Spring Break

comments: 29


It's spring break this week, and Amelia and I have been busy gym-shoe and other shopping for her. Shoe shopping is not what it was. I was longing for a Stride Rite or a Buster Brown, and a kindly salesman who would have had her take a seat so he could measure her foot on the metal measuring thing (because I honestly had no idea what size her feet were anymore), who would've come back with boxes of shoes and laced them up for her and then checked her toes to see how they fit, who would’ve insisted she take a walk around the carpeted store for a test drive. But we were hard-pressed to find an actual salesperson anywhere, even at Macy’s, on Day 1.

On Day 2 I printed out a kid's foot-measuring chart (turns out she's a US size 3.5 and an extra-wide width) and wound up at a massive DSW where I got her a new pair of Reebok tennis shoes and some running shoes (wow, I had no idea how expensive nice new shoes are, having bought almost everything secondhand for many years) because she wants to go jogging with her dad. She went on a carousel ride at the mall, got a Pink Drink and a cookie at Starbuck's, got a pink velour jogging suit, and picked out a new clematis for the front yard. In every moment of my life these days I can feel that I am intentionally, effortfully buoyant, and am yearning to feel normal, and am yearning for things in general to feel normal. But the Target looked like a dump, with crushed cereal and clothes all over the floors, and the up-escalators at the big mall were broken (well, the two we tried, anyway), and the salespeople were nowhere to be found, and these things are, of course, ridiculous as entire cities and millions of lives in Ukraine are laid to waste in mere days at the whim of one evil, murderous maniac. And I can’t stop thinking, stupidly, helplessly, How could this be? Someone!?! How? Why? My girl grows out of her clothes. We shop for shoes and strive for joy. Hold all of these things at once.


At home, I've been sewing a lot and have made several things, none of which actually fit very well after all (ha!) and I'll probably take them (a few shirred nightgowns that are too narrow and too short, a muslin that was also too straight, a muslin that was too big in the neck) to Goodwill. I liked this top (above, photo taken after I'd washed it to shrink it a bit, though it didn't really shrink), which I made patchwork sleeves for out of some squares in the stash that were originally cut for the sawtooth star quilt I decided not to make after all. I used Simplicity pattern #9193 (this seems to be out of print; I had it in my stash) and ultimately did an FBA (full bust adjustment), which worked brilliantly and was barely difficult after all. I used this tutorial for doing one on a raglan seam. There is a 5" difference between my upper bust and my full bust (whoa) so an FBA is really necessary — so, I need to go down two patterns sizes, and match the bust measurement on the pattern sizing to my upper bust (so that the neck and shoulders and armsceyes fit), not my full bust, and then do a significant FBA (added 2.5" to the bodice front [doubled, that's 5"]). Worked like a charm! Perfectly exciting! I also added about 1.5" to each of the side seams to make the shirt more A-line in general (it's cut pretty straight, too straight for comfort in quilting cotton). Anyway, the bust on my dress form still needs about 2" to fill it out all the way to 47". I tried to stuff it with polyfill and it just looked ridiculous and also mildly terrifying. I bought some bra inserts but they were still too small [laughing]. What can I say. G cup. Don’t judge.


I am making this lovely cardigan in a women's size XS for Amelia out of hand-dyed (by me) Nature Spun worsted. I dyed the yarn a few weeks ago, dyed six 100g skeins with one teaspoon of Rit dye in Cocoa Brown. One teaspoon! I love the wonderful videos from Essence of Autumn yarns and this one, about dyeing solid colors, finally clued me in to adding my citric acid only after the yarn has been soaking in the dye water for a while. That slows down the dye striking, and allows you to get smoother and also lighter solid colors. It totally works. Also, kind of amazing that Cocoa Brown actually produces this luscious, warm pink, no? I am thinking about dyeing some spring colors to sell. I feel like I'm getting some really pretty colors lately. I've been knitting this sweater while bingeing Bad Vegan on Netflix (scary, eesh. Reminded me of The Tinder Swindler).


