shirt and cut off the front part below some random line I drew. Then I hemmed a piece of knit fabric an inch longer than the piece I cut off (to account for the hem and the seam allowances), then gathered it across the top, and attached it. I cut that front piece inside the seams (and kept the original side seams) and then just attached my new piece up the side. I think it's kinda cute, and it was easy.

If I do it again, I'll cut it so the yoke is much higher. As it was I was trying to go under the sleeves. But I think it would look better if the yoke was shorter (higher), and I cut some room for the bottom half of the armhole out of my new fabric. (Or maybe if the gathers stayed more toward the center than the sides.) I think I would keep the whole sleeve intact and just top-stitch my new fabric around the armhole, so all the original t-shirt seam is there. If that makes no sense, just ignore me. I can see it, I just can't write it. Hopefully I can sew it. Then I'll just show it.

Thank you for all the embroidery-transfer talk yesterday. Here are some comments with further ideas you might want to know about (hope you guys don't mind that I pulled these up):

I have a good tip for a makeshift lightbox if people don't have one. It's much less expensive and works pretty well. Just take one of those florescent light strips that plug in (you can get them at Lowe's or Home Depot or where ever) and upturn a clear, shallow plastic tote over it. Put your items to be traced on top and voila! Lightbox!

And you forgot to mention my type of light box. Everyone has one, so it's free! I tape my pattern to a window on a sunny day, then gently tape my fabric to the window on top of that. I'm not much of one for fancy gadgets, so I just use a simple very sharp No. 2 pencil and trace the pattern. Works perfectly every time and doesn't cost me a cent — well, maybe a little time to wipe the smudges off the window when I'm done!

I hate, hate, hate transferring an embroidery pattern! Something I do that I find SO HELPFUL is to iron on some freezer paper (shiny side down) to the back of your fabric for stability. Then I tape (with blue painters tape) the pattern to the freezer paper. It makes tracing SO much easier. I also use a brown Micron pen (the finest point) to draw with. I've run into some disappearing pens that didn't disappear. Plus they draw "fat". I have a friend who swears by Jelly Rolls pens for the tracing. I'm going to try it the next time I transfer a pattern.

My marker is white with pink caps, and it says "Disappearing Ink" on one side and "Mark-B-Gone" on the other side — one side disappears with time (supposedly) and one disappears after washing (supposedly). I don't know who makes it, but it's probably Dritz. But I like that idea of the Micron pen. Gotta get one of those. Thanks, you guys. Those are great suggestions.

Also, Auds has been walking around here with a (regular) pencil and a tiny clipboard, getting my family and friends to sign some little "petition." I don't know what it says because she's not speaking to me, but I'm guessing it has to do with being replaced by a jelly roll. I think she snuck in and read yesterday's comments when I was at the store and felt she had a good shot at staging a protest. I think I'll have to give that good girl her own category when I redo all these. Bloglines peeps, I'm just warning you — that day is coming soon. I can't find anything around here myself. And this dog, she's very persuasive (as you know).

Tiny Pastries Made of Thread

comments: 81

Embroidery1_1 I have a love/ugh relationship with embroidery. I love doing it, I ugh transferring the pattern. Ugh ugh ugh.

I've been embroidering since I was a little girl. My mom used to do enormous (like two by three feet) crewel embroidery kits and get them framed at Lee Wards (remember that place?) and, as with so much that she used to do, there was no fuss about it, and she did several, though I can tell you that if I were doing half of what she did I would've sent out a press release to the whole neighborhood and gotten one of those bullhorn things and announced it from the front porch to every single person walking by. "I. AM. EMBROIDERING. SOMETHING. PEOPLE." That's what I'm doing here, really.

But that is all just to say that needles, wool, and floss were around and no biggie. I seem to be the only sib that picked it up and did it regularly, as a matter of course. I always had a pillowcase going somewhere, even in college: I'd sit at the bar in my vintage dress and Doc Marten boots, drinking a beer and . . . embroidering a pillowcase (of course). My favorites were vintage pillowcases already stamped, but they were hard to find; you could buy them new and already stamped at the craft store, but the quality of the fabric was always crappy. The obvious alternative is buying nice pillowcases and transferring the design yourself, but that's never been my favorite part of embroidery.

Lightbox2 There are several ways to transfer designs, of course. You can buy iron-ons. You can make your own by getting an embroidery transfer pencil and tracing designs backwards onto tracing paper then ironing them on. You can use dressmaker's carbons under the pattern and trace them with a pencil. Or you can use a lightbox with a wash-out fabric marker, which is my preferred way. (There are probably a few other ways of doing it that I don't even know about of course.)

