Posts filed in: Embroidery

Things of Summer Cross-Stitch Kits and PDF Pattern Now Available!

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I'm sorry I am so late with releasing this design, but the good news is that all of the kits are assembled and ready to ship right now. I won't be long-winded here today — details and  are at the web site, and I know you know the drill!

For the Things of Summer Cross-Stitch KIT, please click HERE.

For the Things of Summer Cross-Stitch instantly downloadable PDF, please click HERE.

Thank you very, very much! XOXOXOXXO, a

P.S. Yep, they're strappy sandals! :)

Pulling Together

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Things of Summer

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Oh, where do the days go? They slide away, they slide away. It's been three months since our stay-home order went into effect. It's felt long and also short, since the days are all so similar they really do run together. I've been having a rough time of it lately. We've gotten out to the woods and the river a bit, and that has been wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. I would like to go all the time. I love everything about the river. I love stopping at Jimmy John's [edited: won't be going to Jimmy John's after what you guys have just told me — ugh, thank you, I had no idea] and picking up sandwiches right on the edge of town. I love the drive into the country, past Christmas tree farms and billowing foxglove groves. I love the smell of the woods and stopping the car for a mama deer and three babies. I love watching Amelia play with her toys in the sand. I love watching raptors circle endlessly over the river. I love reading in my chair. I love when Andy and Amelia go on adventures. I love the sound of the water. I want to go all the time. I can't wait to go back. My nerves feel better for it, for sure.

I hope you are all well and hanging in there!

Amelia is currently in the bathtub. I gave her a can of shaving cream and said go for it. She's hooting and hollering in there right now. She just asked me for another can (no). She's spent most of the day in her underpants, watching Inspector Gadget in the office and eating water chestnuts out of a can with a fork. It's over 90 degrees outside and sunny, without a breeze in sight. I watered the garden at about 8:30 a.m. and then shot right back into the AC. Andy is back at work today for the first time in maybe a week. But we'll pay for that now, all that glorious time off; I think he is working seven days out of the next nine days. Twelve-hour shifts. An hour bus commute on either side. That's rough, though he never, ever lets it show. But we miss him when he's not here.

We stopped at the plant nursery yesterday to pick up some shade annuals for the porch and then we went to the library to pick up the book (Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid) I had placed on hold last winter. They are finally doing hold pick-ups at the library. They meet you at the front door; there there's a table blocking the entrance, and they slide the book to you on a tray. Sigh. I can't say I enjoyed being out at all, though I had been excited to go. We were only gone an hour or two. But I was so relieved to be home, back under my tree, watching Andy plant the impatiens and Amelia whack at the lawn with a croquet mallet. I guess I'll stick to the river for a while.

I have started a new Sawtooth Star quilt for myself, but I have not worked on it too much. It will be eight blocks each of ten different star combos, made of my precious calicos and hand-dyed (by me) muslin. It will be a king-size quilt that I will line with an Ikea comforter (turn and burn method [layer batting, top, then bottom; stitch around all sizes leaving an opening to turn, turn then stitch opening closed], then I'll tie it). I like my quilts to be just thin, puffy comforters now. I've decided I really don't like binding and I don't like machine-quilting — it all makes the quilt too stiff, in my opinion. I'm going back to puffballs tied with #5 perle cotton. I made one for my sister's birthday present (see first picture). Stay tuned, we'll see if I get this thing for myself finished. A precision quilter I am not, though I did buy a fancy Flying Geese ruler, and that is helping very much.

Amelia and I baked a blueberry–cream cheese babka, an Earl Grey cake (the recipe I used doesn't seem to be available any more), and a rhubarb custard pie. Today we are going to make Orange Julius popsicles and chicken tacos.

I have finished my design for Things of Summer (digital screen shot is above) and the printed patterns have arrived (though I haven't opened the box yet; fingers crossed that all is well in there), so I will start putting kits together next week, and it will be on sale soon!

What are you favorite historical fiction movies, like big, epic ones? Or series? I am so in the mood for that. I've been watching absolute garbage TV lately. I do love it so!!!

