Posts filed in: Crocheting and Knitting

Early July

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Good morning. How are you? I'm sitting here. The fan's whirling above me and Amelia and Andy are out for a walk with Clover Meadow. It'll be in the 90s today. I'm anxious to go out and patrol my garden. No sooner did I banish the katydid nymphs that were chomping my verbena than we've had new pestering. Since these pictures were taken, big fat green worms have gotten into my cabbage and broccoli. I tried plucking a few off yesterday but I literally almost threw up. I was surprised that I had this reaction. Scream-gagging in the street. Lovely. Amelia was mildly alarmed. I tried to blast them off with the hose. Unsuccessful. I'm not sure why I think I could live in the country. . . . Thank you for all of your kind and poignant comments on my last post. I was very moved by them. I'm really trying to take it slow and steady. Summer destroys me with longing, somehow. It happens to me every year. I don't know. Summer always feels hard in ways I can't even explain.

Meems and I have been rollicking through the days, nevertheless. Andy worked Sunday through Wednesday this week, through the holiday, but she and I kept ourselves busy with friends and fun stuff. It was hot yesterday afternoon, so we slowed to a crawl and laid around and did all the puzzles and watched kids' shows on TV after we got home from swimming. It was nice. I read a library book (The Headmaster's Wife — don't tell me what happens, I'm not done yet) while eating curried shrimp and pineapple and peas (weird combo, I guess, but it was good) and she ate a dozen enormous strawberries for dinner on the couch. At night I've been knitting miles and miles of stockinette on my Birkin sweater and that thing is shaped quite oddly. I think it's going to funnel-neck pretty badly on me. My tension looks pathetic, alternately too loose and too tight. I really can't do three colors in the same row. I can knit with both hands but dropping the second and picking up the third color just messed me up I guess. Usually my colorwork looks pretty good — I'm pretty loose — but this yoke (not pictured among the four thousand pictures above, naturally) looks positively smocked. I did try it on, though, and it fit, in a way, but I can see that it wants to ride up. The armholes are quite low. There is no increasing over almost the entire depth of the yoke pattern, so the yoke is pretty tube-like to begin with, almost poncho-like. I have about eleven inches left to do of straaaaaaaight stockinette, in fingering, in size XL. Soooooooo I'm going to be there for a while before I get a chance to block it out. I'm gonna block it hard and hope the yoke stretches. Or should I take it off the needles now (I'm about three inches into the body, after separating for sleeves) and block it and make sure it's going to be wearable without tragic funnel-necking before I keep stockinetting for hours of my life? OH such problems. Well, you know. I knit while watching the news so I should probably go up about four needle sizes in general, actually and in all things, to counterbalance the inherent tension of . . . oh, everything, everywhere.

My skirt pattern (second-from-top photo) is done and I'm going to release  it next week, along with some of the extra yards of calico leftover from cutting strips for quilt kits. There is not a ton of fabric, but I do want to make some of it available, so I'll probably do it next Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. again. The pattern is a PDF download and it will only be available as a download (not printed). I'm vaguely nervous about this as it's my first-ever clothing pattern, but it's pretty simple and I know you'll write to me if you have any problems. More quilt kits should be coming in the next few weeks or so — I just got a new box of fabric from West Virginia yesterday, so that will hopefully be cut next week and then I'll start designing kits again.

I've been thinking a lot about the various teachers Amelia has for her school and different lessons and stuff that she does. Isn't it incredible how certain teachers really are totally life-changing, in the best of ways? I'm just starting to watch this happen, and am learning what it means for my kid. It really moves me, watching her bond with and trust and love some of the teachers in her life. It really is like watching a flower bloom right before your eyes.

Here's a cute video that Andy took of Meems at Ryan Adams last week. Xo

Cold Start

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The weather here has been absolutely freezing. Apparently we're just going to be hurled from one extreme condition (scorching) to another (freezing). I had the heat on last night, and the flannel sheets. I'm not really complaining (much) as this has been perfect knitting weather. All the knitters I know are surreptitiously knitting as fast as we can, trying to finish stuff to wear before the next heat wave. Because honestly, we need sweaters right now. And probably scarves. It's that cold.

