Posts filed in: For Sale

The Secret Garden Collection Now Available for Pre-Order

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Hello! Is it snowing where you are? We're having sunshine today. Andy and Amelia are working in the front yard, lifting muck off of the borders and uncovering tender daffodil shoots and tulip leaves. It seems like the perfect day to let you know that our Secret Garden Collection is finally available for pre-order! (To read about my inspiration for these items, please see this blog post.)

Pictured above is BLACKBERRIES AND HEATHER-BELLS — a sweet little design that fits inside a 6" (15cm) hoop (included in the kit) that acts as a frame. With a robin, blackberries and blossoms, heather flowers, ivy leaves, and a hidden key, this design is done in just one ply of DMC embroidery floss and you will be so amazed at the kind of detail you can get with just one ply! I honestly think you will love blending the colors a little bit to get a very naturalistic effect. It's so much fun, is easier than it looks, and actually goes really quickly. The kit costs $22 and will ship toward the end of April, 2019.

Finished size of design area: About 4" (10cm) in diameter

This kit contains:

  • One 9" x 9" (23cm x 23cm) piece of Kona Cotton (100% cotton) fabric by Robert Kaufman in color Pickle
  • One 6" (15cm) plastic faux-wood Flexi-hoop for (very easy!) framing
  • One 6" (15cm) piece of wool-rayon felt for backing
  • (34) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
  • Stitching instructions and color chart
  • Illustrated stitch tutorial for special stitches
  • Black and white line drawing for tracing design onto fabric
  • One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer

You will need:

To purchase the Blackberries and Heather-bells Embroidery Kit, please CLICK HERE.

 

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The second project from the Secret Garden Collection are the MISSELTHWAITE MITTS.

The same sweet motifs embroidered on this little pair of fingerless mitts are done in duplicate stitch. Knit flat, then embroidered, then stitched up the side with openings left for the thumbs, these handwarmers are perfect to wear at winter’s end, when the soils are just starting to warm and the smell of new growth is in the air. Knit with hand-dyed single-ply fingering-weight 100% Merino yarn, they are easy to make and so soft.

Please note that because I am dyeing all of the yarn to order, I will do my very best to match the colors you see here, but because of the nature of hand-dyeing, there may be some variation. The kit costs $42 and will ship toward the end of April, 2019.

Finished size of mitts: 3.25"w by 8.35"h (8cm x 20cm); to fit average adult woman's hand

This kit contains:

  • One 115g (434yd) skein of single-ply fingering-weight Merino yarn, hand-dyed by me in Misselthwaite Green
  • One pack of cut lengths of the same yarn, hand-dyed in a rainbow of colors for making duplicate stitches
  • Knitting instructions
  • Illustrated stitch tutorial for making duplicate stitches
  • Color charts indicating placement of duplicate stitches

You will need:

  • Size US 1.5 (2.5mm) needles, or size needed to match gauge
  • Yarn needle
  • Row counter

To purchase the Misselthwaite Mitts Knitting Kit please CLICK HERE.

 

Now, let's talk about the SECRET GARDEN APOTHECARY BOX! I'm pretty excited about this! This little box is filled with lovely, handmade, beautifully scented bath and beauty products that we've made for you. The box contains five items, including one 9-oz. jar of salt-and-milk bath soak:

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It contains Epsom salt, pink Himalayan salts, Dead Sea salt, milk powder, colloidal oatmeal, coconut milk powder, phthalate-free fragrance oil, rose Kaolin clay, chamomile flowers, rose petals, cornflowers, jasmine flowers, and calendula petals. You add a few tablespoons to a tea bag and dissolve the contents under warm running water, and soak in that tub for as long as they will possibly let you. . . . At least that's how I try to do it. This smells lightly of cucumber and spring garden scents.

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Also included is one 5-oz. bar of hand-made cold-process soap.

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It is a gentle, lovely soap that contains olive oil; coconut oil; distilled water; sodium hydroxide; castor oil; phthalate-free fragrance oil; blackberry seeds; rose Kaolin clay; purple Brazilian clay; mica; decorated with pink Himalayan salt, jasmine flowers, rose petals, and heather blossoms.

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Not every bar looks exactly the same, but they are all pretty similar to these. I am basically obsessed with this soap. It smells amazing — like rhubarb custard! 

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Also included is one 1.85-oz. lotion bar (almost as big as our full-size lotion bars, but the mold was a bit shallow). It's got a light, pretty floral scent, and contains beeswax; shea butter; coconut oil; lanolin; essential oils of elemi, chamomile, and ylang ylang; and jasmine absolute. It's so perfect for the season. I've been using mine like crazy.

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Also included is one scented wax sachet made of soy wax, beeswax, hyacinth fragrance oil, wax pigments, and dried botanical matter and flowers. It is about 2.5" in diameter, and you can hang it in your closet or in a window to look at every day. I discovered these on Pinterest this past fall. I don't know why I like them so much but I just do. Each one is unique and just so pretty.

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And lastly, included is one 2-oz. jar candle made of soy wax and beeswax, scented with honeysuckle fragrance oil and decorated with gem and mineral chips and dried flowers. These are just tiny, special little candles that burn for about fifteen hours and will make your bath or your evening a little more beautiful.

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Everything comes labeled and packaged together in a little kraft paper gift box, cushioned with paper shred and closed with seam binding and a pretty wax seal. The Apothecary Box is ready for giving, either to yourself or someone you love. The box costs $68 and will ship toward the end of April, 2019.

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To purchase the Secret Garden Apothecary Box please CLICK HERE.