Ride

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In the afternoon I ride my bike down to the mailbox a few blocks away. It's sunny and quiet, so quiet. I pedal slowly, looking around. Aimless. Unusual. It’s empty. I could ride right down the middle of the street. My old bike makes all sorts of noise, things clicking and squeaking, and they're the only sounds I hear. House. House. House. I roll past. My street has a few bungalows and a lot of houses that are called "English" by realtors here. They were built in the 1920s and have steeply pitched roofs, gables, dormers. Mock Tudor. Pretty. A lot of them are tastefully painted stucco. Mine is, too.

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I ride down my street. A block away the houses are nicer and more stately, set further back on the property than ours, with long driveways and window boxes and ancient magnolia trees now in bloom. This part reminds me of the neighborhoods in old Disney movies, The Aristocats, maybe, or Lady and the Tramp, the blossoming trees frothy and pink and the houses old-fashioned and mouse-colored, with borders of lemon yellow tulips just starting to bloom. The street, strangely, has the exact same sort of set-up as the quiet suburban street I grew up on — it's long and stops at a T-intersection at both visible ends, and I'm often reminded of Forest Avenue here. I remember how many thousands of times I rode my bike up and down Forest Avenue, canopied by oaks and elms. Literally thousands of times over twenty years. I don’t know this street nearly as well as I knew Forest, though I’ve also lived here for twenty years. I’ve probably only ridden my bike here a few dozen times.

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My brakes squeal as I go down the hill. I see Scott in his UPS truck. My buddy of many years. We're the only two around for miles, it seems. I've been out here for a half an hour, riding alone around the blocks, and he's the only person I've come across. He sees me coasting past and shouts through the open driver's door, "Whoa! Watch out! Everybody STOP!!!" I'm grinning like an idiot and I pretend to wobble, shouting back, "It's been a long time since I've ridden! You're right to worry!" My smile is huge and loose, my voice sounds crazy, and suddenly I'm crying, tears catching in my throat, a hot bubble of sorrow and stress. He's still out here, doing his job, and so will my husband be tomorrow. I should get back. It's too quiet, the sun is too bright, there aren't even any airplanes overhead, and I feel scared and small. I miss the world. I miss what it felt like to not feel like this.

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It's been a hard few weeks all over the world. My heart is broken, aching and sore with stories of so many others' losses and pain, and the ache never leaves. "Every day feels like Sunday," says Amelia when she wakes up one morning, and although I smile and agree, I hardly know what day it is, what month. Maybe it is Sunday. I look at the expiration date on the bagels. They're weeks old, though the kitchen counter has been bleached countless times and everything else is spotless. Time has blurred into a long, strange ribbon of worry and grief and distraction, punctuated by so much cleaning and so many, many conversations. My phone is lit almost constantly, and it's exhausting. During the day I make tons of mistakes on intricate (for me) quilt blocks and sew face masks to donate out of the scraps.

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We are all finding our way here, taking comfort in soft things, moving slowly. I am reading the book September by Rosamunde Pilcher and I am loving it, at least. Usually my go-to crisis-novels are by Mary Stewart, but a kind blog reader sent me September many months ago and I am grateful now. A steady stream of Lacey Chabert movies plays on the TV every evening, though we did splurge and rent the new Emma (for $20!) last weekend, and Andy and I both loved it. I actually watched it once by myself and then literally started it over again. I found it very moving, and man, this song, at the end. We just sat there listening to it and staring at the credits. I love that song. That song is so good. Occasionally we watch Italian Grandma making gravy, lasagna, pizza fritta. She cooks everything I remember from childhood and reminds me so much of my grandma Ieronemo. I Googled her and found out she is from Foggia, Italy, which is exactly where my grandparents were from. How amazing is that! I shouted with disbelief when I read this. Oh I love her so much and I feel better, hearing her voice. You must watch. You will like it.