Something really, really cool happened to me the other day. I came in from watering out back and I heard this very loud birdsong, and found that there was a chickadee sitting in the dining room. We don't have screens (or mosquitoes), but a bird has never flown into the house before. Birds have been in the house before, brought in in a state of mortal crisis by The Bee. But in this case, she, Old Lady Bee, was sleeping on a chair on the porch, literally right outside the window above which the bird was sitting and singing its heart out. She continued to sleep. The bird flew from curtain rod to pendant-lamp cord to picture moulding, singing and stopping to look around. He didn't seem in distress. My heart started racing a bit. I opened all of the windows as wide as they would go, and threw open the front door. I went outside and watered the front, hoping he would find his way out. I talked to my neighbor for about an hour, and we could hear him singing in there the whole time. A friend of his was flitting around outside, frantically calling for him, but he continued to sing his way around the dining room and didn't come out. I went back in and talked to him a bit. I really needed to come in and go to work (in the back of the house) and wanted to shut the front door. He did more flying from thing to thing. I stood still and talked, very quietly. He tilted his little head, listening. Suddenly he flew down to the lampshade on the entry table. I walked over very slowly and he stayed on the lampshade. I seriously could not believe it. I was two feet away. We stayed like that for minutes. I don't know how many minutes. I lifted my arm and held my finger out to him, moving a bit closer. He tilted his head again and sidestepped away. I stayed like that, with my arm out, until my arm started getting tired. Then I propped my other elbow on the entry table and started holding up my right arm with my left hand. We stood like this for a long time. Still, he didn't fly away. I inched my hand closer. I put my finger up to his feet, holding my breath. He was so small. He put one foot on my finger and then took it off. I kept my finger there. Suddenly he put both feet on my finger and started pecking at the tip of my finger. He was so light. He pecked at the tip of my finger some more. I was smiling hugely, afraid to breathe. Slowly I walked over to the open window, him on my finger, bobbing nervously, the whole time. When I got to the window and moved my arm outside he started to walk up my arm, toward me! I moved my arm further out the window, afraid he would fly off and back into the house! But then suddenly he was off, flying up into the sky.

It was, honestly, one of the most awesome, most amazing things that has ever happened to me in my whole life. It was so, so, so cool. I still cannot even believe it! It was so cool!

I forgot to say that at some point, Bridget did hear me talking and she came into the house through the door and started sauntering back and forth through the dining room. She knew something was going on but she couldn't figure out what, and she never saw the bird. She kept coming back into the room in mild confusion, like she thought she should definitely be involved in something. And she mostly just wanted to go back to bed. The old girl is seventeen years old this summer. She's mostly a wild cat. An old wild cat, now. She's never really sat on my lap, in seventeen years. That's not to say she hasn't been on my lap, but when she gets on my lap (once a year or so) we are both so totally freaked out that it's about as far from a lovely or relaxing experience for us both as it gets. She acts completely bewildered to have suddenly found herself on my lap. She skitters around on my legs as if her paws are on fire. I freeze in place, trying to avert my eyes lest I be caught looking at her (because she will punch you in the face faster than the speed of light if she catches you meeting her eye). It's like having a cross between a squirrel and a goblin for a pet. But she comes home every night, she loves us in her way, we love her in ours, Clover Meadow intelligently tries to give her wide berth (although occasionally she will walk up to Clover and try to head-moosh her, and Clover's entire body stiffens in terror, and we all hold our breath, too, until it's over), and Amelia screams like a banshee every time Bridget comes flying through the room like a fruit bat trying to get out of the light. Little Bee. Our little alley kitten. Doing pretty well for an old girl.

I told Andy I don't think I've ever taken a picture of Clover that more accurately captures her than the one above. Sweetest heart ever. Drives me insane on a daily basis. But I love her so much. Dear love. That face.

I've been ridiculously busy. Andy had the week off and I've just been working, working, working. I drafted a skirt pattern for you. And bought half of the remaining inventory from a quilt shop that closed in the '90s. Not even kidding. More on both of these things soon. New quilt kits coming! Next week! They're really pretty. I can't wait.

Tilt-a-Whirl

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Whirlwind days, going every which way, and a long weekend filled with friends and family, and a birthday for my love. Andy Paulson turned forty-six and had a very sweet birthday. I went old-school with the cake I made for him, and returned to my old classic, chocolate cake with butter-roux frosting. This time I made the cake in three 8"-round pans, and baked them for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. I doubled the frosting and piled it on. Highly recommend.

