Summer Stitching 2022

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Oh, you know it! I still want to be invited but I'm not coming! I'm staying home with my kitters, and my needle and thread, and my Monty Don shows and my nightgown and my Stella light and maybe the teensy-tiniest bit of guilt/regret, but I'll get over it! I can't help it. I'm an INTJ! And no matter how many times I take the personality test it never changes, for better or worse. Knit knit knit. Stitch stitch stitch. Make another cup of teeeeeea.

This piece is stitched on 32-count linen (that's 16 stitches per inch) with two-plies of DMC six-ply cotton embroidery floss. Please note: Most of this piece is stitched "2 over 2," or 2 plies of floss over 2 threads of fabric. But the text is stitched "1 over 1," or 1 ply of floss over 1 thread of fabric. That's tiny! But you can do it.

Finished size of design area: 6.25"w x 5.2"h (16cm x 13cm); 100 stitches wide x 83 high on 32-count fabric

This design is available as a kit, and contains:
  • One 9" x 10" (23cm x 25cm) piece of 32-count evenweave linen from Wichelt in Mediterranean Sea
  • (29) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
  • Stitching instructions
  • Color cross-stitch chart with symbols
  • One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer

You will need:

If you'd like just the downloadable pattern available as a PDF (which contains color and black-and-white charts), please CLICK HERE.

To learn how to do counted cross stitch, please click here.

For help with framing your finished piece yourself, please click here.

 

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Here we finally have A Tender Year: June.

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This design was stitched on Kona cotton (this time in colorway Dusty Peach) and wrapped around an inexpensive 5" x 7" (13cm x 18cm) stretched canvas. (If you'd like a tutorial on wrapping canvas with embroidery, please see this page.) It uses DMC floss. The pattern includes illustrations for all the stitches included, so if you are a beginner you should have no trouble. If you'd like to stitch along with the entire series, here are the January, February, March, April, and May patterns.

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We still have many kits left for some of my summer designs from previous years. This one is Strawberry Summer, also stitched on 32-count linen to fit in an 8" x 10" frame. It is also available as a downloadable PDF pattern.

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Here is Summer Wreath. It is available as a kit, with everything you need included, or a downloadable PDF pattern. This is part of an entire series, so if you are interested in stitching all four seasons, please see Spring, Autumn, and Winter Wreath kits. All PDFs for them are available here.

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Here is Things of Summer! It's probably one of my very favorite designs I've ever made. We have kits available, and also the PDF pattern. (Things of Autumn and Things of Winter kits are still available; unfortunately, the fabric for Things of Spring has been discontinued so that kit has sold out and will not be back in stock. PDF patterns are available for all.)

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There are a few sweet Summer Storm kits left. I feel like I have more of these in overstock but I will need to find them. It is also available as a PDF.

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This is the Midsummer Sprigs design. I cannot find where I ever did post about this, but I know I did! We never made this into a kit, but it has been available as a PDF pattern for many years. It is stitched with hand-dyed Weeks Dye Works floss, but DMC conversions are given in the pattern. I love this design. I have it hanging in my upstairs hallway. It's done on 28-count black linen fabric. If you think you might have trouble stitching on black, try stitching with a white dishtowel on your lap. It will really make the holes in the fabric pop, and you'll be able to "see your stitches" much more easily.

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I know I said that I would do a Scarborough Faire skirt sew-a-long! I think I'm going to have my hands too full this summer to organize that but I am going to make some of my vintage calicos available for sale. This skirt is just cool because there are no actual pattern pieces: Instead, you will take your measurements, plug them into my formula, and cut a bunch of rectangles based on that formula. The pattern walks you through the whole thing, with illustrations for every step. The pockets will fit your phone, keys, and wallet. I have four or five of these skirts now and I wear them constantly. Make it is short or long as you want.

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Have you stitched the Daisychain ABCs Sampler?

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If you have been wanting to, I have four crewel-wool packs for this pattern available in my shop right now. We found them when we were doing some spring cleaning and I've just listed them. You can also do this design in DMC floss, but it looks so cool in wool, I think.