 

We will ship all of these items all over the world this time. But please be aware that the Apothecary Box weighs almost four pounds, and it is expensive to ship overseas. It will ship Priority Mail in the U.S. You will be asked to read our shipping policies before checking out, so please make sure you familiarize yourself with them when you place your order. We will be ordering our labels and the packaging and some of the materials based on how many orders we get for these, so we are planning to ship everything together at the end of April.

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Thank you ever so much for your patience and your interest! This is a really big project for me and I am so excited about it. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will respond here! Xoxo, a

(Nest painting licensed from WitsEnd.)

Love Days

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87DBD436-6092-4B18-B42C-C327F8CDBFD6Sweet Mimi at her Valentine's Day store, 6:00 a.m.

I was going to have all of my Secret Garden things ready to go this week but I'm not quite finished getting the web pages up. I forgot about Valentine's Day, and President's Day on Monday, so I will probably have everything ready by Tuesday and will post links then. There's no need to scramble — this is not a sell-out kind of thing. We will literally take every single order we can get; if you're willing to wait for us to pull everything together, we will make as many of everything as you will want. It will just take some time. Hoops and candle jars are on back-order at the manufacturer, and I'm waiting to place some orders for supplies until after I see how many orders we will get, so I that I try to hit these numbers properly. I honestly never know with new stuff like this — will we get five orders or fifty orders or five hundred? It stresses me out to try to guess. It's too risky to get things wrong. So we'll take orders starting Tuesday and I'll give you more of an accurate expected shipping time when we know how many of everything we need to make. I'm pretty sure that things will start rolling out sometime toward the end of April, and first orders will go out first. Soap takes six weeks to cure. We have about a hundred bars curing right now but, as I said, not sure what the numbers will look like, so stay tuned.

I both very much enjoy and utterly dread the excitement of doing new things. I can't explain the particular emotion. It's complicated.

We had snooooooooooow! It was lovely. So lovely. It was short. We got a few short-lived inches, and those were supposed to be followed by a major snowpocalypse last week, and instead we got literally nothing. Seattle got it all. Well, that's not true — certain neighborhoods around town got dumped on, and certain neighborhoods got absolutely nothing. Mother Nature cherry-picked her locations this time. It was okay. We really enjoyed what we had, and Andy was even home for second day we had snow. He had to work on the first day of snow, a Friday, when school was cancelled and Mimi lost a tooth and she and I walked up to the park and hung out with some old friends. Later we walked up to the cafe for breakfast. The sun was shining and there was no wind and it was just excellent. I miss walking around so much. Now that Amelia is not in a stroller I feel like we just do not do it very much anymore. I miss those walking days, as much as they hurt my foot. I miss being right up close to the seasons like that, noticing peoples' curtains and the things in their yards and the new growth, especially at this time of year. I miss having a baby in the stroller bundled in her blanket, sleeping or drinking her milk, strapped in and not needing anything, me just walking and thinking and talking quietly to her if she was awake. It's nice walking together now, too, but it's different. It's much more active than passive. Pushing a stroller is almost like taking a waking nap. You just keep rolllllling along.

But anyway, we enjoyed the snow, I thought about time, I thought about the snow days of my childhood, how my friend Monica and I spent countless freezing, white-cold weekends at Keystone Park in River Forest, walking under the viaduct with our ice skates over our shoulders, long underwear on under our jeans, a thermos of Swiss Miss hot cocoa to drink in the warming room at mid-day. Everything was white — ground, sky, breath. It was freezing. Every winter they flooded the park and made a big ice skating rink. It was not a destination; it was just our little neighborhood park and grassy ice rink. We shoveled snow off the ice and into big banks of snow around the sides. Bigger boys played hockey. We held hands and practiced going backwards. I honestly don't remember any parents ever there. I know for sure that mine never went. It was the '70s. We walked there on our own and we skated together all day. We did this year after year, Monica and I. Our other friend, Linda, was a skating girl. She took ice-skating lessons at a real skating rink, getting up at five in the morning, every morning, to skate before school. Her mom, who was one of my absolute favorite moms, took her. She skated in competitions. When I went to her ice-skating birthday party at Ridgeland Commons, I was the one who fell down and bit through my lip, getting blood all over the ice and making a scene. I drew a picture of Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, like a big, giant picture of them skating, and I worked on it for a long time. At the end of a skating day, Monica and I would walk back down Hawthorn in the blue snowlight of the winter evening with the huge bare oak trees overhead, fingertips freezing, noses running, ankles aching, perfectly spent. You'd stand at the sink and run warm water over your frozen hands for ten minutes when you got home. I haven't been cold like that in years. 

My Secret Garden Inspiration

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I'm literally aghast at how quickly the days seem to be going right now. I'm not sure why; not sure why they seem to be going so fast and not sure why that leaves me feeling shocked. Amelia's been in kindergarten for almost five months now, and I don't really know why, either, I thought that the days without her in the house would feel longer than the days when she was in half-day preschool. I guess, realistically, I really only have one extra hour before I leave to pick her up each day. We do two extra-curricular activities — ballet once a week and now we will start once-a-week swimming lessons after school today. Swimming is important, and she hasn't taken to the water very naturally. It feels like it's becoming a thing. Her group lessons in the summer aren't really cutting it. She actually regressed between first and second sessions last summer. I've heard good things about these new lessons so, fingers crossed, this is a fun and productive time because the lessons are expensive and also halfway 'round the world. . . .

For the first time in my life, I spend a lot of time in the car. . . .

