Posts filed in: Embroidery

A Birthday Quilt for My Girl

comments: 315

A few months ago, I stumbled upon this pin on Pinterest. It was a set of embroidered coasters designed by Japanese embroidery designer Hiroko Ishii in the (all-in-Japanese) book Stitch Ideas Volume 11 (ISBN 978-4-529-04826-2). Before I knew it, I had ordered the book, planning to make a birthday quilt for Amelia.

In the book, there is the pinned picture, another detail picture of a few of the coasters close up, and a tiny set of line drawings — each one about 2" square, maybe. I enlarged the drawings on a copy machine so that they were almost the width of a letter-size piece of paper, so about 8" square. I spent a day gathering my fabrics and planning colors and transferring the designs (I always trace my designs on a lightbox with either a fine-tipped permanent marker or a fabric marker, or in the case of the black one, a white quilting pencil). I kept most of the fabric colors, most of the floss colors, and most of the designs exactly the way they were in the original. (I changed October somewhat, to be more birthday-ish.) And then I started to stitch. And stitch. And stitch. And stitch. Every night, after she went to bed, I hurled myself onto my chaise lounge with a cup of tea and a bag of Raisinettes and some Ice Lake Rebels (obsessed) and got to work. Last week, I finished the embroidery. This week, I framed the squares with 2" calico strips and stitched them into the quilt top. Today, allow me to show you the months of the year that have occupied my every August and September night at the end of this glorious summer we had, the one just before our girl turns three years old.

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Oh man. Someone draw me a bath and bring me a good book and pick up my kid from playschool and make some dinner for me, please. Then it'll be right back to work to make some money to start saving for the pony for her fourth birthday because there's just no possible way I can top this thing on my own, ever.

I'm rather proud of this. Andy came in while I was working on it and said, "Oh wow, that's awesome! That's too nice to use!" I said, "I know." He said, "But we are going to use it, right?" I said, "No." Then I said, "Just I am." Then he made that face like the emoji with the big eyes and the straight line for a mouth.

I actually did cry about four times while sewing the top together the past few days. One time was when I was listening to the song Little Waltz by Basia Bulat. Another was when I was remembering the day Amelia was born. And there were two other times. It was just getting so big and I was really happy with it, and kind of weirdly relieved that it was coming together, and my baby girl is growing up. It's strange to have hours to myself, sewing, and thinking, thinking about her, which is what I had over these past few days, alone in my studio. I did little else but work on putting this together, using some of the strips of fabric from clothes I had made her over the past year, the October block framed by the fabric that I'd used to make her birthday dress last week, the background fabric one I've just always loved — salmon-colored flowers against an opal-gray background, like the bright leaves on our dogwood tree against the autumn sky, as it was the October day we brought her home — and that solid-colored frame around the first calicoes the color of moonstone. Oh, my love.

. . .

The top's big, about 54" x 72", so she can use it on her toddler bed and hopefully on her double bed when she moves into it. The back will be 1/2" gray gingham and the binding a sort of pale mustard with lilac dots. I'll try to finish the back today. I'm using cotton for the batting because I have it already. Everything for the top and back I already had in my stash, or got out of my scrap basket. All of it, even that, felt really good. I can't say enough about how much I love Hiroko Ishii's design. It's like a sweet, quiet, wistful, charming poem. What an privilege it's been to make this. I think it's my favorite thing I've ever made, ever.

Now to make the quilt sandwich, and then to sit under it while doing the quilting and binding. By hand (it can be no other way, I don't think). I may not finish it by her birthday. I doubt I will. It'll be close though. You can't rush hand sewing. You don't want to.

It was really hard to photograph this, for some reason. I apologize for the wrinkles. I dragged it all over the place looking for normal light in my house which apparently I don't have. Nevertheless, thank you for indulging me. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll answer them here. I'm gonna go eat a sandwich now and watch Judge Judy.

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.

My Sweetiepie Sampler Kits Now Available!

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Well, good morning! Do you know your ABCs? We're learning them here, and we want to share ours with you!

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My Sweetiepie ABCs Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now ready to order here!

