Posts filed in: February 2012

The Machine

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I wasn't sure if it would work. We had forty-six cones of floss (in fourteen different colors), and I wanted to be able to unwind them into 18" lengths, all at the same time. We bought three 6-foot-long 2"-x-4"s, pounded enormous nails (each about 6" long) equally spaced down the length of each board, then placed the cones on the nails. We had another little board with a big eye bolt twisted into it, to act as a big needle. Then we clamped everything to the table, and threaded all of the ends of the floss through the eye bolt, and pulled. You have to pull hard. All forty-six cones turn at the same time. It's loud. And really cool. You pull enough out so that you can measure an 18" length (indicated by two pieces of blue tape on the table), and then cut all of the strands of floss at the same time. Then you fold them all neatly and put them in a little bag. Over and over and over again. We've been taking turns at it. I've heard a few people mention that this concept is like a Lazy Kate, which I think is generally used (on a much smaller scale) to ply yarn? It's actually really fun. It's gotten easier to pull as the cones have gotten smaller. I was pretty dang excited that it all worked!!! And it looks so pretty, too.

Busy Girl

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Just a fun, mish-mashy day. I was a busy girl. As I write, we have raisin bread in the oven (it's just the Dutch oven bread, which we make every few days, but with some raisins and cinnamon added), and when it's done we're going to make turkey sandwiches with Swiss cheese, lettuce, and Thousand Island dressing for dinner. Trying to re-create sandwiches from the Belgian Village Inn in Moline, Illinois. It's a weird combination but really good. I finished the Bosom Friend and it's way too big. Bigger than I intended. I don't like it. Boo, Bosom Friend! My fault, I didn't really follow the pattern at all. It was a Civil War pattern. I might try again. (Or just do another Tess, which I absolutely love and wear every single day.) The wonder girls were here all day unwinding floss. Love having them here. I have some photos of our contraption, "the machine," which is working like a charm! Yippee. I'll show you tomorrow. Andy repainted our little guest room over the weekend, and I fussed with it. Curtains and roller shades are on order. I'll show you when it's all in place. Gray walls, yellow gingham, flower drawings. My dearest friend, my Martha — she and her baby girl are coming all the way from Boston to visit. I'm so, so excited. Two weeks from today! Martha.

Boysenberry Galette

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With frozen boysenberries, I made a quick fruit galette. Mine oozed berry juice everywhere while baking but it was still delicious. Let it cool on your pan before you try to slice or serve it. I used the whipped kind of cream cheese (just because that's what we had in the fridge), increased the powdered sugar in the cheese mixture to 3/4 cup, and sprinkled the top with demerara sugar. This is so easy and so yummy. I've never made one before, but I'll be re-writing this for the recipe box.

Very excited that the floss arrived yesterday. Forty-six 1,000-yard cones of it. Andy and I spent the afternoon at the hardware store finding things to help us fashion an enormous floss-unwinding "machine" on the dining room table. The goal is to be able to pull lengths from all forty-six cones at the same time, so we can cut them all at the same time, in one big hank. We're both a little excited to start building the machine this morning to see if my idea actually works.

Bye-bye table — I'll see you in a few days? Weeks? Not sure how long this will take!

Also, I'm still waiting for the cross-stitch fabric to come in. Once I actually have it in my hands, I will show you the finished sampler and start taking orders for the kits (and put the PDF pattern out, if you want to do it on your own). I've also ordered a ton of scissors, needles, and hoops for my web shop as well, so you'll be able to get everything you need there. I'll talk more about all of that as I start receiving things from my suppliers and I get closer to a release date for this kit, but I am expecting it to be in the next couple of weeks. I've decided not to take pre-orders for things anymore, so I won't start the sale until everything is in hand and assembled. It's too stressful trying to predict dates by which things will be done, and then be told by suppliers that there are unforeseen delays, etc. This time we are aiming to make enough kits that they will be able to stay in the web shop and be available indefinitely, so please don't worry that they will sell out before you get one. I don't think that is going to happen at all. We are making a ton of them — I want everyone to have one who wants one, even if I wind up with extras. So, stay tuned for updates on this, but things are coming together and I'm very excited! So happy to get busy again.

And yes, I'm totally thinking botanical sampler on black-ish background for the next one! Thank you to several of you who yesterday suggested I check out 18th-century cut-paper collage artist Mary Delany (who began creating her collages at age 72), and poet Molly Peacock's biography of her. Never in my life have I ordered a book faster than this. I cannot wait to see it.


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I don't know that I've ever settled into or been grateful for the dormancy of wintertime as much as I have this particular wintertime. This winter, with its Dutch oven, and cord of firewood, and quiet talks, and long walks, and black-bean soups, and beeswax candles, and cable TV, and milk frother, and eucalyptus baths, and our little animals, and worsted-weight softwools, and waxflowers, and wooden table . . . well. It's spoiled us a bit. We're soft now, I guess. I was going to take a little Clovermeadow animal for a walk yesterday but it just felt too cold, too windy, too rainy, and too wet outside for such comfort-loving creatures as we. So instead we scouted the yard for signs of spring and came back in with these cuttings (comfort-loving botanists). Turns out that if you're really looking, underneath the muck of rotten leaves and winter weeds and the soft slime that autumn left behind, there are tender greens and petals at the ready. Delicate, determined beauties. I wanted to find them. I'm not that anxious for spring, really. I just like to know that it's coming, someday. I like the quiet moving-toward. I like the hiding wonders. I like the longer, still-cold days. I like the translucent, nervous greens. There's a bird that sings in the early morning now, the past week or so. His song is so loud and vibrant against the silverquiet of the mercury-gray sky. I hear the trilling when I open the back door to let the dog out at dawn. It's a new, wild, disorganized solo, and I love it.