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I hope you are well and finding grace during these difficult days. I made a little pattern for you for free if you would like to do some easy cross stitch, or have a youngster who would like to learn. It's called Homeschool Sampler. I've been challenged by some teenage boys to make something way cooler than this for them, so I have accepted that challenge. If you have any suggestions on what to include, please offer them up. I don't want them to know I have literally no clue how to be cool.

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Wishing you good health and all the good things these days. Thank you for all of your kind words and I send sincere gratitude to all of you who are staying home right now, and all of you who absolutely can't. I salute you and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Keeping On

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Hello, hello! I truly hope you are all healthy and well and staying safe. I am thinking of you and wishing you all every good thing right now, wherever you are and whatever your circumstances. These are hard days.

Here we are, keeping-on keeping on. Mimi is doing what Mimi does best — that is, whatever she wants at (almost) all times. For the record, I have zero problem with this. She jumps on her mini-trampoline, writes a letter to one of her friends about her trampoline, does some math problems on the computer, and reads quietly to herself every day at 3:00 (on that I do insist, just to get some quiet). She climbs her tree, she shouts across the street to our neighbors, she is nervous that I've ordered her a new bike without training wheels, and declares she has no interest in learning to ride it. We have gone nowhere but the loading dock at the post office for two weeks now. Well, occasionally we do go walk around the block. I don't enjoy it. She helped me work on cleaning up the front garden and did a surprisingly great job at pulling the stuff I told her to pull. So it goes. She is amazing and carries on without fear or frustration, cheerfully accepting the changes and taking everything in stride in a way that I find humbling and inspiring. She and her friend FaceTimed the other day and just played their toy pianos for each other for a half an hour. I didn't even really hear them talk. They had a fine time.

Andy (cardiac nurse) toggles between home and work, leaving the house in the dark, coming home in the dark, busy at the hospital all day. Empty busses. The sound of crows through the night sky in an empty downtown. The sound of a streetcar bell ringing four blocks away. He gets home around 9:00 p.m. and goes straight to our neighbor's guest house to shower and change clothes before coming home through the mud-room door, which we haven't used in years. Our neighbors are wonderful, and are letting us use the guest house as a place for him to transition between the outside world and home. His shift was cancelled today and a continuing-education class next week was also cancelled so he is home for the next eight days, and I am grateful. So grateful. It is stressful. There have been many tears (mine) and a lot of stress and a lot of worry and a lot of sadness and then just a whole hell of a lot of trying to do everything right when so much is out of our control.

I know people around the country are also sewing masks at home and some people have asked me about that. I am no expert here — I don't pretend to know if they are effective or who is using them. I know that OHSU is not accepting them right now. JoAnn's has collected patterns here and will collect your finished masks for distribution directly "to medical professionals who can best decide how to use them." This article also has information about making masks. I am going to try to make some this week in case they help.

I spent last week assembling and packing up all of the Things of Spring kits to ship off to you. Thank you again so much for your orders. The kits are sold out and I wish I had made more. I always hold out ten or so kits until I know what everyone has received theirs without a problem (and there is always a problem because I always screw something up) and I will trickle those ten back into inventory soon. Don't judge my handwriting on your postcards because it's insane. I know. I was stressed and wanting to get everything out as fast as I could, before our stay-at-home order became official. I do hope you enjoy cross stitching the kit and that it gives you some hours of peace and quiet. I will make the PDF available in the next couple of days as soon as I get organized. ***Update: Here it is! Thank you!

Until then, make pretzels!

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For now, Maggie (and Foxie) are staying cozy and warm. If you'd like to make someone a rabbit for Easter, I've made Maggie's pattern available for free for you. Please enjoy making her and send me your pictures when you're finished, or tag them with #maggierabbit or #missmaggierabbit on Instagram. I love seeing them so much. You can't imagine.

Stay well, my friends. Wishing you every good thing in these hard days. XOXO

Our Spring Things

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Oh, hello, dear friends. Hello! I plopped all of these photos into this post in one fell swoop. I do that with every post and then Typepad arranges them into some mysterious order I don't understand. Usually I fuss with them a bit after that and get them into some other kind of mysterious order. But this time, the scattered and random Typepad arrangement felt as accurate to real life here as anything I could conjure. It's been kind of a random, unsettled couple of weeks here and I'm sure it has felt like that where you are, too. I hope you are all staying healthy and safe and I wish you every good and gentle thing in these stressful days.