I'm realizing I only have a week to design and complete my April design for Tender Year and I haven't even started yet, so I might be a few days late. And oops: I meant to say last time I posted, a tutorial for wrapping your canvas with embroidery is now here. I have another $92.00 to donate to Ukraine so far — thank you again, so much, for that. Andy is home tomorrow and I'll have some time to work. Our yards need some serious cleanup. It's that time of year. Things are just starting to really froth out. The sun, when it shows itself, is glowing and low in the guest-room windows at dusk. At bedtime, I face this window from down the hall. Amelia plays with a three-story Calico Critter "house" that she's set up on my bookshelves while I read The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw out loud to her (and then she reads Harry Potter, which believe it or not I've never actually read, to me). The Moorchild is probably the most intense children's chapter book I have ever read. According to my Amazon, I purchased The Moorchild in April of 2017 but we're only just reading it now (the age range says 9-12). I have no idea why I bought it or if someone suggested it to me or if I saw it somewhere, but wow. I think it's one of the most creative and evocative and emotional books I've ever read, and the writing is stellar. That said, it's kind of a brutal kids' book, to be honest. I almost sobbed while reading it yesterday (we're almost at the end) and Amelia said her heart was racing at the end of the chapter. I'm actually surprised it's a kids' book but I guess I don't know that much about kids' books, really, or why this wouldn't be a kids' book. But it's just . . . like, the general premise (it's from the perspective of a changeling) kind of just destroys my heart from the get-go, and every main character is sympathetic, and, I don't know, the story is just mesmerizing to me. It is a Newbery Honor book from 1997. Who's read this, and what did you think?


Flower fairy wishing you a happy spring!


Spring wishes to the flower fairy. I’m picturing her in running shoes, with a book under her arm. Spring is calling!

I've added The Moorchild to my TBR - thank you!! It sounds like something we'd enjoy here. (or mostly just me?) That sweater looks so lovely - I was thinking that you'd found the perfect pink yarn, but of course: you made it yourself!

Nice work with all of the sewing and adjusting. That's one of the reasons I am so scared of garment sewing: what if I go through all of the work and it doesn't fit? And then what??!

As always - I love the glimpses into your cozy home. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Your description of shoe shopping had me reminiscing. My sister and I used to LOVE to go shoe shopping. The locally owned shoe store had a small carousel in the children's department. I don't know if carousel is the right word. It went round in circles but the horses were like little bicycles with pedals. So you made it go round yourself. Thanks for the little stroll down memory lane. It was lovely. And I know what you mean about not really knowing about children's books. My husband's stepfather wrote the classic Incident at Hawk's Hill which used to be required reading in many schools, but I read it as an adult. I kept thinking, "This is a children's book??"

Nancy Zieman Fitting Finesse is a wonderful book for pattern alterations - she has a system of measuring across your chest from armpit to armpit to purchase the correct size pattern and then pivot and slide to adjust for fit.
I so remember going to Marshall Field's to get my school shoes and others and my feet would be measured and boxes brought our of what you picked to try on from the display.
I machine knit and should try dying some yarn - the colors are so pretty.

We have a local she store still. I have always been so grateful for them. My children may not have the most stylish shoes but they are properly sized and enjoy the same experience their grandparents had. Take care.

There was a lovely children's shoe store when I was younger whose employees (owners?) did just the thing you described! They were there through my entire childhood. Now I have a 2 year old, I have found possibly the only remaining shoe store (a different one) in a large metro area and they measure his feet and give us some options. He gets a free balloon and I get a postcard with a discount for the next time. It is a family run store with higher end products (brands better than the average children's brand) but still not the ones my mom reminisces about when I was a child.

ellen patton says: March 24, 2022 at 11:21 AM

Your description of buying shoes as a kid (measuring, walking) was my childhood. A sweet memory. And I'm watching Bad Vegan too. I don't understand why people give semi-strangers/dishonest people thousands of dollars...

Denise Fryzek says: March 24, 2022 at 11:35 AM

Again, you’re post has inspired me to get sewing again.

Question, when we’re using a knitting pattern and it says bust, which do we use? Upper or full. I’ve been using full and often my yoke sweaters are too big. Could this be why?

Lovely blog and charming family!

I feel like I just have to thank you, endlessly, for being here with all this beauty and honesty and tenderness. Pink from Cocoa, full bust adjustments--I always learn something from you, and always leave here feeling inspired. Thank you, thank you. xoxo

You DYED that pink yarn? Amazing!

I’ve read “The Moorchild” and loved it. Hard to say what ages I would recommend it for (I’m the parent that was appalled that a 4th grader was reading “Twilight’ though). It could be a good conversation starter for prejudices.

Christine says: March 25, 2022 at 05:58 AM

What beautiful photos! I love the everything in them. The quilt above your mantel is so pretty.. and the top and sweater and flower fairy. I'm ordering that book right now.