I took artistic license with the grape hyacinth above. He actually lives in a pot in the dining room. His younger cousins do live outside by the front picket fence, but are only showing their leaves. They're several weeks out. Perhaps I'll try to clean up the yard (which is a mess) so I can watch them come up from the dining room window. Or maybe not (too warm and lazy).

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It's no secret that all of us are a little bit afraid of the Bee. There's reason. No sooner did I get done bragging to Andy about how the Bee lately follows me everywhere, sits near me wherever I sit, and hangs out watching whatever I am doing than did she keep me from getting a big fat head about it by slapping me on the wrist (literally) when I petted her the "wrong" way (on the chest instead of [only ever] on the forehead). Andy heard the thwap of her tiny, lightning-fast little paw (and my surprised whinny) all the way across the room. Beeeeee!!! Why you gotta be that way??? We made up shortly after (after I apologized profusely). Getting roundly scolded by the Bee is always very nervewracking. It's hard not to want to pet her, because she's so dang cute. Well. Maybe cute isn't the right word. Cute like a baby goblin is kind of cute? Cute like the thing might . . . I don't know . . . suddenly decide to grab you by your nostril and not let go? Cute like that.

Reading How to Know the Wild Flowers by Mrs. William Starr Dana. It's so sweet. It was first published in 1893. I found this 1989 copy at Powell's yesterday when I was browsing around there as a little treat to myself yesterday afternoon, having finished the taxes, sent the sampler pattern off to the printer, and received word that our supplies for the kits should start arriving on Thursday. I have a new idea for a new embroidery project. These botanical drawings I've been spending time with are so beautiful. They are really inspiring me lately. My poor cyclamen. I guess it needs more sun than it is getting in our house? Or perhaps in the Pacific Northwest in general. It's like a visual manifestation of Portlander Vitamin D levels, somehow [swallows 5,000 IUs, stat].


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Breakfast at Wapato Greenway, 2/18/12.

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Oh, my sweet little poet. I think she's writing villanelles in her mind. She's very serious. Sensitive. So sincere. My Clover Meadow. I love her so.


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We had such a nice day yesterday. I had some girlfriends over for a Valentine's pancake and then Andy and I spent the rest of the day making bread and soup and watching the rest of Downton Abbey. Andy has had the past five days off, which has been wonderful. I have a hard time when he goes back to work after being home for quite a while. Hospital shifts are 12-hours, so generally a full-time week is three days, overtime is four. Sometimes one week's days off lead into the next week's days off, and we get five days together in a row. Pretty awesome. We've had this schedule for seven or eight years now. It works really well for us and I love it. I have to admit that the first day he goes back to work is always hard. But then when he goes back to work I have long days to dig into, and I like that they're long, because I am kind of slow to get going. Once I get going, I can stay going for long periods of time. I don't really get distracted when I am by myself. Time passes quickly and when I look up, I'm always surprised at how much time has gone by. Another thing I like about our schedule is that our days together are frequently weekdays, when it's so much less crowded out and everything takes about half as long to get done as it would take on a Saturday.

I put the roses on the fireplace a long time ago, maybe ten or eleven years ago. I saw someone do this on HGTV. My mom helped me mix up some plaster of Paris and we poured it into plastic chocolate molds shaped like roses and leaves. Then I just hot-glued them onto the bricks, and piped the "stems" with the pastry bag and a round tip. Then I painted over all of it with flat, khaki-colored paint (I don't know the name of it). I will tell you that the hot glue worked very, very well. Someone told me once how to get the glue/roses off but I can't remember. The fireplace had been painted white before we moved in. I like the roses, though in dim light Andy thinks they look like someone threw wads of toilet paper at the fireplace. He's not wrong. They kind of do.

(We have the sheep "painting" over our television. It's called Spring at the White House Farm by Billy Jacobs. I love it. Usually I get tired of whatever is hanging on the walls but for some reason I never get tired of this one. Did you see the Cardigan corgi at the Westminster dog show on Monday night? He was so cute!!! Stubby, fluffy little legs. Oh how I love them!)

Weekend WIPs

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Crocus blooms : : A big pancake : : A bosom friend : : Yarn I don't like : : Taking the chair cushions in : : Making garden plans : : My Aestlight, finished a year ago, well-worn, just photographed : : Late nights up talking : : Watching American Pickers : : Pretty plant names : : Rose mallow, feverfew, hollyhock, sweet pea, foxglove, Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate : : Gray light and candlelight : : A new knitting basket for me : : Just to name but a few.

My Heartwarmers

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"Why is this dog bed so small?" Precious girl.

My Tess Durbeyfield heartwarmer. Have hardly taken it off since I finished it. Making one inspired by this now, in those same colors. Next I'm going to do this one. And just look at what Nadia made. I wonder if I could do that. In sport weight, like she did. She is my knitting hero. Beautiful Nadia.

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