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?


Jend222 says: May 05, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Alicia, you and Andy are way too adorable! That's all I can say after reading your post today.

That is hilarious! He is soo good! Loved this post cannot wait to start!

Hahaha....Please consume giant beer before beginning stitching! Lol! You guys are just too cute!

Jessica says: May 05, 2011 at 12:41 PM

quick question if you get around to reading this, which you might have answered and i just didn't read that part, ok i ordered the kit :) I know its going to be silk screened on the fabric, but is the kit going to include the patern on paper as well in case I would like to make oh say a name out of the alphabet and frame it, because I think it would look lovely in a little girs room or nursey Thanks Alicia

So I was going to comment on how much I loved this post, and then I saw my favorite Avett Brothers quote ever as your About Me and had to say that now I feel like I already sort of know you. Thank you for facilitating a great break from studying for finals.

P.S. I still LOVE this post.

JoEllen says: May 05, 2011 at 01:36 PM

...hilarious...! and excellent office supply embroidery. high five to mr. fancy pants and his mad skills! ;-)

Penelope says: May 05, 2011 at 01:58 PM

Oh Alicia, please don't fret over the sampler project-----all of us "Alicia and Andy, and Clover Meadow, and Audrey lovers" are just soooooo glad we have you all to make such lovely, beautiful items. Oh, and're a nurse, so of course you're wonderful and talented---!!!!

All handcraft instructions should include real-life testing with adult beverages. That one looks like a real tasty IPA. Glad Andy's taking one for the team.

This gives me hope that maybe, without an adult beverage, I could one day learn to embroider.

Stitching while drinking - LOL. Thanks for sharing the process. That's a lot of work.

That guy is game for anything -- with a little pre-lubing. You got a keeper there.

I got dizzy just reading all you have to do to send us our samplers. No wonder you have to take weeks off and just sit and knit with the critters in between projects.

Mary Ann says: May 05, 2011 at 05:05 PM

This post made me laugh out loud and I'm so eager for the kit. I'm glad you like to see us time after time, cause we love sharing your days, time after time!

I gotta say, you have THE cutest hubby ever, a great catch and a great match!

Ha ha! I'm sure it was entirely the fault of the beer!

Alicia, I loved reading this post.. you two are adorable. I showed my hubby that cute shot of Andy stitching.. just love it.

i fully intend to do most of the stitching with a beer nearby.

missjenny says: May 05, 2011 at 08:58 PM

That man is GOLD!

I can't wait to get mine, so hearing about the preparations are very exciting!!

Haha, good man. My husband would never so it! Even with the beer! :)

Adorable. As ever. Every time I read about you and Andy, I thank the stars above that there are really, truly good men out there. I have yet to find one who understands that I'd really rather stay home and knit sometimes, but it gives me hope!

Delightful :)

FloridaLizzie says: May 06, 2011 at 12:24 PM

That was so stinkin' funny. Your husband is a good sport, and so are 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.