I have not read The Moorchild — but have now placed it on hold at the library. Thank you! Personally, I find HP (which I love to pieces) brutal. I don't feel It is a series for younger kids. Especially the latter four ... I held them back for my kids, each in turn, until they were at least 12 for the first book ... as they say, mileage varies betwixt persons! 😁

Loved your description of shoe shopping! My daughter is 9 and I hate shopping for shoes. We go to payless, if we can find one, or the mall. Search for the metal shoe sizer thing and do our best to find something she likes that fits. It's not the same, as when I was young, I remember Buster Brown and there was a nice ceremony about the process. My Mom always sized up, so we had room to grow! She still buys clothes for my daughter about two sizes to big! You know, just in case! Totally makes me smile, plus we always have clothes to grow into!

I'm so glad you mentioned the horrible atrocities happening in Ukraine. I feel like we're just diddley bopping along here in the US, grouching about ever lessening Covid restrictions and the price of gas while the peace loving people of Ukraine have their lives completely upended with no hope in sight. To think that some 75,000 children have been "moved" to Russia because "they want to become Russian citizens" and we here seem so ho hum about it. As love to say "Sorry for your luck". It just astounds me, but I think you're feeling as I am. What can we do???

I too wish we had shoe stores like when I was a kid. We had the merry go round that Kari mentioned, I spent so much time on it while my mom and sister picked out their shoes. Good memories!

The colour of that yarn is so pretty, cocoa brown you say!! Who knew! I love your blouse with the patchwork sleeves, I will try that one day. Thanks for the canvas wrap tute. So far I have bought jan-March embroidery patterns but have not managed to start even one yet, need to prioritise the time for it. Happy spring to the spring fairy and thanks for the book recommendation, definitely sounds like something is like to read myself.

Melissa@Julia's Bookbag says: March 27, 2022 at 11:55 AM

I have NOT read that book, and I'll be checking it out asap! Your mantel is so beautiful, and I ADORE the short you made with the patchwork sleeves, I would wear it in a hot minute. I had a near-migraine for an entire week, the second week of the Ukraine invasion. My mind boggles at what is happening.

Have you ever read ‘The Wild Robot’ to Amelia? I think you would like it 😊

When my son was little (he's now 48!) he always ran a lap around the shoe store to make sure the knobs on the soles were fast. When he was in middle school my husband bought a pair of shoes for him that were a size larger than he needed so he had room to grow. He never did grow into those shoes!
Thanks for the lovely memories about shoe stores when there is so much unpleasantness in the world demanding our attention.
Your blouse is beautiful!

My kids and I went to a state park over the weekend and I was so startled by being in a place that was fully staffed and the employees seemed ok - not overwhelmed, comfortable. It was wonderful but jarring - makes me realize how much we have all gotten used to a somewhat constant sense of things not being ok.

Sally Berg says: March 30, 2022 at 06:48 AM

Thank you. All I can say is thank you. I was transported back in time by your shoe shopping experience, things do change. I have to say I so appreciate your blog. It always makes my day. And now I want to go dye something!

I completely agree, retail stores, for the most part, are totally depressing these days--disorganized, understaffed, do-it-yourself. It's as though store managers have given up thinking everyone shops online now. And, considering what comes off UPS trucks every day in my neighborhood, it's hard to blame them. I think some small, local retailers still take pride in their work and their stores. I look for those and shop selectively, and all too often online, for just about anything else. Two pairs of shoes and a set of comfy clothes for Amelia? I'd call it a winning shopping trip!

Christi Tom says: April 04, 2022 at 07:19 AM

I just took my almost eight year old shoe shopping at Target this morning fast fast before school. I miss Stride Rite too! Last year was when I realized ours closed at the mall and I had to take my four year old to Shoe Carnival which is kind of chaotic but did have the wide width addidas she needed. The eight year old picked rainbow black light up sketchers and then some light pink platform sandals because she has wanted heeled shoes. Our Target is clean and well stocked but no helpful shoe selling employees. I used the shoe size rug. Her old unicorn sketchers were too small, had holes, and the velcro had stopped sticking to itself.

I just ordered a used copy of Moorchild and another by the same author The Golden Goblet. I loved all the Sequoiah books in 4th and 5th grade but the tended to be the more dramatic books with characters dealing with war and death and trauma. I also loved Holocaust survivor books in 5th grade then too.

I would recommend all of the Gary D. Schmidt book. Maybe a few are aimed towards junior high readers, but most are for older elementary or middle schoolers. The Wednesday Wars is fantastic. His chapter books always have a mixture of humor and real life problems with a hopeful theme and the possibility of redemption for the worst characters.

Martha Pedersen says: April 05, 2022 at 03:31 AM

❤️ You’re so, so much more than adequate. She was wonderful and you were all so happy together for so long. It’s hard to have a dog-shaped hole in your heart. ❤️ Sending more hugs. ❤️

The comments to this entry are closed.

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