Posts filed in: Fabric and Sewing

Rainflowers

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I just finished the quilt! I'm really happy! It's in the wash right now. I can't wait to see it after it's been washed and dried. I backed it with pale mauve-pink double gauze, soft as a cloud. I used cotton-wool-blend batting (I think it was Hobbs). I used a cream-colored fabric with tiny turquoise dots for the binding. I did the binding completely by machine: I used 2 1/4" cross-grain strips, folded in half lengthwise and applied to the front of the quilt sandwich with a 1/4" seam. I wrapped it around to the back and made sure it just covered the seam on from the back, and pinned it perfectly in the ditch, just catching the back edge. I pinned a lot. Then I stitched in the ditch all the way around, catching the back edge, and it worked perfectly. You have to go slowly, and you have to pin a lot, and you have to remember to look at the front edge of your presser foot as you stitch in the ditch — don't watch the needle, watch the groove in the front of the presser foot and make sure it's centered perfectly over the ditch. My stitches were almost imperceptible. The back edge was just barely caught and looked great. I always do my binding by hand on the back, but honestly, this looked so good and saved soooooo much time, and so many hand stitches, I don't know that I'll ever do it by hand again! Well, maybe I will, but not in the near future. This looked really nice. The trick is the pinning exactly in the ditch. If you've pinned in the ditch, and you've caught the back edge, you will catch it when you stitch. Just take your time.

To quilt it, I decided I really wanted it to be as soft and light as possible. I was thinking of tying the whole thing, but again I just didn't want to take the time, as the big-girl bed has been purchased and just needs to be put together. Tying this would've taken too long and I'm just getting more picky about what I want to put my hands through these days — tying is pretty hard on your fingers. So, proud of my ditch-stitching on the binding (and yeah, I bound the edges first; the double-gauze felt a little shreddy and I thought it would be best to get the edges completely enclosed before I started handling it too much), I decided to quilt it by machine-stitching in the ditch around every patch. I just started on one edge and tried to follow it as far as I could. This required pushing a whole bunch of the quilt under the arm several times, so I don't know how this would work on a regular machine on anything bigger than a throw (this quilt measures 55" x 57", and yes, this was a fairly random measurement on my part; I basically just wanted something that would work right now on that little bed, and I didn't want it to be too big that she couldn't curl up under it easily on the sofa after it's too small for the bed; conveniently this just fit on a packaged throw-size batting [60" x 60"], but that was sheer luck, because naturally I don't think about any of these rational things beforehand, good grief) but it worked out just fine on my machine. Anyway, I just kept  stitching seams, backstitching a bit when I would hit a dead end, and then starting over. The batting package said I had to stitch it at most 4" apart, which is pretty tight. On the bigger patches I added a few ties.

I daresay I've never enjoyed making anything more! A lady at Fabric Depot once said to me that the best quilts are fast, fun, and finished, and this one certainly was that. I'll be hard-pressed to ever do a quilt another way, honestly!

I'll take more close-up pictures once we get the bed set up. That's going to require the whole room being rearranged so it may not be until next week.

***Oh, oh — and for those who have asked, some details about my crocheted blanket (also for Meems's new bed) are here (and I think that stitch is called the harlequin stitch, maybe?), and the bloomers pattern I used was Style pattern #3206 from 1980.

Rainbow Bright

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I've been busy with some fabric and some bloomers and some dresses. Now at least Amelia has something to wear. I definitely don't. I should probably make something for myself one of these days. Instead I made honey-mustard chicken and rosemary potatoes, which was very good. Loving that whole put-the-skillet-in-the-oven thing. Finally I'm getting to the chicken!

