Six More Weeks

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Well, it finally happened. The knitting mania I was experiencing burnt itself out, and I'm not really sad. I had been eyeing the Teru sweater for a while and really wanted to make it but after only one evening it had already bested me. You can see it above, that piddly little amount of neckline knitting in the cream-colored donegal with the beginnings of blackberry-colored fair-isle starting. I didn't make any mistakes or anything like that, and the pattern is, seriously, a work of art, but it is fingering-weight, and complicated, and, after knitting for many hours, I was literally only maybe an inch into it. I looked at it and I was like, "Yeah, I'm done." And it was kind of a good feeling, actually. Knitting-wise, I had been pretty wild-eyed in general for the past two months. My purple heather honeybee sweater is still happening but I've made lots of mistakes in the lace and it's feeling kind of sloppy. I have some yarn on order to cast on for a South Bay sweater, which is mostly just gobs and gobs of stockinette with only small areas of interest, so that will be nice and easy, and like something that a normal person with a five-year-old instead of, like, a lady who's getting paid by the stitch, or something, would knit. So yeah, in general, now that it is February, I'm mostly relieved that I'm breathing regularly instead of hyperventilating. That was intense. And thanks to Punxatawney Phil, we still have lots of winter left.

The house is a disaster. Small piles of I-don't-know-what are hanging around like beached detritus leftover from storm season. Thirty books, a fish mobile, a party hat, fourteen Calico Critters, pieces of yarn, peeled off stickers, apple peels that someone threw on the floor and tried to pretend she didn't throw on the floor, zillions of Legos, stray baby socks, broken crayons, snapped-off pieces of a bowling-alley-arcade crown, naked dolls, entire handmade XL sweaters, stitch markers, random pieces of paper, lip balm, a wooden spoon. Amelia, lately, has been trying out operatic responses to the smallest of tragedies — gales of tears when she scrapes a knee, shrieks of despair when something goes missing (as if it could not; see above). The other day in the schoolyard: wails of frustration when she saw that something had fallen into this deep window-well that houses a bunch of pipes and machinery stuff alongside the church in which the preschool is housed. The window-well is bordered by a metal railing which is covered in some kind of cage thing so the kids can't fall into it. Amelia stood and sobbed, pointing. She called me over and I went, expecting from her intensity to see, I don't know, a hurt kitten? a abandoned baby bird? a million dollars that couldn't be reached? Instead it was . . . a barrette. And not even one of her pretty felt-flower barrettes, but just one of those ubiquitous little metal clippies. I literally could hardly see it. Dramatic crying and continued pointing by Amelia into well. "Hmmmm," said I, "I think that one's been sacrificed, darling." I went back to the wall where I had been sitting and talking with mom friends. Within minutes, however, three dads and a handful of kids were all peering into the window-well through the fencing. Something was happening. A rescue operation had ensued. The guys were so into it I didn't have the heart to tell them we had at least two hundred barrettes per room, back at the house. Quiet peering into the depths of the well continued. We could see consultations and apparent breath-holding. Then, suddenly, a great cheer went up from kid and man alike: Aaron (dad) had found a magnet and Frank (dad) had produced one of those metal handyman tape measures from his pocket and they had literally fished the metal barrette from the depths of the well. Amelia, now smiling, was also mildly nonplussed; these dramas are rather short-lived and also half-hearted, for all their volume, and, anyway, she is already quite sure dads can do anything. I love our school friends. I'm already starting to have a lot of nostalgia over our time at the preschool, as none of the families with whom we currently go to preschool will be going to the school Amelia is going to next year.

