Posts filed in: Crocheting and Knitting

Still Summer

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Wah! Here, there, and everywhere. Often in the kitchen. I'm surprised, with all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning, and the broken dishwasher, there's been time to go anywhere, seriously. And yet, I have a moment every single day where I ask myself, "Can what I'm about to do wait until fall?" And if the answer is yes (and it's almost always yes, though I'm so anxious for it), we go back outside. These days. There is so much to do. Andy's two-week vacation starts today, and we are staying home this time. Already, most of the days are accounted for. I picture myself running around a track, knock-kneed, arms flailing wildly; I cross the finish line, and fall dramatically to the ground then do a really fast volleyball roll where I land flat-out on my back, and then someone pours an entire bottle of water directly onto my face — and that's September. I bought Amelia her new yellow raincoat and she put it right on. It's very wishful thinking but we girls can dream. We had one lovely, rainy moment that we watched from the kitchen door and I tell you, no two-hundred-and-fifty raindrops and ten whole minutes were more appreciated in the history of the world.

THANK YOU thank you for all of the party hat kit (and pattern) orders. Thank you!!! Things started slowly but have been rollicking along, and I truly thank you. It's a weird time of year to be launching a new kit, but I have so many plans and projects coming up. I'm sort of just whacking at things and hitting them back over the net. But I'm so excited that these hat kits are out there, and I hope you like making them. I'm already working on stuff for Amelia's birthday in October (that embroidery project above, which will be a quilt, bumped the log cabin out of the queue, and that's now planned for Christmas). I absolutely love where her birthday falls in the year. I think it would be my favorite day of the year anyway, but this is the first special occasion we've ever had that falls in October, and wow, what a treat.

Is this not an insane amount of cooking above? Agreed. And much of it repeated recipes, which I'm finding is, as you mentioned, the way to go. I'm ridiculously happy with how this is all going. Above please find blueberry custard pie (without the streusel this time and just a sprinkle of demerara sugar; much improved, in my opinion), chicken with peanut sauce and ginger rice (and steamed broccoli; and I have made a LOT of peanut sauces, and this one is my favorite by far), Sarah's quinoa salad with tequila shrimp added, my dad's Chili Lobo, and another round of blackened fish tacos (which I now make regularly, baking the tilapia in parchment paper at 400 degrees F for twenty minutes, and serve with my dad's coleslaw, avocado, and mango). Amelia and we are in negotiations for a big-girl chair, so she can sit at the table and not be in the high chair. I have mixed feelings about this, as it will change dinnertime from what is now a pretty relaxing scene (because she is fully restrained in her high chair, and seems rather content to be once she is actually in it) to one where she constantly wants to leave the table (cue ensuing negotiations, etc.). She may be ready but I'm not sure I am. Especially with all this 4:00 p.m. cooking, I really can't even express how much I love collapsing into my chair for dinner knowing that she's happily strapped in, unable to destroy anything else. We successfully negotiated the stop-throwing-your-dishes thing (which was a big problem here); I used my Parental Reverse Psychology on her (yay!) and bought a bunch of Very Fancy china salad plates and bowls at Goodwill ($1 a piece, cheaper than plastic, quite frankly), explaining that she now had her own set of Very Fancy Dishes and needed to take care of them, and could not throw them, drop them, fling them, or otherwise. Weirdly, this totally worked. She carries them in to me after dinner as if walking a petri dish across a crowded lab — very, very carefully (she assures me). I make a big deal over this, and she is proud. And I am so proud of her. Any advice for the chair?

Also, yes, I should advise you that I intend to fully embrace the whole toddler bento phenomenon when she starts playschool two mornings (including lunch) a week next month. Whaaaaaa? What is happening here?!?! How have I never heard of such a thing? It's too adorable. I'll now be spending approximately all of my free time in the kitchen cutting stars out of cantaloupe and piercing hotdog bites with dry spaghetti. I can't wait.

***Garter scarf to go with new toddler raincoat. Not at all impressed with my edges or weaving in of ends. May rethink concept, or actually Google proper way of doing this. Go through back loop on first stitch? You can't slip it, when changing colors? . . .

***Her coat is from here.

The Plan

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Hot days, hot nights. It looks like we've been home a lot but really we've been outside, in or around water, almost daily. At home, the garden is quickly sizzling, turning from the bright greens of early summer to the pale, wispy, washed-out parchment-colors of late summer, though it's only mid. I pick the blueberries from our one little front-yard bush in the morning. Amelia comes out and takes the basket and says, "'Bye, Mummy. I going on holiday." She watches British cartoons. She eats all the blueberries before they can make it into the house.