THANK YOU for the podcast recommendations! Wow??? MANY RECOMMENDATIONS. Also, thank you for the British mysteries+ recs as well. You guys are awesome. Now I just need to find time to go through all of the recommendations and get them downloaded. I am excited. Someone said that the right podcast totally changed their commute. I like that. Also, I can't believe I forgot to mention Agatha Raisin on my list of must-watches. It's our go-to. For some reason, we literally just watch it all the time. It almost doesn't put Andy right to sleep. If you're going to watch it, though, you must try to find the pilot, which for some reason doesn't appear with the first season (this is all on Acorn TV). It's separate, and two hours long. If you watch "Walkers of Dembley" without watching "Quiche of Death" (pilot) you might be really confused. So be sure to search for it. The second season just started. M.C. Beaton (author) has written five thousand books in this series so lets hope this show goes on forever. I love Ashley Jensen. Well, everybody, really. Mathew Horne as Roy is perfect. I've read a ton of the Agatha Raisin books, years ago, actually, and I love the TV series better than the books.

This past fall, as Amelia entered kindergarten and started to show an interest in reading, I started pulling out the books that I had begun to collect for her before she was born. If you've been hanging around here for a while, you might remember this book list that you helped me put together. I remember that when I was working on that list, I bought a few classic books, including The Secret Garden, to start building a library for my future child. It struck me then and still strikes me now that, as much of a voracious reader as I was as a child, I really had very little exposure to what is considered "classic" children's literature. I'd never read The Secret Garden (or Little Women; or The Wind in the Willows; or Anne of Green Gables; or The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, to name just a few . . . ). I bought all of these and more for Amelia back then, in 2010, and I can remember like it was yesterday how I went to Chipotle right after I was at the Barnes and Noble in Lloyd Center, and I was reading this version of The Secret Garden (by Frances Hodgson Burnett) while eating my burrito, and I was about a dozen or so pages in when I thought, "Oh wow, oh no — this is too good." And I shut the book. And as with so much else in my life at that time, I put it in a special place with a pat and a kiss, and decided to wait, so that I could eventually share that experience with my child. . . . For many years, as I waited and worked to become a mother, I would think to myself (and think to myself; I thought this many, many times), "But everything is still ahead of me! All of the firsts are still ahead of me!" And that thought got me through more hard days than I can even now count.

Time was slow, then. Time was painfully, appallingly slow. You were here. You saw that. I busied myself with sewing, and knitting, and kitting out the house, feathering a nest for not months but the years (I just counted them the other day, and it was eight) it took before we had the privilege of becoming parents. And then, once that miracle arrived, and baby came home, and that adoption was finalized, time sped up like you wouldn't believe. Suddenly you're out of breath. It's like the opposite of hurry-up-and-wait — it's wait . . . wait . . . wait . . . and then holy crow hurry up, because baby is crawling, then walking, then talking, then going to preschool, and then her teeth are dropping out of her mouth right and left, and she's reading. . . . And all of that took mere moments. Moments. Entire years of early childhood that have felt like just a few beautiful, excellent, soul-filled, soulful moments. Because suddenly she is six years old. And ready to hear entire paragraphs as you read to her, tucked under your right arm, under the covers in the big bed, nightgowned, teeth-brushed, drowsy, and waiting to begin.

I won't tell you she's quite old enough to hear this whole story, because I don't actually think she is yet. Her attention span is still not quite long enough for long passages of text, or some of the more complicated issues, or some of the more troubling ones. We've read it aloud at night but we've also listened to it a bit on audiobook in the car, and it's pretty clear that I'm generally more into it than she is. But this time, once I started it, I didn't stop. I couldn't put it down. I couldn't turn it off. It is a poignant book, and, though not without its problems (I found this post the other day and thought it was great; and I also must say that I was frustrated that — SPOILER ALERT! — 1) Martha, who is such a brilliant character, pretty much disappears from the second half of the book, and 2) that the book ends on Colin, who I, personally, found much less compelling than Mary, and I truly felt like it was she who had earned the ending far more than he did — but she, too, kind of disappears before the end), it cuts to the heart of loneliness, loss, neglect, friendship, healing, and growth, both metaphorically and literally. I believed in the power of the garden, of planting seeds, of waiting and watering, and I still believe now, even more.

Sometimes I wish that I had read just this one book back then, in 2010. I think I could've made an exception for this particular one, back then.

The other wonderful thing about this book is just the gorgeous, evocative imagery: the purple heather-covered moors; a big Gothic manor with weird sounds wuthering through the halls; wintergreen and walled gardens; a lonely little girl skipping rope in a hundred circles; tiny plants poking their ways through dead leaves and detritus as they've been doing for many an unwitnessed year. The scene near the beginning when Mary, talking to Ben Weatherstaff the crusty old gardener, befriends the robin was the first in the book that moved me so much. Ben had just finished telling Mary that she and he were "wove out th' same cloth. We're neither of us good-lookin' an' we're both of us as sour as we look. . . ." Suddenly, the robin landed a few feet away in an apple tree:

    "He's made up his mind to make friends with thee," replied Ben. "Dang me if he hasn't took a fancy to thee."
    "To me?" said Mary, and she moved towards the little tree softly and looked up.
    "Would you make friends with me?" she said to the robin, just as if she were speaking to a person. "Would you?" And she did not say it either in her hard little voice or in her imperious Indian voice, but in a ton so soft and eager and coaxing that Ben Weatherstaff was as surprised as she had been when she heard him whistle.
    "Why," he cried out, "tha' said that as nice an' human as if tha' was a real child instead of a sharp old woman. Tha' said it almost like Dickon talks to his wild things on th' moor."
    "Do you know Dickon?" Mary asked, turning round rather in a hurry.
    "Everybody knows him. Dickon's wandering about everywhere. Th' very blackberries an' heather-bells knows him. I warrant th' foxes shows him where their cubs lies an' th' skylarks doesn't hide their nests from him."

