Making Progress

comments: 68




Autumn here in Portland has been cold and crisp and brilliant, but it's freezing in the house today and I am rather cranky. Mimi and I took a walk around Reed College over the weekend and I am missing her (at school) and Andy (at work) today. The wind is whipping about out there and the car thermometer said it was 35 degrees when we left for school. Gusty wind is unnerving to me and always has been. I feel like I'm clenching my jaw and trying to ward off a shiver. My heart is breaking for everyone affected by the wildfires in California. Having a cold wind here is nothing compared to a burning wind, and I truly hope they catch a break in the weather that can help with these fires soon.

Thank you ever so much for your thoughts about how (or not) you use the yarns suggested in patterns. That was so fascinating to me, and I seriously love reading about peoples' personal experiences around these things. I would say the vast majority of people do not use the suggested yarn but substitute something they already have, or buy something they know they already like. I guess yarn, like fabric, is just one of those things that is so personal, and there are so many different types of it available (generally speaking, especially if you're buying it on the computer) that choosing it is just a further part of the creative process. Some people did say that if they like the photo on the pattern they want to make it exactly as pictured, because that's why they liked it in the first place. I totally get that, too. I don't know, I just like reading all of these little quirky details about everyone. I've been knitting along on my little flower sweater pattern for kids. This little sample is the six-month size in Cascade 220. I finished all of the grading for sizes (from six months to twelve years) on Friday and have the pattern out with a couple of testers right now. I'm currently knitting the size 8, this time in Berocco Ultra Alpaca, for which I get the same gauge as 220 (20 sts x 27 rows over 4"). I'm enjoying everything about this process so much. This is my first attempt at writing knitting patterns that are graded and there is so much math involved. I have always liked math a lot, for an English major, and I am finding that everything about this is exciting to me, even if I do have so much to learn. :)

I made my mom's chicken paprika (which we call "chicken and dumplings") the other night. It is very rich but it is just delicious at this time of year. I have been in a cooking slump lately — about the only thing I can do consistently is make tacos on Tuesday. It's Tuesday. I'll be making tacos. I need a good book and some good recipes right now. I have nothing to read and no idea what to cook.


Get Antoni in the Kitchen! It's so good!

I highly recommend reading The Bear and the Nightingale.

"I need a good book and some good recipes right now. I have nothing to read and no idea what to cook" That, my friend, would make the greatest meme! I may have to quote you, and quote you often. This time of year lends itself so well to cooking and reading, which happen to be amongst my favorite things to do. I read 99.8% non-fiction and cook 100% from scratch . . . Have a wonderful evening at home with your loves!

Allison Moss says: October 29, 2019 at 01:00 PM

It's just one of those days, isn't it? But tomorrow is a brand new day and one to look forward to. For recipes, I've recently discovered Tasty on youtube and they also have an app. I've found lots of new things for us to try that are indeed "tasty"! Best wishes to you.

I just finished Ronan Farrow’s “Catch and Kill” and highly recommend it. It’s powerful, well investigated, and reads like a riveting spy novel.

Hi Alicia! I love that sweater! I will definitely be buying it and knitting it for my daughter. As far as books go, I just finished Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, at a friend’s recommendation. So incredibly good. Thought provoking and poignant but gentle.

Jennifer O. says: October 29, 2019 at 01:40 PM

I'm about half way through reading The Secrets We Kept, by Lara Prescott and I'm enjoying it, and I went out and bought a copy of Doctor Zhivago to read next because of it. I also made a pot of somewhat unsatisfying soup over the weekend and I hope it will be better after sitting together in the fridge for a couple days, since I have a whole pot and just one person to eat it.

Oh! I also recently read Ida Elizabeth by Sigrid Undset. So good. Much shorter than Kristin Lavransdatter and a contemporary setting. Highly recommend.

Also in a cooking slump here. The best two books I've read in ages are 'The Lost Man' by Jane Harper and 'Unsheltered' by Barbara Kingsolver. Both absolutely excellent. I have the new Philip Pullman on the shelf, I know he will be amazing as ever. The dumplings look divine.

I took a walk out in our cold Portland wind today - brrrr! I really love your flower sweater for kids and will make one for my daughter once you release the pattern. I think she'd love it! I made a pot of Spiced Chickpea Stew with Turmeric and Coconut from nytimes cooking last week and loved every last bowl of it. It's especially warming this chilly time of year.

