Posts filed in: Embroidery


comments: 120

























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)

comments: 28


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.


***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

comments: 89



















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

comments: 74


















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

comments: 86
























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:


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

Some Weeks

comments: 152





















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.

Morning, Afternoon, Night

comments: 125



















At some point I do just sort of give up on snow.  The "fine, be that way" moment. The FBTW moment happened sometime yesterday afternoon. On our walk to the bakery, there were bulbs already pushing up through the soil outside. I brought home yellow daffodils from the market. The pale sun filtered through the dirt-spattered windows. I tossed the rest of the stray Christmas decorations (mostly those related to snowflakes) in a box. And I could see spring, which in our yard really does start to happen in February, just beyond the blurry margins of dead leaves, winter mud, and the brown and sort of weird, soupy green that the days have been, here in Oregon, in the winter. In seventeen years here, it's been the driest, sunniest winter I can remember. And, I will admit, I have found things to love about that. Because at least there are Alaska shows. I loved Esther's comment: "I think I can explain the Alaska obsession. You have Starved-for-Snow-itis. It's kind of like cabin fever, only in reverse." Oh yes, yes. Cabin fever in reverse! HA!

So, we have a Roomba. I asked for it for my birthday. I guess I'm old now. It's pretty awesome. It's like a reverse-shedding pet that doesn't really respond when you cheer it on. "Come on, Roomba! You can do it!" as it tries dumbly to find its way out from under the small side table. He whirrs and spins back and forth, banging into stuff around the room. He sends up a little victory song when he finds his way back to his dock, and so do we: "Good boy, Roomba!" Clapping. When emptied, he is filled, and I mean FILLED, with dirt (dog hair). And he has been filled pretty much every single subsequent time he's finished a room. And our carpets and floors are regularly vacuumed with the big vacuum. And dry-mopped with the pants of a toddler. The first time he was emptied I was astonished and horrified. Now he runs, almost all the time, around the house all day. He's very loud. He doesn't do stairs. No one is afraid of him anymore (both puppers and the nipper cried the first time he was let loose). His industrious motor is white noise in the background of our day.

I wish I had counted how many clementines were eaten here this winter. I save the peels and run them through the garbage disposal, which I read helps keep it clean. I think the clementine season is almost over. Amelia, if she knew that, would be very sad. I've never seen anyone eat tiny oranges so quickly. I cut them into small pieces and she literally picks them up as fast as I can cut them. I've eaten my share, as well. Have we gone through five or six crates, just the two of us? No scurvy here. That's nice. She's showing me, above, how she puts food "in her mouth" instead of throwing it on the floor, for the dog. Ahem.

Winter Olympics coming. Excited. I have my project picked out this time — the crewel embroidery that always reminds me of the view from Crown Point that I got several years ago that I've not started. I got something new for over the myrtlewood. It's a Grandma Moses reproduction (obviously) of a painting called "A Beautiful World." The quality isn't that great, because it's enlarged so much, I assume, but from afar I like it. I started getting into these primitive landscapes last year. I have another one over my dresser by Edward Hicks called "David Leedom Farm." I think I might get a book about them. I've always loved those aerial view landscapes of villages and farms and little buildings and bridges and rivers and trees. 

Go Polina Edmunds!!! I watched her at Nationals on TV last weekend and she was just completely enchanting.

My word. The sun is shining again. This is very confusing. !!!

Are you reading The Goldfinch? I can't put it down. Don't tell me what happens. I have an idea but I don't even want to talk about it.

Night Before Christmas Ornament Kits (SOLD OUT): Older Kits Now on Sale!

comments: 64

On the night of December 24, Santa will be getting ready to visit one little house tucked under some great big oak trees in a sparkly little city in the great Pacific Northwest. . . .

Introducing my new 2013 ornament-making kit: NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS


It has a Nestled Child, all snug in her bed with her kitters . . .


There is a mouse we call Notevena, and she is definitely stirring . . .


And there's that everpresent little dream I dream each year: How I would love (for my baby girl) to wake up to the new-fallen snow!