A Variation on Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa (I actually use Cacao Barry, which my sister turned me on to)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup steaming hot (brewed) coffee*

*Original recipe calls for boiling water but coffee brings out the chocolate flavor a bit without actually making it taste like coffee. I usually reheat whatever was leftover in coffee pot that morning.

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour (using cocoa powder so it disappears) two 9" round cake pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer for 2 minutes. Carefully stir in boiling water and coffee (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans (see above).

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes (see above) or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks and cool completely.

As I've posted before, the frosting for this cake is my mom's old recipe for something we in our family called "the milk and flour frosting." (I later learned this is called a "butter-roux" frosting.) When I first put it on the blog several years ago, I renamed it more romantically and called it Cloudburst Frosting because it is really light, fluffy, and not-too-sweet . This frosting also had a long history in our house of being very temperamental but it is totally worth it. We think we have it down now, but you have to do it exactly this way. You just do. Don't ask me why. We really do not know.

Cloudburst Frosting

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup WHOLE (it has to be whole) milk or half-and-half
1 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

In a small pan, gradually add the milk to the flour, whisking them together into a totally smooth mixture — you don't want any lumps here. Simmer (barely) until thick over low/medium heat, whisking constantly so you don't get any lumps. (Do not walk away from the stove for even a minute — trust me. If you do get lumps, just push it all through a sieve.) You want it to be the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat and let it cool completely but NOT in the refrigerator (Mom says if you put it in the fridge it won't work). Let it cool for a few minutes, and then push a piece of plastic wrap down on the surface of the mixture (so a skin doesn't form) and let it sit on the counter for an hour or two or three until it's completely cool. (Update: My sister says it's totally fine to put this in the refrigerator, so . . . ) Cream together the butter and almond; add the confectioner's sugar and beat on high for several minutes until it is very fluffy. Add the milk/flour mixture and beat until it is super fluffy. The frosting will sometimes appear to separate when you add the milk/flour mixture, but just keep beating it on high until it whips up into smooth, fluffy clouds.

            After frosting the cake, chill before serving for maximum deliciousness. I like this cake very cold.

 

The news of the world and of our city in particular has been so troubling and heartbreaking it has brought me to tears several times this past week. Today Amelia and I went past the memorial at the transit center where two brave men lost their lives. It is absolutely covered in flowers and chalk-drawn messages of love. I send my prayers out to all of the fallen warriors and their families who have given everything to protect us. I truly appreciated all of your comments on my last post. I long for advice about how to live in these troubled times.

We planted our little vegetable garden in the parkway raised beds this past weekend. We don't really have enough in it yet, I don't think. The weather is all over the place — some days in the upper 90s and some days, like yesterday, absolutely freezing cold and raining. We planted the back-porch planters with veggies and herbs, too — tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, corn, basil, lemon verbena. These I'm hoping Amelia will take care of, as it will be easy for her to water them out there. She spends a lot of time on the back porch, so I think it will be fun. I had absolutely no plan with regard to anything that I bought — I just grabbed a bunch of veggie starts randomly and we put them all over the place, in front and back. This is not how I usually do things but hey, stuff's in the ground, at least. I feel like maybe some of it is not supposed to be together, but I've never really understood what that means or why certain veggies aren't supposed to be planted near one another. . . . Feel free to enlighten me, honestly. Is it like a nutrient thing or a pest thing or . . . ? I could Google this, I know.

I'm working on a Birkin sweater, a pattern for which you can only find in the second issue of  Laine magazine. This will be a size XL sweater knit in fingering-weight yarn, with lots of complicated colorwork (three colors per row in lots of cases) so it should keep me out of trouble for a good loooooooong while is what I'm thinking. . . .