You can click on both of those images above to see them enlarged. :)

This counted cross stitch sampler was inspired by the delightful experience of living with two-year-old Miss Amelia Paulson while she learns, among billions of other things right now, her ABCs. It is stitched on 32-count linen (that's 16 stitches per inch) with two-plies of DMC six-ply cotton embroidery floss. Suitable for boys and girls of all ages, it is, to date, possibly my favorite thing I have ever designed.

Finished Size of Design Area: 13.1" x 10.3" (33cm x 26cm); 210 stitches wide x 165 high on 32-count fabric

My Sweetiepie ABCs Cross Stitch Sampler Kit contains:

One 20" x 18" (51cm x 46cm) piece of 32-count Zweigart Belfast linen in Stone Gray
(79) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
Stitching instructions
Illustrated stitch tutorial for special stitches
Color cross-stitch chart with symbols
One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer
*Frame not included.

You will need your own:

#24 tapestry needle(s) for cross stitch
Embroidery scissors
4" (10cm) embroidery hoop
Frame and framing supplies

If you are new to counted cross stitch, or need a refresher on the basics, please see my "how to do counted cross stitch" tutorial here.

This is not a hard project, and can definitely be done by beginners, but it is big! And the stitches are small! And there are a lot of colors! There are 47 colors in this sampler. But come on, that is why it is AWESOME!!! Using so many colors gives these little motifs so much depth and richness, especially relative to each other. Besides, you don't want this project to go fast. You want to sit with this and watch every episode of Outlander and then start the new season (which just started).

That said, I think one of the "hardest" parts of making this sampler will be organizing the 79 lengths of floss (in 47 colors) that you will receive in the kit. The floss will come to you in three separate hanks, with about twenty-six or -seven 24" lengths in each group. The pattern includes a list of floss colors and numbers, along with their symbols as used in the chart, organized into the three groups. I've included a piece of chipboard (thin cardboard) and the instructions for making floss organizers like mine.

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To help you separate the colors, which can be a bit tricky but not really too bad (since you are given the number of lengths included and the color name, which provides a general description of the color itself) I've put some large photos of my floss, all organized, up on my web site here. This should help you figure out how to tell the colors apart, relative to each other. 

Remember, you need to separate two plies away from the six-ply embroidery floss length to work the cross stitches throughout the sampler. Special stitches, including backstitches and French knots, use one or two plies, as indicated in the instructions. If you don't know how to do these stitches, I've included illustrations and directions for working them in the pattern.

The chart you will receive is quite large, larger than the actual size of the finished piece, and it is broken into four separate one-sided pages. You can use them individually or cut them out and tape the chart together, overlapping the grayed areas. Each color has its own symbol, keyed, as I mentioned, to a list of color names and DMC's assigned floss-color number. To work the design, you follow the chart, counting stitches as you go.

It also really helps to have something dark on your lap as you stitch. The holes in the fabric that you need to stitch through are so much easier to see.

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Also, as you probably know, I also carry my favorite supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. For this project, we have:

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Gorgeous little embroidery scissors.

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Hardwicke Manor 4" hoops.

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Twill tape to wrap around the inner hoop. You don't need to do this, but it's nice, and provides more tension to keep the fabric from slipping out of the hoop as you stitch.

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And size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch on linen.

All supplies will be shipped along with your kit.

We do ship overseas! To place your order, you will be required to read this information, which contains details about international shipping and customs fees you may incur when ordering outside the U.S. (If you are overseas, the shipping cost charged by Posie does not include any further charges you may incur when importing goods.) To see the shipping-only costs for your order and location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. If you do need to add things to your order or change your address after you've placed the order, just email me and we'll figure it out, no worries! I just like to remind people of this ahead of time, because it's a bit easier.

What else do I need to tell you. I don't even know. Other than that I am crazy excited about this! If you do have questions, please ask them here and I will pop back in throughout the day to answer. Thank you!!! Xoxoxoxoxo, A&Co.!

Pretty Petals

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Oh, apple trees! My favorite of the flowering trees. So humble and sweet and pretty. And their scent. My gosh, I love them.