I'm reading The Gown by Jennifer Robson and am loving it. It's told from the perspective of three women: two of the women are living in the 1940s and are embroiderers working for the designer commissioned for (then) Princess Elizabeth's wedding dress. The third perspective is from the granddaughter of one of the embroiderers and in the present time period. It's full of beautiful details about embroidery and cozy English things. It's right after WWII and one of the women was in France during the war and witnessed (and experienced) such horror.

I also recently finished Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. Berry is so talented at finding the beauty in the natural world -- I was breathless throughout the entire thing.

I'm useless in the kitchen, so I can't offer any ideas for meal planning. Sorry!!

Adrienne Easter says: October 29, 2019 at 04:18 PM

I have two good podcasts to listen to, great if you like to work/stitch/knit to a little background noise or if you need a break.

- Didn't I Just Feed You
- Salt and Spine

The first will inspire and the second will send you to the library way too many times for cookbooks.

My autumn reading recommendations: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (modern gothic novel, suitably creepy but not too upsetting); Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym (lovely, melancholic novel on aging and loneliness); First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (I can't get enough of her cozy stories with hints of magical realism).

I just love the way you serve meals. I don't have a dinning table as its just me and my preschooler but setting it out for people to serve themselves is something i always wanted at home. Those pots, candles, table cloths, placemats even the plates are just so cozy.

Hi Alicia,

Reading about your "what to cook" dilemma really struck a note with me because it was from this blog that I was introduced to NY Times cooking and each and every day for me it's like- "I can't wait to see what's for dinner"-lol! So, thank you for that. Now, maybe, I can help you. I am a frequent visitor at my neighborhood library and I have recently come across a few cookbooks I am loving now. Maybe you might look for dinner (or breakfast, or lunch, or supper!) in these-Brown Sugar Kitchen (my new Love), America the Great Cookbook, Summerland, Cuban Flavor, When French Women Cook, Dynamite Chicken (Food52) and Sweet Paul magazine has reallylovely meals. I hope this very short list of suggestions helps as you have unknowingly helped me. Best!

Read The Dutch House by Ann Patchett or Euphoria by Lily King, both excellent! Can't help with the cooking, I recommend takeout!

Your table looks so warm and inviting!! The dinner looks delicious! I'm currently reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I can't put it down. If you haven't read's a must!!

I agree, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, also The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. The latter is a triumphant and extraordinary story of a couple in their 50s who have lost everything and just decided to walk the South West Coast Path in England which is 630 miles long (Mount Everest nearly 4 times)

I love this sweater! Will the size 12 fit a petite woman with a 33" bust?! Just wondering :D

I'm in a cooking slump too. Maybe it's the time of year. But last night I made William Sonoma's Thai chicken soup recipe (from their soup book) though I always customize it with more "Asian" vegetables; anyway it's really good and perfect for when it's cold. I also made maraschino cherry (the real ones, not the dyed ones) gluten-free shortbread cookies. It was a new to me recipe and didn't really turn out like shortbread but we managed to eat all of them by lunch today--so not too bad!

I loved Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and suspect it’s just what you need.
Cooking wise, 75% of what I make these days is Smitten Kitchen. But I am eating previously made and frozen soup from Orangette this week and it fits the weather:

I recommend two podcasts for getting out of a cooking slump: Dinner Sisters and then Didn't I Just FeedYku.
I also have recently found this post (and especially all the comments) so helpful for getting some new ideas:
Love your blog and glimpse into your life, as usual! Xo

Have you read the book or watched the Netflix show Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat? So yummy and inspirational.

I love fall in Portland so much, you’re so lucky to live in such a great place. We have a first snow today, and there are no leaves anymore, just a few last one in some trees. I makes me feel a little melancholic, November is always really grey here. I love your new sweater design so much! I just started knitting after so many years of sewing and it’s great thing to do in cold evenings. Do not have this much experience with it but can say that in my country not all the yarn is available so you have to choose some alternative. Because ordering yarn from US or Europe is really expensive because of the shipping costs. But I love Drops and Sandness and we have a lot of it and Ravelry is really helpful in this case, so many great ideas with different yarn.

I am reading the Sarah Addison novel mentioned above (First Frost) and it's lovely for fall. I just read Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier and really enjoyed it. As for cooking inspiration, I love Simply Recipes......I always get a good idea or an inspiration from their recipes. which all come out quite well.

A book I would highly recommend is "The Things We Cannot Say" by Kelly Rimmer. It is set in Poland during the German occupation of World War II and centres on one family who are poor farmers. The narrator is the adult granddaughter of one of the survivors. I couldn't put it down. I am currently enjoying making soups and recently made a big pot of borscht. One of my favourite cookbooks is the Looneyspoons Collection. Everything I have made from that book is simple and delicious.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

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