So, the house is a mess and Amelia's room is completely nuts with tiny things covering every surface, rugs bunched up under bed legs, and clothes stuffed into corners, and instead of knitting, I'm now crocheting. My (lovely, I must say) Shetland Adventure shawl came off the blocking board on Tuesday and promptly went right 'round my neck, where it stayed for hours and hours, cuddling me. Hap shawls really are lovely in every way, and that one (I only made the top layer, as the bottom one felt a bit too fussy for the way I dress, which is, most days, still like an eighth-grade volleyball coach, with all due respect to mine) certainly was. It only barely bit into the third skein of fingering weight, so there went another almost-full skein of yarn into the stash. Hrumpf. Curious, I pulled out my old between-projects project, my Beatrix Blanket (which has, for months, been going nowhere). And suddenly I decided that I wanted to make something other than that for Amelia's bed — instead, I am going to do a little checkerboard granny square inspired by this one but with this pattern for the square. All fingering and sport and almost entirely stash. Random colors with a very creamy pale lavender (this yarn, gloriously called Oyster Mushroom, which I have four or five skeins of already) contrast. In the shower this morning I also had the idea to maybe add a few little fabric patches in there, too, but we'll see how that goes. Anyway, stay tuned for that. Amelia is getting a new full-sized Calicozy, too, out of fabric that I have been collecting just for her for quite a while, so I'm excited about it, though I still haven't done a bit of actual work on it. Nevertheless, I'm hoping it — both — will inspire me to start cleaning.

Luckily, my new spring cross-stitch design is finished. Unluckily, the fabric I chose (a piece of which I happened to already have in my stash and so did not call ahead to the distributor to see how much they had on hand or could get before planning to design an entire kit around it) has NATURALLY been discontinued. Thus I continue my winning record of picking out things that are mere moments from being discontinued. It appears to be my truest talent, honestly. Waiting to hear how many yards Wichelt has on hand before I decide what to do. But am still planning on releasing this new design this spring. It's also an 8" x 10", like First Snow, and my plan is to do one for each season.

A cautionary tale (or two):

My best friend, Martha, lives near Boston. We were college roommates and we now talk (text) every day, and have done for many years. She is a single mom and also has a little girl, so there's not a lot of time for either of us during the day. She is three hours ahead of me, so every night after I put Mimi to bed, I get back downstairs around 7 p.m. my time, 10 p.m. Martha's time, and we chat about everything and nothing.

On Wednesday after school, Mimi and I had gone to Fabric Depot to get some interfacing and ribbon for a blouse I'd made for myself. After that, I took her out to an early dinner, where she didn't eat anything and instead, as soon as her ravioli arrived, laid down on the booth bench and asked if she could take her socks off. This was quite strange, as she is a great restaurant kid with a hearty appetite who also generally never stops talking. But instead she was quiet, and on the way home she fell asleep in the car (unheard of). I started to worry that she might not be feeling well again, though she had no temperature and said her throat felt fine. But as soon as we got home we went straight upstairs and started her bedtime routine, even though it was still light out. By 6:00 she was in bed and I was back downstairs, telling Martha that I had just put Amelia to bed and was a bit worried that she wasn't feeling well. No sooner had I sent the text than I heard a warbling, "Mommy? I need to go pottttttttty. . . ." Cue me, sprinting upstairs. "Mama, I have a tummy ache. . . ." And this time the tears were utterly real. Her discomfort was heartbreaking. I suddenly remembered that there had been sugar-free gummy bears granted in line at Fabric Depot. Mimi is actually pretty good about not asking for that crap at check-out (there must be thirty different mini-packs of jelly bellies right there, where you get it line), and sometimes I say yes, and sometimes I say no. This time I'd said, regrettably, yes. "I can never have candy again!!!" she said, face covered in tears. "Next Halloween I'm going to put on my costume but I'm just going to walk around the blooo-ooo-oooock." Oh, my dear sweet honey! My heart was breaking. I assured her that one day there would again be some candy in her future. We sat there in the bathroom together for forty-five minutes until she was . . . finished . . . and I had her laughing again, and literally the second it was all over it was like it had never happened. She bounced off to bed, I tucked her in, she rolled over and grabbed Foxie, and we said our good nights and I love yous and sweet dreamses. I breathed a cautious sigh of relief and went back downstairs and texted Andy (who was at work) to tell him what had happened, and said I was mildly worried that she had the flu but I was much more sure that the episode was caused by the gummy bears I'd approved earlier that afternoon [guilty grimace]. Then I texted and told Martha, who had also been sick earlier this week. Before she could answer, Andy replied to me with this:

Sugarless Haribo Gummy Bear Reviews On Amazon Are The Most Insane Thing You'll Read Today

So, I'm reading that article and practically falling of the couch horrified-laughing (people are hilarious), and then sending it over to Martha and saying, "Uh, yeah, it was the gummy bears," when she answers back:

"I just threw up ten times."

Me [stunned]: "Oh no honey! You have the flu! Are you okay???"