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I have a few Summer Day lotion bars right now. We will try to restock all of the scents in the fall, when we have more time.

Last but not least, if you want to stitch a pretty Queen Anne's lace flower on something, I have a free pattern for that:

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I hope you find one of these projects to your liking. I love stitching in the summertime when the light seems to last forever and there's more time to linger with needle and thread. Please let me know if you have any questions about these patterns and kits, and thank you, as ever, for your interest in and support of my work. I appreciate it beyond words! XOXO

Summer Starts

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A mostly cold and rainy start, but still, it's a start! We've had a busy and fun few weeks, with a ballet recital, a midsummer festival, and a trip to Oaks Park amusement park for Father's Day. I love these traditions and it feels so, so good to be back at them. The weather held off raining for the most part, but you can see how muddy it was at the midsummer festival. We broke a record for rainfall in April, May, and June (so far). No one is really complaining, not out loud at least, because I know we all think that if it can keep the place from burning down in August, we'll take it. This week has been beautiful, and everyone is ready for sunshine. Yesterday it was about eight degrees, and even the plants were thrilled. I mean, you could see it! Everything sort of stood up a bit straighter, faces pointed toward the light.

Amelia was a bit bummed that she hadn't dressed fancier for the midsummer festival, and I promised to make her a cute Swedish or Norwegian (turns out she's both, along with having ancestors from Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Mexico, Northern Africa, the Levant, Indigenous North Americas, and Spain — amazing! Thanks Ancestry!) dress for next year. I'll have to do some research on that! I do love a challenge that involves folk-wear. Andy is 60% Swedish. Turns out, Ancestry says I'm 7% Swedish myself. Never knew! Matching family outfits???

I'm in my office, trying to get caught up a bit. I've finally had a bit of time this week, and it's clear that I have so much work to do to just . . . get myself back on track. Back on track. I have a million projects that are about 90% finished, with the hardest, most un-fun last 10% abandoned, pre-completion. Hmmm. Necklaces, paintings, ceramics stuff, glazes, underglazes, kiln stilts, beads, quilting stuff, yarn stuff, just . . . lots of stuff, and lots of allllllmost-finished but definitely not-finished stuff. I have cross-stitch designs that I've never stitched that I want to complete. I have a box of cross-stitch fabric that I want to turn into a few small runs of kits. I have three big boxes of undyed yarn that I want to dye. Maybe I'll get my mojo back in the fall? I'm usually a finisher. . . .

Thank you so much for all of the book recommendations for Amelia and I to read together this summer! It's just so exciting. We finally finished Anne of Green Gables last week and it was just a wonderful experience. I had read the book before but I absolutely loved reading it out loud to Amelia. For our next book, I decided to go with Thimble Summer, which was one of my childhood favorites. It's must longer than I remembered, so it's just perfect for her right now, and I think the main character, Garnet, is actually nine, going on ten, just like Amelia. But I'm thrilled to have the list that you all recommended, and I thank you for your suggestions and thoughts and memories. I love them.

I myself am reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, which was a birthday present from my sister Julie that I'm only now getting to. I really like it. I recently finished The Good House and An Innocent, A Broad, both by Ann Leary. I also really liked both of them and read them very quickly. Another library book that I am reading is called Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton. (I read an interview with Ann Leary and she recommended this book; I actually read the interview before I had read any of Ann Leary's book, but I liked the interview so much I decided to look the books up. Here is the interview.) Not sure why I'm spending so much time reading when I actually have four hundred other things I need to be doing, but there it is.

I have finished my design for A Tender Year: June and I also have a brand new cross-stitch kit and design finished and I am going to stuff those kits today. I need to run right now but come back tomorrow and I'll have a post so that you can see them!

P.S. Amelia got a little autograph book at her end-of-the-year class party and had the idea to take it to Oaks Park on Father's Day and get signatures from all of the ride operators throughout the day, which was basically the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life.