Thank you SO much for all of the Things of Spring kit orders! I'm so excited for these, and we are progressing with our work on this end and preparing to start assembling kits. The patterns have arrived from the printer, the fabric has arrived from the distributor and needs cutting, and a few more floss cones should be arriving this week. We still have 43 kits left in inventory right now and we will not be producing more of them once they sell out — we will do 250 of each for the upcoming three seasons (and PDFs of each will, of course, be forthcoming as well). The PDF for Things of Spring will be available soon. I'll let you know when that is ready.

I've been doing a ton of stitching myself! I made Moonlight Visitor by Blackbird Designs and found a perfect frame for it for $3 at a thrift store. I finished Hello Spring by Plum Street Samplers and bought a frame for it on eBay which also fit just perfectly and was a weird size (6" x 10"). I'm working on Have Ye Any Wool by Brenda Gervais, and I just love it so much. What a clever designer she is. I also am working on a new design of my own for Mimi based on the book  Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories about Jenny Linsky by Esther Averill. It's the sweetest little book — probably one of my very favorites for little kids I've ever read. Amelia has read almost the entire thing out loud to me; I think we have one more chapter. Oh it's so sweet. The cross stitch, though! Oh my word, it is challenging me! I was wanting so bad to finish it by the time she finished the book, but I'm only about halfway done. I need to keep taking breaks and stitching on other things because all those black boxes are crossing my eyes. I keep losing my place. It's actually quite a difficult piece! I will likely make it available as a PDF in the future for anyone who wants it but it'll be a little while. I'm very eager to finish it!

We've eaten some delicious comfort food recently, should you have need, and I highly recommend the local restaurant Grassa, as well as the New York Times Cheesy Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta as well as Pressure Cooker Indian Butter Shrimp. You may have to log in to access those recipes and I am sorry about that! I cook almost exclusively from my NYT Cooking app and I'm never sure which recipes are available to the public or not. I will try to rewrite them here with my changes and credit but I'm on the school-run today and need to go. I'm kind of scattered and in a rush today but I hope to come back and do this this week. These were two very nice dishes that pleased even the seven-year-old palette, and I highly recommend.

Mimi won the Kindness Award at school and yes, I cried. I was able to catch a picture of her getting up in front of the whole school to receive it and I will treasure it forever because her face is pure surprise and joy. Most wonderful, kind, dearest, and thoroughly adorable darling. Oh my stars I love her so much. I am so proud of her and her big, generous heart.

Be very well, my friends. Be well, travel safe, and keep the faith. XOX

*** I found a link to pasta bake written out online here (scroll down); and a link to a copy of the Indian butter shrimp recipe is here. Sorry about that!!!

Things of Spring Cross Stitch Kits Now Available for Pre-Order!

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Oh, spring! I love it! Here in Oregon, spring is glorious, filled with daffodils, wild weather, blossoming trees, and glistening raindrops. Every little kid on the playground has a pair of colorful rubber boots. Every other yard has a lovely, glowing forsythia bush. Around each corner, the sweet smell of pink daphne floats on the air. Snowdrops hang their graceful heads and brave the chilly mornings. I love it all, and wanted to create a piece that celebrates all of my favorite things about spring here. It turns out there are many! ***Designs for "things of" summer, autumn, and winter will be forthcoming later this year. 

The THINGS OF SPRING Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now available for pre-order. Please CLICK HERE to order.