After I sewed several things, there literally was no more room in the scrap basket. The scrap basket is enormous. It's about two feet tall and two feet in diameter, I think. I've had it in my office for . . . sixteen years now. Both Bridget and Violet used to sleep in the scrap basket when it wasn't overflowing. Once I started pulling scraps out of it I swear it was like one of those vacuum-packed storage bags, and it basically expanded to about twice its volume once the pressure was lifted. Slightly appalling. I threw half of it on the floor and started pulling out only the scraps I wanted for a new quilt (which I didn't plan to make until one second before — yet another SQMI [Spontaneous Quilt-Making Incident] — I can't count how many I've had now — I'm just wild like that I guess). I stood at the (newly lifted with bed risers) cutting table and ironing board and pressed and rotary-cut a big pile of scraps into rectangles. I had no specific sizes — I just cut everything into the biggest rectangle that I could get out of the crazy-cut scrap. When I had a big pile, I started sewing pieces together a lot like you do with log cabin blocks — I'd stitch one piece to another, then trim the longer one right at the sewing machine with a pair of scissors. When I had a few pieces put together, I'd press it and then trim it into another rectangle with the rotary cutter. It was amazing how out-of-square the "block" would get after a few seams. But I'd just keep squaring it a bit. Eventually, I had four or five big patched rectangles and then I stitched those together to make a long strip. I did all of this in an afternoon while my sister was standing in the studio talking with me. I was barely paying attention to what I was doing, and there's a lesson for me. I like this as much as any quilt I've ever made (so far). Not sure if it will be smallish, for Amelia's pending big-girl bed or really enormous, for our king-size bed. The last time I made one for that bed was four years ago (named, I was delighted and surprised to see — I didn't remember this! — the Spring Rain quilt). That was epic. It's a pretty cool feeling to make a quilt out of only scraps. Our foremothers would be laughing at that statement, I know.

Sunshine Sprout

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Um, the weather? Sixty-three degrees yesterday? Me oh my. We spent hours walking along. Everything is burgeoning. I tucked a sprig of daphne in her hair. I put it on my nightstand last night. Sweet smell of springtime. When I was a teenager, I worked after-school and weekends as a candy girl at the Lake Theater in Oak Park. Next to the theater was a store called Essence, and it was a gorgeous little shop that sold bath and body products. Inside it was all dark wood shelving and glass cabinets, baskets of dried flowers, bars of hard-milled soaps, Crabtree & Evelyn stuff, vanilla and violet perfumes (I had my bottle of vanilla perfume forever, and kept it long after it was empty — frosted glass with a little vanilla-colored ribbon tied around the neck). I used to haunt the place after school and before work started. The same lady worked there forever. She looked like the lady who sang back up for Stevie Nicks on The Wild Heart. She was always there. She was never friendly to me and I was very intimidated by her. I thought she was possibly the coolest person alive. I loved all of those soaps and flowers and lotions and perfumes so much. I would go in and figure out what things I could afford to buy and what things I had to save for. I saved for a long time for a bottle of lilac perfume (which I still have). I was trying to tell Stacey the other day about the Spring Rain scent (and packaging) from Crabtree & Evelyn. This scent was discontinued several years ago, and then I guess they brought it back, or something. I bought some two or three years ago and it was NOT the same at all (and didn't have the pretty packaging). The scent was so different I actually threw it away. Amelia's dress (which I made a few years ago, and is Liberty Tana Lawn, but I can't remember the name of this colorway) reminds me of the old Spring Rain packaging. I also mourn the discontinuation (?) of Crabtree & Evelyn cherry soap. That was my absolute favorite soap ever. It reminds me of taking a hot bath one night in our little hotel room at the Crofton Hotel in London after walking all day in the rain all over Hampstead Heath and arriving at Highgate Cemetery just as the ancient lady was locking the ancient gate with an ancient key (that's how I remember it, anyway). It was November, then. I had walked all the way there, from Kensington. I can't imagine how many miles that was. It took me all day. I was alone. I took the tube home that evening, in the rain. When I got back to the hotel, I ran the hottest bath in the world, and had a new bar of cherry soap. There was a casement window that opened — no window screen — above the bathtub. It was inky black outside, and drizzling. I could hear Londoners outside — it was Friday night. I was so incredibly tired and happy that night. For some reason, I just always remember and think of that day, and that night. I think I knew, even then when I was twenty, that there would only ever be that one single November day that I would spend walking for miles and miles across London to Hampstead Heath, stopping at John Keats house, grabbing Indian food on the way home, counting how many pound notes I had left to see if I could afford the tube after eating dinner (this was before such things as debit cards). Ah, well. A very strong '80s-era Laura Ashley-vibe will always be alive in my heart. My friend Martha told me she is sending me a bunch of fabric from her stash of Peter Pan and other '80s calicos. That she has a stash (gifted from a friend's mom) at all is so exciting sometimes I actually fall asleep thinking about it. I love little flowers. I made this little style board on Pinterest a few years ago that reminds me of all of this (because I think about it often), or something. I'm so excited to get the fabric. It's weird how things come full circle sometimes. The circle's always there, but sometimes it comes all the way around.

Do you have a little bundle of memories about something, several things, that all sort of converge (sometimes, some days) in a smell, or a picture, or a color of sky, too?