This Was May

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This was May, though there were a lot more necklaces, paintings, flowers, books, getting cats out of trees, worry, and tears for the state of the world. A lot more tears. And helpless, seething anger and fear for our children's futures. Every night I fall asleep to a sleep story (right now, Humphrey in Rio) on my Calm app, taking big, deep breaths and listening to the traffic outside. In my head, when the story finishes and I'm not yet asleep, I throw imaginary pots on the potter's wheel, slowly centering clay, feeling it push against my hands, feeling myself attempt to steady and control it. I'm terrible at it, in fact. The clay spins and slumps.

The weather has been warm but still very rainy, generally speaking.  The sweetest thing is watching Agatha learn how to be outside. At times we're still unsure about this decision we've made to let her Out. But she, mostly with great caution, has been going outside for about a month or two now, ever since the weather has warmed up. The backyard is fenced and she mostly stays in it (though we did find her in the driveway a few weeks ago, which is why I say "mostly"). But mostly she literally creeps around the backyard, trying to move so no predators see her, apparently. She listens to the birds and sniffs the air and lays on the warm bricks in the sunshine, watching little bugs crawl in and out of the cracks. She sits on the back porch and tilts her face up toward the sun. She runs over to me, meowing loudly — it's genuinely like she's trying to talk to me, and tell me things about Outside — whenever I come out. She sits under the thick hood of climbing hydrangea against the wall when it rains. Three times she's run straight up the trees — twice up the apple and once up the dogwood, each time going way too high. Making the choice to run up a tree gets you a swift trip back into the house. (Andy and I look at each other, grimacing, picturing ladders and balancing and trying to grab a cat that is trying to stick every claw into you while you teeter precariously. Great.) We bring her in whenever we are done worrying about it for the day, or whenever we leave the house. But her joy — her absolute wonder and pure delight as she sprawls out, furry belly splayed on the hot wooden stair, listening to birdsong — you can literally sense it, and it makes me so happy. I wish you similar, simple joys.

Amelia and I have been spending several hours every week in the children's department at a suburban library. She gets her homework done and I sit in a big chair and read and read. I don't know why we didn't do this all year, but we only started a few weeks ago. It's really nice. She's motivated to finish the homework so she can go play on the library computer. I'm thrilled to have several hours of enforced reading time that I don't normally get/take. I've finished two books there since we started going (one was Northern Spy and one was The Secret Place; not sure I recommend either, actually). Not sure what I will read today.

Thank you very much for all the feedback about the books that Amelia is reading/listening to. I really appreciated the discussion about Anne with an E (and Harry Potter). I think I will watch that Anne myself sometime and save the Megan Follows version for Meems this summer. We are almost finished with reading Anne. And now I really have no idea what we should read this summer! I like reading the classics out loud to her because I know she probably wouldn't pick these up herself. But she really likes listening. Hrmmm. What next?

Last (and late): A Tender Year: May is finally now available. Thank you so much for all of the sweet ideas for this, and I'm so sorry for the delay. Hoping to have June finished before July, I swear.

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Big Blossoms

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That exact lilac is sitting on my desk right now, the first I've picked of the season. It's actually my neighbor's bush that hangs over our fence. It's way in the back of their yard where they never go and I'm not even sure they know it's there. Last night we had a FROST warning. I'm so over it. It's just freezing cold and raining every single day. We broke a rainfall record for April. My car is leaking from somewhere onto the passenger-side floormat. It's perpetually wet. I had wanted to have a few girls over for pie under my apple tree. I thought of this about a month ago. I even bought a new tablecloth for the outside table. But there hasn't been one reliably clear day yet todo it. The garden is EXPLODING nevertheless. We kind of miss the show, however, as we run in our raincoats from the house to the car, trying to keep cold rain from hitting us in the face. My gosh, the flowers are so beautiful! The piiiiiiiiinks. I staunchly insist this is my favorite time of year but I won't lie I am freezing and kind of tired.