I made a pillow and a pizza and more dresses. Thank you so much for all of the zipper advice! I tried what sounded like the easiest thing, and sewed straight down both sides from top to bottom (instead of going down one size, across the bottom, pivoting and coming up the other side) and it worked perfectly! Yippee. That was nice! Thanks! From left to right I used Simplicity 6713, c. 1966, and added a few inches to the length (fabric from JoAnn's); McCall's 8152, c. 1965 (fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn Mae [D]); and McCall's 9525, c. 1968, and added 12" to width of the front skirt, and 6" to each of the back panels, as well (fabric is from Mill End Store). These are rainy-day dresses, things you would wear at Bloomsbury while pressing flowers gathered in the bluebell woods. I soooooo enjoy sewing for my boo. I can't stop.

It's been raining here a bit, and I have been happy. The gardens are just exploding. Everything is fresh and fragrant and frothing with green. Our walks are filled with rainbursts and wild rambles, just to stay outside for longer. The sky the other night was so dramatic, with layers of cloud and light and dark. When I look out the windows in the early evenings, everything glows with bloom and late light.

Slowly but surely, My Sweetiepie ABCs sampler kits are coming together. The materials are finally starting to come in (it takes forever for this stuff to come in). The fabric has arrived in Wisconsin and is being folded. The embroidery floss is on its way, and then will get pulled (all 79 strands per kit, egads). I'm just finishing up the pattern, then that will go to the printer. More on all of this in a couple of weeks, when we're closer to being finished and ready to put them in the shop. I'm ridiculously excited. Oh I love seeing a plan come together. It's kind of thrilling, honestly.

***Oooops, forgot to link to the pizza — it's here, and I added some fresh mozzarella this time, too. Got a bit soppy, but if you let it stand for a few minutes, it's still very delicious.

Winterbrights

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It's the winter that feels like spring. Without flowers. I see daffodils and irises and other little spring bulb-type things popping up through the mud, though. The rest of the country is covered in blizzard after blizzard and foot after foot of snow. ALAS, poor us, we have nothing but sunshine and 60-degree weather. Sigh. I am possibly the only person in the Pacific Northwest who's bummed out about that.

The days at home have been lazy and lovely, nevertheless. I made this chicken tartiflette (channeling après-ski fantasies) with the new mandoline I got for Christmas, and it was very, very good. We've been playing and reading and sleeping and stitching. I've been working on version 2.0 of the sampler and I really love this. The new sampler kits should be available in about eight or nine weeks. The fabric is on order, and we're still calculating amounts and colors of floss. This thing has forty-seven colors in it. I'll print the chart very large for you to try to compensate for the small size of the stitches. Also, yes, we're in the process of ordering more materials to make more Maggie, Juniper, and Basil kits. Those are a few months out, too.

Does anyone out there from River Forest or Oak Park or Forest Park remember the smiley-face cookies with the chocolate eyes from Kay's Bakery? Man, those things were the best. And the chocolate bismarks from the bakery next to River Forest Market on Lake Street. Is the market even still there? I loved that place. Thinking about it, and home, lately. I wonder why. I think it's the snow. I remember standing in front of the bakery eating a bismark, waiting for the bus in the freezing cold. Chocolate and pastry cream. The smell of exhaust on the icy morning air. Rush hour. I miss that.

Amelia carries her dolly around, cuddling her and kissing her on the forehead. I say, "Mimi, you're such a good mommy to your baby." She, impatiently: "Oh, I know, I know.

***The book she is looking at is A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books. One of our favorites.

Winterwoods Sampler (Again)

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Thank you so much for all of your generous comments on the new sampler! Since my post I've been getting emails about and orders for the Winterwoods ABCs Sampler Kit so I just wanted to pop in really quick and show that to you again here in case you want to try it out. I designed this kit in 2012. It is very dear to my heart. You can read my original post about it here or order it here. I know that many people  who had never cross-stitched before have made this, which makes me ridiculously happy. This is a good winter project. I love it.