My girl dances and twirls, spinning from one thing to the next, riding bigger little-kid amusement-park rides by herself for the first time, pulling all of her bravery from somewhere deep inside her, waiting in line and getting on the rides by herself, waving to us from the tiny plane, the tiny car, the tiny speedboat, us standing on the sidelines filled with so much hope and joy and admiration. She inspires me beyond words in these moments. I can see all of her fear and all of her fearlessness in her face, can see her weighing the risk of participation with the anticipation of just how exciting it will be when that thing goes up in the air, or bounces around the track, or bangs up and down on its metal octopus arm, and she wants to go. She is serious and deliberate and even nervous, but she always moves forward, standing in line on her own, asking the other kids around her if someone will ride with her, racing to the purple car, changing her mind and going for another one, losing nerve a little bit and starting to cry when it all gets too bumpy, then pulling herself back together and smiling hugely on the final round. When she got off the speedboat (the scariest one) she raced into my arms and collapsed, all tension in every muscle gone and making this loud noise that seemed to come from her soul, like an enormously relieved sigh but one that wasn't only relieved but also amused at herself and proud of herself and also just purely delighted at the world. It is hard to describe the noise but Andy and I both knew exactly what it was (we talked about it as soon as she went to bed and we both thought it meant the exact same things). She made the noise for a long time and I held her in my arms for all of that time and could not see through my own quiet, proud, and, yeah, relieved tears. This child, this braveheart. On my shoulder, limp and heavy and soft. Big and small. These moments sneak up on me so. I never knew about them before motherhood. I can't imagine what they are called. What are these called? There have been a few of them now and they are the most moving, poignant experiences of parenthood, for me. I can't even really describe, and I don't think I'll ever forget, but I just wanted to write this so that I could remember it again right now.

Peek-A-Boo

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Oh, de-dear, dear, dear, as we say here. My little head is busy with little things. Thank you for all of the waffle recommendations! The sour-cream waffles we made twice last week were delicious, if not exactly crispy. I think I'll make one of your recipes for breakfast tomorrow. Today is filled with errands and chores. It's raining, windy, and cold. This comes as a slight relief after the 80-degree temps and relentless sunshine we had this past week. A little of each feels nice. Mimi says she doesn't want to go anywhere today. I think she would be happy staying in and watching Bookaboo in her underwear while cutting pieces of paper into confetti with embroidery scissors, which is what she's been doing for the past hour, but alas, errands call. Blah.

I've been doing such weird things. I'm not even sure what. I wrote to somewhere (can't remember who you ask for this) to request a copy of the original Social Security application that was filled out by my great-grandmother in 1951, when she was 61 years old. It has her parents' full names on it, names no one in my family or extended family has ever known. Turns out I'm at least partly Polish on my mom's side, if the name Gorzinski is any indication. This was really exciting, somehow. I have one of those mysterious family histories on both sides. My father was adopted and knew nothing of his birthparents. My maternal grandmother's father died when she was little, and she never spoke of it, or him. She had a French last name, so we've always assumed she was partly French, or French Canadian, but we know nothing beyond that. Her mother remarried (or, as it turns out, married — she wasn't married to my grandmother's father) and essentially abandoned my grandmother, and all we ever knew was her (my grandmother's mother's) married name, not her maiden name. There's not much information, even on Ancestry.com, but I have literally spent hours and hours looking and have found some stuff. I don't know why I'm looking. I guess I'm one of those people who wants to know these things, but I think I'm actually motivated by my own love of researching mysteries as much as some kind of personal neeeeeeed. I think. I'm not sure. Maybe I need to know more than I think I do. There's just enough information to sort of piece something together, but who knows? Who knows what the real story is when everyone who knew the real story is gone? I'm still waiting for my DNA test to come back. Well. Amelia's maternal birthgrandma and -grandpa have done a ton of genealogical research, and passed all of that on to her on her first birthday, the most beautiful present, I thought. I'm so happy that she will have things like this in her life. Recently I traced (well, others had traced, but I just discovered the tracings) her birthfather's maternal grandfather's family all the way back to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1620. It was such a cool moment. Jamestown! Virginia! Her birthfamily is all coming for Birthmother's Day on Saturday (did you know Birthmother's Day is Saturday?) and I can't wait to talk about this stuff. Obviously, now I want to write a young-adult novel about Jamestown, Virginia.