My May Tender Year design continues to be nowhere in sight, and I don't even have a drawing for it yet. It just doesn't feel like May! It feels like March. What things should I put in May? Help. I don't even have any ideas! If you're keeping up with me on these and you are waiting for May, feel free to yell at me. :| I know. I'm sorry. The days unroll in a scattering of pompoms and beads and blossom petals across the floor. I seem to be doing the bare minimum, somehow. Not sure why.

There is a month or so left of school. Amelia will go back to in-person next year. I am both happy and sad, worried and relieved. Or something. I don't know what I am. I'm trying to savor this time without simultaneously wishing it would change. I can see her growing up before my eyes. At bedtime (or actually, several hours before bedtime, as it turns out) we do our usual routine where we go upstairs (this is early, at about 6:00 p.m.) and we change into nighties and brush teeth, etc., and then I read to her like we always have. We used to snuggle on the big bed in the big pillows and read picture books from the library. But now she likes to play with this pretty fabulous Calico Critter apartment complex she set up in my bookshelves. There are several floors of rooms. It's a hive of activity. So I sit on the bed. She plays and plays and I read chapter books out loud. (Then I go downstairs and she stays up and plays. I need my mommy-TV time.) Right now we're on Anne of Green Gables. I read a chapter or two a night, editing it on the fly (there is a lot of negative adoption talk, among other things). Every night we say, worriedly, delightedly, "Oh, I cannot wait to see what trouble Anne is going to get into today!" Amelia, the child who had more homemade dresses than she could wear, is perplexed by all the talk of puffed sleeves, and Marilla's unrelenting refusal to provide: "Why doesn't she just make her a dress with puffed sleeves?" Genuinely nonplussed. :) I have not watched the newest Netflix version and Amelia has not seen any of the TV series. Not sure which one we'll watch when we finish the book. We read The Borrowers this fall and watched The Secret Life of Arietty shortly after. I didn't really like it, I remember. I didn't realize there was an actual live-action Borrowers (from 1997, apparently) but maybe I'll check out that one. I do remember liking the Megan Follows Anne series when I was younger. I've heard the Netflix one is violent? Or something? Disturbing? Maybe I'll preview it. Amelia recently finished reading the first Harry Potter book to herself, so we are all watching the movie at dinnertime, a half-hour or so at a time. It's the first "big" book that she's read alone to herself so it's been fun to wait for her to finish to watch the movie. Believe it or not, I have never read the books and I guess I had watched the first movie twenty years ago but remember almost nothing about it. My most vivid memory of anything Harry Potter–related is inadvertently going to Costco for one of the first and last times (we just have never really been Costco shoppers; the stores are really far from our house) on the Saturday morning that one of the Harry Potter books had just been released (I don't remember which book it was; probably the third or fourth) and the store was literally filled with children sitting in shopping carts — like, in the actual cart part of the cart — reading big huge Harry Potter books as their parents pushed them around and tried to stuff groceries in the cart around them. Like, fifty different shopping carts, each with a reading kid in it. Isn't that a funny image? Lol. It seemed very meta, actually, like something I could picture happening at Hogwarts itself. It was so sweet. :)

I've been trying to think of and make some props for my jewelry pictures I want to take, so I spent the weekend crocheting little things and making a big Perler bead girl. Maybe I can style them to figure out how to include them in my pictures. I really enjoy doing Perler beads! They have the same meditative quality as designing or doing cross stitch except that you can do them with your kids. We tried dyeing some white Perler beads with Rit synthetic dye, which dyes plastic buttons really well. But the dye did not strike the Perler beads nearly as well as it did the buttons so I don't know if I will try that again. The were pretty, though. But like, the red dye turned the Perlers to peach, and I couldn't get anything darker than that no matter what I did. So it's only good for certain colors. The peach was pretty, though.

Okay, better go figure out what's for lunch. Anyone else have a hard time figuring out what's for lunch? I literally never have a clue what to make.