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Finished Size of Design Area: 6" wide x 8" high (15cm x 20cm); 96 stitches wide x 1286 high on 32-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 14" x 16" (36cm x 41cm) piece of 32-count evenweave embroidery linen in Provence Lavender 90 from Wichelt
(55) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
Stitching instructions
Full-color cross-stitch chart with symbols over color blocks; if you desire a black-and-white chart, please email me after you receive your order and I will send you a PDF of it.
One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer

You will need your own:

#24 tapestry needle(s) for cross stitch
Embroidery scissors
4" (10cm) embroidery hoop
Frame and framing supplies

This kit is designed to fit in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame. All you need to do is make sure the frame is deep enough to fit a piece of foam core (and glass, if you want to use glass. I never use glass. I don't like it. I have my embroidered pieces hanging all over the house, and I don't feel that they suffer appreciably for being exposed). What you will do is wrap your embroidery around a piece of foam core, and stretch it with the help of about a million sequin (about 1/2" long) straight pins. You can read my tutorial about how I've done that in the past (though I finished the rest of the framing with custom frames at a frame shop). But with an 8" x 10" piece you can even buy the pre-cut foam-core at the craft store (JoAnn's or Michael's, or easily online) for just a couple of dollars. A frame store can also cut foam core for you for just a few dollars if you ask nicely.

If you are new to counted cross stitch, or need a refresher on the basics, please see my "how to do counted cross stitch" tutorial here.

This kit will be shipping sometime toward the beginning of April 2020. The fabric is on order. We will pull floss and assemble patterns and ship as soon as we have everything we need. We have enough fabric ordered to make 250 kits, and that's all the fabric they have on-hand at Wichelt. If we sell more than that, we can order more fabric and it will probably take about six weeks to get (generally it is six weeks). I will advise if it gets to that point.

The pattern-only option will also be available separately as a downloadable PDF, but not until sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'll post here when that is ready, too.

This kit is done with two plies of DMC cotton embroidery floss on 32-count linen. That means it has sixteen stitches per inch. If you are interested in seeing a tutorial on counted cross stitch, please read the one I did here.

For a substantive discussion with examples of cross stitch on different fabrics with different thread counts, please read this post.

As you probably know, I also carry my favorite supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. These are the exact ones that I use every day. For this project, we have:

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Gorgeous little embroidery scissors.

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Hardwicke Manor 4" hoops.

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And size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch on linen.

All supplies, and anything else you order at the same time, will be shipped along with your Things of Spring kit. If you need other items before April, when Things of Spring ships, please place a separate order that will ship right away.

We do ship overseas! To place your order, you will be required to read this information, which contains details about international shipping and customs fees you may incur when ordering outside the U.S. (If you are overseas, the shipping cost charged by Posie does not include any further charges you may incur when importing goods.) To see the shipping-only costs for your order and location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. If you do need to add things to your order or change your address after you've placed the order, just email me and we'll figure it out, no worries! I just like to remind people of this ahead of time, because it's a bit easier. I recently adju.

Thank you so, so much for your interest in and conversation about cross stitch lately, and always. I am really excited about these new designs — these are the little things of my life right now, and it's such a privilege to share them with you. You might also notice a sweet little angel bee in there, too. ;) I have always loved these little "favorite things" illustrations whenever I see them around and on Pinterest and, as you can probably tell from several of my other designs, I really just like stitching tiny little motifs scattered around on a background. It's such a fun way to stitch because it's not overwhelming, and you can comfortably finish a motif in one sitting. There are a lot of different colors in this design, but I like that. I even have the summer design finished and stitched, so it will be launching in a couple of months, too. 

With thanks and much love and hope for peace and beauty this spring,
Alicia

Tiny Flowers Everywhere Now

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"Mom, pretend I'm a lost kitten and you found me."

Me, setting the alarm this morning and leaving the house with Amelia, only to come out the front door and almost fall on top of Amelia, suddenly squatting in her winter coat and cowl on the front porch, six inches in front of the front door, writing on a math worksheet (from three weeks ago/not homework): "I'm so focused on my work," says she.

Oh, look at my lovely new quilt! It was made by the lovely Olivia and it is just so exquisite. It's made of all vintage calicos with hand-sewn binding and hand-quilting, and I love it so much. It's a birthday present I splurged on for myself and I couldn't be more thrilled with the indulgence! Thank you, Olivia! It is going to get a lot of love here.