 

Calicozy Questions

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Aw, thank you for all of your comments on the tantrum post. Andy and I laughed so hard at some of them. I love all of these stories so much. Already our seems funny and the stuff of family legend. I know I'll never forget it, and will tell her about it someday. We spent several days sort of acting out how our next play-yard departure was going to go, occasionally reversing roles where she was the mom and I was the kid. When she told me it was time to go (and always with the calmest, most patient voice, which cracked me up) I pitched a whopper fit, stomping and howling and yelling, "No! I WON'T! Wahhhhh! I don't want to!!!!!" which made her laugh sheepishly and left her standing helplessly with her hand out, unable to find a way to convince me. But then I scratched my head thoughtfully, remembered out loud about my "privileges" I would be so sad to lose, and happily took her hand and skipped over to the "car." She sputtered. I asked her if she wanted to praise my good decision. "Oh! What a good decision, little kid!" Ahhhhh, I love four-year-olds. Many moments of reason spiced with a few moments of utter irrationality to keep things interesting. Next week it will be something else, I'm sure, but I'm happy to report that all of our leave-takings since Epic Melt have been peaceful, and even one has included her patting another melting-down kid on the head and saying, knowingly, "I hope you feel better." Pfffft! Oh, love.

I am crocheting myself a sweater. It is very exciting. Such is the life of a crocheter — these are our excitements: four skeins of O-Wool finger-weight washable wool and a very nice pattern! Hurrah!

Quilt-kit bundles are being assembled, so let's talk about this. . . .

It looks like this batch will have enough fabric for 120 toddler quilt kits. That means we will have between 15-25 toddler kits in each of 6 colorways. Each toddler kit has 15 print strips and 7 solid strips. Last time I offered these, I took the total number of cut strips I had for each colorway and split them up between sizes. So if there were 20 toddler kits available for the Meadowsweet colorway, for example, that was 300 total strips I had for that colorway. Then I split those and offered some in each size, going all the way up to king size. I think that, in my mind, the sale would happen at a leisurely pace, and I would be able to sit there and recalculate the total number of strips left as things sold and add more into inventory as necessary, all while drinking some coffee. But in reality it didn't go like that at all; things went in a whoosh, and some things got sold out from under people who had them in their carts but were slower to enter their ordering information than others, or were shopping for other things, too, or . . .

I seriously, honestly can understand how frustrating that must have been. I tried to write to a few people who were upset but my emails to them bounced. (If you think you might have been one of those people, please feel free to write me again, maybe with a different email address, and I'll try to respond again.) Unfortunately, there just isn't a shopping cart system in existence that can pull an item out of inventory when it is only in your cart, and hasn't yet been paid for. Even though it's in your cart, it could also be in someone else's cart, and if they pay faster, they get it. . . . I really do hate that there has to be this frantic element to buying something that has been created in so much relative peace. But, short of auctioning them or maintaining some kind of private preview/purchase system (I'll never be able to manage that), this is the sales channel I have. But I really do want to respond to your feedback and make it a better experience if I can.

So, here are some questions I have for you if you have time to answer.

  • The algorithm I have means that it doesn't matter to me what size kits sell. It's all the same amount of fabric, the same amount of work, and the same relative amount of money for you and me no matter how it shakes out. That said, would you rather have more toddler-sized kits available to purchase, and then supplement with your own fabric if you would like to make a bigger size? Or would you rather have fewer total kits available in general if it meant that you could have the chance to purchase a throw, twin, full/queen, and king-sized kit?
  • I have generally started sales at the time that it is most convenient for me, personally — around 9 or 10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. When we have much greater quantities of stuff like embroidery kits or, in the past, animal kits or ornament kits, the time the sale starts hasn't mattered so much, as we generally don't sell out of stuff so quickly. But with these limited quantities, timing can be frustrating. I could split the offerings in half, and offer them at two different times. So, question for you: What other time?
  • Lastly, and this isn't really a question but more of a statement, I do plan on continuing to do these, even after this next round. I have fabric coming in constantly now, and it is always different and always quite wonderful. So, really, if it doesn't work out this time for you, there will be more coming.

Let me know what you think about these things and I will come back on Monday with a preview of new kits, and some information for you based on the feedback I receive from you. Thank you, as always, for your interest and enthusiasm. It means so much to me and I appreciate it more than I can say. XO

*** For some backstory on these quilt kits, see the beginnings of them, my inspiration for them, this info post, this preview post, and this sale post, and Picking Patchwork.

