Tuesday. It's very early in the morning, still dark out, two days after Christmas. I'm upstairs in bed, nightgowned and tucked under flannel sheets, duvet, and quilt, drinking coffee out of a thermos so I don't have to go down to the kitchen for more. Andy's already left for work. The dog's sleeping on my feet, breathing out in little puffs, dreaming forest dreams. The Bee's here, too, prancing nervously back and forth across my legs (and then falling off my legs; that's how she does it). She's gotten weirdly social this winter, I'm not sure why. I think the Lady Violet is downstairs on the new quilt. I left it all rumpled up on the sofa last night (too lazy was I to do anything but bumble out from under one quilt downstairs up to another one upstairs), which I think she probably loved. Usually I fold the new one smoothly over the back of the sofa, which she doesn't love. I'm trying to hold on to the gentle quiet of this Christmas weekend just a little bit longer.
Lovely, dark fog this morning in the yard. Frost on the rooftops, on the dried leaves in the yard and the grass. I can hardly see the tree just down the street; it's muffled in its cloud, and I like it. I'm in a nightgown and kneesocks, thinking we should go outside before it lifts off. But I have candles here, and the corgi has already gone upstairs and back to bed and Andy. It's still early. I like the quiet. I have a sore throat.
Lovely, warm weekend: candlelight dinner for two (and a game of Farkle, which is really fun), Saturday morning farmer's market and a bouquet made just for me, Sara Pajunen from the band Kaivama at Scan Fair, working on my quilt until I messed up all the vertical sashing (made every little strip 1/4" too long, which added up to . . . way too long). The minute it got dark I climbed into bed (= flannel sheets), watched A Princess for Christmas, had some more hot chocolate (I have a problem), and worked on my scarf. Which I also messed up, but which is also almost done.
There is pale morning light in the living room. There was fog this morning. It settled into a lovely, wispy frostcloud on top of the yard's fallen red leaves. A flock of fat birds were busy in our plum tree. For long minutes I watched them from the back door, then off they flew: On to the next stop. It's Andy's first day back at work in over a month. The dog and I console each other — she hates it when he's not here, and so do I. I plan a long walk arond the neighborhood to cheer her up. She sleeps beside me now, front paws curled under, tongue just barely peeking out. Sweet, warm, gentle friend.
Our weekend was quiet and peaceful. In all honesty, I had kind of forgotten that the holidays are starting! We had a beautiful Thanksgiving at my sister's on Thursday. We started and finished our Christmas shopping on Friday. On Saturday — egads, I already forgot what we did on Saturday. Oh yeah — we decorated the house for the holidays. On Sunday afternoon we made candles together. That was really fun. Very, very fun. We made Mexican hot chocolate. We made turkey tetrazzini. I have plans for a new throw quilt because it's cold in here. Something very improvised; I have no aptitude for forethought. I'm making a scarf to go with my new coat. I knit about a hundred rows of garter stitch in fingering-weight wool, and I'm not even done with the garter-stitch part. Even that sentence is mind-numbing. Busy hands, happy heart, as they say. Over and over again that proves true in my life. I am so grateful for my crafts.
Thank you, most sincerely, for every word you have given us these past many days as we get reorganized. I really am so overwhelmed by the comments and emails I continued to receive through the weekend. I don't even know how to begin to respond. Please know that we have been touched by your kindness more than I can ever say, and I am especially grateful for all of the love you have sent out into the universe for the baby and her family. Thank you very, very much. Your generosity has moved me to tears about fifty times in the past week. I'm really speechless about it. Thank you.
I think it's kind of weird that I had already designed and named this year's ornaments before we had any idea that we'd be away from home at all this summer (and this upcoming fall). As we prepare to leave again soon, this little collection feels particularly poignant to me right now, and just makes me happy.
Please meet my 2011 ornament collection, 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, playing with his woodland friends in the yard.
Each Sweet Home Felt Holiday Ornament Craft Kit contains materials to make one of each of the three ornaments, including:
20 pieces of wool blend felt in assorted colors 12 skeins coordinating DMC cotton embroidery floss 1/4 yd imported French gingham ribbon (for hanger) 1/2 yd imported French eyelet lace (for hangers) 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 chalk carbon paper Sharp fabric scissors and paper scissors Motivation Snacks Fireplace Television to watch the new season of Psych if they ever start it for goodness sakes!!!!!!!
We have also put together limited editions of previous years' kits, including:
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. All ornament kits cost $30 each. I must tell you a couple of VERY IMPORTANT THINGS before you order, though:
1) Because our life in the near-future is extremely unpredictable, we originally decided that we would not ship these overseas this year. But NOW we have changed our minds, and have decided that we will ship kits overseas and to Canada, but only electronically through Paypal, and not by handwriting customs forms and standing in line at the P.O. they way we usually do. This means that your overseas shipping will be very expensive, because shipping internationally on-line is more than three times more expensive than taking your package to the P.O. International shipping is pricey, complicated, and time-intensive process when you are sending hundreds of kits overseas, as we do, and we just don't have the ability right now to take on the extra hours of work it takes to keep the international shipping costs lower, the way we usually do. I don't know why there is such a difference in cost when shipping international on-line or at the P.O. counter, but there it is. I sincerely apologize, but I promise that this is the best we can do right now, honestly.