In the kitchen, I have a new plan to start cooking things. It's called the Cooking Things plan. Yeah. It means you have to buy actual groceries and cook them instead of ordering things from Delivered Dish and/or eating out in general (getting extra salad rolls at lunchtime to bring home for dinner) or making smoothies. Yes, kitchen. You and I are going to get reacquainted. You, grocery store. I'm coming to you. And you, meal plan, YOU AND I ARE GOING TO FALL IN LOVE WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT. I will make myself love you, M.P. There is no doubt you won't even like me. At all. I've lost count of how many times I have written about this. A hundred million. I should have just copied and pasted an old post here. But this time, seriously. I'm a mother now. Mothers should be able to plan a meal more than forty-five seconds before dinnertime and do more than cut up fruit.

In no particular order, things that have to happen here include: All cabinets (not to mention all drawers and closets, but that's for another rant) need to be cleaned out and reorganized. The fridge and freezer are both in decent shape but could probably stand a swift weeding out of expired condiments and a really good scrub. My spice cabinet is completely insane, with bottles toppling and things literally stacked on top of each other, falling into pots on the stove-top (when we actually have pots on the stove-top). My pantry, my beautiful new pantry, is totally underutilized, currently holding party plates and toddler art supplies. And my recipes that I've printed out from the internet are currently in a giant ruffled (waterlogged, spattered) disorganized pile on top of the microwave and need to be curated and filed. My beautiful recipe box that I worked so hard on a few years ago actually makes me laugh-cry. I see it in the cabinet when I go to feed the dog (I do feed the dog) and it looks so long-suffering and forlorn. My cookbooks, or lord. So many cookbooks. Too many cookbooks. Get ready you, too, cookbooks. You're going to be taking a trip to Powell's very soon.

So, look above: I have tried to cook some things. I made corn salad (fresh corn kernels, a little olive oil, a diced jalapeno pepper, a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes, a quarter of a diced red onion, fresh lime juice, salt and pepper). I made blackened fish tacos (a little too blackened, dang). I made some more chocolate ice cream. I made cantaloupe agua fresca. I’m starting small. I have the Paprika app on my iPad. I have a cute shopping basket. My apron is in the laundry right now. I’m going to find a new binder. I can do this. People do this! I can do this.

Summer Circles

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Big full moon :: Pinky-pie skies :: Finished Ramona cardigan (needs blocking and buttons) and immediately started another :: Hot hot hot and yet, knitting :: Apples on my tree, and I am so charmed :: Pool day, fountain day, pool day, fountain day (with Sarah & Charlotte) :: Warm, big, beautiful, round, scrumptious golden peach of a girl I can't stop kissing :: Trying to recreate the quiche from Maurice and failing :: Chocolate frozen custard :: Andy-made ribs and Susie-made dessert :: Party-hat pattern-writing :: Streaming Wimbledon on the computer in my studio :: Listening to this thoroughly delightful podcast from my dear and beautiful friend Rebekka :: Ready for some cloudy skies and cooler temperatures :: It's possible that last picture is in my top-ten favorites of anything I have ever taken. I'm not even sure exactly why.

Flowers Featured

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The sun shines, and flowers abound. We're mostly outside; occasionally we come in. I open all the windows and doors (did you know we don't have mosquitoes here?). Amelia goes to bed around seven or eight. I sew or knit. My Ramona sweater is making me HAPPY. Even though my stupid ear is still messed up. It's better, but not completely; apparently, according to the ENT doc, it can take six more weeks to clear up. I knit and knit. I cannot believe I'm actually making a big sweater. Turns out I'm not sure that an adult sweater knit in aran weight has that many more stitches than a bitty sweater knit in, say, fingering weight??? Either way, man, I am enjoying this more than I could've predicted.