Made three little dresses for Meems this week (two pictured above, one with a Mina vest). Will photograph with details once they come back out of the wash. :)))

Rings of Spring

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* * *  T H A N K   Y O U,   E V E R Y B O D Y ! ! ! * * *

Thank you, thank you for all of your orders and kind words about the new spring things.
I am so so so happy that you are excited about these. They have been a lot of fun for me to design!
If you ordered Spring Rings before last Friday, your packages are in the mail.
We are still waiting for yarn to arrive to ship yarn packs, but it should be here any day.
Thank you again for your support. It is humbling to watch orders come in, and I feel so incredibly blessed every single time.
Thank you! XOXO

Ah, and spring has indeed sprung 'round these parts. I need to look back to see what day our pink plum tree normally blooms, but I think it's a bit early this year. This is the week that it looks nice. The rest of the year I wish it were (almost) any other kind of tree. We have been ridiculously runny-nosed and coughing like one of those old-fashioned car horns that go "Ah-HOOG-a! Ah-HOOOOOG-a!" Just gross. Thank God Stacey's here to do all the work for me. It goes: Amelia gets sick, I get sick, Amelia gets well almost immediately, I stay sick, I take bagfuls of remedies, I wash my hands approximately seventy-five times a day, I continue to be sick, I insist I'm not still sick and am feeling better, I feel worse, Amelia gets sick again, Amelia wipes her runny nose on my face, I feel even worse, Amelia gets better, I shiver on the sofa drinking peppermint tea and beg to be allowed to go to bed at 7:45 p.m., I finally feel better (after a month). Amelia goes, "I'm coughing, just like Mommy." Ah, well. February. Today is the first day in a long time that I have felt really good, and it is thrilling, absolutely thrilling.

I have not had a chance to make ANY of the chicken recipes you provided, though I did make chicken stock from the Silver Palate Cookbook, one of the first cookbooks I ever owned and still love. I also realized that Amelia has almost no clothes that will fit her this spring and summer, and set about pinning a jillion things onto my Pinterest board, and sifting through my patterns, and thinking about color palates (rose-gold, salmon pink, gray sky, minty green, plum blossoms, milky whites, rainy blues), and shapes (peasant, peasant, and more variations on the peasant).

Do you recognize Amelia's navy gingham dress? I cry just now, re-reading that post. It's from almost exactly six years ago. 2010. I had so much time. Actually, I can't even talk about myself as I was then, laid bare, quivering with hope and dreams, sewing for survival (as I had sewn several times before. So I recognized it). I'm moved by what I wrote back then, and I remember it like it was yesterday, remember every dress I made, every fabric I washed, every little piece of rick-rack or eyelet I chose, every pocket I trimmed, every pattern I cut out. Every one of those things kept me believing, even when I wasn't sure (and trust me, I wasn't sure a lot). Occasionally someone would (gently, always gently) criticize a choice I'd made — those buttons up the back look like they'll be uncomfortable when she's strapped into a car seat; that wool's gonna be hell to wash when it's thrown up on — and instead of being hurt I'd be amazed and think, "She [dear commenter!] actually thinks a real kid is going to wear this! She really believes it's going to happen!" And the specifics of the advice only barely registered with me. I would happily wash wool by hand every day, if only a kid would come and barf on it, if only the dream would come true.

Waiting to be chosen to be someone's mother (or father) is a state of being I still don't really have words to describe. Maybe you know it; maybe you can't even imagine. I think all of us adoptive parents probably carry around this same inability to describe the experience. And I would bet that most of us, in the end, wouldn't trade it for the world.

(That's just a guess. It's certainly true for me, though living it was one of the hardest things I've ever done.)

Of course, once it happens — and, oh my, it happens — (and I do pray that it happens for you, I truly, truly do) — the fact that anything just gets washed, somehow, some way, let alone washed by hand (hahahahah!), is the new dream. Those carefully pressed French seams and hand-stitched three-inch hems wind up in the laundry basket along with the milk-covered onesies and the Velcro-closured (gah!!!) sleepsacks and the Old Navy leggings. That you are able to say, while laughing, "Oh, poo! There's barf on the smocking!" and blithely toss a Bishop dress into the washing machine is just one of the great benefits of being a parent who had to cry a few tears into your needlework to get here. I have such tenderness in my heart for all the little dresses now. Watching Amelia wear and then outgrow them fills me with nothing but astonishment, and gratefulness, and pure joy.