And then she goes:

"I think I drank old daffodil water after I took the NyQuil."


I'm paraphrasing.

It turns out, she'd bought three small bunches of daffodils from Trader Joe's earlier that day, then put them in a glass of water on the counter, planning to bring them to her boyfriend's house for his birthday later that night. They were in the water for about four hours. She said that in retrospect she thought the water tasted funny but she had gulped it because of the NyQuil. Then this, from Jonathan (boyfriend):

"All parts of the daffodil contain a toxic chemical, lycorine. The part of the plant that contains the highest concentration of lycorine is the bulb. However, eating any part of the plant can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually last about 3 hours. More severe problems such as low blood pressure, drowsiness, and damage to the liver have been reported in animals that ate very large amounts of the plant but have never been reported in humans.

"The bulb also contains chemicals called oxalates, which are microscopic and needle-like. When swallowed, oxalates cause severe burning and irritation of the lips, tongue, and throat. They can also cause skin irritation.

"Usually, the only treatment required is rinsing the mouth well and drinking water or milk. If vomiting and diarrhea persist, watch for dehydration. If a person is having severe throat pain, difficulty swallowing, or drooling, medical evaluation and treatment is needed."


Martha: "Apparently there are several posts about this. I'm not the first person to drink daffodil water."

Me: "I shouldn't be laughing at that last one."

Martha: "It's okay. It's kind of hysterical. Except not right now. For me."

Me: "Neither you nor Mimi is allowed to eat sugar-free gummy bears nor drink daffodil water ever again!!!"

Martha: "Okay. FINE!!!"

For the record, she felt better throughout the night and then went to bed. When Andy got home he was with our friend Jeff, also a nurse. They'd brought sandwiches and were planning to play Atari in the garage. I told them about Martha and then asked if they'd known that sugar-free gummy bears apparently "power-wash your intestines." Andy said he hadn't know, but he'd mentioned it to another nurse at work and she'd immediately gasped and said, "Oh my gosh, that's, like, a thing." And then they looked it up. So I'm here to warn you. The pains are real. #truestory


I am SO SO SO glad you're doing a seasonal cross stitch for EVERY season. When I ordered the winter kit, I mentioned how I'd love that, and now it is happening. I am so glad. Thank you! I will be excited to take down my beautiful winter season one and replace it with a spring one soon. :) Can't wait!

(Also lovely post and so funny!)

I'm glad everyone is okay, but those stories were FUNNY! And to have both happen on the same day! I will be sure to stay away from sugar-free gummy bears and I never knew that about daffodils! yikes

wow! my goodness! (d. water and sugarless g. bears!...) ... beautiful things you have made! best wishes for fabric match or something for your new project that I am sure that many will just LOVE to BITS!!!! God bless!!! (Wish I could provide a cleaning fairy godmother to help with the mess! I often wish for one myself! :) )

As soon as you said "sugar free gummy bears" I knew! I have read those Amazon reviews, and whoa, intense. This whole post is so funny (now that I know everyone is okay). Mimi never wanting to trick or treat again...oh my heart, I think we've all been there at one time or another. I got a HUGE chuckle out of the barrette rescue. What a sweet school community.

I think it's the sorbitol in the sugar-free candy that does it. When my dad was diagnosed with diabetes years ago we all thought we were doing him a big favor bringing him sugar-free candies. Turns out we started a whole other "issue"!

Sugar free candy is from the devil. My son and his friend ate their way through a bag of sugar free mints one day. I tried to tell them. Teenagers won’t listen. They regreted it later. Bigley. And I do understand about giving up on a knitting project. I had to do that myself recently. If it’s not relaxing and enjoyable, find something that is. Life is too short.

Oh my goodness! I didn't know daffodils were so toxic! Glad everyone is okay : ) Sounds like a swift shift from the slow January you wrote about. Love the shawl by the way : )

I laughed so hard at your post. My daughter, who is now 40 yrs. plus and has two boys of her own, was way past the age when I worried about locking up cleaning products when she decided to taste my African Violet liquid fertilizer. I just looked at her What????!!! It was only a drop but she had second thoughts after she put it in her mouth. Parenthood is an adventure. Now, Grandparent-hood is my jam. I just guilted my daughter (the same one) for letting the 8 year old skate without a helmet. Because, I can. :) and she deserves it.