For some reason that forlorn, unwanted child, and that sweet robin, and that earthling boy, and the phrase "blackberries an' heather-bells" sort of unlocked this massive whoosh of ideas for me recently. I started designing my most recent craft projects and apothecaries around them. The collection of photos and illustrations above has fed my imagination while I have been working.

"Circumstances, however, were very kind to her, though she was not at all aware of it. They began to push her about for her own good. When her mind gradually filled itself with robins, moorland cottages crowded with children, with queer, crabbed old gardeners and common little Yorkshire housemaids, with springtime and with secret gardens coming alive day by day, and also with a moor boy and his 'creatures', there was no room left for the disagreeable thoughts . . ."

Like Mary, my thoughts this winter have been filled with these things of Misselthwaite, and I hope you might find inspiration in them, too. (If you haven't read the book, or haven't read it in a while, I can't recommend the Inga Moore version enough.) I will probably start taking pre-orders for my two Secret Garden craft kits (one knitting, one embroidery [not cross stitch]) as well as the bath boxes we are working on sometime next week or so. I'm almost done taking photos of the items I am going to include, and I will tell you all about them then. It's been so much fun doing this, and I can't wait to share all the things we've made.

Boy, this really took me a long time to write, sorry! Phew!

Photos and illustrations, from top to bottom: 1. By Molly Brett 2. By Johanna Basford 3. By Flavia Sorrentino 4. Yorkshire Dales by Mike Williams 5. By Emma Lazauski 6. Unknown illustrator, from art.com 7. Vintage postcard from 1908 8. Thwaite, England, by Dave Dunford (and, curiously, Thwaite is about ten miles from the towns [Reeth,Grinton, and Marrick] that my ancestors-I-never-knew-about-until-last-year are from — so trippy!) 9. By Inga Moore 10. Vintage china pattern 11. Frances Hodgson Burnett 12. Still from The Secret Garden movie, 1993 13. By Julian deNarvaez 14. By Johanna Basford 15. By Russell Barnett 16. By Giovanni Manna 17. By Rachael Saunders 18. Vintage botanical print 19. Yorkshire Dales by A. Leighton 20. By Inga Moore 21. Tasha Tudor 22. Biodiversity Library 23. Unknown 24. By Aliki Kermitsi 25. Gathering Blackberries by William Stewart MacGeorge 26. Blackberry by Margaret Tarrant 27. By Leo Paul Robert, from Les Oiseaux dans la Nature 28. Vintage botanical illustration 29. Still from The Secret Garden movie, 1993.

Winter Warming

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Oh, the days of January, I love them so. I love that the weather is cold, the garden is sleeping, the skies are gray. I love that. I love hibernating, and flannel sheets, and flannel nightgowns, and hot tea, and pretty tea mugs. I love yarn, and knitting, and television at night, and dark. I'm tired, and getting over my cold, and wanting to go slow, and wanting to go upstairs early. The house is frowsy and soft. I'm gearing up to Marie-Kondo everything in sight, but not right now. No, not right now. Right now everything is a bit droopy, and needs fresh paint, and to be vacuumed for hours. I sit and make lists, stab at the taxes, pick up take-out Indian food, read picture book after picture book after picture book at bedtime, and listen to a thousand six-year-old hopes and fears. Her warm body beside mine, we listen to the wind and rain, and talk about going to Great Wolf Lodge someday, where they have an indoor water park, and water buckets falling on your head, and pool after pool after pool of warm water. I'm in. Take me there. Let's go now.

We went to a conference with Mimi's teacher the other day and it's like . . . I could just sit there and talk about my kid all. day. long. I love her two teachers and I love her school, and love how she is thriving there. I don't love the commute, but I'm trying to learn to like it. It's long, and can be ugly if I take the busy way, which I usually don't, and then it's just plain long and slow. I've been listening to The Secret Garden audio-book (read by Finola Hughes) while I drive, but it's almost over. I think I really need to get into podcasts. I don't even know what I want in a podcast, honestly. I'm not sure where to start. And can you download them so you don't have to use data on your phone while you're listening? Or . . . how does that even work? I don't seem to know anything about anything that everyone else knows lately. Thank you in advance.

I've been thinking and working a lot on the Secret Garden projects and the bath boxes that will go with them. What I think we will do is offer two different craft projects -- one is an embroidery project (not cross stitch, just regular free embroidery, of the robin, and the key), and one is a knitting project. The embroidery project is small, about 5" in diameter and will fit and be framed in a 6" hoop (which will be included with the kit). The knitting project will include a pattern for a pair of simple handwarmers decorated with with duplicate stitch, and will include hand-dyed fingering-weight yarn for the main color of the handwarmers and also all of the small amounts of yarn you will use to duplicate-stitch the designs on top. Then, if you'd like, each project can come with the Secret Garden–inspired bath box, which will include a bar of our handmade cold-process soap, a lotion bar, a really pretty apothecary jar of bath soak, a wax sachet, and a little candle.

You may order either of the kits with or without a bath box, or you may order just the bath box. We are going to take pre-orders for all of this in the next couple of weeks, and then it will take at least six weeks for us to ship everything. It will take this long because we don't know how many orders for everything we will get and we want to make sure we can include everyone who wants any of these items. So, since the soap takes six entire weeks to cure, we will continue to make soap almost every day in anticipation of orders. We also need to order the hoops I think I want to use for the framing of the embroidery project from Europe, and they have a long turn-around time (also about six weeks after ordering). So that puts us shipping around the beginning of April, and if you've read The Secret Garden, doesn't that seem kind of like the perfect time for this? I definitely will put together a post that shows you my inspiration for all the things we're working on for this, like I did for the advent calendar. I love making those collages so much and will start working on one later this week. I can't wait.