I made a new Midsummer dress for my boo. I made the whole thing up myself. It was based on the first one I made for her (and more info about that one is in this post) when she was a baby boo (oh, and look how leeeeeeetle she was then!!! Sigh!!!). I'm a bit proud of it (them), I confess. The new one came out exactly the way I was hoping. Please regard the beauty of my invisible zipper. [Puff puff.] Guys, that was EEEEEEEEASY. I really had no idea. In over thirty years of sewing, I'd never put in an invisible zipper? SILLY. The bodice of this dress is fully lined. You do the embroidery before you cut the bodice pieces out. No, no stabilizer or anything like that. I don't want to make my hands do anything harder than they have to (I find stitching through anything more than linen or cotton just too hard on my wrists and fingers). I'll be doing a pattern for this. I'm a little excited.

It's just — isn't it a cool feeling when you have an idea for something and then it just turns into exactly what you were trying to do? That doesn't always happen but sometimes it does and it is cool!!!

And now, my boo is knocking on my door

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and trying to get it open

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so I gotta go! Have a great weekend, everybody. I hope it is filled with sunshine and flowers!

***Andy says thank you very much for all of your kind birthday wishes!!!

***The quilt under the sweater is my Ollalieberry pattern.

Splash!

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Summer has come kerplunking in this week — today it's supposed to be 80-something degrees, and, suddenly, it's here. Bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, grass is growing, sidewalks are being chalked, iced lattes are being ordered. It's still light out toward 9:00 p.m. The grill has been lit, the plants need water, the plums are already starting to fall on my sidewalk. Last weekend the weather was chilly and overcast. Suddenly, now, it's summer.

I have absolutely no plan for the summer. Nothing. There's nothing in place. Not that there ever is. But we really have no plan. I'm not great at volleying at the net. I feel that I should come up with something, even if it's just some general organizing idea? I don't know. Watering the yard with a toddler can take all afternoon, for instance, so I suppose there's really not that much need for a plan. . . .

Thank you to everyone who commented about my library post. Your comments were very poignant — so many people have memories of libraries, and so many libraries seemed to have changed. That was so surprising to me. I don't know why. I thought libraries were so immutable! Why would I think that? Newspapers have changed, and I used to think the same of them. Thank you to those of you with information about or offers to take pictures of the River Forest Public Library! I really enjoyed hearing news about it, thank you. I think this summer maybe Amelia and I will do a library tour, and go check out a bunch of the Portland branches and see what they have for us. She's even sort of letting me read my own book everyone once in a while which feels fantastic. Right now I still have Sometimes a Great Notion, Brideshead Revisited, and Canada by Richard Ford in my backpack. Those all seem too hard, don't they? I don't know what I want. But I think it should be lighter than these. There's a reason they call 'em "beach reads," right? (Not these, I mean — the other ones I don't actually have. . . .) Because it's hot in the summer and you need something light. I think I want something funny. . . .

Quiet Days

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Well, the doctor says the ear infection is much improved, but my ear is still clogged-feeling and I can barely hear out of it. It's not painful anymore but it is very annoying. It's a middle-ear, Eustachian tube thing, on the inside of my eardrum. They have me on a nasal spray to see if it will help clear it. Blah. I feel like I'm in a bubble. Fingers crossed that it improves. And thank you very much for your kind words!

Around the house, things are quiet, too. I've been trying to take it easy, which is really nice (and feels so strange!). The weather's been cloudy and flat and I do like it that way, especially in the spring, when everything is so green. Today it's cool and dim, and there's not a hint of a breeze — it's as still and quiet as I've ever seen it. Meems goes to playschool two mornings a week, and she's there now. Our routine is usually pick up with the stroller and take the long way through the neighborhood over to the grocery store to get some stuff for dinner, talking to cats, bugs, and flowers on the way. On Wednesday I made Indian butter shrimp and that was totally delicious. Definitely special-occasion-type stuff — very rich, perfectly spicy. I love Indian food. I'm not sure what we will make tonight? Maybe Thai salad rolls with tofu? I have fresh basil, too.

So, I finished The Swan Thieves a week or so ago. (SPOILER ALERT!!!) I kept reading it all the way to the end but I must admit that I was completely befuddled by why Robert Oliver was obsessed with Beatrice? Yesterday Amelia and I went to the mall to get some new summer clothes and shoes and I came home with this (which I got to sit and read for an hour while sitting in an armchair high above the ice-skating rink at the mall while she slept in her stroller. I've never done that before but that was pretty nice). I think I might have heard an interview with one of the authors on NPR not too long ago? I'm already on page 74 which is kind of crazy for me, because I am usually a pretty slow reader!

I'm also starting to knit this sweater. Isn't that a pretty pattern?