Ok so I had a really good laugh at those reviews. Thankfully i don't like candy or daffodil water so I think I'll be ok. The shawl color is gorgeous. I originally did the test knit and have been meaning to knit another. O-wool has some of the prettiest colors!

(sitting here, quietly, smiling to myself, and nodding attentively)

O.M.G! I truly laughed out loud more than once whilst reading this post! I have a serious "sensitivity" to any and all artificial sweeteners...I can “taste” them with just the tiniest amount. The reaction sounds awful. Poor Amelia and your poor friend with the daffodil water...who knew? The shawl is amazing and I love the Spring embroidery...but then I pretty much love everything you make. Thanks, as always for your sweet posts. They are much appreciated, no matter the subject.

Oh goodness - it's the maltitol! When I was working at Borders the barista asked me to try a new sugar free chai tea. It was DELICIOUS! It was toward the end of my work shift and I soon headed for the grocery store on my way home. I began having severe abdominal distress and the most horrifically smelling gas. Luckily, the aisle I was in was empty except for me! I arrived home just in the nick of time. There are so many sugar free products, such as ice cream, that contain maltitol. It's usually the first ingredient listed.

Gorgeous shawl; love the colour.

I am crying over here! Thanks for a wonderful Friday night laugh. But, poor Mimi!

hmmm your friend's daffodil adventure reminded me of that time when I insisted vehemently that the salt in the container was Himalayan bath salt and ended up taking a long soak in a bath full of road salt. Very soft for skin actually!

Note to self, no sugar free Haribou gummy bears and no drinking daffodil water.. but not sure why anyone would do that.. lol. Love your shawl and the embroidery with the bleeding heart is stupendous! The bunny needlepoint is magical, too.. like a pink sunrise. I noticed your little felted sheep, I have 2 of her little sheep and just adore them. Found them at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, and have bought some out of her Etsy shop too.. simply adorable. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

More lovely work on the shawl! This was an incredibly interesting and amusing post. My heartfelt sympathies to the stars of the cautionary tales, though.

I read about the sugar free gummy bears a few years ago, I am shocked that they are still on the market!

A teensy tiny part of me wants to try the gummy bear thing ........

When we lived in northern California in the Sierra foothills, the only flowers that survived the deer were yellow ones like daffodils. We all knew the deer would not touch them. You have such a delightful way of writing your sweet stories!

Your pictures from this post are seriously beautiful. In my next life I want to have your color acumen. I really hope everything works out for the spring cross stitch because it’s wonderful. I’ve tried signing up for your blog feed with blog loving but I don’t get any posts from them..... We have a new puppy that is a vacuum cleaner, can’t wait to see what happens wihen the daffodils bloom, they’re already starting so thanks for the heads up, it ought to make a change for her from our frozen dried lavender that she’s been chewing on all January.

Sugar-free sweeteners do a number on me so I stay away from them but never experienced any of the hilarity posted about the Gummy Bears from hell! Oh my! I laughed all the way through the comments about them and made a mental note to self about that. On a different note---I am so excited for the Spring cross-stitch kit and the fact that there will be one for each season! AND oh the antics and theatrics of young children. Enjoy every minute of it!

Thank you for the link to the gummy bears. I had no idea. I passed on the information to a single Mom friend in London who has a three year old. The three year old also has your foxy doll that I made for her.
But will eating a full bag be a new way for me to lose weight???

Love the yarn colors. I'm thinking of totally giving up knitting. I spend more time with quilting and my photography and the knitting can be soooo frustrating.

So glad you share with us - your mistakes and your joys (as well as recipes, patterns, etc). Wow - I never knew sugarless candy would have that affect and thank you for letting us know. Glad Amelia is better! So funny to hear about your honesty and the details about all the messy things - all common with little ones around. I LOVE your shawl and can you tell us how difficult it is? I am not brave like you and I only knit easy things! Can't wait for your next x-stitch either! Yay! Spring is around the corner - not sure how you get everything accomplished!

True story: I now am the proud owner of an umbilical hernia thanks to reading those sugarless gummy bear reviews during my third pregnancy (which was in 2014). They are more dangerous than even the stomach troubles!

I truly love the beauty of the ordinary in your posts. It really is an inspiration to me.

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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