I've watched a few of the Tidying Up episodes on Netflix. I honestly get choked up every time they thank the house. It's weirdly emotional. I would've never thought to do that but it feels very poignant. It's a really beautiful moment in the episodes, I think. I also watched the documentary Three Identical Strangers last night and that was so incredibly intense. Did anyone else see it? Man. I don't even know what to say about that. As an adoptive parent, especially, it chilled me to the bone to think that they separated those babies. Unrelated, my sister Julie got me the British TV Field Guide for my birthday and I am psyched. I should do a run-down of my favorite British TV shows (mostly mysteries and thrillers) this past year. I love Shetland, Vera, Happy Valley (OH MY WORD crazy intense), Last Tango in Halifax, No Offense, Striking Out, Acceptable Risk, and Keeping Faith. Should I tell you about those or do you already know them?

I took that moon photo during the Super Blood Wolf Moon lunar eclipse! Josh was over and he and Andy were gonna go out to the garage to play video games; they went out on the back porch and flipped out because the eclipse just happened to be almost total at that moment and we had an awesome view of it from the porch. I grabbed my tripod and put it on the back table and got a few photos of the moon right before the clouds moved in. So that's almost total eclipse right there. It was just so totally cool to see that. I'm so glad they just happened to be going outside at that moment or we would've missed it!

The sweet winter field painting is the print I bought from Jo Grundy and had framed a few years ago, and I love it so much. And that beautiful watercolor of Amelia riding the rabbit? The sweetest gift from the most lovely Emily Winfield Martin several years ago. I absolutely treasure it, and it hangs over Mimi's bed.

Advent Calendar Wrap-Up

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Oh, hello! How are you? Guys, it's been kind of a sloooow start to the year here. . . . I'm trying to get caught up with 2018 and I feel like I'm treading molasses. We've all had colds, me the worst. Feeling better now. Andy is downstairs making Autumn Woods lotion bars (which were sold out — now back in stock, if you need). We were both looking forward to having a quiet day at home working (he just got home from working four-twelves in a row at hospital) but woke up to a text from the school saying there was a major water leak at school and it's closed. Sooooooooo. They'll probably go out and find somewhere to play today. I'm going to try to play catch-up and try to collect myself, now that I can actually breathe through my nose (kind of). Such is January. It's okay.

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What I've been wanting to do is show you the rest of the treats that were in the Northern Light Advent Calendar.

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There were lots of pretty, fingering-weight mini-skeins in light, icy, starlit colors. I painted some original watercolors and sprinkled them with salt to make starbursts. Then I scanned the paintings and created some little gift tags. There were six of these, with tiny glassine envelopes.

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We made a mini lotion bar we called Pomander Ball, scented with orange and cloves. It smelled so bright and fresh, like a winter kitchen. I'm still using mine daily. Especially on my nose, which is smarting because I've been blowing it every four and a half minutes.

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There were eight rustic, lovely mother-of-pearl 1/2" buttons. With lots of blue, purple, and gray lights, I thought they would be perfect on any winter cardigan. These were nice and chunky. I love how they feel, all uneven and rough and smooth at the same time.

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I couldn't decide whether to have you open this tiny honey jar before you opened the tea or after, but we ultimately chose to make the honey December 12th's present, hoping you would guess that the 13th would deliver delicious tea. This sweet little bee-skep jar of creamed honey came from Bee-licious Honey, a local bee farm here in Portland. And the gorgeous, fragrant tea was Inland Grey from Winterwoods Tea Company. Inland Grey is an organic Earl Grey tea with bergamot oil with dried orange peel and pretty blue cornflowers. It's a pretty as it is delicious, and together I thought they made such a nice treat.

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On Christmas Day, there was a full-size skein of fingering-weight single-ply Merino. I loved dyeing these yarns for the 25th. Every one of them was different, but most were in a range of pale blues, aquas, and lavenders with splashes of pink and bright yellow. (And, unrelated, but I just wanted to show you the sweater I am working on for myself with yarn I dyed on my Merino-cashmere-nylon base. It's the Wool and Honey sweater by Andrea Mowry and it is such a fun knit:)

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Anyway, okay. So, let's get on to this: some things that were in the advent calendars that I have made more of that are now available to order in my web shop.

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Firstly, handmade stitch markers. You might remember that I showed you these from the advent-calendar reveal I did a few weeks ago. For the calendar I included five of these little rings: four non-tarnishing silver-plated markers and one brass (to mark beginning of round). My thinking was that you'd have four markers for a raglan sweater, with a special one for beginning of round. For my web shop, I'm making these in bigger collections of ten silvers with one brass. The rings are all handmade by a jeweler in the Midwest. I purchase them directly from her and decorate them with various kinds of pretty glass beads. The beads are in a random assortment of colors that I will choose for you. They fit up to a size 11 (8mm) needle. You can purchase them right here. Depending on how many get ordered, it may take me a week or so to get them out to you.