Spring Fling

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The world is awash in silverlight, filled with rain and wind, like being on the edge of the ocean but with flowers. Everything's cold and soaked, the ground spongy and squelching as you walk. We always park blocks away from the ballet school and walk through the quiet neighborhood in the afternoons, on the way to class. Big old houses sit waiting for dinnertime. Things — petals and twigs and spidery stamen things — fall out of trees and swirl through the air as we walk. A cold wind blows up and a million drops of water land at once, a chilly, unwelcome wash. But the greens! Noticed nevermore than now.

Yesterday was one of those humbling parenting days, when the child lost her mind at go-home time, standing on top of the hill in the school play yard, enraged with desire to stay (though, naturally, we'd already stayed too long), shouting at the top of her lungs her intention to stay, furrowing her brow and stomping her boot as hard as she possibly could, running straight through a bed of thorn-covered rose bushes as if on fire, finally flinging a handful of pine needles and duff down the hill toward me at the bottom of it, standing in a group of parents, wearily pleading with my (bloodshot) eyes that she just come down now. Personally, I think I have an absolute shitload of stamina most days, but yesterday I hit the wall, a noodle cooked to the point of soggy. I stared back at her catatonically. The moms on either side of me recognized my glazed look and instinctively moved to prop me up, diagonal support-beams of commiseration and advice. "She's a very strong-willed child," said my friend Christina, mom of four, from four-year-old to teen, and a woman of experience. "That will serve her well, really." I nodded, all hope and fatigue. If I had been among any other parents than our Waldorf-school crew (a much more-evolved set than I, with few-to-no television-watchers among them), I likely would've been bellowing at the top of my lungs, "OH HO HO, MISSY, YOU COME HERE RIGHT NOW OR THERE WILL BE NO LITTLE EINSTEINS FOR YOU EVER AGAIN!!!!!" as I know for a fact that nothing would've gotten her down off that hill faster. But I couldn't do it, somehow, any more than I could, in that moment, bribe her with promises of mountains of sugar, though everything silent in me was frosting chocolate cupcakes and turning on Netflix faster than I could think. Anything, anything in that moment, where all I wanted was a hot bath and a book and a candle, or a down comforter to throw over my head, or a train ticket to Timbuktu. But somehow, at some point (oh, it got worse before it got better), I had hold of her hand and I didn't let go, Little Einsteins was (privately) denied her for the day (more howling), we made it home safe and sound, and all was soon enough right with the world. And today Andy is, thrillingly, blessedly home. Ah, sweet relief of reinforcements! 

Stacey was here yesterday, assembling most of the new (old) strips of fabric I have cut for new quilt kits, coming again in a few weeks. This time there will be fewer colorways but a few more kits available of each color. I've been thinking about how to offer these again and will talk about that next week, though I honestly don't have any very-much-better solutions, other than to say I will make more. I will make more, guys. I've got fabric coming in almost every day now. I'm by no means done with this, if you aren't. I'm committed to finding better ways to make it work, for both of us.

Dear little crocheted sweaters, I can't quit you. The green one (pattern from Mon Petit Violon), up there? I think it's finally the perfect sweater for Amelia, and she's actually been wearing it. Hallelujah. Success with something (anything! please!). Turns out light sport-weight crocheted sweaters are a great, swingy weight, and go fast, and look pretty, and are just all kinds of good for us right now. I used this pattern (my notes are on my own Ravelry page) and Swans Island Washable Sport in Fresh Water. For my next one, already started, I'm using the same pattern but in O-Wool O-Wash Fingering in Pasture Rose with the same (4.0mm) hook. Boom.

Little Buds

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Fairy flowers and a manor house. Tree-root-laced paths, nodding buds, and a mossy cottage tucked into the dell. It had been three years since Amelia and I were here. The last time, she was in an umbrella stroller (this is not the place for an umbrella stroller), newly walking and I was afraid to let her out lest she fall into the creek. This time she flitted and flashed between the trees, racing down the paths, dancing under the arbor, quacking at the duck, building a nest for the wood sprites who were sure to come out after we left. It's an enchanted place, for sure. The river was high and green and foggy with spring run-off. The rickety, metal bridge was up, lofted high above the water for another month or two, I would expect, so we couldn't go across to the cottage or to the fireplace. It's been, apparently, the third-wettest March on record. They said that spring was getting a late start; everything was about a month behind. No matter. I sat on a bench by the creek and she whirled and twirled around me. She knocked on the pretend door to my pretend house and I invited her in for pretend tea. She gave me pretend cookies. I gave her real kisses. I hope the spirits of dearest John and Lilla Leach, creators of this magical glade, were smiling down on this little forest fairy and her fox from above.