Each Night Before Christmas Felt Holiday Ornament Craft Kit contains materials to make one of each of the three ornaments, including:

16 pieces of wool blend felt in assorted colors
Coordinating DMC cotton embroidery floss
1/4 yd imported French gingham ribbon (for hanger)
1/4 yd imported French cotton lace (for hangers)
1/2 yd imported French cotton ribbon (for curtains)
Beads and sequins
Stitching instructions
Pattern templates
Illustrated embroidery tutorial

You will need to have your own:

Wool batting or Polyester Fiber-fill
Sharp embroidery needle
Dressmaker's chalk pencil or fabric marker
Dressmaker's wax-free chalk tracing paper
Tiny needles for sewing on beads
Sharp fabric scissors and paper scissors
Kitty-puppy foot warmers
Television to watch streaming Netflix documentaries
Someone to cook dinner and bring it to you because these will take you a while


We have also put together limited editions of previous years' kits, including 2012's kit, WINTER CABIN:


There is a Lighted Window, to welcome all passersby . . .


There is a Western Bluebird, to provide the winter song . . .


And there is a Whistling Tea Kettle, to make the Earl Grey . . .


And 2011's kit, SWEET HOME:


It includes a Blue Door, with a wreath to welcome you home . . .


A Glowing Candle, to light the night . . .


And a Wild Bunny to keep you company . . .


We also have 2010's kit, SNOW DAY:


It includes a Red Wool Coat, to keep you warm and dry . . .


A traditional Norwegian Selbu mitten, to keep your hands toasty . . .


And a Polar Bear, far from the Arctic Circle, peeking out from behind the trees.


2009's ornament-making kit, WALK IN THE WOODS, is also available:


It includes the Cozy Cottage, with the wood fires burning:


The Snowy Tree, sparkling with ice crystals:


And my favorite, the Little Deer, who watches shyly from the trees:


And last but not least, the first, 2008's kit, ICE SKATING AFTERNOON, as well!


There's the Hot Cocoa Cup, to warm you up:


The Ice Skate, with pom-pon for good measure:


And lastly, the Gingerbread Girl, the sweetest of all:


Please click on the links for each of the kits above to take to you the web shop pages, which list what's included in each and what you will need to have. Each ornament kit costs $30 each, plus shipping.

About the skill level needed to complete these: In previous years I said that, while I don't think of these kits necessarily as a children's or a beginner's project, if you have some experience working some basic stitches, these ornaments take more time and patience than skill. I will include directions on transferring the designs to the felt, and basic diagrams for completing the types of classic embroidery stitches you will need to know — backstitch, lazy-daisy stitch, satin stitch, French knot, and blanket stitch — but once you are comfortable working those stitches, if you just take your time and settle in, you will be fine. Someone asked which the easiest kit is, and I have to agree with Lori (I think it was my dear Lori) who said the Walk in the Woods kit is the easiest. Snow Day is the hardest, I think.

If you are interested in ordering any of these kits, the very best advice I can give you is do not wait to place your order. We will ship them out as fast as we can. In previous years, these kits have sold out every year long before Christmas. This year we are doing a slightly larger quantity than we usually do for the new kit, but a lot larger quantities of the older kits. Even so, once these are sold out, it is very unlikely that we will be re-issuing these kits again. This is it!

All six patterns are also now available as downloadable PDFs HERE. A list of the specific felt colors and piece sizes and floss colors you need can be found HERE. You will need that list, so don't forgot to click on it (and a link to it is available on each of the product pages, as well). If you are purchasing a kit, you do NOT need to purchase a pattern. Printed patterns come in each of the kits.

I also have new supplies like glue (though we can't ship that internationally; see below), sewing needles and tiny needles for adding beads, wax-free chalk tracing paper, and water-erase fabric markers that will help you make these ornaments. You can find them all HERE (and the specific items you need for each kit are suggested in the sidebar for each kit, too). I have a limited supply of these items, so if you are interested in them please order soon before they sell out!

We do ship internationally. Please read my information about that HERE. The only thing we cannot ship internationally is the fabric glue, because it is prohibited. If you are overseas and you do accidentally put it in your cart, we will refund that part of the order and ship the rest of your things.

Because we are shipping so quickly, PLEASE make sure that your shipping address is correct when you place your order. In some cases, we are shipping orders the exact same day the order is placed, so it's important that you check your address on your end properly before submitting your order, because once it's out there, it's out there! If you do need to change your address, or anything about your order, or add things to your order, etc., please email me immediately. I will not be able to change your original order for you (because the system won't let me), but what I will do is cancel the original order and have you place a new order with everything you need in it. Because of the volume of orders that come in very quickly and the number of people that are helping me with this project, this is the only way that works for us to minimize mistakes on our end. I do not accept phone orders, or checks in the mail.