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***Also, in answer to some questions from the last post: The muffins were made from this recipe, and the Mammagetti is an old family recipe that came from my mom's mother. I think that's my sister's handwriting on the card. My mom said that when she was little she would often have ice-skating birthday parties and then everyone would come back to her house for Mammagetti. It is kind of a strange recipe — I made it for the first time last week in about ten years. There is an absolute ton of vegetables in this thing, so use a huge pot. My mom says that you really do HAVE to add the cheese. It totally changes it. And you really do have to cook it that long, I guess. As far as the cheese container size goes, I think the one I added was 8 oz. Obviously, you can substitute fresh grated Parmesan or your own favorite spaghetti sauce for the Ragu, but this was the way we always made it in our family. It's a nostalgia thing. I love this but, ironically, my sister doesn't (anymore). I serve it over thin spaghetti with a big blob of ricotta and a big glass of milk. Sunday-night winter dinner. Yummy stuff.

****Oh yeah — thank you for reminding me, Cynthia (and thank you for your kind words) — the line in the recipe that says "fill to almost with water" [sic]. My mom says to add 2 cups of water. Sorry about that!!!

Swirlywhirl, and Slow

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January. What would I do without you, specifically your frowsy second half, after the holidays and the birthdays and the outings? Because there are the lights . . . and the burnt-out lights and the only-half-put-away decorations and the only-half-put-away presents and all the things, things strewn here and there and everywhere, things that only appear here in the second half of January, somehow, and somehow my normally compulsive tidying impulse just drifts away like a little piece of fluff on the sodden winter wind. Bye-bye. There it goes! Instead I settle, and heavily, into the downy puff of calico on our sofa, let Amelia watch too much Peppa Pig (but she's so soft and snuggly, tucked under my big, soft arm where she fits so perfectly, when she's watching!), and cook giant batches of things to freeze for three more dinners, or twelve more breakfasts, all to minimize my time away from needle and thread. Because when I get an idea, especially in January, make way, all you other things I should be doing (cleaning! taxes! grocery shopping!). I must sew.

Could anything be more antithetical to my life right now than making tiny cross-stitches on 32-count linen? Oh my stars, it is slow, so slow, and so small. I couldn't decide if this was a good or a bad thing. For sure, it is stark relief against the background of days with a whirling, twirling toddler, who once again has started dragging the chair all over the house and getting into everything on every surface: the basket of punch cards and keys and stray coins we keep by the front door; my dish of extra buttons from new clothes, and jewelry, and random push pins (?) I apparently (though I had forgotten it, until she found it and strewed the contents around the room) keep on my dresser; the houseplants that are (leaf by leaf) being denuded of leaves; the Lenox wedding-china teacup she brought to me, holding it up in both hands as if presenting a rare bird. I gasped to see it and r u s h e d — you know the oxymoronic slow rush you must do so as not to completely freak her out and cause her to just wig, and throw it? — out of the kitchen to pluck the cup neatly from her little hands and try to determine how she managed to (silently) finagle the elaborate system of ponytail holders we have holding the china-cabinet doors closed (since the attempt at installing the baby lock on that door actually broke the door frame, etc., etc.). When her hair slides loose from its braids, and she is rushing from one of her work stations (the mail basket!) to the other (the dining-room lamp cords!), she looks like Animal from the Muppets (Andy's favorite childhood character, conveniently) in the midst of an epic drum solo. Our house is only so babyproofable. Not babyproofable enough, right now. Winter in Portland: You don't know what raining means until you have a careening, ambitious toddler that can't go to the park every day.

Nevertheless, oh my darling girl, how I love the torrent of language that is flowing from her lips. Almost constant chatter, and much of it starting to make sense, and the sense it makes is so sweet and so funny and so fascinating to me. Wow. The babble, the questions, the songs, the pretend noises (dinosaur! kitty!), the shouts, the calls, the exclamations (yuck-y! mine! no! yes!) the thrilling sentences ("I want to play with this one!"). A jumble of expression, numbers and colors and songs and letters like a burst of confetti thrown into the air every minute. How could I not make an alphabet sampler for my tiny love who is just learning, right at this very moment, the ABCs? I couldn't not. I have never had such fun designing anything, or done it in such a real-time way.  Amelia takes the half-finished sampler from my hands, and names her world: apple, boat, kitty. Egg. Umbrella. Zebra!