That said, sewing for me now is different. I'm still dreamy. I still love it beyond reason. I still love the planning, and the picking, and the thinking, and the sketching. I love going to the fabric store with my girl, and pushing her through the aisles of fabrics, and watching her touch them (and grab them, and pull them off the shelf, etc.). But the sewing itself has to happen like lightning. And although I am a romantic, the actual sewing itself is just all business-practical now. Because they grow out of it all so fast. And, I'm sorry to say this, but the details don't really matter in practice. You gotta do what you like, and skip what you don't like to do. Stuff like buttons? No. I just don't want to do buttons. I don't want to do buttonholes and I don't want to sew on individual buttons. Set-in sleeves. NO. Just, no. I can count the number of gathered, set-in sleeves, in thirty years of sewing, that I have gotten in correctly on the first try on one hand. Zippers? Maybe, but not really. She gets her hair stuck in them anyway. Elastic casings? Meh. Too much work, as well. Snaps? YES. Continuous placket back opening? YES. Ties? Yeah, okay. Self-lined patch pockets? Yep. Raglan sleeves. YES. Elastic stretched and sewn directly above a sleeve hem, and not threaded through a casing? EVERY TIME. Simple, unfitted shapes that let her run and move? Obvs. Saving my energy for those few designs that really make me work for them? Mmmmm, okay. Yeah. Yes. I can do that. Stay tuned. I'm sewing for Meems again.

January Ends

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Amelia's portrait of me is as accurate as could be, IMHO. I'm wearing my glasses and my hair is sticking out.

My computer — and I — are in a state of semi-function. Computer is more or less working properly, loaded back up with its stuff, though everything is different — different email program, different photo transferring software, different mouse pad thing (that I hate), different Photoshop (I'm on Creative Cloud now, after using old CS3 forever), different color calibration, different lots of stuff that is making life on the computer both easier in some ways and harder in others. I'm trying to figure out how to reset my defaults to where they had been, or something. . . . It's really amazing how automatic my old processes were to me, for better or worse. This has been one of the harder transitions to new equipment for me. I'm getting old. And googly-eyed.

Also, I have a cold. I'm still just not quite up and running.

Andy's home today. I'm hauling my basket of yarn upstairs to watch House Hunters International and crochet. I'm working on my new patterns, which will also be kits. There's Honey Bunny (a pink and a blue version) and Lovey Lamb. They've been the perfect January projects — very simple, and very long (well, the lambie, at least, has been almost tediously long, which has, strangely, been also quite perfect). Kits and pattern will be ready in the spring. I'm sad that January is almost over, I really am. I was sitting on the sofa the other day, doing absolutely nothing. Amelia was completely confused. "Mom, what are you doing? Mom, are you okay? What are you doing?" Me: "I'm sitting here doing nothing." Her [bewildered]: "Why, Mom? What are you doing?" Me: "I know this is very strange for you, Amelia, as it's quite possible you've never seen me sitting down and doing nothing in your entire life, but people actually do this. I'm going to do this, and then Daddy is going to bring me some cinnamon rolls. Isn't that wonderful?" Her [uncertain]: "Yeah!"

I'm not even kidding, we literally had that conversation.

Thank you for all of your kind words on Andy's award. We were both very touched by your kindness. Thank you. Amelia and I were back up on the hill on Wednesday to see Andy be presented with another award at the OHSU Golden ROSE (Recognition for Outstanding Service Excellence) awards ceremony (another one!). This one is awarded every month to several different OHSU employees who are nominated by someone else at the hospital. Each nominator stands up and reads their nomination to the roomful of people while the nominee stands next to the podium. The stories were amazing. I wish I could remember all of the details of each of the stories, but I know I'll get them wrong, and the January recipients aren't up on the OHSU web site yet. I will link over there when they are. (Update: Here they are!) I couldn't be prouder of Andy, or to be a part of OHSU, both as a patient and an employee spouse. It's such an exceptional place.

Today, the sun is shining as bright as could be. The angle of the sun is low, and glaring — a winter sun. Everything is soaked and glinting. Keep warm out there, friends. Stay slow. Let's drag it out as long as we can.

***By the way, that's Andy's view every day at work. And that picture doesn't even capture it, really. Isn't it amazing?

 

Cold and Clear

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So cold these past few days, and the air tinged with blue, or silver, or some color I can't quite capture. Frost color. A ballerina's skirt color, frozen drops balanced in the air as evening descends. So begins my longing for snow. Maybe this year. Maybe this year. . . .