Okay. I will stop talking now. Thank you again, I truly and sincerely thank you, for your interest and enthusiasm for these kits for all of these years. Your generosity and your excitement mean so much to me, and it is a privilege to be able to make these kits and patterns for you. I love this job and I truly thank you for kind words and your purchases, every single one. Thank you. Xoxoxo

***UPDATE: To anyone who was trying to order the digital PDF of the Night Before Christmas pattern and was getting charged shipping, I made a mistake on the web site and had something check-marked that I shouldn't have — you should NOT be charged any shipping on digital patterns. This is fixed now and I apologize for the frustration (and thank you to those of you who let me know!). Sorry about that!

That Color

comments: 135





















It's weird that a woman with no time and a baby that is crawling all over the free world pretty much every minute of the waking day would do something like hand-pleat a big piece of fabric and then smock it by hand and then block it and then baste it and then cut it and then sew it into a tiny dress that needed a ton of hand finishing (linings sewn in, a giant hem). Weird but true, people.

Meems goes to bed at 7 p.m., and I swear, the minute I turn on that monitor and click that nursery door closed my basket explodes, and out bursts the yarn, the floss, the needles, the thread, the fabric. The flying fingers. A flurry of quiet industry ensues, until . . . I pass out around ten. . . . I like it. I like to sit and think about her, about the day, about the year. It's especially nice to do it with my feet up, and my face washed, and my nightgown on, and a breeze blowing through the evening window, and a puppers or a kitters on the bed. Nothing else to do. A deep, deep sigh. Slowly the fingers find their rhythm. One of my favorite parts of the day.

I bought vintage McCalls pattern 2447, intending to use the smocking iron-on transfer that was included, only to find that forty-some-odd-years later the transfer didn't work. So, plan B: hand gathering, using this tutorial. That went fine. I made up my own smocking design and colors. Random. Don't overthink these things or you'll never get anything done. I followed the directions on the pattern for finishing the rest of the dress. It was a handful, but I was in too deep to turn back. Need a hook and eye for the back. Boom. Can't wait to see it on her. The color is just dreamy to me. I must really like this color. It's a dusty pink but warm. I must think of it as Amelia's color because I keep using it for her.

My Lilla koftan? Meh. It's okay. Came out sort of oddly proportioned. Didn't like how the placket didn't overlap. I've seen other peoples' versions of this sweater and they are much cuter. I think I would use a plied yarn and larger needles next time. Make it drapey. The Milk Glass Pink came out quite pretty, though it's still on the blocking board. Too hot lately to put these on the poor child. We had an enormous thunderstorm the other night, however, and that was just awesome. Cool and cloudy today and I am beyond delighted.

Now on my needles is Ravi Junior. Isn't that the most gorgeous pattern? I look at patterns all the time but I only just ran into this one. I'm using Quince and Co. Chickadee in the color Chanterelle. It really is such a lovely color. Or kind of a non-color. Sort of brown, sort of pink, like the underside of a mushroom, or a very old ballet skirt, or an antique book about flowers, or the wallpaper from the back bedroom in your grandmother's house in Iowa. That kind of a color. One that's just right for summer's slide into fragrant, cloudy, rose-hipped early autumn.

Flowers and Fruit

comments: 113






























My favorite part of summer is now, I think, when everything is still green and plump and hasn't been frizzled to a hollow. Barbecues with old friends, and baby is crawling. We spend our time together walking, or I ride my bike on the sidewalk so we can go as far as we want without my foot getting angry. Up and down the streets, past house after house and garden after garden. This is my favorite thing. The winding. The talking. He says we can go anywhere — and as far as — I want. Ending up at a restaurant, the bead store (yep, working on a new ornament kit), a pie shop. On and on. Amelia is so game. Amelia goes everywhere, does everything, and takes it all in with this placid, happy-go-lucky way she has. There's a sparkle in her eyes, but she is mellow yellow. There are no moments where I do not marvel at this quality. Knawing on her kitty, waving her foot up and down, she's watching. She shows me her bottle cap, her little deer. I like it. I kiss it, her. We rub noses. I ride in front, zig-zagging, about to fall off going two miles an hour and trying not to crash into everyone's rose bushes. Mommy the goofball. Andy buys a guitar made out of a cigar box and puts it on top of the stroller. Can't resist playing it while he walks. We're the ragtag parade, carrying a ten-pound sweet-cream raspberry pie and a stolen daisy.

By the way, brunch at the Woodsman was a delight in every possible way. I had pancakes and very strong coffee and I was about as happy as anyone's ever been about anything, I think.