Fooling Around with Beads Lately

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And where have a been lately, you might ask? Making jewelry. Random! I have such capricious interests and habits. Every month it's a new obsession. For the past two weeks, all I've been doing is figuring out how to make necklaces. Literally have spent hours a day very happily doing this. I have not even started my May Tender Year yet, agh. I ordered a ton of different kinds of beads on Etsy last summer. I have wanted to make necklaces absolutely forever but I could never really figure it out. Making jewelry can be kind of tricky until you figure out exactly WHAT you need. And there are a lot of choices, so this is often easier said than done. I wound up making a few different kinds of necklaces, some for adults and some for kids. Naturally, now I will be opening an Etsy shop to sell them. I go big. Make three necklaces and find yourself designing a packaging concept. Welcome to my life. These are not my fancy pictures, just stuff I snapped on my iPhone to show my friends. I need a sturdy, sunny day to take some pictures and then I will show you. The weather has been as unreliable as I have. One minute sunny, next hailing, next sunny, next raining. 

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Look at my tree. It's so beautiful it almost makes me cry. Spring is my absolute favorite time of year.

A Tender Year: April

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A Tender Year: April embroidery pattern is now available!

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This design was stitched on Kona cotton (this time in colorway Bone) and wrapped around an inexpensive 5" x 7" (13cm x 18cm) stretched canvas. (If you'd like a tutorial on wrapping canvas with embroidery, please see this page.) It uses DMC floss. The pattern includes illustrations for all the stitches included, so if you are a beginner you should have no trouble. If you'd like to stitch along with the entire series, here are the January, February, and March patterns.

Thank you so much to every single person who purchased the March design last month. One hundred percent of all sales of that pattern in March was donated to the Ukrainian Bible Church here in Fairview, Oregon, to aid in their efforts to support displaced Ukrainians with food, shelter, and medical supplies. We were able to send checks totalling $360, and I hope that it helps in some small way, though the need is still so great. I know that all of us around the world have heavy hearts over what we have seen of this terrible war, and I continue to pray for peace and relief for all Ukrainians.

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I wanted to list here my other patterns and kits that you may find pleasing for spring, in case you missed them in the past. Above is a cross-stitch design called Whan That Aprille, and it is probably my favorite thing I have ever designed. It is stitched on 32-count Wichelt linen with DMC floss.

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The Spring Wreath kit is quick to stitch, and the kit comes with everything you need, including the instructions and designs as well as the fabric, floss, framing hoop, felt backing, and ribbon for hanging. I think it would make a perfect Mother's Day present, either in kit form or already stitched and ready to hang (if I do say so myself).

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The Time of Flowers cross stitch kit is also stitched on 32-count Wichelt linen with DMC floss. I originally designed this in 2018 and it was reissued last year. It's my homage to the springtime woods of the Pacific Northwest and it makes me want to go find some sheep to visit sometime soon (anyone have any sheep nearby that want visitors? Let me know!).

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I still also have kits left for my embroidered jewelry designs, called Flower and Frond. They include everything you need to make the five pieces of jewelry, including the chains, pictured here. This is so much fun to do, and quite detailed and fiddly, and I think you will be very proud to either wear of gift these finished pieces.

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Blackberries and Heather-bells is a PDF pattern; the kits sold out long ago and were not reissued (nor will they be). This is an embroidery project done with DMC floss on Kona cotton that frames in the 6" hoop. It is done mostly with one ply of embroidery floss. It was part of the Secret Garden collection that I did several years ago. This was my inspiration post for that, and these items were what was included in the collection. That was really fun. I should do something like that again. I did find a great vintage clothes-drying rack at the antique mall over the weekend that makes me want to dye a lot of yarn so hopefully I'll get that done for sale sometime this spring or early summer. We don't have anywhere to dry yarn in the house so I need to wait until the weather warms up so I can do it outside.

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Things of Spring is, alas, not available as a kit because the original fabric that I used is discontinued by the manufacturer (32-count evenweave linen from Wichelt in Provence Lavender, though you might be able to find it in fat quarters online, I don't know). It was done with DMC floss. I still love this one and think it could be equally effective on a pretty pink or darker purple.