Inside, outside, inside, outside. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we go over the river to be with family. I've been thinking so much about forests and trees and little houses and fields. I was telling Andrea about my junior-high American history teacher who didn't use the hideous overhead lighting in the room (oh, it was wonderful, wonderful, and I still remember him for it) and gave us a new hand-drawn, hand-labeled map of somewhere in New England almost every day. The maps were absolutely exquisite, the names magical. Plymouth, Concord, Dover, Wethersfield, Salisbury. Every year at this time I think of them, and would give anything to find that binder full of those lovely maps. How do we ever know what will stay with us, and why? Will Amelia remember the tune of the lullaby I sing every night as we snuggle and read under the quilts in the big bed? By the light of our tiny lamp, with the winds blowing outside, overwhelmed with gratitude I wrap around her, and quietly sing of small things.

I wish you much peace and comfort and love this holiday weekend, and throughout the season. Thank you for your generous, peaceful, and kind presence here. May your days be merry and bright, and filled with love.

Love always,
A+A+A+C+B. Xoxo

***The book pictured is The Big Book of Slumber, and it is one of our very favorites.

 

WIP Mash Up

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So then. I have a bit of a list. A whirling, swirling to-do. It's all because (I'm convinced) Stacey (Wonder Assistant) and I finally took the time to clean my office very well. We emptied every nook and cranny. We didn't get rid of stuff as much as we thoroughly rearranged. It had been a few years since the last time. Remember how pretty my studio was then. I'm sobbingly happy to say it now basically looks exactly like that again. Even better, in fact, because I folded all of that fabric in the glass cabinet onto the comic book backer boards. That project, though it took a long time, was a righteous success for several reasons. 1) Obviously, it's much neater and more functional now — I can actually see what I have and that means I am using it like crazy. 2) I became intimately acquainted with those fabrics again, and that was kind of nice. I feel like I really know what's there now, and it is inspiring to feel in control of that pile. And 3) There's a lot less fabric there than I thought (believe it or not). Not, perhaps, in terms of numbers of prints. But certainly in terms of actual yardage. To be wrapped on a piece of backer board, a length of fabric needs to be about 18" or it won't really fit nicely around it. Many of the pieces in my Glass-Cabinet Stash are between 18" and a yard. Some are 2 yards. Very few are longer. A TON were less than 18" (and those are all folded into shoe holders from Target, now on my sewing table). Anyway, all of this was very, very satisfying and also revealed to me that I have more quilts, toys, and patchwork dresses in my future, because I am determined to use up this stash (even though it fits oh so perfectly now I almost can't bring myself to touch it. But only almost) and this stash is made of smallish pieces.

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Okay. So, that's nice. Something else that's nice is that my dearest is now old enough to be in the studio with me. She watches Blue's Clues and Backyardigans on the computer, draws in her handy-dandy notebooks, eats an incredible number of bananas, sorts buttons into complicated rows, breaks a lot of colored pencils by smashing them, tip-down, as hard as she can, tries to get her hands on any marker or pen we accidentally leave lying around, "knits" (which means she takes yarn and wraps it around her hand or finger about two hundred times), sweeps, types, and generally keeps me very good company. This is a new development and it has been life-changing for me. For both of us, really. She's very proud to be "working" in here with me. I couldn't be happier.

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The other day I said, "Are you going to learn to knit and sew when you grow up?" And she said, "Yeah. I'll do that for you."

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[Insert wide-eyed emoji guy here.] Only if you want to, baby girl! Only if you want to, really! Wink.

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I just want to squish her all day long. MWAH. I love you.

Now, projects. Do you like her sweater? Apparently I knit an entire sweater without mentioning it once or taking any progress photos. It still needs to be blocked, but, yum:

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This is the Top-Down Garter Stitch Baby Jacket on Ravelry. My details (not many, sorry) are here.

I think I started that back in September. Or maybe it was after I'd finished the birthday quilt, in October. Regardless, I like to have easy projects for nighttime. Really easy. We wake up early around here (5:00 a.m., every morning, no matter the morning) and go to bed early — Amelia is asleep by 6:30 (since the time change) or 7:00 p.m. every night. That gives me about two hours of total and complete leisure time before I fall asleep. I get every single chore finished before I put Amelia to bed so that there is absolutely nothing left to do other than drink tea, watch TV, and knit/embroider/crochet. I like this schedule. A few weeks ago, I saw these lovely photos (I actually saw one first on Pinterest) and decided to make a blanket exactly like the one pictured (I just figured out her color scheme, chained 160 to start, and am simply doing V-stitch), using my fairly substantial stash of DK- and sport-weight yarn.