Spring Joy

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Afternoon at the river, which we had (gloriously) all to ourselves, until Amelia said, "Home!" and put on her own shoes and started walking by herself across the sand back toward the car :: Dark storms and ruby-glowing dogwood trees :: Andy-made chocolate chip cookies from this recipe, and they were indeed very good (Denise's suggestion — thank you, Denise!) :: A rhubarb pie from this recipe, which is delicious (if you like goo, which I do) :: A spinach souffle from this recipe which I thought was just . . . meh (needs more spinach, less egg, in my opinion) :: A chocolate cake from this recipe (which has replaced Hershey's Deep Dark for me — this one is better, and you can let the kiddos lick the spatula because, no eggs [irony]!) and our favorite frosting :: Cake baked by me and decorated by Meems (which made Andy laugh his head off when he got home and saw it) :: An attempt to take a photo of the vest, of which I am already knitting another, as this thing is just what I've been wanting :: Going out to get a columbine plant, a dozen more eggs to bring to the Easter egg hunt tomorrow, and Thai food for lunch with my dearest, darling, sweetest, most wonderfully wonderful girl.

Wishing you all a truly joyful weekend filled with love and springtime things! Xoxoxoxo

Rainy-Day Dress

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Last week, those trees in the photo above were covered in blossoms. Only last week. Already, now, they are spattered in spring green, and growing leaves by the day. Spring is both fast and slow. In Oregon, sometimes spring lasts well into June. That's the perfect spring, as far as I'm concerned, one that hits with a bang in February but lasts until June. Yes, please!

I've had a stressful week, filled with lots of little and large stresses and struggles, mostly in my own mind and of my own making. Ahhhh, modern life, you challenge me. Some days, especially the lovely rainy ones, I'd like to lay on the sofa and watch Outlander all day (though, wow, it's so intense, isn't it? I think it is). I feel quite certain I could do that, maybe alternating with episodes of Kipper the dog, all day. There's no such chance, but I bet you I could. I'd knit, like, 50,000 yards of worsted weight into tiny toddler vests for my boo and feel quite satisfied in every way.

The majority of my creative energy has been put into knitting versions of this pattern until I get the one I like. I made longer shoulders, knit the wrapped stitches (after all the short rows) on the wrong side so that I could get two mirror-image halves, joined them in the back before picking up the rest of the stitches to go up the back, then cast off the neck edge and made little back shoulder straps. None of which is yet pictured here, but I'm just saying. I'll show you when I get a picture of it. It worked. I've been wanting something like this for Meems for spring. Now if I can just get her to wear it. She calls all of her sweaters and knitwear her "fuzzies." Sweet love!

The slide picture (note pine cone being hurled) and the Mt. Hood picture (taken from work — he sends me these almost every morning) are all by Andy and his iPhone. He is amazing with that thing, seriously. He is amazing, period.

***She put almost every single thing that was on the stove and on the shelves into the oven or down the sink hole.

***The teddy is mine, from when I was her age. :)

The (First) Pibbow

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Have you ever done the quilt-as-you-go technique? I never had. I got this book the other day and decided to try it. I think it came out pretty cute. I used the 2" strips I had left over from Amelia's log cabin quilt. I have a whole basket of them. You can get a feeling for the whole technique from that first picture — you stitch the hearth directly to the batting, then add your first strip (log) to one side. Press that open, and then quilt it (I just stitched parallel to the seam, down the length of the strip a couple of times). Quilt (verb) after every added strip. Didn't think too much about the finished size, so there is one extra strip on two sides of the pillow (because I needed it to fit the pillow form). Mimi loves pillows, just like I do. We talk about pillows a lot, either for ourselves or for the dog or for the dolls. I think we talk about pillows every day. But she calls them "pibbows." Which works. We need some pibbows very badly in our living room. I'm going to make a few. I bought three new pillow forms. I like the bamboo forms. I like flat, hard pillows. I hate super-soft pillows. I HATE down pillows or any kind of pillow with feathers. They give me pillow rage. If I wanted to be jabbed in the face with a thousand little pins while also being smothered, then I would get a down pillow. But I don't.