I did the designing part quickly, like I do most everything else these days, rushing to finish plotting out every stitch on every single letter and image in one free afternoon. But then the stitching part — oh, that's the slow. And, well, now that I'm committed, it's a lovely, lovely slow. I had forgotten how lovely embroidering can be. I let myself completely settle in. It happens at night, after baby bedtime. Every night this month, by the white light of my hideous full-spectrum lamp, I stitch a motif, and a letter, and maybe half of a next one, drawing the thread through over and over again, finding it restorative after a season of so much activity — holidays, parties, events, trips, hikes, presents, people, etc., etc., etc. — and days of so much swirling, twirling toddlerness.

It's been a long time since I've designed a cross-stitch sampler, and I wanted to make this one a kit to use up the pretty substantial overstock of floss (from ornament kits, embroidery kits, and animal kits) that Stacey recently catalogued. There is a lot, and the palette is so pretty, I think. Most of the other cross-stitch pieces I've designed (and there have been quite a few that I never talked about here, because I did 1/3 of my second book on cross stitch, and none of those could be shared while in progress, which doesn't suit me) have been on 28-count linen. I thought it was my preferred. I do love it. But I couldn't get the color I wanted — Stone Gray, this sort of clay-colored, rosy gray — in 28-count (Cashel linen), only in 32 (Belfast linen). (To refresh your memory about cross-stitch counts, my tutorial on counted cross-stitch is here.) I pouted. I whined again about the cross-stitch industry (oh, fun!). I looked at and tested out about ten different colors. But I wanted Stone Gray. So I grudgingly started stitching on the 32-count, and I worked a few motifs on other colors of 28-count just to torture myself. And what happened was (you saw this coming, I know), I fell in love with the 32. Smaller, yes, but not even appreciably more "difficult" than stitching 28-count, and the motifs wind up looking tighter and brighter and more saturated, and that just feels right for this (rather large, in fact) piece. So now I love the 32! This almost never happens, but it did this time. Then the distributor called and said that Zweigart would custom dye, in Stone Gray, the yardage that I wanted for the kits in 28-count linen. And I said no. Now I'm sticking with the 32. So that's how that all went. And let's hope we can get this fabric.

Did you need to know all this? Probably not. But such is the exciting life of a cross-stitcher. I could hardly keep it to myself! And who else could I tell but you???

I love the design process so much, especially when it's not for a book, where there really isn't time to tweak the colors of the design. When I design on my own, I get to take my own time, and redo stuff until I'm happy. You don't know if colors are really "working" (that's relative) until you've stitched them. And they totally change depending on what background color (and, to a lesser degree, what count of fabric) you're using. I love all of that. I love working it out, and balancing it, and shifting it. I love obsessing about one color over another, changing the placement of an eye or mouth, or just swiftly rendering something to capture the feeling of energy that can't be belabored. You're seeing the first draft of it all here — these are not the final motifs or colors, but they're close. It's a funny life, in a way, to care about such little things in my few quiet hours of the day. It must provide some sort of weird balance, somehow. I don't even know. But it gives me something. It always has.

These are January thoughts, in the year that my baby girl is two.

***Answers to some questions here (more or less copied from the next post): The muffins were made from this recipe, and the Mammagetti is an old family recipe that came from my mom's mother. I think that's my sister's handwriting on the card. My mom said that when she was little she would often have ice-skating birthday parties and then everyone would come back to her house for Mammagetti. It is kind of a strange recipe — I made it for the first time last week in about ten years. There is an absolute ton of vegetables in this thing, so use a huge pot. My mom says that you really do HAVE to add the cheese. It totally changes it. And you really do have to cook it that long, I guess. As far as the "cheese container" size goes, I think the one I added was 8 oz. Re: the line in the recipe that says "fill to almost with water" [sic]: My mom says to just add 2 cups of water. Obviously, you can substitute fresh grated Parmesan or your own favorite spaghetti sauce for the Ragu, but this was the way we always made it in our family. It's a nostalgia thing. I love this but, ironically, my sister doesn't (anymore). I serve it over thin spaghetti with a big blob of ricotta and a big glass of milk. Sunday-night winter dinner. Yummy stuff.