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And you might like this little guy, the Spring Ring pattern. It's done on 28-count linen with DMC floss and will fit into a 4" embroidery hoop to frame. Simple but with lots of color changes, so you'll be done quickly but it will hold your interest as you stitch the flower wreath. I recommend having several needles threaded with different colors and using them like crayons to do a few stitches here and there as you go around. Keep them all threaded.

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Also, I made a black calico Scarborough Fair skirt last weekend in anticipation of warmer weather soon, and I thought you might like to make one. Maybe we should do a sew-along? I've never done one so I'd have to Google how to do that, but I would be up for it. This skirt is made entirely out of rectangles that you calculate based on your own custom measurements, so you can make it in any size up to a 44" waist (and you could go bigger than that if you want it a bit less full). If you haven't made one yet, give it a try. I have four or five of them and I wear them constantly throughout the summer. Keys, wallet, and phone in the pockets and boom, you're good to go.

I do have a new cross-stitch kit that I will be ready to launch next month. It's not seasonal for once so I've been kind of lax in getting it together, but I'll sneak you a preview in a bit and see what you think. It's small and sweet and a little bit silly. :) Thank you for being here and for your orders and please let me know if you have any questions! I am sorry I am late with this!

P.S.: By the way, the snow from yesterday is entirely melted and it's like it never even happened (except for many downed trees and crushed houses/cars), but now it's supposed to snow again tomorrow!

** Thank You **

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Thank you so much for all your kind words about Clover. We read every comment and were moved to tears several times. I am so touched that there are still so many of you who remembered when we got her back in 2007 (and even those of you who remembered Audrey). I find it just so touching that people take a little moment to think about a little dog they've never met in real life, and wish her well on the next part of her journey. Thank you for doing that, and sharing that with our family. It really helped me and I am grateful for your gentle kindnesses here. Thank you.

We have been working like crazy on our yard. I was sitting in the hot tub a few mornings ago just staring out at the backyard, feeling proud of what we have done. I realized that both the front and back yards felt a bit like the secret garden. We had kind of neglected the back yard, especially. Dead leaves, dead plants in pots, yucky hydrangeas covered in old brown blossoms, broken pots. A very gnarly porch rug covered in black stuff. Empty planter boxes on the porch. A ton of crabgrass in the front borders. Almost nothing but strawberries, a few calendulas, and a forget-me-not in the raised beds in the hellstrip. I mean, it happens, over the winter. This is all pretty standard. But it had been a while since we'd really done a thorough accounting of our plants, and really tried to get nice stuff (even a few perennials) into our many pots (I counted a total of 31), and had bought compost to mulch the beds. So we started cleaning out old pots, going to the nursery to get a few things every week to plant in them, moving strawberries from the raised bed into pots in the backyard, planting the planters with stuff that will be pretty in a month or two. We ordered two yards of compost and had it delivered to the driveway, and Andy spent the weekend covering the beds in brown paper bags to keep down the weeds and topping it all off with several inches of compost. Trimming back the ornamental grasses, which have grown monstrous and probably need to be divided. Planting a few clematises to replace our big one that looks mostly dead. (They often looks mostly dead in spring before they leaf out, but this one looks particularly dead.) Amelia and I started a new hobby of constantly checking NextDoor (neighborhood app) for new postings of free plants and, when we saw something good, jumping into the car and hauling across the neighborhood to be there first (and, we often are!) So far we've gotten a clump of pink phlox, a bleeding heart, and, yesterday, a whole bunch of purple alliums! That said, you get what you pay for sometimes — by the time we got to the bleeding hearts, the plant had been completely run over by a car and was smashed to smithereens. We still took it home and planted it. I even got that darling green table for twenty dollars! So, everything was looking so pretty. The apple and dogwood trees were about to bloom. The tulips were in full flush, the daffodils were finished, the magnolia was flowering, the hydrangeas are fully leafed out. And then at 3:30 a.m. I woke up to go to the bathroom and look at this:

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SOB! Noooooooo! Oh my stars. Absolute chaos. I had heard rumors of this in the forecast but never thought it'd hit us here on the valley floor. It was literally 76 degrees three days ago! And now it's 36! We hardly get this much snow even in the middle of winter, let alone almost mid-April. So, school is canceled today, even online school for us, due to many power outages around town, and I know there are many downed big trees from the pictures I'm seeing on the news. I mean, many trees are fully leafed out or heavy with cherry blossoms or other blossoms right now so, oh my. They say we haven't seen this kind of thing in eighty years here. Quite unusual and I won't lie, I want it to melt immediately. I was absolutely and totally ready for and indulging in spring.