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This will have a border like the one in the picture (white, I think, with blue, and black?) and is, ostensibly, for Amelia's future big-girl bed, which we've been talking about a lot around here and which I think will be this one, because those head- and foot-board panels are calling out to be wallpapered, aren't they? Cuteness. I told Amelia that when she goes potty only on the potty seat we can get rid of her changing table and crib, and then she can have a big-girl bed. She was very excited. The next day she told me, "When I get my big-girl bed, then I'll go potty on the potty seat!" Errrrrrr, um, no that's. . . . I did not see that coming. . . .

NEXT. Thanksgiving dress for Meems:

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Blue gingham for the blouse, vintage calico (from Knittn' Kitten, I believe) for the pinafore. Probably the long version because I have such a soft spot for a long dress for the holidays. Interestingly, this blue gingham fabric (which is like a voile, super light) is on my work table in one of the photos in the studio re-do post I linked to above, from five years ago. I believe it was from Mill End Store. Will probably go for a brick-red ribbon on this. Eighty-five cents for a pattern back then. Wow.

For me, I've been making skirts like this:

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This takes 2 yards of cotton calico, with extra for the patch pockets. It's gathered crosswise, from selvedge to selvedge, onto a 2" waistband with elastic in the back. It's pretty much the skirt I've been wanting for years and just never really got around to making for myself. I've made two so far (the other one was teal calicos), and wear them with some really soft cowl-neck sweaters  (I wear them tucked in) I got from Ann Taylor Loft, and really soft and wonderful over-the-knee socks from Sock Dreams. And a chunky clog. Good, classics-professor-at-the-grocery-store winter uniform. Hoop earrings. Another skirt planned in these fabrics:

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I'll write a tutorial or pattern or something when I get some time. Really easy. (And by the way, that orange poppy fabric I just got last week at JoAnn's. The smaller brown calico was in the stash.)

NEXT. Amelia's nightgown and robe. She wanted both, and I just couldn't resist this pattern, or fabric (double-sided pre-quilted cotton, also from JoAnn's).

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I'm not sure how she even knew what a bathrobe was. We don't wear them, but I may rethink that because:

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Aaaaaaaaaagh!!!! I love it so much! It has a drawstring waist. I did the neck with binding using toothpaste blue vintage bias tape. I want one exactly like this for me. Mommy-and-me robes? Too Grey Gardens?

The nightgown (flannel, also from JoAnn's [yes, I used about four coupons there that day] with a vintage embroidered ribbon from I know not where) is from a vintage pattern, Simplicity 4719, and there are a couple more planned. Next is one out of this dotty grayish-blue.

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I have a few more nightgown patterns, too. Just realizing now that she needs a new one for Santa Lucia. Last year's is so worn out it's dingy, and too small. This is a problem I relish.

NEXT. A winter sweater. And a swingy skirt (I need to adjust the waist, because it's too big). I don't have the pattern in front of me but I don't recommend it, either way (it was vintage). Next time I'll use the same formula I developed for my gathered skirts above. This one is kind of a circle skirt.

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The sweater pattern is Trixie on Ravelry, and it's quite darling, though there are no projects to date, so I'm not sure what it looks like on. I'm making the 2-3T size in House of a la Mode Stunning Single Ply yarn in Candy Cane Lane. Love this yarn, and it's local, too, from Happy Knits, my happy place (and Amelia's, too):

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Yay! Isn't it brilliant of them to have a play area? With chalkboard-painted walls? Oh my stars, how I love these guys she is drawing every single day. They are so cute. The arms? Or legs? Love.

What's next. Advent calendar. This goes closer to the top of the list. I don't want to be late with this.

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This is the Advent calendar pattern from Purl. They have a kit, too, but I have a ton of felt I'm trying to use up. I did order their sequins and beads, though, just for something special. I've never really had an Advent calendar before. I think we had paper ones, with little windows, but they weren't a big tradition with us. Andy says this one is similar to the one he had growing up. I changed the pattern a bit and am adding Velcro dots to stick the little ornaments on the tree (instead of straight pins). I finished the number embroidery and added the dots yesterday, and it's cute. The dots look like snow.

Lastly but certainly not leastly, a Friendship Quilt based on a beautiful quilt that Lucy made.

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I'm making this with my BFF for the past twenty-six years, Martha. She lives in Boston. We were college roommates, and sewed Laura Ashley dresses together waaaaaay back then in our little white cottage with the big blue table on 8-1/2 Avenue. She wore flats with hers, I wore Doc Martens. She has a wicked-awesome stash of rather proper '80s calicos. I have a mish-mash with mutt-like provenance. We're trading 30 or so 2" selvedge-to-selvedge-cut strips, then doing something like this with a mixture of our own and each other's strips:

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Each little square on the grid represents 1.5". Colored rectangles are blocks of horizontal strips. I've been wanting to do a quilt like this since I re-pinned this one a long time ago. I really love my quilting Pinterest board. Sometimes I just look at it and feel generally extremely happy that someone invented quilts. They are so beautiful. This one is going to be special to me.