Thank you all so much for all of your comments here and on Instagram about cross-stitch charts and your preferences around them. That was such interesting reading for me! I truly appreciate you taking the time to give me your thoughts on that. I tallied up the responses from both here and IG and the results were (as of yesterday, anyway): 183 people voting for symbols over color and 75 people voting for black and white symbols only. So, more than twice as many people like symbols over color.

That said, there was a lot of interesting feedback within the comments beyond just raising hands for one or the other, and I was quite keen to read further when people elaborated on why they like black and white. Some people only had black-and-white printers, so they struggled with printing shades of color under symbols. Some people mentioned using highlighters on black-and-white to mark progress. Some people use colored pencils to color their black-and-white patterns, especially if they are inclined to change the suggested colors. Some people, I think, are just used to black and white patterns and are more comfortable with what they are used to. But generally I just love hearing all of this and it seems clear that, going forward at least, I should be offering both a color chart and a black-and-white chart in my PDF patterns. This way you can choose which you like, and print only the pages that are most useful to you. So, done. I have one pattern that I haven't released yet (a Little Women–inspired sampler) but that is completely finished, and it does not have a black-and-white option. It is coming out soon (I need to final-proof-it) as a PDF-only option (we're not doing a kit for it). But after that, my future PDF patterns will contain both a symbols-over-color chart AND a black-and-white chart for you.

For kits, however, when we print hard copies of patterns to include in our packages, there will still only be a color copy. It is just too much expense and waste to include paper that won't be used. If, however, you purchase a kit and you would like me to email you a copy of the PDF that contains a black-and-white chart to print on your own, I am more than happy to do that. You just need to email me and request it.

I will have at least four kits coming out this year, as I am working on a new seasonal series, starting with spring. We will start taking pre-orders for that next week!

Part of the reason I'm asking about this is because one of my plans for 2020 is to begin offering my cross-stitch patterns to cross-stitch shops around the country. (They will probably be in color only? Still researching that.) For many years for various reasons I have not pursued this but it's weird, now that Amelia is in school all day and only five minutes from the house, it's like suddenly some things just have become so clear and possible. My time and energy are suddenly my own for almost six whole hours a day (and not spent driving for 2.5 hours of that, like the Hellacious School Commute of 2018-19), and I can see a future for my work that I couldn't see very well before. I realized that I really want to become a part of the cross-stitch community and just enjoy it in real life more! I am kind of a loner and I really don't mind being quiet and alone when I get the chance (not often, quite honestly). But I also think I need to pursue more purely social opportunities in my life that don't involve just other moms and kids. I literally don't have a single conversation with any other adults where we are not either with our kids or sitting and waiting for our kids. Well, I did have breakfast with Jenny yesterday and we were not with our kids. And tonight I also am going to a mom-friend's house with other school mom-friends to watch Pride and Prejudice without kids. But that is rare! I swear!!! So I am going to try to make an effort to either take a class or go to some meet-ups or do something that would be really fun but just for adults, and we'll see how it goes! I'm not sure exactly why making my patterns available wholesale is somehow equated with having only-adult interaction in my mind but it is, and there you go.

Speaking of, kinda funny. There's a cafe in an old church I like to go to to work on my computer. It's a community space that is used for a lot of different groups and functions and is really big and wonderful. I've been going there for years but the past two times I've gone, I've gone at the exact time as some kind of kids' concert in the chapel next to the coffee shop. It's like a Raffi concert but it's not Raffi. I was there on Monday morning and everything was very quiet. I was sitting in the far corner (still working on the master floss list — I can't even count how many hours that thing has taken me) with my back to the room and at some point I could hear the singalong start in the chapel. It went on for a while but then everyone cheered and it was over — and suddenly the cafe was literally FILLED with children, babies, and parents. It was deafeningly loud. They were everywhere. And they weren't just passing through, they were settling in. I made a sound recording and sent it to Andy to make him laugh. He texted me a picture of Amelia back at home in the bathtub (no school), making a bubble beard on her chin. We both agreed, however, that it's strangely relaxing to be in the midst of chaos when none of the crying children are actually yours. Like, only if a totally random child somehow actually fell into my lap, which would've been highly unlikely, would I have had to do something about any of it, and thus it was quite pleasant and relaxing to be in the eye of the storm and know that none of it required anything from me!

