New Systems

comments: 81





It feels like we're in the middle of a winter twilight this morning. In the yard the air smells like the rainy woods. It's been raining on and off for days, and the light is so dim all I can see in my house are the bright spots of windows. My neighbor's black and white kitters watches me from her back porch every morning as I make my coffee in our kitchen. It occurs to me that I could head back upstairs and climb back under the covers with Andy and Clover (Clover, who is sitting under the quilt that Andy made for himself! Guest post?). But I've got so much going on downstairs these days that it has been making me anxious, and I know I'd better begin my week. Today, we're going to continue cleaning out and painting Andy's office, which is half-filled with Posie stuff: probably two dozen bolts of wool felt, shipping boxes, embroidery supplies, kits, yarn, fabric. Craft stuff takes up so much space. We don't have that much space. Well, it's more like we need to use our space efficiently, and the poor office has been neglected. Nanny Katie and Eileen Beatrix, my trusty assistants, have both gone on to find full-time jobs; I am very happy for them, though we all miss them around here. Their friend Greta has come to help, and she is amazing, and is getting me all whipped into shape. We tore my studio apart a few weeks ago and put it back together piece by piece, in a much more organized way. Andy's office is still in turmoil, but we're getting there. Greta will be completely taking over the assembly of past-years' ornament kits, and is in the process of counting every skein of embroidery floss and every cut piece of felt we have left over in preparation. I'm thrilled to have the help, nervous about how it will all go, but also filled with new ideas as a result.

It's a funny little business, this little business. It requires you to be both artistically creative but also mired in the details — of pattern writing, of order filling, of supply ordering, of financial balancing, of kit assembling, of proofreading, of space managing, of web site programming. Most of this stuff never makes it to the blog, though in real life I can talk my head off about it (usually to Andy) and it takes up the bulk of my working time. I am a fairly organized person but my systems are seriously archaic, and lately I have been having trouble managing the systems while making time to work on new things. This summer that's changing: newly organized storage spaces, new filing system, new web site (I do my own so it's seriously flawed and jerry-rigged), new shipping module (THANK GOODNESS), new shopping cart (OH THANK GOODNESS), new things (photo prints), awesome new assistant to take over some of the old things, new supplies, and eventually new ideas. It will get worse before it gets better, but I really think it's going to get so much better, and it will free up my time to design more. And that is what I really want to do.

Against the backdrop of all this chaos: My Mrs. Delany–inspired cross-stitch sampler on black was finished and framed and pleased me beyond words. Should you care to view it at a larger size, click on the image and a bigger view onto its buzzing little world will open. I call it my Summersprigs sampler and I think it came out right cool, if I do say. I'm working on the pattern/chart for this, but in the chaos of our reorganization I won't be doing a kit for it at this time. I want to, but I think it will be too much for us to manage right now. Since this is a summer-themed project, I want you to at least have the pattern in this sumer, and that will be finished in a couple of weeks. I'll point you toward sources for materials and will eventually have them available a la cart myself when the new web site is finished. My goal is to be able to carry the supplies — at least, the special supplies — that anyone would need to make most of my patterns.

Slowly but surely, I think I'll get there. I usually do. Right now I feel like there are six or seven things going on all at the same time, and I'd like to whittle that list down these next few weeks, as I am not a natural multi-tasker. I am a natural single-tasker. And you know what offce reorganization means: IKEA TRIP!!! My happy place. I really wish that specific Ikea-cinnamon-roll smell stayed permanently embedded in the furniture. Nothing makes me happier than to open that cardboard box of boards that will become shelves at home and have that wave of cinnamony scent remind me of my happy moments sitting in fake Ikea living rooms (and, I guess, also the time I blew a fuse and put myself in time-out in the Poang chair, which was also in its own, weird, semi-conscious way pretty damn nice). They should sell Ikea-scented candles for meditation.


I think you ought to make some candles for meditation! Just fill them with the scent of Clover in a meadow and the heady delights of peonies! I'm making Elderflower Cordial (2nd batch), 'cos the first was lovely. There's Strawberry & Elderflower ice-cream in the churner and the sun has come out so I'm off to the hammock in the garden just as soon as the ice-cream is churned. Good luck with getting organised.

jeannette says: June 04, 2012 at 08:59 AM

i am thrilled that you have honored a foremother of the artistic persuasion. and an older artist. when i think about mrs. delany i think about two books, Said on Late Style, and Parker on The Subversive Stitch.

i am thrilled you are following the artist's way and investing time and money in systems to make space for real designing. i hope you will think about rescuing other mrs. delanys.

thanks for the indomitable optimism and creativity, as always.

jeannette says: June 04, 2012 at 09:02 AM

sorry to spam you, but kate davies' work on shetland lace, estonian colorwork, and, for example, fisher wives' traditional knitting, is a true inspo to me, even if i don't knit.