This post is very long.

THANK YOU!!!

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* * *  T  H  A  N  K      Y  O  U      Y  O  U      G  U  Y  S !!!!!  * * *

I am gob smacked. Thank you for your orders and all of your kind words. You guys are seriously awesome. And I am truly grateful. Super-stellar awesome-assistant Stacey has shipped almost everything, with the rest going out on Monday. Then there will be more five thousand Maggie and her animal cousins' kits all over the world at this point, and I'm so proud of them. Thank you ever, ever so much for buying and making my patterns and kits. I love designing and producing them more than I can say, and am very grateful for your enthusiasm and support. Thank you so much.

So, it's deep fall, isn't it. October was really busy. Halloween came and went (in a torrential downpour). The Red Riding Hood cape (McCall's M4567) was a total fail. It was so crazy big and so heavy (I even shortened the thing by about a foot or more!) it wouldn't stay on her shoulders at all, and I couldn't blame her for not wanting to wear it even once! I tried a few solutions, including buttons at her shoulders (her hair wound around them horribly) and tying it on like a backpack under the arms but nothing really felt functional. Halloween morning I made a run to JoAnn's for yarn and a giant hook and wound up speed-crocheting a new hood in a few hours. The pattern was also sort of nuts and no one was more amazed than I when, lo and behold, a hood came off my hook, and the child donned it willingly. Until it started raining cats and dogs and every one of us and our friends were in a ton of rain gear, slogging through the drowning neighborhood in a downpour to get about twelve pieces of sopping candy. Man, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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It's a gorgeous, gorgeous morning here today. Andy and Amelia are headed out together for the day and I'm sitting in my newly reorganized office trying to collect myself. My office is so clean and tidy and . . . where am I, seriously. It hasn't been like this in years. This morning I made a giant list of all of the things I want to make this fall. Bathrobe (she wants a bathrobe, which cracks me up) for Meems. Nightgown (she wants nightgowns) for Meems. Thanksgiving dress and pinafore for Meems. Thanksgiving skirt (gathered, with pockets — I've made two already and love them — will tell you how I did it as soon as I get my act together) for me. Friendship quilt with Martha like this gorgeous one by Lucy. This sweater for Amelia. An advent calendar. A crocheted blanket I am halfway done with but I don't think I've shown you yet. A kooky flowered skirt for Amelia. Christmas dress for Amelia.

Seriously??? It does seem like a lot. I think it will be okay. The quilt's obviously a long-term project. And a lot of the other stuff can be done on the sofa while watching Christmas movies, so what could be better?

I've also been cooking a lot. I made Ann's No-Knead Bread. I made Thai curry lentil and sweet potato soup. That was excellent. I made Tessa Kiros's meat sauce from Apples for Jam, which is one of my favorite cookbooks (though the font they used for the recipes is seriously unreadable). I made dirty chai (that's chai with espresso, FYI) cinnamon rolls using the one-hour dough from this recipe and the filling and frosting from this recipe. OH MY STARS WHAT AN AWESOME PAN OF CINNAMON ROLLS THOSE WERE. I made butternut squash and spinach lasagna. That, too, was very good.

I guess I made a runner for my dining room table, too. Apparently Andy had the whole week off and I got a little excited.

Fields and Furrows

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Oh, the pumpkins, the pumpkins, and the little kids. The gray pumpkin morning turning to mist and drizzle (perfect). The birds, my goodness, what you hear there in the cold, country air. The sky is filled with birds, and they are enchanting. The kids run and stumble. There is all the time in the world here with our dear friends, the Montgomeries, and their darling boys — my heart bursts watching them all pick right up where they left off last year, covered in mud, searching for the world's smallest pumpkin, Amelia and Asher walking straight out into the field without a backward glance, the cow train over the rutted fields jolting every adult on it into slipping a disc, the caramel apples and sausages and kettle corn we can't resist. Faces painted. Zinnias blackening. Sunflowers folding. Cornstalks softening in the rain. Later, beer and burgers at the brewpub, and I can't wait for them to light the fireplace there. If only every weekend were this one.

Look how little they were last year, and the year before. Oh, sweet darlings.