***By the way, for those who asked about my little white television in my office, it is this one.

Currently Taking a Poll . . .

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I posted this photo to Instagram this morning. I took it yesterday as I was working in my office making a master list of names, numbers, and symbols of all of the floss colors I use in my designs. Currently that's 116 different colors. We (well, Andy does this, not me) keep them on 500g cones and pull floss whenever we put kits together. I have never made a master list and it is NOW TIME. So I have been working on that, and it is annoying and tedious to get it all formatted and create all of the little swatches of color/symbol that I use in the key and it is taking me absolutely forever, but in the long run it is going to be brilliant for me to have this without having to reinvent the wheel every time so I soldier on. . . .

But, the question came up at Acorns and Threads the other day about whether "people" (i.e.: you) like black and white cross stitch charts

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or whether they prefer symbols over color.

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I was quite astonished to find that all of the (four) people that I asked said they preferred black and white.

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So now I am quite curious. . . .

I have always done my charts in symbols over color, as you see in the second sample, because that is my personal preference. But now I truly want to know: Is it yours, as well? Do you like black and white charts that you can copy easily? Or do you prefer color? Tell me everything. I am listening. (And thank you if you have already left a comment on Instagram!)

* Thank You *

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Thank you, dear friends, for every one of your kind words. We were so touched by them all, and by your sweet and generous presence here. You are so kind, and I appreciate it so much. Thank you. Thank you. I am so grateful for you.

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It's been cold and gloomy here, for the most part, though it is lovely and sunny today, and it was sunny yesterday, too. The school yard has turned into a giant mud pit; one of the moms at school told me that a branch of the river runs under the neighborhood, and there are drainage problems. Mimi and I discussed on the way to school this morning that we've both given up on getting snow this year. It seems like we never really even got close. It's tricky when you start seeing loads of daffodils before Valentine's Day, but we have them. Spring, it seems, is already on its way.

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Nevertheless, I stretched my First Snow embroidery over the weekend, and did Time of Flowers and Summer Storm, as well. I have The Leaves by Hundreds Came to do, as well as a few more I haven't shown you yet! I have been stitching a lot this winter, and thinking about what designs I want to create for sale this year. Thank you for all of the feedback you gave me on my embroidered jewelry from a few weeks ago, by the way! I was so excited to hear that you like it. I am going to pull together a pattern for those necklaces and pins, and at the least offer some of the brooch and pin trays in my web shop so that you can make your own. I am also planning to offer another seasonal 8″ x 10″ (framed) cross-stitch collection this year. I have already finished stitching the spring edition and am working on the summer one, so that I can stay a little bit ahead of schedule for once. I will show you that new work soon, maybe later this week if I can continue to pull it all together.

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Last week I wanted to make some little clay hearts for a garland, so I used this recipe for cold porcelain clay. It was a lot of fun to make and play with, though it didn't come out like I had wanted it to. It was rather blobby as it dried, and any sharp lines that were cut or carved got quite soft and puffy. The hearts still came out kind of cute. I probably need to get some regular modeling clay (polymer clay is too hard for my hands, I think) to make what I am envisioning. Sometimes I want to take a clay class again. I used to throw pots in college, and Andy did, too. Pottery was a popular thing at our school and I think every single one of our friends took it at some point. I don't even know if I want to throw pots on a wheel or just play with some clay in my hands again. I might look into it, because it would be good for me to get out of the house a little bit. I'm always here.

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I would've love to take this paper mache workshop because how adorable are these little creatures? I love paper mache. Who even knew there were classes in these things? I really need to get out more.

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This little ray of sunshine. Oh how I love her so!!!

Tiny, Tiny Stitches

comments: 62

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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.

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

About Alicia Paulson

About

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

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Photography

Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.