2) If you do place an order, please (begs, pleads) make sure that your shipping address in Paypal is entirely correct. Every time we ship kits, I get dozens of emails asking me to change an address that has been placed on an order. Tracking and accommodating these changes is a complicated process (for reasons I won't bore you with right now), and I definitely won't be able to do it this time. It may happen that someone other than me (hi Julie) needs to take over the shipping process in coming days, and with close to 1,500 individual orders expected to ship all over the world, I cannot trust that your kit will get to you unless you have an accurate address on your Paypal account. If you do send in an order and realize later than you need to change it, you can email me, but the best I will be able to do is cancel and refund your original order (if it hasn't already shipped), let you make your changes with Paypal (not me), and ask you to place another order with the corrected information. If you are in the process of moving, perhaps you can have a friend or a relative order a kit for you with their account, and then they can ship it on to you when you know your new address?
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.
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. Unlike previous years, we are not taking pre-orders this year: We have instead made up a limited number of each kit, and will ship them out as fast as we can. In previous years, these kits have sold out every year long before Christmas, and once they are gone, they are absolutely gone until next year (and even then, there are no guarantees that we will continue to do them, of course). Usually, Andy and I put these kits together ourselves, sourcing all of the materials, cutting the felt and the ribbons, packaging the embroidery floss, scooping beads and sequins, winding yarn, and then doing all of the shipping. This year, we are so lucky to have a lot of people helping us with every aspect of this operation, because the reality is that we could get a phone call summoning us to Illinois any day now, and we'll have to pack up and go as fast as we can (and then we'll be gone for several weeks). My trusty assistants will take over, but this is a big job, and if at any time they (or I) get too overwhelmed, we'll stop taking orders. So, all that said, my advice is to order early, because I'll start packing up orders for some of the kits tomorrow, and do as much as I can before that important phone call comes!
I also don't think I'll have time to write postcards for everyone the way I usually do for all of my orders. But I'll do them next time, I promise!
I will eventually be offering all four patterns as downloadable PDFs — but I do not know exactly when they will be available. We usually make them available sometime in October, but again, I'll just have to see how everything goes.
THANK YOU again, everyone, for your patience and for your very generous enthusiasm for these projects. I absolutely love making these ornaments and these kits, and I can't tell you how cool it feels to imagine you at home making these for yourselves. It's one of my favorite things, and I'm so grateful that you collect them, year after year. I really like how each collection stands alone, but I also really try to make each of the collections work together as part of the larger group. It's just fun to see them all together, and they are SO much fun to make. I really, really hope you enjoy these!
Oh my. WHAT a week. Finally done. So nice. I'll stop talking about it now, really. Everything is now shipped. Thank you thank you thank you again. My dream is that people really just enjoy making these samplers. I really hope you have a wonderful and relaxing time with them.
Me, I've forgotten how to write. Or relax. But I'd like to re-learn both. My sister had a wonderful 4th-of-July party on Monday that was so relaxing and fun. The weather here is finally cooperating. These days are so beautiful — sunny, warm, dappled, everything smells good. We are really looking forward to just chilling out. Including Clover Meadow, who hates fireworks and tries to run up the length of your body to sit, quivering and wild-eyed, on your head every time she hears one. Poor sweetheart. We're so happy it's the 6th.
Steam being let off into the woods from the steam train at the Oregon Zoo
Oh, snap! Andy had a big birthday on Sunday, and we had a truly magical weekend. Our niece Brooke and nephew Max and Andy's mom came all the way from Chicago to spend a couple of (too short) days with us, and we seriously painted the town. We rode the street car, went to Little Big Burger, read books at Powell's, sat by the river, watched an omnimax movie at OMSI, had dinner at the brewpub, went to the dog park, played games at Wunderland, made pizza, finished a puzzle, stopped (of course) at the Waffle Window, toured the zoo, and hitched a ride through the woods on the zoo train. Best birthday ever. Ever ever.
Zzzzzzzzz. Aunt Alicia needed a nap after that, must confess.
Today it is too quiet and too clean (and, er, too cold — it's barely made it out of the 50s in too many days to count). Everyone is back at home, and Andy's back at work. The house has been put back in order, the air mattress deflated and tucked away. Towels and sheets are in the washing machine, the dog is back on the sofa, smooshed up against me as I write, and the presents are stacked and organized. The French Open is on. And there is cake left in the fridge. Mini-post-celebration — cake for breakfast. I like it.
Andy has the day off today — joy! — so we are going to make our go-to romantic dinner, Rozale Lasagnas. That's what we call our version (named after our old apartment building in Missoula, where we first made these together for Valentine's Day 1996) of these. There's nothing else to do today but that. How I dearly love cooking-together days. The perfect Valentine, really.