Speaking of rainbows: At home, I begin to achieve the unthinkable, and fold my fabric stash onto comic book backer boards. During every waking free moment I have. It feels like I will never get to the end. But look how pretty! More on this soon.

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Well, thank you. Thank you, thank you. What an incomparably lovely experience it was to read your kind comments (for Andy, too; I don't know if you know he reads every post, and every comment as well). Thank you so much! I took the quilt top and the batting and backing (yep, I embroidered a tag, as well; I'll show you that sometime, probably when I'm completely done with it all) over to Modern Domestic for the afternoon that same day last week and used their tables to lay it all out and pin the quilt sandwich together. That place is pretty rad; you can pay to use their space and equipment to get stuff like this done, and I'll never do it at home again. The tables were nice and tall and I spent hours pinning and my back did not hurt at all (mine at home is way too short — I absolutely need risers — all my stuff is too short for me, actually, including the kitchen counters). Anyway, I got it all pinned together, and got the front part of the binding sewn on, and now I'm hand quilting a few squares and stitching down a bit of binding every night. I have two more weeks. I'll definitely finish. I'm really happy.

Answers to some questions that came up:

Yes, I changed the October patch significantly. I kept the same girl, because I really did not want to lose any of the continuity of this amazing design, but added a simple birthday cake from another book by the same designer and some bunting.

As far as getting the book that these patterns are in, it is (sadly) out of print. I found mine easily on Etsy, but I'm guessing there aren't too many of them out there, I'm sorry. I don't really have any good advice about how to get your hands on a copy other than Googling the title or ISBN (in the previous post), or trawling eBay, Etsy, or other Japanese craft book sellers.

The top was pieced with strips of the salmon/silver background fabric. I think I did all the blocks going down with short strips between (to make three columns) and then added four long vertical strips to finish. For the back I used this 100% cotton gingham in gray. The salmon/silver background calico came from JoAnn's. As far as the rest of the fabrics used to make the calico frames, er. . . . I'm not great at keeping track of that kind of info. All of it was already cut into strips by me at some point, and kept in my big 2" strip scrap basket. I buy almost all of my fabric locally, at JoAnn's, Fabric Depot, and Mill End Store, and also at Knittn' Kitten. Some of my fabrics are Liberty of London Tana Lawn cottons, which I've been collecting for probably twenty years. I have never been good at keeping track of the names and designers of fabric, and I really am going to try to be better about that. But my stash has been accumulated over such a long period of time and from so many places that it just overwhelms me to try to keep it straight. (And also, for the people who have asked where I find most of the vintage patterns I use for Mimi's dresses, I just get them on Etsy or eBay, or at Goodwill or Knittn' Kitten when I see something I like. Eventually I'm sure I will sell my collection of vintage patterns but I don't really have time to do it right now. I like vintage patterns because they have already been cut out [most of the time] and you don't have to fight with multiple sizes and giant pieces of tissue paper, or printing and cutting and taping, etc. And of course I just like the styles better, too.)

Anyway, I was mostly just kidding about not letting Mimi use the quilt. She'll absolutely use it, but I will try to keep it nice. I will absolutely try to keep Clover and Bridget off of it (they are going to be bewildered, seriously — I've never tried to keep them off of anything in their lives). I'm definitely going to wash it cold with some of those color-catcher things. I've never been worried about dye in embroidery floss running before, and of course I did absolutely nothing to mitigate the possibility, but in that June block especially, oh shasta. That one's gonna be tough to imagine not running, honestly. . . . That umbrella is so solidly packed with red thread (against a white ground). Ugh. Oh well. That's life.

Anyway, once again. You guys. Thank you. Your enthusiasm made my day just so big and fun and bright. I truly appreciate your kindness and, just, I don't know how to explain it anymore, but all the thoughtfulness that goes into what you say. All of the things you said, the stories you offered, the kindness you shared, all of it has also gone into that quilt now. And I don't know, that makes me cry, too. It's just cool. Thank you.

So, there's a lot of soup up there. There's chicken with wild rice. There's black bean. There's Andy's chicken soup (we were sick). There's a loaf of bread, as well, but it was a just a loaf of frozen white from the grocery store, which, though it only weighed about an ounce (seriously, I actually laughed out loud when I picked it up) after it was baked, made kind of a nice turkey sandwich, I have to say. Also, there's a Halloween costume. It's Little Red Riding Hood's dress from Simplicity #2571. I know. I . . . yes, I already made part of a Halloween costume. I have no explanation.

***Her poncho; her dress; her sweater.

About Alicia Paulson

About

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

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Photography

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