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Also in the advent calendar, I made sweet little botanical wax rings and discs like these. While I was researching lotion bars and candle molds, I kept running into several Japanese designers who were making these and I thought they were so beautiful I really wanted to try them. I love making them. Each one is unique, though sometimes I try to make several that look the same if I like what I did. Generally I would add essential oils but for the advent calendar I did not — because there were edible treats in the box, I did not want any scents from the wax rings to affect the flavor of the marshmallows, etc. (There were essential-oil-scented candles and lotion bars in the box, but they were in capped jars and tins, so the scent stayed in.) I've now made some of these lightly scented rings and discs for my shop. These are made with local beeswax, soy wax, essential oils, dried flowers and other botanicals. They have brass eyelets and are tied with various colors of French gingham ribbon. You can choose whether you would like a ring or a disc, and you can choose your scent from Lavender and Mint, Bergamot and Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang and Jasmine, and Cedarwood and Fir, or Natural Beeswax scent (no essential oils). They are $22 each. They are available here. I have three of each already made. If more than that sell, I will take pre-orders and make more next week. These would make such sweet little Valentine's presents, especially if you've recently cleaned out your closet. . . .

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Steel cut oatmeal at home. Sugar cookies. Snowy branches. Cozy quilts. Lacy legwarmers. Winter lights. My favorite part of the advent calendar was this: a collection of eight 5" x 7" postcards (and eight plain white envelopes) of my favorite original photos that evoke my love of winter days here at our place.

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It's been quite a while since I've had new postcards made and I could not be more pleased with how these came out. I took all of these photos myself, and they are professionally printed on 15 pt. satin-matte-coated paper with rounded corners. The back of each postcard is blank pale green except for my copyright line at the bottom. If you haven't written your holiday thank-yous yet, these would be perfect. They are $20 per set of 8 cards/8 envelopes and they are ready to go! They are available here.

Thank you for all of your enthusiasm for this calendar, and for your patience with me as I've strung out this reveal. I swear I meant to post these every day of December! Well, that didn't work. I truly hope that those of you who received the treats in real life enjoyed them as much as we enjoyed making them for you. We have so many new plans for 2019, and I am excited to share all my ideas with you, and so grateful that you hang out here to see them come to life. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Xox xox x o x, A.

December 1st through 4th, and a Lotion Bar for Winter Days

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Well, hello! It's now December 4th! Let's open the Northern Light Advent Calendar!

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For the first four days of the advent calendar, we had three mini-skeins (one with sparkle) and a pattern that I wrote specifically for hand-dyed mini skeins called the Northern Light Cowl.

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It's a perfect pattern for evening knitting on the sofa while watching a movie. It's made from repeated groups of short rows (without wraps; just turn and go), and all you need to do is set up your stitch markers and knit the repeat ninety-eight times. Then you stitch the short ends together, then pick up all of the bottom edge stitches, knit a few more rows of garter stitch, and you're done. Amelia and I wear a lot of cowls because we can't lose them and they don't have a lot of bulk in the back. I love cowls, and I hope you love this one! The pattern is available as an immediate digital download for $4 right here.

We also received the tins for our lotion bars and I've updated the inventory to reflect every single bar that is finished and ready to ship, including our newest bar, Peppermint Cream:

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I love this sweet and delicate design and it smells heavenly. It's made of local beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, a bit of lanolin, and scented with first-distill peppermint essential oil and a touch of Balsam of Peru, which has a vanilla-ish scent (since there is no true vanilla essential oil). If we sell out of what is there, we will make more, but those won't ship for another week or so, so if you are trying to get presents for Christmas please order as soon as possible so that we can get them in the mail. These would make such perfect little stocking stuffers!

I have lots of weekend pictures to show you but I wanted to post this because it's taking me so long to go through all of the photos. We had such a nice weekend. I hope your holiday season is off to a really lovely start!

Posie Winter Patterns from the Archive

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I thought I'd put together a round-up of all of my past patterns that you might want to make this winter. It's sort of trippy to look back at all of these! All of them started off as kits, but the kits (except for a couple, which are noted) are all long-since sold out. PDF patterns are available for every one of these patterns, and they are linked to through the photos and the text. People do ask if we will ever "get more" of the kits for these older patterns, and unfortunately the answer is, at this point anyway, no. We (and by "we" I mean me, and Andy, and a trusty assistant that is working for us at the time) actually put every single one of our kits together ourselves, by hand. It works for us to produce kits when a design is launched because there is a lot of interest and we have the numbers that make it possible for us to pay for all the stuff that goes into every kit, including the labor and the assembly. Once I get on to other things, I'm also usually too busy to go backwards and remake kits. As it is, I have a half-dozen ideas I'm wanting to pursue right now, and I only have so much (and it's not much) mental bandwidth available to keep things happening. . . . But I'll talk a little bit here about places I know where you can get supplies to make these things, and hopefully that will help you find what you need.

So, first off, at this time of year, I think everyone is thinking about making ornaments. I designed six collections of embroidered felt ornaments, one each year starting in 2008 with the last one coming out in 2013. I truly loved making these. All of them are made from wool-blend felt from National Nonwovens. I love this felt. Single sheets of it are available on-line at CommonwealthFelt.com. I know a lot of people sell National Nonwovens felt on Etsy, too. All of my ornaments were made with DMC floss, which is available at any craft store. I have a list of all of the felt colors and floss colors I used available here. These are not specifically sourced in the individual patterns, so you will need to consult this list if you want to get the exact same colors I did. Otherwise you can use any kind of felt you want as long as long as it is not too soft. I don't like working with very soft felt, personally. You also need to make sure that all those stitches don't just rip your felt to shreds. So get some lovely, sturdy felt and go for it.

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(I guess I still have some of the old labels on these photos. Ooops. Must change that.) Anyway, above is Ice Skating Afternoon.

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Then there's Walk in the Woods.

Here is Snow Day. You'll need cross-stitch waste canvas for the mitten, which is this stuff.

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Then there was Sweet Home. And we still have kits available for this one.

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My personal favorite, Winter Cabin.