I like the lightbox way. But then again, I actually have a lightbox, so that's helpful. Mine's kind of like this one, and I got it quite a while ago when embroidered stuff was part of the Posie product line (er, no more). I don't use it very often anymore but it does come in handy and is nice to have around, when the need arises.

Embroidery2 This is a little dish towel I'm doing for my friend Linda's birthday. She's a lawyer who dreams of being a baker. These little pastries are probably an inch and a half big. I did four of them in one afternoon/evening. Still have to do the pie. I like the Japanese-craft-book embroideries because they have this straightforwardly sweet, naive kind of quality, but they don't iron-on. I also bought some Stitchettes from Hillary but I haven't done those yet. She kindly made the iron-ons for us, so that transfer operation will be painless. Just gotta figure out what I want to put them on. So cute. And Jenny's stuff is always super cool. I always give her little La Petite embroidery kits as gifts to people who haven't embroidered before but have expressed interest. They have everything you need to get going (except for the fabric, but she even sells blank stuff like bibs and tea towels now, too).

Embroidery3 Anyway, it's really fun. I'm almost done with my ripple blanket (soooooo ready to be done with the ripple blanket, I have to say) and though I have plans to start a new granny-square one, I think I'm going to do some more tea towels for some birthdays coming up. I think those make cute presents, maybe with some sugar roses or a bottle of sprinkles for cupcakes. Wouldn't that be a cute little prezzie for a girlfriend?

Dogandpillow2 I woke Audrey up again to show her the new blog banner that was replacing her.

Dogandpillow1 I think she felt kinda bad.

In the Stacks

comments: 35

Stacks_1 I'm getting more and more ready to sew. Oh, the complications I have assigned to this humble art, no? First there was the impassioned analysis surrounding the collecting of new pins and needles. Then the foraging for even more fabric to add to this ever growing tower of it. Then there was the commitment ceremony I held where I vowed to be more organized and mature about everything sewn in general. ALL of this and hardly a stitch has been stitched.

Amysbook I had curry last night with our little chicken and spent the evening telling her all about her book, which of course I haven't seen a page of, but you can't think that stopped me. Oh no no. It is my special Alicia-way to rattle on incessantly about myself and what I think until my companion falls off her chair with boredom, and the waiter comes to suggest that I might want to take note that my friend is now sitting on the floor, but I just lean further over the table and project my voice downward a bit, and then she climbs wearily back up, and I continue on as if she never left. Possibly I push a glass of water toward her, if I remember (she is preggers, after all). Yes. That is what I call having a "conversation." I was telling her that I was newly inspired to sew lately, in part because of her book cover, which you must agree is the cutest stinking book cover you've ever seen in your life. It is. I will not hear otherwise, and I'm not just saying this because I love my friend. And from what I hear about what's going to be happening inside the book (I let her squeeze in a few words), it will be as cool and sassy as the cover, and as Amy herself is. I don't normally order books off of Amazon, or before I have a chance to really look at them, but this one's a pre-ordered no-brainer. I can't wait.

When I ordered Amy's book, at the suggestion of Amazon I also got the beautiful Simple Sewing with a French Twist, of which Leisl wrote a better review than I could hope to. It came a few weeks ago and I've looked at it several times now. The design of this book is really lovely. It has this sort of evocative, handmade quality that is super clean and very . . . dreamy. I think a lot of the actual projects are probably a little plain, as far as my own aesthetic goes — I tend to like a few more bells and whistles on my stuff, but that's just me. I must say that the seductiveness of the book itself (it is French, after all, and the French are sexy like that) kept drawing me back to look at it again and again — and although I initially skipped over the beginning part that tells you how to stitch seams or clip curves or miter a corner (thinking "I already know all of that stuff") I've had cause to reconsider it all. Because I have this new plan. My plan is to calm down, stop rushing, stop assuming, and see if there isn't more I can be learning about what I supposedly already know how to do. . . .

As if this all wasn't enough, I had an afternoon last week at Kinokuniya looking at Japanese embroidery books (which is always maddening, I must say, because there is nowhere to sit down, there are so many I feel like I'm going to have a panic attack, and I can't see anything the way they are all slotted in as efficiently as Thin Mints onto their shelves — but, you know, it's worth it to acquire such genius). I'm not a huge collector of them (for the above reasons — I'm sure if my budget and physical-comfort-while-browsing were no barrier I'd want them all), but I did come away with 4-8347-2498-0 to go with the one I ordered from Superbuzzy a few weeks ago, 4-8347-2421-2 (sooooo much easier to just order it from Superbuzzy, yes). That one (which, alas, appears to be sold out) has the pattern for the pastries in my new banner thing. I'll tell you about the banner tomorrow (not that there's much to tell other than "I traced it and stitched it," but you know, I do have that attractive knack for talking incessantly about myself, etc., so I'm sure I can muster some brilliant thoughts).