Her sweater, Little Buds, made almost five years ago and fitting perfectly now is, once again, detailed here.

Time of Flowers

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This is my absolute favorite time of year. I do love winter, but this time, on the far edge of winter about to tip into spring, is my favorite. The daphne is blooming. The daffodils nod, heavy with a thousand rainstorms. The sky is gray and bright, the ground soaked, the rivers high and brown. I went to Starlight Knitting Society for the first time this afternoon to get some yarn to make a sweater for Amelia's Easter dress (cutest little Laura Ashley dress that I found, used but in perfect condition, on eBay). I had parked a couple of blocks away and walked through the neighborhood to the shop. The air was deeply, darkly fragrant with wood smoke and magnolia blossoms and mud and oh, spring, you are deeply enchanting.

Thank you to every one of you for your orders and your kind words and your patience about the quilt kits. As I said in my update on the last post, I will be making more. I've already found more fabric and it is on its way. And I don't think I was able to find more than three or four of the original prints I had, if that, so this next batch will be entirely new. Now that the pattern is done I will have more time to just focus on kits, so, never fear! I will definitely do at least one more round, and I will keep you posted on this. But more than that, I just do sincerely want to say thank you, and I really will do my very best to deliver as many as I can.

This past week Stacey and I untangled all of the orders and got them organized. She went on vacation and I am going to start shipping them all tomorrow. At night I've been working on my Beatrix Blanket, although I was trying really hard to make this Anya cardigan and it just proved to be beyond me right now. I'm going to pick it back up, but I needed something easier after this week, when I also got together all of the volumes of paperwork for the accountant to do the taxes, too, etc. Bah. I need a vacation. Alas, for the next two weeks, Amelia is on vacation from preschool for spring break, so rest will not be forthcoming. But that's okay. It's spring and that is exciting. I'm not sure what we're going to do yet. It's still pretty wet, and I believe there's still a lot of rain in the forecast, so, I don't know. Lots of play dates. I feel like watching Anne of Green Gables. And making another rhubarb pie. And some egg salad. Currently it's raining so hard we can hardly hear ourselves talk.

Signs of Spring

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I'm mildly aghast at how much knitting I've done this winter.

The lavender vest was actually finished in November. The lavender cardigan-in-progress I just started last week. It's called Gilipeysa and will be a steeked lopapeysa cardigan, made not with lopi wool but with the Summer Wool. Yoke colors in olive green and cream. Ribbon to trim inside of button band to be chosen from the above, but will likely be the third from the right (and those were from here). For those who asked about how I added the ribbon to my Cricket sweater, I actually used a piece of purchased bias tape (I think it was from Fabric Depot, ages ago) and followed dear Mrs. Cleaver's tutorial, which is very good. Her sweet Little Buds sweater (the greenish-blue) was actually made (I just looked it up) right before she was born, when I knew she was coming but still didn't really believe she would be ours. Oh, knitting. You do help with everything, dear knitting.

Today is the first day that it hasn't been pouring cold rain in as long as I can remember. Spring is just starting to make herself known here, especially now that there isn't cold, pouring-down rain falling on my head every minute. Buckling a kid who won't sit down into a car seat twelve times a day basically sucks when cold water is pouring down on your head every minute of every day. I know I shouldn't complain about rain since I spend every minute from July through September longing hopelessly for it. But honestly, Portland, you have been trying my patience in a million ways lately so thank you, I say petulantly, for the one non-pouring, almost-sunny day out of about the past fifty thousand. Or so.

Quilt kits are in the homestretch, you guys. I'm hoping for next week? I have a few more things to do. You see, I have ZERO concentration at night. All I ever do after Amelia goes to bed is knit and surf Etsy for old patterns and eBay for used kid's clothes (because Amelia now has almost nothing that will fit her this spring) and watch Rosemary and Thyme episodes on YouTube. That's it. I've tried to change this but I'm so fried at the end of the day. I've been trying to stay up a little later, past 9:00 p.m. (seeeeeeeriously), but we get up so early around here that it is almost impossible. Ah, well. I've never been a night owl. But it is hard to only ever have about two hours a day, other than when the kiddo's at pre-school, to myself. When Andy's home I have a little more time. But a lot of the time the three of us do stuff together, then. Well, it's all good. It's just hard to balance everything. I don't know how people do it. I don't seem to do it very well. I get tired. There's really a lot to do. I really need to start the taxes, too. Ugh.

