Tiny, Tiny Stitches

comments: 62











Thank you for all of your sweet birthday wishes! I had such a lovely day and it feels like it has stretched into weeks. I've been lazy and lingering and literally soaking up the blissful, fuzzy, languid blur of January, where I am determined to hibernate, raising my head only when necessary. I must be part bear. I prefer to be swaddled in my cave during these days. I hung a new calendar and have gotten Amelia to school on time and have fed everyone more-or-less successfully but mostly I've spent this month just . . . puttering.

And letting it all settle.

In my head I have a million creative ideas, things I want to make and things I want to try and things I want to develop for Posie. That's generally an uncomfortable place for me, and I try to roll with the feelings and inspirations — I let them all tumble around, falling out of my hands and onto the fabric and onto the page and onto the screen (in the case of new cross-stitch ideas; I design on-screen in a program called PC Stitch) and try to just let myself be loose, to see what sticks without getting tight about it. I almost always have more ideas than I know what to do with. For me, rather than ever feeling particularly "blocked," it can (more likely) be tricky not to follow every impulse I have to make something down the rabbit hole of turning it into a pattern or kit, since turning things into patterns and kits is my job, after all. I come to all my work impulsively, for the most part. The design process is very impulsive, and happens in a burst. But the vast majority of the time after that is anything but impulsive. It's the opposite. It is spent figuring out the details, both the details that are technique-specific to that particular project and the details that are source- and supply-specific — what fabric do we use for this? Is it about to be discontinued? [Of course it is.] What's the alternative? What's the turnaround time to get 55 yards of it? How do we wind 3 grams of lace-weight yarn so that people can use it? What colors of floss do we have on hand so that we don't have to place an order, now that they've changed the minimum ordering amount to $1,000? Will people be able to do this tiny thing that I can't even explain how to do? Can I explain how to do it? How many times does this need to be proofread before I press "send" to the printing guy? How did that typo get in there? How many did we print? Why is it more expensive now than it was six months ago? All the things. I do enjoy figuring that out, for the most part. But: I really love just being in the zone of the primary creative process of making something, because that is the first love. That's the love that knows no bounds.

Thus it was that I found myself stitching away on tiny little botanical specimens, using one ply of six-ply embroidery floss, and finding even it too thick for what I was trying to do (so I started using machine-sewing thread for the roots). Amelia has a penchant for old field guides — it's funny and interesting and Andy and I sort of hold our breath and look at each other wide-eyed with relief every time she comes home from the school library with one of them instead of another Bad Kitty book (which, no offense, but I loathe). I was flipping through one of her field guides, and then I pulled out some of my own old illustrated field guides, and then I found myself ordering "brooch trays" from Etsy and Amazon. . . . It all happens fast. Within about an hour I went from "What's with the whole pin thing? I don't get pins!" to becoming obsessed with pins, and thinking about pins all day and dreaming about pins and wearing a pin on my coat and giving pins to everyone in my family.

The pins and necklaces above are about 1" (2.5cm) (pins) and 1.5"-2" (4-5cm). I stitched them all on regular Kona cotton using mostly hand-dyed floss from Weeks Dye Works and a company called The Gentle Art that I got at my beloved Acorns and Threads. I used, as mentioned, one ply of floss while stitching. I sketched out the basic shape of the plant freehand with this extra-fine chalk pencil. I stretched each little circle of fabric around a tinier circle (or oval) of cardboard and glued it into the brooch tray. The shape of the pin holders was such that I didn't need glue on those. Wild thyme, bog star, sorrel, fern, heather, forget-me-not. Now started, I haven't been able to stop in weeks, and have reordered more settings to make more tiny scenes. I'm going to send some of these to my friends, and maybe I'll sell some eventually, once I get a big enough collection finished. I almost never sell finished items, but that sounds nice right now. Maybe I'll make a pattern and tutorial if I don't get onto something else right away, knowing me. It just feels great to make these while dreaming of spring, and of how all of real little plants are waiting in the ground for it to warm up a bit before they uncurl themselves and gift us with their spirits. Embroidering things this small is a sweet conjuring that feels like magic. You should try it. Should I do a pattern? Maybe I will.


I promised to take care of Foxie today while Meems is at school She got him all tucked in.


Your tiny stitching is exquisite.

Oh yes, if you can do sell them! But only if it is enjoyable to be creative and sell finished items. They are so beautiful and I would absolutely purchase. They are just lovely, I keep scrolling up and down. Now you have me thinking of lovely plants instead of work :) Snowberry, thistle, strawberries, blackberries, all the herbs...and on it goes. Now I am scrolling again, how did I miss the crocus bulb with the roots the first 10 scrolls! Seriously, these are so amazing. I love your creative impulses!