Horse Day

comments: 53

Horsefarm2 I went with my friend Shelly to her parents' house in the country over the weekend. It was so good to get out of town, and especially to see some real horses. These two were pretty skeptical at first. How cute are they, with their interested ears. Who's here?

Horsefarm3 I brought apples, though — surefire shy-horse flirtation technique. C'mon babies.

Horsefarm1 So sweet. I love this picture of Shelly with them both. Most of my photos were so blurry — I am so not used to taking photos of animals that actually move. And speaking of technical difficulties, my computer put itself through a torturous series of automatic updates over the weekend and I can't stand how it changed everything. For instance, all of this type looks blurry to me, and I can't find my "happy place" (i.e.: when all my fonts and sizes looked good here on my own computer, at least — everything's either too big or too small, even when I change the view size, etc.). So, a Goldilocksian problem. Any PC peeps with advice?

Horsefarm7 Shelly's parents live in a big, beautiful log cabin. It reminds me of a lot of houses I used to see in Montana. Sometimes I forget that "Oregon" is the "West." I was always an English-saddle type, but I can kind of see the appeal of all this honey wood on a cloudy day. It's warm and big and seems to defy all dampness, somehow.

Horsefarm4 And a big huge fireplace is nice.

Horsefarm5When I go to peoples' houses in the country, I'm always amazed at how much room there is. I know that sounds obvious, but it feels really different. Our house has tiny rooms, tiny places, it's densely packed, connected to itself by a dozen doors. It's very close to our neighbors' houses, the street is so skinny you can't park on both sides of it, and I can hear every conversation in every yard. In the country everything is big. And open and bright. I can picture lying on that living room carpet watching TV, or playing a game, or spreading out some fabric and cutting a pattern easily — things I don't do at our house because there are no big, open spaces like that. Kind of a Goldilocksian thing, too, coincidentally. I wonder what is the right size for me. Not that I could ever afford anything like that, but sometimes I do wonder. If you had your choice, what would be the right size?

On Vaca

comments: 62

Breakfast3 It doesn't take much to make us happy. Breakfast at the Original Pancake House is an uncommon but always-welcome treat. It feels like Door County there. No matter how cloudy it is outside, all that honey-colored wood makes it feel warm and bright, like summer, like vacation.

Breakfast6 I always get the Swedish pancakes, and eat them with butter and syrup instead of lingonberries. Pancakes always taste better when someone else makes them. Actually, almost everything tastes better when someone else makes it, in my opinion.

Breakfast2 This restaurant is the original Original Pancake House. You probably have one of its siblings in your town now (they're all over the country). We had one in Oak Park. I used to go there all the time. At this one in Portland, there is always a wait. Always. But it's worth it.

Breakfast4_1 Afterward, we went to the Dutch American Market and bought custard mixes, tiny clogs, and giant chocolate initials. If you go there, Ad and Hans will be happy to help you read the food packages and tell you how to cook things.

Aren't they a couple of handsome specimens?

Dutchstore1 I sure think so.

Dutchstore2 Ad's name tag: a little clog. Love this place.

Great day. Hope your weekend was wonderful, too.

Is it just me or did my computer update and change all my stuff? I can't seem to remember what things looked like before, or get it back — oops.

Critter Menagerie, and Dangle Earrings

comments: 43

Okidoki1 At Pioneer Place mall yesterday, waiting for our movie to start. A sort of odd little store I've never noticed before called Oki Doki (religious gifts, jewelry and handbags, and . . . a ton of stuffed animals.)

Okidoki2 We couldn't resist buying the big owl for our four-year-old niece, Brooke. So sweet. There were signs all over the display saying "DON'T TOUCH THE DISPLAY!" Waaaah. Now I know how the four-year-old set feels while shopping. (And yeah, I touched. Are ya kidding me? If you think I left without bear-hugging those owls, no way. I'm a rule-follower by nature, but them's crazy-rules!)

Okidoki4 My camera died before I could get a picture of the little stuffed log with three sweet little mice huddled inside. Why didn't I get that one. Or the squirrels in acorns (Stephanie you would love these). Just adorable.

I did get these guys though, for some future Easter baskets for the kids.

Okidoki6 Let's hope they make it that far. Might have to make an Easter basket for myself. I'd like one snow bunny and one pink marshmallow peep. I'm willing to give up the field mouse, but only because . . .  no forget it. I want him, too. Sorry kids.

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.