I have my April design for A Tender Year ready, and I just need to proofread it and then post it. I will do that tomorrow or Wednesday, I promise. I got behind in my work and Amelia got really behind in hers while Andy and I were busy with Clover, and it was a unique kind of challenge (I don't want to repeat) trying to get her caught back up. She was about eleven or twelve assignments behind and wow, that was a first. Do not recommend. Anyway, my April design is ready and has been photographed and I just need to get back in my swing. I was able to send another check (for $110 this time) to the Ukrainian Bible Church last week, so we altogether sent $360 to Ukraine for the month of March. The war continues to rage on in a horrendous way. It's just terrible. I pray for peace daily and it's just . . . absolutely heartbreaking.  I can't even find words.

I am reading The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman and it is very compelling. I am only about halfway through it. At night, I've been watching a lot of Monty and Gardener's World and also these two very light shows that I just absolutely love: One is Baby Ballroom, about little kids (and some tweens) who do ballroom dancing in England, and Old Enough!, about toddlers running their first errands in Japan. I think they are both on Netflix. If you can get a chance to watch Old Enough!, try to watch Season 1, Episode 7. Or also Episode 4. I'm only on Episode 16 myself (they're short, probably fifteen or twenty minutes each). Oh my gosssssh. I am fascinated.

XOX

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Clover2

It hurts my heart to write this and tell you that Clover Meadow passed away last week. Andy took this picture of her and Agatha on the occasion of Agatha's first time in the yard just a few days before. Clover was almost fifteen years old. I know that some of you have been reading this blog that long and will remember when she was a puppy. Honestly, this is so hard to write. Amelia is sitting behind me at her desk about to start school and I'm afraid I am going to start crying again. I've been putting this off for days, hoping I won't. I am inadequate. She was the sweetest dog. The end was hard. Clover. I miss and love you. Rest in peace, my darling, sweet friend.

Spring Break

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14Plum1

It's spring break this week, and Amelia and I have been busy gym-shoe and other shopping for her. Shoe shopping is not what it was. I was longing for a Stride Rite or a Buster Brown, and a kindly salesman who would have had her take a seat so he could measure her foot on the metal measuring thing (because I honestly had no idea what size her feet were anymore), who would've come back with boxes of shoes and laced them up for her and then checked her toes to see how they fit, and have had her take a walk around the carpeted store for a test drive. We were hard-pressed to find an actual salesperson anywhere, even at Macy’s, on Day 1. Day 2 I printed out a kid's foot-measuring chart (turns out she's a US size 3.5 and an extra-wide width) and wound up at a massive DSW where I got her a new pair of Reebok tennis shoes and some running shoes (wow, I had no idea how expensive nice new shoes are, having bought almost everything secondhand for many years) because she wants to go jogging with her dad. She went on a carousel ride at the mall, got a Pink Drink and a cookie at Starbuck's, got a pink velour jogging suit, and picked out a new clematis for the front yard. In every moment I can feel my intentional buoyancy and yearning for “normal.” But the Target looked like a dump, crushed cereal and clothes all over the floors, and the up-escalators at the big mall were broken (well, the two we tried, anyway), and the salespeople were nowhere to be found, and these things are of course ridiculous as entire cities and millions of lives in Ukraine are laid to waste in mere days at the whim of one evil, murderous maniac. I can’t stop thinking, stupidly, helplessly, How could this be? Someone!?! My girl grows out of her clothes. Hold all of these things.

21QuiltSleeve2

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

23Table1

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

22Light1

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

23Cutie1

Flower fairy wishing you a happy spring!