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And lastly, Night Before Christmas, with little Mimi with her dark hair! (Remember when her hair was dark like that? I seriously can't even deal with how adorable she was.)

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Okay. If you prefer to cross stitch, I'VE GOT YOU. If you need cross stitch supplies, try 123stitch.com. They usually have everything I need.

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Oh, Winterwoods ABCs. I still love this one. I designed it after we went to that cabin.

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Love and Joy was for Christmas 2016. You could easily change that 6 to an 8. This one is the first that fits easily into an 8" x 10" ready-made frame, which is nice.

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And then First Snow. This was the first of my seasonal series from 2017-18. Also fits in an 8" x 10" frame.

If you would like to make some softies for good little girls and boys, these do not take as long as you'd think. All patterns for all animals and clothing can be found here.

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A few people have written and asked whether I am still working on the girl dolls I started earlier this spring that are based on these animal bodies. And YES, I am planning to produce those patterns and kits for the dolls and LOTS of their clothing. That is on my list for 2019, after I finish Secret Garden. That doll project is bonkers -- probably the biggest one I've ever done, and I got kind of overwhelmed by it and all of my ideas for it. But it is still happening.

Since Santa Lucia Day is coming up on December 13, you still have time to make a A Flow'ret Bright crown (and it's free!)

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Lastly, if you just want to stay cozy and snuggle, try the Calicozy Quilt. We have two of them, one for me and one for Meems, and we both still use ours every single day. I'm making her a new one for Christmas for her new (well, my childhood) Jenny Lind bed (I wound up ordering bed rails and boxspring, but they haven't arrived yet).

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Hopefully I got all of those links correct. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll answer them here. Thank you!!! XO

***Also, we will have a new winter lotion bar available next week if the tins I have ordered are correct. Stay tuned for that — I'll post it on Tuesday morning along with a couple of advent calendar reveals! Very excited.

Northern Light Yarn Advent Calendar Now On Sale -- SOLD OUT

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Hello! The Northern Light Yarn Advent Calendar will be available today, Wednesday, November 7,  at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, and then again later today at 6:00 p.m. PST until both batches sell out. To purchase a kit (U.S. orders only, please), please CLICK HERE starting at 10:00 a.m.

For further information, please read this post about the calendar.  Thank you! XOX, alicia

***FIRST BATCH HAS SOLD OUT. I'm so sorry for the frustration. The site crashed, and then started working, and then sold out within minutes. We will be adding more this evening at 6:00 p.m.

***SECOND BATCH HAS SOLD OUT. I am speechless and I thank you beyond words. Thank you so, so much. If you did not get one, please know that we will be making special treats available soon. I promise! Xxoxoxoxoxo

The Inspiration for My Yarn Advent Calendar

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These are my winter colors.

Sea-glass greens of the winter woods. The muted gold of lit candles. Moody grays of heavy clouds. The lilac skies in the winter gloaming. Neon pink and lemon-yellow Christmas lights. The violet luminescence of alpenglow. The cool whites of snowfall. The warm browns of the winter kitchen. Hot brown tea in my teacup. Piles of peachy quilts on the bed. Knitted blue things falling out of baskets. White flannel nightgowns on tiny tip-toers. I like mustard golds and ballet pinks, inky-dark blues and milky greens. I like Arctic sunrise colors. Mountain snowstorm colors. Nordic rose-golds and frozen ice blues. The opalescent rainbow of sparkles on snow.

For the past few months, I've been working on a "yarn advent calendar" to sell. Have you ever heard of these? People do them all sorts of different ways. Mine will be like this: You will receive a box filled with individually wrapped goodies sometime between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December. Then on December 1, you will start opening your treats, and you will open one for each day of December until December 25. These treats will include twelve different hand-dyed 20g fingering-weight mini-skeins, twelve other treats, and, for December 25, one full-size 100g skein of single-ply fingering-weight super-wash 100% Merino wool. The mini-skeins and the treats for the 1st through the 24th will alternate in a mostly random way. The mini-skeins are all fingering-weight yarns, but they are in many different colors in several different super-wash yarn bases, including Merino wool/Tussah silk, Merino/cashmere/nylon, Merino/lurex (metallic), Targhee wool/nylon, and Corriedale wool/nylon. Some of the colors are subtly shaded with few "speckles"; some of the colorways are busy with color and spot. All of them have been hand-dyed by us here in our kitchen in small batches, lovingly handled and carefully colored by way of the odd little process I developed over the past several months of dyeing yarn. After dyeing, we wound every single mini by hand. (I won't do that again, but I did it this time because I wanted a variety of bases. . . . ) My speckles are sort of soft with some dark bits, and my colors are generally soft, clear, and light. I just really try to dye each yarn exactly how I like it, and what I love most about the yarns I've been dyeing is that I think they knit up so beautifully. Sometimes I really like hard-speckled indie-dyed yarn in when it's in the skein but I've noticed that I like it a lot less when I knit it up. My yarns knit up in a really pretty, kind-of subtle way, in my opinion, with gentle color changes punctuated occasionally by flecks of darker or brighter colors. The yarns, when knitted, really do remind me of opals.

What will the treats be? When I started brainstorming what little treats I wanted to include in this calendar, I knew I wanted to include things that winter knitters would use or like. Each calendar has many elements in common, and some things that are completely unique; no two are exactly the same. Some of them are things I've made by hand. Some of them are things that Andy and Kady and Kelsey and Kayla and Sadie and Lydia and even Amelia have helped me make (and wrap). Some of them are things I bought just because I thought they were wonderful and that you would like to have them. Some of them are things to eat and drink; I worked with several amazing Portland and Northwest vendors to provide you with four of these special things. Most of the things that I made by hand are things I had never made before I started working on this kit. I taught myself a lot of new stuff. Many, many hours, weeks, and months of trial and error and experimentation and just plain hard work went into making these things truly special, and I am so proud of all of them. I've had the absolute best time creating all of these gifts, as well as the yarn, and I sincerely hope you love it all.

