Backstitch Beer

comments: 47

It has been an exciting week here at Paulson Place as we start making plans to produce our sampler kits. It's a process that I really enjoy: I like managing all of the parts and pieces of the operation, and there are so many different parts and pieces. Once the creative part is done, the numbers-projecting and materials-ordering part starts, and that means being on the phone constantly, back and forth, revising numbers, worrying that things will get held up in shipping, waiting to hear whether the factory is going to have to dye more yarn to meet our demand for big amounts of a very small number of colors (and my guess is that that is probably going to happen). It all takes time, but in the meantime there are many other things to do: writing and proofing the pattern, drawing the templates, drawing the diagrams, coordinating helpers, printing the packing slips, writing postcards, ordering bags and shipping supplies, putting thousands of needles into little pieces of felt, cutting and pressing fabric (when it gets here; it's on order, too) so that Andy can start silk screening, testing and perfecting the screens in the meantime. It all kind of leaves me in a jangly, neurotic state. I'm excited but nervous, planning but always a little worried. It's just the nature of the operation. Once I get the pattern off to the printer, for instance — that's always a relief. Once the materials start coming in and aren't held up on the manufacturing end somehow — that's always a relief. After managing all of the details and invoices and phonecalls, I really look forward to sitting and assembling the parts and pieces into each little bag. I get into the groove and my brain starts to relax, and then I have time to daydream about everyone working on these — so many of you are names I have been seeing over and over again in my orders in box for years now, and I can hardly explain how much I love that, or how it motivates me. A lot lot. Thank you for that. xoxo

So I got Andy testing embroidery stitch directions last night on the porch. He had embroidered one time before, veggies saying "YUCKY!" in all backstitches, on a dishcloth that we used as a sample for the boutique (when I used to own the boutique). I handed him my draft directions for the ten stitches used in the sampler pattern. I have written directions for these many, many times, and tech editors have proofed them, and many people have tested and used them, but it seems like every single time I go to do them again there are things I want to change and make better. I told him that I wasn't going to help him at all but I just wanted him to follow the diagrams and directions and see what happened. He did fine on straight stitch (which naturally came with attendant proclamations: "That was EASY!!! Embroidery is EASY!!! Hun, I had no problem!") [pan to me sitting on porch laughing into my hands] and even backstitch (the paper clip — his own free-form design). But then the third stitch, stem stitch: Not so much.


[Insert buzzer noise here.]

Not sure if it was the directions or the giant beer that was consumed with dinner at the brewpub just before.


Interesting quality control methods we have here, eh?


I'm so glad your quality control includes an adult beverage. Because my creative evenings, when I can sit down and do handwork, often involve adult beverages.


My advice one night to a family member was: "Never knit after beer." Don't ask me how I came to that knowledge or much had to be ripped out the next day... I am impressed that he would even attempt to embroider at all...what a guy!! But, then, you guys are quite awesome, IMO =-)

That's: "HOW much had to be ripped out", no beer yet today...must proof read before hitting the button, must proof read...

I beg of you, please include in the directions "Begin this stitch after consuming a giant beer."
Even if you edit that out, odds are I will still be doing it!

That is one of the most fabulous posts you've ever done. Loved it. Made me chuckle endlessly. Andy is so game for trying your kits. I am completely impressed.

And please, do something cool with his paper clip. It makes me smile.

I think it is brilliant quality control! I'm so glad you have someone who is willing to "test stitch" for you.

Go Andy!! Did he continue with other stitches? How fun would that be - the drunken sampler - also could be a little dangerous :)

Bwahaha! Since embroidery is usually my watching a movie, late evening activity, the quality control is well-chosen!

Andy stitching after a brew is so endearing! Love it.


Hehe! :-) It's good to test the instructions under extreme conditions! ;-)

Okay, okay, I'm in! Just placed my order! I loved 2010's felt ornaments so much, and they did great things for my confidence. And what better way to learn so many different stitches, right? I'll look forward to doing this at my leisure over the summer -- right after I finish up my Pleasant Kitchen Dishtowels which were put on hold. And which were (incredibly) free, after all... so this is kind of like paying for them, too. :) Kind of like when I "pay my radio bill" to my local NPR station. I'm happy to. Thanks so much for the blog and your craft and all that you share with such generosity of spirit.

Oh, and P.S. Thanks so much for sticking Sister Golden Hair in my head for the past week... :)

This cracks me UP! Love it! I think you/we should do a study on the effects of different substances on a variety of crafty endeavors. I personally know that drinking red wine while knitting (inevitably in dim light) always sounds like a good idea at the time but come morning? Bad news bears.

Andy Paulson rocks.

Beer before embroidery....haha, love it! Uber-relaxing!

I'm so glad that Andy provides quality control under the exact same circumstances that I inhabit when I actually do embroidery. Or knitting. Or reading. Just about anything, really.
Can't wait to get started!

That's definitely one way to make sure that the instructions are understandable. I love his little paperclip. I wish my paperclips were bright red.

Uh-oh! I've ordered your kit and have never embroidered before and also will probably be working on it while consuming a frothy beverage. So, I really support this QA method. Keep going, Andy!

we've all heard of drunk driving and drunk dialing, but I've never encountered *embroidery under the influence*...thanks for the chuckle.

LOL! I'm sure your directions are great but a while back when I was struggling with the stem stitch I managed to pull up a video of someone demonstrating the stem stitch on youtube and then it all clicked. Now I'm stem stitching my butt off!

My husband would have to get liquored up to agree to try his hand at embroidery. He is artistic in his own way, but not with a needle!

Okay, the fact that he would try is adorable! Reading all you've done lately almost gave me a panic attack. Ha! Seriously though, that's truly amazing.
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All quality control should be done with adult beverages. That way less mistakes would be made those who aren't consuming adult beverages. Bring on the Dark Lord, somebody!

Well, then, it's time to get used to seeing my name (on your order list)! :)

So glad your post was here this am. It brought sunshine into a day of tragedy. One of my co-workers who has been ill for quite sometime, passed away. You brought a smile to a cloudy day. Thank you!!!

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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.