Deep in the Details

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Plum1

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to every person who purchased A Tender Year: March embroidery pattern so far. I was able to send a check for $250 to the Ukrainian Bible Church aid fund on Tuesday and I will send another one for the balance of the total sales for this pattern at the end of the month. I am so grateful to all of you who helped with this donation. I expect that all of us are in state of utter sorrow and disbelief and helplessness over what the Ukrainian people are enduring right now. I pray for peace. I don’t know what to say or do.

Room2

I told my sister that I had been making a lot of quilts lately. (She said, I get it. Going back to the start.) I think I have made five or six in the past couple of months so far. I've actually lost count. I haven't photographed any of them finished yet. The making is the thing for me right now. Cutting and stitching and trimming and pressing, patch after patch after patch. Patching. Stitching and pressing. I'm almost finished unearthing and then ironing every scrap of fabric that I have. I have a lot. I don't even understand how someone can have so many "scraps." As I said, a lot of them are from quilt kits we've made for Posie in the past. But I also must have sewn a lot over the past twenty years. It makes me so nostalgic. I remember literally every fabric. It's weird. I sewed so many dresses and things for Amelia, and all of that sewing and knitting saved my life then. I loved every minute of it.

Room1

I still love it but I don't do it as much because at some point sewing started to really hurt my back. Years ago I even had an ergonomic specialist lady come out to my house and look at my sewing set-up and figure out what I was doing wrong that was causing me so much back pain when I sewed. It turned out that almost everything was too low for me, and I have a really long . . . top part of my leg. Thigh. Like, my waist is really high. I'm short-waisted but the length from my waist to my knee is really long, according to her. So we made a few adjustments, including raising my cutting table and raising the height of my chair. But to be honest, none of it really helped. Sewing still really hurt my back. I think it's because my back is weak and I don't sit up straight very often, so when I sit up straight to sew, those back-sewing muscles are pathetic. But, I just decided I didn't give a shit. I started sewing again. I've been sewing up everything in sight. And at night I put a heating pad behind my back on the sofa and . . . it actually helps. On top of that, I think the back muscles might actually be getting stronger these past few weeks. Either that or, I don't know, pain is relative anymore. It feels worth it because for the first time in a long time I have found some joy and peace in my studio. I have tried a lot of different crafts these past two years of Covid. There was clay and polymer clay and resin and jewelry making and beading and drawing and painting and tole painting and of course the usual, cross-stitch and embroidery and knitting and yarn dyeing. But lately, the sewing has been bringing me back to myself. And I want that. I want that back. I want to be in flow. I want to care about the silly little details, getting some stupid little thing just the way I want it to be, making something come together out of just some random idea, some thing that I saw that I wanted to create. I want to be deep in those things again.

Pleater

In with the stacks of the fabric there were a few blouses that I must have cut out for myself several years ago and hadn't finished for whatever reason. (I finished them today. Inspired. No pattern I can find around here for this blue top, though I know I used one. I just don’t know what it was.) I thought about my pleating machine, on a shelf in the basement, unused for many years. I suddenly wanted to get a dress form and actually use it to make some clothes for myself. Use it to drape and fit. To come up with a few basic shapes and patterns that actually fit me the way I want them to and then use them to explore some ideas that I have to make some stuff to wear this summer.

Dressform

Nothing earth-shattering but just clothes that I like and that feel like me and what I want to wear — loose clothes, peasant tops, floaty and full things, kaftans, skirts with pockets for my keys, phone, and wallet, stuff that you pull over your head, no buttons, no plackets, no facings, no zippers. Lots of things gathered on elastic. And Amelia needs clothes, too. I don't have much in the way of "apparel" fabric. I think of apparel fabric as cotton lawn or linens or cotton voiles, and I don't have much of that. But ohhh do I ever have a lot of vintage quilting fabric yardage. Ha! So I'll be the size 18 lady at the playground wearing an entire wardrobe made out of Joan Kessler and Peter Pan quilting calicos from 1983. Watch out.

Plum2
Ukraine. I pray for peace for your families and your children. May you find shelter and safety in these dark days.

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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