They’re utterly adorable! The comments section is going to go mad over these! I’d love to make some.

Oh my... I usually admire and enjoy what you do, but this is something else! Just adorable, funny and beautiful! The mushrooms... the moth... the ferns... all of them are so so pretty! You have such a wonderful eye for natural things (you should have been a scientist!!!). You are so talented! Bravo!

Kristen from MA says: January 21, 2020 at 02:09 PM

Oh Alicia, these tiny specimens are achingly beautiful. Patterns would be welcome, but finished items even more so.

OHHHHH!!!! Brooches are so lovely! They're a thing in my world and I love wearing vintage pins during the Christmas season. I have a few for the remainder of the year too, but at Christmas, they are just wonderful festive touches that perk up an outfit! Your lavender oval would make a beautiful brooch! You're on to something, dearest! Keep it up and sell them. I'll be your first customer :))

Sally Berg says: January 21, 2020 at 02:14 PM

Awww!! I am in love! I have made several of your kits over the years and vote (if I get one :)) for at least a pattern if not a kit. You have an artful eye and your designs appeal to me, so of course I want some!!

These are beautiful and precious...they make me feel more hopeful. I'm amazed that you have the capacity for both the wild creativity and the really detailed organization of projects. Whether you sell these or make kits or move whirling on to the next thing, thank you for sharing!

The mushrooms and the fiddle-heads.... oh, the cuteness! These are absolutely adorable!

Absolutely delicious! Your moth is so "mothy"! Maybe I could survive this Midwest winter if I were to stitch up some spring lovelies.

Dearest Alicia! I would buy a pin (or several) in a HOT MINUTE. They are beyond charming, and I would proudly wear it on a jacket or put it on my tote bag. And since I can't sew, knit, needle point, or embroider, getting a finished product would be so wonderful!

Jacqueline says: January 21, 2020 at 03:59 PM

Oh my goodness - I am a botanist, and these are amazing! I would love to wear one when teaching, my college students would love that.

As always, so inspired and sweet.

Oh Alicia.. your mind and hands are magic! I love the pendants and brooches! I think it would be fun to buy one that you embroidered. I love the unfurling ferns and the tiny flowers and mushrooms. You're amazing! It's funny about the bear and hibernation thing.. I feel the exact same way! I'm spending much time by the fire crocheting on my Dahlia blanket and I don't care if I ever go anywhere.. lol. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

So cute the stuffed fox that she tucked in! Reminds me of my daughter a few years back (she's 13 now) makes me wistful for those days!

gailelizabeth says: January 21, 2020 at 07:36 PM

Your embroidered pins and necklaces are absolutely stunning! You are so gifted!!

These are so beautiful Alicia, just my kind of thing.

Lynn Marie says: January 22, 2020 at 05:34 AM

LOVELY! I must make some of these! A pattern would be lovely--you could make a hundred of them and they would be sold out before 1/2 of us even knew they were up on your website...LOL! I am a big fan of the navy blue background.

These are so lovely an dI have enjoyed watching them emerge on Instagram and here. A pattern and/or kit wold be amazing for sure. Your post today brings to mind a book I recently read that you might enjoy. It's called Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Ambitious Women by Kathy Northup. I found the title to be a bit misleading. It is all about honoring the creative cycle in conjunction with the moon and your hormonal cycles. It is a quick read and I found it fascinating. I think you would find a lot of logic to how you are feeling and the bursts of creativity you get. Have a lovely day.

Stephanie Cooper says: January 22, 2020 at 06:17 AM

I love them all! Whether a finished piece or a kit , I would purchase some ( it will be hard to choose)

I adore these - bravo! I would definitely purchase

Oh Alicia, my mother an all-things-handwork-and-especially-miniature would absolutely LOVE one of your beautiful pendants or brooches. I was scrolling down so anxious to find out how to order one. No pressure, just want you to know they are simply gorgeous and heirloom worthy. (But please do let us know when you are ready to share :)

Mary Ann in Vermont says: January 22, 2020 at 07:08 AM

How utterly beyond lovely are these!! I would absolutely purchase whatever you might offer--a pin all finished, a kit, or a pattern. I am part bear, too! I love this cold winter part of the year. Happy cozy and indoor days. Sending so much love from Vermont to you and your precious family--people and pets. xo

As soon as I see these, I wanted to make one (or a dozen). They are beautiful! I do hope you decide to create a pattern or kit.

Love these! As I posted a picture on my Instagram account, and said that I made my mother-in-law something similar with cross-stitching about 30 years ago. (It came as a "Creative Circle" cross-stitch pattern, which they now sell on E-Bay). Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures and your family life.

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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 aliciapaulson.com