I told you I'd tell you about Amelia's midsummer dress. It was inspired by a traditional Norwegian bunad, or folk costume. Each region has its own style of dress. Amelia's birthfather is three-quarters Norwegian, and his family is from the Dovre region of Norway. The dovrebunader, like this one and this one, are just so gorgeous. I have always loved these, so I was ridiculously excited to make her her own baby version. I made the pattern by tracing the bodice pieces of one of her basic little dresses from H&M, and then added a skirt that was 10" long by 44" wide. For the embroidery, I used the traditional dandelion-like design on the dovrebunader, and then just chose two other random designs from one of my clip art books. I traced everything onto copy paper and made a copy onto a special paper called Transfer-Eze. This stuff is VERY COOL. When you peel the top (printed) layer of the paper off of the heavy paper behind it, the top layer has a sticky backing. You press that smoothly to your fabric, then hoop it, and embroider away, right through the Transfer-Eze. (See the photo of my embroidery-in-progress in this post.) When I finished the embroidery, I cut out the bodice (adding a seam allowance) and then soaked the whole thing in cool water for just a few minutes. The Transfer-Eze dissolved and disappeared without any problem at all. It was wonderful to use, especially since transfering is kind of a pain, especially on dark colored fabrics. This was my first time using this and I will definitely use it again. The only thing I noticed is that my hand and fingers were a little bit sore after I worked these pieces; you do have to push the needle a bit harder as you stitch, but it's not too bad. I was doing a lot of satin stitch in a pretty short span of time. I haven't really looked into who manufactures this product but maybe I will try to carry it in my web shop because it is pretty awesome. I'll let you know if I do. Anyway, I thought the little dress came out very pretty and it was really cool to make something by pulling together parts and pieces of inspiration.

I also finished her midsummer sweater, and just have to put the buttons on. I think this is the first time I've ever done anything in reverse stockinette. Kinda cute. I think the yoke looks too deep, but maybe I'm wrong. I'll put the buttons (covered, I think, in Liberty lawn) on today and try it on her and see. It's cold and chilly today, so this will be good.

In our yard the rose mallow is blooming, and the hydrangeas are just starting. The apple tree had three tiny green apples but they all fell off already. We built a little teepee (using this tutorial — really easy, really fast, really inexpensive) on Saturday afternoon when it was still sunny and gorgeous. She played in it for a while, though it got kind of hot; there was no breeze, especially in the teepee. After Amelia went to bed, I sat out in the yard and ate pie and watched the darkness arrive and pretty much became infatuated with the teepee at dusk. So far we haven't really used our backyard lights that much because it stays light so late right now, and I can't stay awake! But I stayed out Saturday night and it was worth it. Oh, how I do love a good ambient light source!!! It's sooooo romantic back there now. We had the lights done by this company. I basically told them what I wanted — two strands of light bulbs crossing over the seating area, hardwired into a dimmer switch on the garage wall — and they did the whole thing (even more romantic). I don't fool around with electricity, and I knew we wanted this to be permanent. Neither do I have the details about the cord because Chris the electrician provided that, but it was twisted black and brown, and what I liked about it was that he was able to put the lights into it only and exactly where we wanted them — right over the chairs, and not down the entire length of the cord as they stretch from the corners of the garage to the pergola thing, and then across to the fence (they added a little 2" x 2" board so the cord would connect at the right height). The bulbs are 40 watt clear appliance bulbs. The dimmer is fantastic. I'm really pleased with how this came out. Now we just need to drink some coffee after dinner so I can stay awake and enjoy it.

Oh, and the other outdoor wicker pendant we have over the table we've had for several years, and it just plugs into an extension cord. I think it's like this one.

I did wind up ordering a battery-powered lantern for the teepee, too.

What else. I'm playing catch up today. I sincerely apologize to anyone who is waiting for me to answer an email. I am not good at this and the email just keeps piling up and up.

Wimbledon starts today. Yippee! Does anyone know the name of that little daisy-like plant (feverfew — thank you!), and the pink frothy one (spirea — thanks!)? Those were out in the neighborhood somewhere, but I'd love to plant both of them. Pretty.

***My tablecloth is from Powell's Books for Cooks; the teepee cover cloth is from eBay or Etsy; our bedding is from Pottery Barn; I made my skirt several years ago from cotton calico (don't know the name of it — I'm sorry); and I think the pillow cover was from Pottery Barn a few years ago, too.

About Alicia Paulson


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




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.