YES YES YES! I was just at Ikea YESTERDAY. And for the VERY FIRST TIME, we bought a tray of cinnamon rolls to bring home. Wow, they are good! And THAT SMELL. My husband and I were totally discussing that amazing Ikea cinnamon/furniture smell -- it's so divine! I loooooove that smell. :)

It has been raining for too many days here in my parts of Sweden too - I´m not enjoying that anymore..! Love the cross stich sampler! :-)

Every time I see Clover's sweet face, I smile. Can't help it. She just warms my heart and gives me a giggle. Congratulations on your growing success. Rightly earned. Go have your Ikea moment with that wonderful hubby of yours.
**blows kisses** Deborah

Ikea gets me nervous - we have a love hate relationship. But cinnamon bun scented furniture would make the directions with the pictures and no words easier to follow.

Love your cross stitch sampler ♥ and even with all the twirling chaos that seems to be going on at your house, it stills seems like happy fun good news things.

A friend is visiting and she wants to visit Ikea. I live 20 minutes away. Never have to fight the weekend crowds. The Swedish meatballs are also very good!

Really love the cross stitch. Summer themed or not, I would do it in the winter. I rarely cross stitch in the summer.

Your cross stitch sampler is beautiful!

I know what you mean about the crazy world of owning a creative business. I am a freelance graphic designer and my "systems" are very archaic. The invoicing and techie stuff is so far from what I want to be doing that it tends to slide and take a back seat to the "creating." I once knew an artist who's wife was a businessy gal and ran all that stuff for him. He just sketched. Sounds grand!

That sampler is gorgeous! I can't wait for the opportunity to try my hand at it. Tons of luck on the cleaning and organizing. I know it can be crazy daunting to take on such a challenge but it will be so worthwhile............especially if you post pictures of the finished result!

I would be first in line for the Ikea scented candle :) Good luck getting your systems in order!

Oh, I LOVE that sampler! Can't wait to make one for myself. :)

Yes IKEA! Altho it is exhausting...definitely a special plannedout,eat-your-wheaties shopping trip (one close to my house so no travel involved to distract!)Cant wait for the next looks so cool on black!!

I like your Summersprig sampler very much. Andy's quilt looks cozy too. Best wishes on the organizing! I actually love to do that when I have the time. I find it very impressive that you manage all of the details of your business as well as having time for beautiful creativity. A true DIY girl.

The picture of Clover cuddled up in the blanket made me smile. What an adorable shot!

love the Mrs Delaney sampler..your photos are just wonderful..esp. that gorgeous clover meadow....xx

Firstly, love the new sampler! Very excited by all that is happening with you and yes, c'mon Andy let's see your quilt :) We went to Ikea last Friday (updating child #1's bedroom into a big BIG girl room) and guess what...looks like we may have to go again before the week is out - yay! Enjoy your re-org.

I so love your photos! Do you edit them in lightroom or they're sooc?

I love your sampler! And I also love Andy's it just hand tied? I want to make one but machine quilting is so expensive. Do the ties show on the back? COme one, tell!
You've inspired me to design my own wool applique patterns/kits. Especially when you mentioned you are single-tasking....ME TOO!!!! I multi-tasked for years in the corporate world and got very physically ill (it wasn't normal for me to "multi-task" and what was all that "team player" crap anyway and what WAS
"the new paradigm"?). LOL! I am poor now but happy! (I'm not that poor but compared to what I used to make I am). But I am finally ME!
Thanks for the inspiration you give me and others through your art and creativity,your lifestyle, your cozy decorating, and your "projects".

claire ashworth says: June 04, 2012 at 10:30 AM

haha you just kill me... i love ikea too and wouldnt mind one bit if i got locked in there at night. i'd go from fake living room to fake bedroom, happy as a clam!

like you, i can only manage one big task at a time, even if its not really big. my bf keeps hounding me about going to the dr about my back but im like NO MY DENTIST APPT IS THIS WEEK. CANT CALL THE DR UNTIL THATS DONE WITH. hahahaha

It's really comforting and reassuring to hear other work-from-homers talk about their organizational/logistical headaches and triumphs. It can make the whole thing seem a little less alienating! Which, of course, is why I love blogs so much in the first place :)

Oh, Alicia, that is beautiful! I can't wait to stitch it, even if the black fabric kills my eyes. (Your Winterwoods sampler is singlehandedly responsible for sending me to the doctor for new glasses, I so wanted to be able to work it without eye strain...I'm only 35 but I have very bad eyes!) I think we have all been waiting to see what you'd do with the ideas from Mrs Delaney (whose book I'm reading now), and this is just lovely.

Catherine says: June 04, 2012 at 10:57 AM

The new sampler is gorgeous! I wish I had more time for it. I have the Winterwoods sampler and I am saving that project until I get moved into my new house so it'll be a special memory for me;) Good luck with the organization. I have no doubt you will pull it off.

pretty pretty pretty! Love it all, but the sampler is just charming. ikea does have a special scent about it. i love that advertisement on tv where the people have just moved into the ikea living room and are living there as a home!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




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.