Rosy Little Things

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Hello, dear friends. Is the weather as beautiful where you are as it is here? With the dandelions sprouting and the birds singing and the sun warming your face? Oh, I really hope so! Amelia is in a wonderland of flowers, twigs, mud, mulch, rocks, birds, balls, boots, and a first for her: stickers. Every day there is much walking and much stumbling and much almost-running, and swinging and sliding and standing on the ottoman when she should be sitting. She gets up there and turns to see if I am noticing with a half faux-innocent half utterly impish smile on her face. Big belly out, cornsilk hair in her face, blue eyes twinkling, blue eyes wide. Yes, my love, I see you. On your bottom, please. Thank you. Twinkle twinkle.

Dude, I have been working constantly this past week. Agh. I don't live like this anymore, so I'm quite out of shape. I couldnt focus. I listened to every single version of "Everything is Free" (by Gillian Welch) on Spotify about a hundred times (great song). I drank about seven chais from Roman Candle. I ate a fried-egg and avocado sandwich. I shooed the cat off my table about fifty times. I opened the door and I closed the door when it got too cold about fifty times. I read the biography of Ryan Adams (on Pandora) again. I tried to memorize "Everything is Free" but I still can't get it entirely right. Check out The Holmes Brothers version of it — I love that one. I looked at versions of my new web site. I looked at the new Liberty collection for spring/summer 2015, inspired by the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice and Wonderland and It. Is. Amaaaaazing. And I proofread approximately forty-eight pages of patterns oh about six hundred times. And a bunch of other stuff that involves getting things wrong and then trying to make them right. Story of my life. Of anyone's.

Meet Miss Phyllis Mouse. She's a wee bit shy, but she's been very anxious to meet you! :)

Wild and Wooly

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To the north, the sky was pewter gray, that deep, thick color that means snow somewhere. Instead, we had wind and we had rain. All last night the wind wouldn't stop; it whipped the trees high above the house, and rain peppered the windows unevenly. Restless sounds. This morning the wind settled and the sky cleared for a bit and Amelia and I ventured out into the green and the wet. There were branches and debris everywhere, ancient, craggy limbs and sticks littering the road and the sidewalks. Spring signs pushed forth everywhere we looked. Spring in Oregon is blustery, wild, and wooly. It's slow to start and long to linger.

Thank you for your feedback on The Goldfinch! I truly appreciate everyone who took the time to give their opinions (especially ones that were different than mine)! That book was a major reading adventure, seriously. It was good to debrief — I needed it!!! It was so much fun to read a book that a lot of other people are reading at the same time, too. Thank you also for the book recommendations. We went to Powell's on Saturday. It was my intention to take my phone, pull up the blog comments, and look through the suggestions and leisurely browse for some of the titles you suggested. Nothing could've been further from what actually happened. It was sooooo crowded (doi — Saturday) and the store is being remodeled (doi — forgot); huge chunks of it are off-limits and the books have been moved to other sections of the store. Things are really tight now. The temporary shelves were great but the aisles were skinny. Andy was across the store and I had Amelia in the umbrella stroller dropping shoes, bottle, and barrette every few yards. We'd already had lunch and been lamp shopping and gone to Anthropology so the window of opportunity was closing, and I was on the run. Turns out, this may be a great way for me to pick out books! I pulled an Amelia, speed-reading my way through the flaps and blurbs, hurling used paperbacks under the stroller, and picking up tossed baby accessories as fast as I could. I got four books and I can't even remember what they all are (but I know one, the one I'm now reading, is The Little Stranger). There must have been thirty or forty people in line by the time we got to the checkout and I'll tell you what, they were doing an Amelia themselves, because we went through that line so fast it was actually funny. We were out before the nipper got cranky and even had time to go get a hot cocoa across the street on the way back to the car. Boom, done, and done [brushes off hands]!

But I am going to spend time looking through the suggestions and making a list for next time I get to go to the store. Thank you again!

Slowly but surely working on my crochet and embroidery at night while watching the Olympics. Very excited to be done with the lampshade and see how it looks. The pattern doesn't tell you which Minut lamp to get from Ikea, and there are two sizes with the same name. I got the smaller one and it seems to be fitting okay. We'll see.