By the way: The gingham chair (Ikea) is cute but lightweight. When she was smaller, Amelia liked to get up on that chair and essentially hurl herself against the back of it while peeking over the top at whoever was in the dining room. To stabilize it, we put a webbing strap with one of those tightener things around both of the front legs, and put several barbells — hand weights, I guess — on top of the strap. So if she pushed against the back, the weights counterbalanced and held the front of the chair on the floor. They also stay pretty neatly under the chair itself (and the slipcover). Anyway, I just thought I'd mention it in case you have a baby that does the same thing. Most chairs like this one are against walls, I would think, so it's probably not super common to have one like ours, in the middle of the room. But I just saw a little boy tip a dining room chair over backwards at the zoo cafe the other day, so I'm guessing it's pretty common with those kinds of chairs.

Drawing on a domino with a golf pencil (after silently, stealthily stealing my knitting-notions bag, and I'm not even sure why there was a domino in my bag). Wearing a doll stocking on her hand while holding an umbrella. I can't make this stuff up. I love this kid so much. I love her.

I want to make three or four more pillows. I'm not sure what kind I will make. Can you wash the quilt-as-you-go pillow cover if the batting isn't actually backed with fabric? I didn't really think about that. I kind of did, but then I just kept going, because I don't have any time. There's a back to the pillow cover, but not to the quilting part, do you know what I mean? I wonder what will happen when I wash it. We'll find out!

Her dresses: 2nd Birthday Dress (shown here, details in here), Lichen Woods (the Lichen Woods sweater, already way too small!), Lemon Layer Cake. Her sweater: My Cricket. I love this sweater. It fits perfectly and is such a pretty pattern. I love it. Her sleeves are rolled up in the children's museum pictures, but when they're down they are really cute. I must say that I originally got the NatureSpun sport only for my animal kits, but I have used it several times for Mimi-sweaters, and though I was worried that it would be a bit scratchy, it has turned out to be one of my very favorite yarns for her clothes, too. It gets soft and drape-y, it doesn't pill that much, it holds its shape really well, and it's got a really nice sort of rustic quality to it. I don't know. For a long time I was just so into alpaca. Alpaca is soft and smooshy and feels like a dream when you're knitting with it. In practical use, it's not my favorite. "Practical use" is not always my priority, mind you. My own knitting comfort is often the priority, quite frankly, and soft, delicious yarns like alpacas can sooth the knitters soul and the baby's skin. But it tends to pill like hell, and get really distorted with wear. I don't really care about those things that much, until the buttonholes stop working, or whatever. But I'm starting to appreciate the plain, straightforward, hardworking wools I used to pass up.

***Details on my workroom? All here!

Color Kittens

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Oh, Mommy is tired. I've yawned about fifty times today. Once I start I can't seem to stop. Andy and Amelia are sitting on his skateboard and riding around the dining room. The house is covered in toys and books and blankets (so that makes it a bit difficult). The rain whips and the wind is whistling outside — last night, lightning and thunder! I missed them, because I was sleeping at 9:15 p.m. But still: stormy few days here, lots of inside stuff, very small house. The weather finally turned, and we have rain and rumpus.

I made a little painting on Sunday morning. Later we all went to the art supply store to get more paints and stickers and stuff. When I was finished with the little painting (which includes stickers:) I was excited because I thought it reminded me a lot of The Color Kittens, which we read almost every night. It's funny how these little books and their characters become such a part of your life. Our days and nights have a lot of books in them. They don't get photographed that much but they should, because I so don't want to forget them in the context of our sticker-covered, draw-on-your-face, pink-painted, Golden Book–filled days. I just don't ever have a camera when we're snuggled. "'Oh Angelina,'" I read, with great mama-drama, "'your dancing is nothing but a — '" "Nuisance!" yells delighted Amelia, not really able to pronounce the word, and not really knowing what it means, but maybe she does. Same with "arabesque." I'm amazed at the words it appears she understands. There are others. I need to think of them. I need to write this stuff down, and take some pictures of our little books. They're so good. I love these days.

I make the WORST chocolate chip cookies. Recipe straight off the bag, and they suck in a different way every single time, time after time, year after year. I make pretty decent broccoli and bow ties. But who can't do that. That's all Ina. Maybe I should see if she has a chocolate-chip cookie recipe. I can't imagine she does not.

Suddenly obsessed with making a toy boat we can actually float on the casting pond this summer, and having a portrait painted of Amelia (any recommendations, let me know?). Isn't it weird how you just get these ideas all of a sudden and then they're all you can think of, when you're daydreaming? When you have time to think of these things? I feel like I have a different idea about something or other every week.

Her squishy-yummy pink cardigan 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.