It's been really hard for me to make this decision, but I have decided that we will sell and ship these to the United States only, and will not take international orders for these advent calendars. We are planning to ship these calendars the week of November 19. There will only be 50 available for purchase, and they will be $215 each, plus $15 shipping in the United States only. We will ONLY ship these to addresses in the U.S. The boxes are too heavy, the shipping costs are too high, there are food items in the boxes, there is glass in the boxes, we don't track international packages, we can't control customs costs for you, and we definitely can't guarantee receipt or delivery on time — there are just too many factors that are causing me no end of stress around this, so for this first time out, we have decided to simplify this situation and ask that you do not order a box if you are outside of the United States. . . . I'm terribly sorry if you were looking forward to this, and hoping to have one shipped overseas. If we continue to do these in the future, I will find a way to accommodate.

Also, if you would like to order other things from my shop, please place a separate order, as we cannot ship anything else with these advent calendar boxes. They are only big enough to hold the advent calendar, and they will serve as both the gift box and shipping box at the same time.

Once these advent calendars sell (if they sell) they will be completely sold out. There are absolutely no more than fifty boxes because that is literally all that we have made. However, I am planning on selling some of the special treats that are in the package to the general public; they will be available only after the recipients of the advent calendars have opened their treats on the specific day that they are scheduled. So if you miss out on the advent calendar itself, you will be able to purchase some of the treats included à la carte, after the surprises have been revealed to the original recipients. I'll be showing you what's in the advent calendars day by day as December goes on, because I think that will be so much fun.

My yarn advent calendars will go on sale at two different times: The first 25 will be released on Wednesday, November 7, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. The second 25 will be released later that same day, November 7, at 6:00 p.m. I hope this gives more people a chance to get one if they want it. Please know that you must complete payment in order to get a calendar; the cart does not hold your purchase as you shop. You must go all the way through the checkout process to complete your purchase before it is yours.

This project has been a true experiment for me and I have learned a lot, and I know I will learn even more as I put these on sale and deliver them in the next few weeks. We are almost done with everything here. If you miss out (assuming these sell), please know that if everything works out we plan to do more of these around different themes but on a smaller scale — about half the size — in the future. My next theme that I am already dreaming about is The Secret Garden. I'm super excited. Let me know if you'd be interested in that one. It will help us plan.

Phew. Anyway, thank you for indulging me and if you have any questions I will try to answer them! Thank you!!!

Photos and illustrations, from top to bottom: 1. Children Playing in Snow by Lucy Grossmith 2. By Alicia Paulson 3. Unknown 4. By Alicia Paulson 5. Alicia Paulson 6. Snow Girl by Sweet Reality XO 7. Morning Mist by Akihiro Hori 8. By Alicia Paulson 9. Unknown 10. By MixPixBox 11. Winter's Tale by Birgit Franik 12. Winter Garden by Lucy Grossmith 13. By Alicia Paulson 14. Encaustic by Jeff League 15. Urho Kekkonen National Park, Finland by Valentino Valkaj 16. Unknown 17. Poem by Natalia Crow 18. By Alicia Paulson 19. Pink Block on Green by John Hoyland 20. Blueberry Scones by Yuliya 21. Alicia Paulson 22. Winter Morning by the Top Road by Nicholas Hely Hutchison 23. By Alicia Paulson 24. By Alicia Paulson 25. Alicia Paulson 26. Unknown.

Leaves by Hundreds Kit Errata Alert! (And the PDF is ready.)

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The Leaves By Hundreds Came Pattern Blog

Halllllloooo, dear friends! Autumn is here in earnest around these parts. I'm in my little office today, playing catch-up and bashing away at my to-do list. Yarn is literally hanging and drying (or, not drying, as it's freezing in here, and I kind of forgot how loooooong it takes yarn to dry when it's chilly) all over the place. Kady and I dyed thirty skeins of yarn yesterday and it all came out exactly how I wanted it to, which was nice, for once.

* * * ERRATA ALERT! * * *

What didn't come out as I wanted it to was page 5 of the Leaves by Hundreds Came pattern that got printed and went in all of the kits that have been mailed out. A very kind customer (Andrea! Thank you!) alerted me this weekend that the bottom half of the chart (page 5) is smaller than the top half of the chart (page 4).  Each chart on its own is accurate, but if you try to tape them together, as instructed, they will not match up. Somehow I scaled page 5 slightly smaller than page 4. I cannot for the life of me figure out how I did this between the time I printed and proofed this and then sent it to the printer. But I messed something up on my end, and I'm really sorry about that.

We are reprinting 100 copies and are going to re-stuff the kits that have not yet been sold. But there are about 400 kits out there already — we literally finished shipping every single thing in our queue last Thursday, so I can't get those back. :( SO if you are one of those people who has received your kit and you would like a properly scaled page 5, please email me at posie@aliciapaulson.com and let me know, and I'll send you a corrected page 5 as a PDF. If you are someone who DOESN'T tape your chart together, then this won't affect you at all. But if you would like a new page 5 that you can print at home, please let me know and I will help ASAP. Be sure to print it at 100% with no scaling, no "fit to page," or any other changes.

That said, the PDF version of The Leaves by Hundreds Came is now up and running and you can purchase it HERE.

More from me soon. Various fires to tamp down here but I belieeeeeeeeve I will get caught up someday!

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

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.