Valentine lasagnas! And just look at how utterly scrumptious that adorable, wonderful, loveable, squeezeable, precious pudge of a baby girl was at this time last year:

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Oh my stars. Time flies. What an amazing year.

Some Weeks

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Aw, it was one of those weeks. The kind where five out of seven days of it we were fighting with the furnace, trying to make it work. The repair dude was here at least five times. A different repair dude is coming this morning, after the first one basically shrugged. And this is the third time this winter the thing has gone on the fritz. Boo hiss. It's supposed to be cold this weekend. Yippee! And Yikes! I prefer my freezing cold tempered by lots of heat coming through the registers, so, er, we'll see. This is what I get for doing my Snow Dance all over the house. Winter Olympics start Thursday, so that may be a multi-sensory experience. Cold-o-vision. Some weeks are like this, nothing but phone calls to repair dudes talking about combustion and nozzles, and waiting, in layers of wool. It has seemed to take up every minute.

Nevertheless, signs of spring continue to tempt me into confusion. I ordered a raincoat and yellow boots for Amelia. After five hours yesterday, the repair dude left, and we sprung out the front door and pranced down the street, eager for fresh air. We walked and walked and walked. Went to the coffee shop and read for a bit. She sat on my lap and watched everyone and everything. She talks constantly now, in Amelia-language, chirps and squeals and mumbles and shrieks with the occasional cheer: "Dad-DEE! Dad-DEE! Dad-DEE!" Like he's trying to win a pie-eating contest. Her first "sentence": "Hi Daddy!!!!!" said so brightly, and in a voice so loud and clear Andy and I both almost fell off the bed laughing with pure wonder and delight. Joyful mornings all together, rolling around in the warm piles of pillows and blankets and flocks of stuffed animals, every one named, every one kissed good morning. "Hi!!!"

I've been working a lot, and it's slow going. I'm learning to do it that way, but it's not my natural way. My natural way is, apparently, to careen toward the finish line like a tölting Icelandic horse (here's your visual). Right? Lordy. At night, I decided that in order to retain my slender grasp, I would only do personal projects. So I've been embroidering the village and farm piece. It's from the early '60s, I think. It's not particularly relaxing, actually. You have to page through at least four different double-sided pages to try to figure out which colors and what stitches for which part. It's do-able, obviously, but the degree of difficulty is a little higher than I should probably have chosen. My tolerance is low. Like, garter-stitch-scarf low. That would be like a 2 on the scale. Paper-piecing hexagons would be, like, a 5. This crewelwork is probably a 8. Knitting lace would of course, for me, be a 10. Even smocking would be about a 7. A 1 would be sitting unmoving with any kind of needle in your hand while watching The Hills. It's like a pain scale of evening crafting after days (that start at 5 a.m.) with a one-year-old. You probably have one. (The scale I mean; possibly, the toddler, too, or did once, so you know.)

Anyway, every night I try to do one little part of the whole scene. I can't deny that it's quite thrilling to watch each little color make it come to life. What is it about little scenes that charm so much? I read to Amelia every day, and some of the books are just amazing in the depth of their illustrations. Brambly Hedge. Tasha T. Jan Brett is like that. Mimi's sort of a speed-reader at this point — her goal is to turn the pages of the board book as quickly as possible. I read out loud like an auctioneer: Here's a little baby onetwothree standsinhiscribwhatdoesheseeee? Quick, before she turns the page. If there's a character that she normally waves to or kisses as she goes through, she does it double-time, until she gets to the end — boom, done, next!!! I stare at the pages after she's done, trying to see every little thing. I love this book. Like looking into a rhyming sugar egg.

I wish I could point you to a pattern for Amelia's sweater but it's an old Bernat (6043-87), out of print. I think I found it on eBay or somewhere like that. You could try. I will say that that yarn (Fresco) is delicious. I think, out of all the things I've made for her, this is the softest and prettiest thing. Wool/alpaca/angora, with a delicate halo. Highly recommended.

Those pink flowers? On a tree. Anyone know? Viburnum! Bodnantense 'Dawn'. Thank you, Jennifer (and everyone!)

***Yes, the crewelwork is a kit available here; sold out, but it looks like they have more coming.

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

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.