If you've been reading this blog for a while you might have heard me mention cherry soap, specifically Crabtree and Evelyn cherry soap. This was my favorite soap back in the 'eighties, when I was a young lass. This soap was discontinued sometime in the early 'nineties and I've never stopped longing for it. Occasionally, through the years I would surf eBay looking for some and could never find any. Well, I finally found some a few weeks ago and was practically sputtering with excitement. I've never hit that "buy now" button so fast in my life. ALAS, the soap came and the scent is completely gone. SOB!!! This is what you get when you buy twenty-five-year-old soap, I guess. But was there ever a prettier box in the history of the world???

Beatrix Blanket

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Well, hello! Apparently, it's March. The days just go so fast. . . .

Thank you for all of the sweet words and reminiscences on my last post. That was so much fun. It took forever to put together but it was really fun to do. I wish I could do cool stuff like that more often but I don't because my brain is not that organized. I made a to-do list the other day and it looked like the dog's breakfast, as they say. I'm kind of all over the place. Volleying at the net, as I say. Thwack, tennis ball. Thwack at you, another tennis ball. Backhand, forehand, through the legs. Missed that one. We all went for a long walk last weekend and got lost, and wound up wandering around randomly, eventually working (ugh, it was a slog, uphill) our way back to a favorite cafe and a club sandwich for mama, after which I felt much better about everything. Everything feels mildly reckless and scattered. My projects are coming together, but I need to keep my racket up. I feel flat-footed. Quilt kits are 75% of the way there but they're not there yet.

I love age four. I love it. She's so sweet and so dramatic and so imaginative and so, so, so sweet. Aaaaaaagh. I love her so much. Girl doesn't stand still. The only clear picture I could get of her in her new sweater was when she was trying to balance a yardstick on her head. She never stands still, or sits still, or lays still until the minute that last note is sung (I sing her to sleep every night) and we get under our covers together and I wrap my arm around her, and she literally falls asleep in less than a minute. I lay there in bed with her, luxuriating (finally stopping for a minute) in between the pale pink flannel sheets before slipping out of bed. I leave her in the big bed until Andy gets home at 9:00 p.m., and then he transfers her to her own bed long after she's fallen asleep. When I open the bedroom door, Bridget and Clover Meadow are always just on the other side of it, waiting for me. The minute Amelia is asleep the pets always come out, and seem to relax. We all go downstairs and clamber onto the couch to wait for Andy to get home. I pull out my yarn basket. I'd made a new Cricket sweater for Mimi much earlier this winter but just got around to blocking it. The Thousand Tiny Tulips sweater came out quite cute, and she loves it, and I needed that. I saw Amanda's blanket and, at almost the exact same moment, a little vintage copy of Tale of Two Bad Mice that Andy had bought me as a surprise arrived in the mail, so I decided to start a sport-weight stash blanket for Mimi inspired by its colors. The blanket is crocheted, in moss stitch, with an E hook, wide enough to fit across her toddler bed, done is horizontal stripes, each one as wide as whatever amount of yarn I have left in that partial skein. No thinking, other than choosing the next color. This is the start of my Beatrix Blanket (it's folded in half, here):

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I think this is right:

Chain an odd number of stitches the width of the blanket you'd like.

Foundation Row: Sc in the 3rd ch from the hook, *ch 1, skip next ch, sc in the next ch; repeat from * to end, turn.

Row 2: Ch 2, sc in the next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, sc in the next ch-1 sp; repeat from * to end, ending with a sc in the ch-2 sp at the start of Row 1, turn.

Repeat Row 2, changing color at the end of a row when you run out of yarn for each color, until your blanket is the desired length.

 
It feels good to make a stash blanket and use up some of this stash that has been, literally, in some cases, almost two decades in the making. I think Beatrix and I have almost the same palette, so, colorwise, this is no stretch, and immensely satisfying for that, as well.
 
***Oh, and: Mimi is wearing her Bunny Rabbit sweater, above, too, which is here.
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.