Posts filed in: Fabric and Sewing

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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Soup and Sew

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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.

A Birthday Quilt for My Girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello there!

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Hello there! How are you? We're settling into fall here. It's come on with speed and determination. At 6 a.m. this morning, Amelia and I laid in bed in the dark bedroom, listening to the rain outside. She noticed it. It sounded beautiful. It's so dark in the morning now. We snuggle until the quilt and the wool blanket, both kitters and puppers in the bed, too. After a long summer of tremendous heat, everyone's suddenly cold, and grateful for that. The transition to new season and new routines has been unexpectedly hard for me these past few weeks, though. I feel like I'm scrambling to find traction somehow. I think I'm getting it, but I've been a bit all over the place. I was so anxious for it that I immediately started panicking and flailing about once it happened. Typical.

We went to the river for the last time this summer. It was so shallow it was hard to believe. A flock of geese sat on the sandbar all afternoon. The leaves, tinged yellow, fell into the water. I really loved all the days we spent there this summer. I know Andy and Amelia did, too. Our intrepid explorer has grown so much these past few months. What a blessing, to have these nearby places to be free together. Home by dinner, bath, and then early to bed, clean and tired.

Thank you so much for your incredibly kind comments lately, and for all of the glorious-sounding apple recipes, and for the big-girl-chair advice. I made my sour cream apple pie and this thing just never, ever disappoints. Highly recommend. Double the topping if your pie plate is big and wide. (Put tinfoil under your pan if you think that stuff might bubble over and drip off, though; you don't want that spilling in your oven.) Next I'm going to go through the recipes you suggested and find some more that sound good (they all sound good!). I'm getting back into the whole cooking routine I was so excited about a couple of months ago. SOUP is going to make life just ever so much easier. It tastes just as good the next day. I made kale and potato soup with corn and chorizo and it was fantastic. I had it again the next day and it was absolutely just as good. Tonight I'm making the chicken with wild rice soup I made last year, because I know that was really good. Should walk up to the store and get some sweet potato to make biscuits to go with. And boom, that's tomorrow, then, too.

The big-girl chair is a work in progress. We got a Keekaroo — I happened to spot one at the kids' resale shop that cost the exact amount of the credit I had. I like it (though, as everyone says, we've tripped over it literally every single day since it's been here) but the seatbelt has got to be replaced — she is totally able to take it off herself, thus completely defeating the purpose. Dinnertime now is a constant negotiation where I try to get her to stay in her seat. Last night I said, "Well, I just started eating, and if you can't stay in your seat for a little while I might have to go get your old high chair and bring it back, if it's really hard to stop getting down." I thought that warning might work, since just last week the idea of sitting in the high chair was so distasteful it caused all sorts of pandemonium . But she just got these big, bright eyes and said, "Oh! Can I have my high chair?" Pfffft! LOL. But the big-girl chair'll be good with a toddler-proof seatbelt. The clip is just too easy to snap open. She's not quite ready to be free yet, and, quite frankly, neither am I. Getting there, though. She and I eat dinner alone three nights a week when Andy is at work, and our days start around 5:00 a.m. By 5:00 p.m., I just need to sit for a little while.

Do you like the poncho? I think I like it — well, I love the pattern, I just don't know if I like my colors that much. Does it look like I went to Michael's and got one of those little strips of acrylic paint pots (the "country" colors), and then matched them? Maybe that works, I don't know. This has yet to be blocked. I was going to wait for a warm day and block it outside on the outside table so it will dry faster. The details are on my Ravelry page. Her groovy dress is from a vintage nightgown pattern (Simplicity 4719) that I shortened. I like peasant dresses that gather onto a bias strip, and have a continuous placket and a snap in back. I added pockets to this one but I matched them to the fabric so they almost don't show. It's the softest baby wale corduroy, from Fabric Depot, a few years ago now, I think.

Some very cool vintage postage stamps to use on Amelia's birthday invitations. And paper party hats I can't stop making: I used some of the floral designs in this most awesome book, printed them onto lightweight cardstock on my ink-jet printer, then traced my party hat pattern, glued them together at the seam, added some cotton rick-rack, and made a yarn pom for each. These are for everyone besides the birthday girl (who will get a felt one, of course). I absolutely love party preparations. Love them.

Forest Flower

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It was finally cool and cloudy enough to go for a walk in the woods. Oh sweet mercy, how I have missed them. Ever so much.

Her Forest Flower, made ever so many years ago, now a perfect fit.

This still-green canopy, and this little wanderer, soothing my hot, dusty little heart. Wishing you a cool, peaceful, love-filled, very sweet start of a lovely new season.

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Late-Summer Sunset

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I have very few photos to show for the past few weeks. In reality, there's been a blur of activity, but I couldn't keep up with it. Andy has been on vacation since August 17 and we've done so much stuff. We had several conversations while sitting on benches at the children's museum, the science museum, the park, and anywhere else there were benches for parents to sit on while their kids run around, about the hilarity  of how every time we sat down we started yawning. Incessantly. He does a lot more running around in these spots than I do, granted. Yesterday, at OMSI, which was a madhouse (since it was the first truly rainy day we'd had all summer and everyone was inside), I sat on various benches and crocheted while he chased the nipper all over the place. It was actually pretty fantastic. The view of the river and city from there is smashing. Especially when it is pouring rain from the sky. I was beyond delighted.

These photos are all from before that, though, from when the sky was filled with the smoky haze of Northwestern forest fires, and the sun glowed through the veil with relentless certainty. The movie in the park was cancelled due to the smoke but we, along with a few other people who didn't know that, wound up there after dinner anyway, running through the dry grass for a while before bedtime. It's been a tough summer, weather-wise. On Saturday, the forecast was nothing but rain, but instead we got nothing but wind, and it blew dried, fried debris out of trees, cracking limbs and sending splintered kindling into every yard and road. The acorns are already spattering every surface and they are absolutely perfect this year. I've never seen such ridiculously perfect specimens. They don't even look real.

Daddy's staycation (usually we go to the river house for several days, but it burned down this past winter, which I didn't really know until a few months ago, and we were just heartbroken, and didn't have the heart to find another spot; they are rebuilding, but still, so sad) has meant a terrific amount of morning-noon-and-night mommy-sewing. More than I've done in ages and ages. Too lazy and sewing too fast to take pictures. But I will. Her dress above is out-of-print Simplicity pattern 6054, from 1973. It's the perfect stash-buster. Also just the perfect dress in general as there are no sleeves to set in in anyway. I've made three so far. I might try to make a pattern like this, and eliminate the zipper, and maybe add some pockets. For now, I just cut and sew and dream in color. Other projects-in-progress include a massive embroidered birthday quilt, a peasant dress and groovy pinafore, a crocheted poncho, a crocheted cowl, a bunch of bloomers, and several more dresses. Details to come when I am not so lazy. I have all sorts of stuff planned. Man, I do love sewing for this kid. It just makes me happy. Everything about her makes me happy.

There has been very little mommy-cooking. There have been more than the usual amounts of eating out (cringe), though Andy has totally been pulling weight in the kitchen. Still, there's been a lot of popcorn. Chili on the rainy day and barbecue on the hots. Also, there's a new dishwasher, which is nice. But I need to get back in my cooking routine, and recommit. It's the last day of August. Andy goes back to work on Wednesday. I'll power-clean the living room and sort the clothes and clean the fridge and sweep the floors. I'll buy some apples and some flowers and make some of my new chai tea, and make a list of things for fall. Mittens and rain boots and oatmeal cookies and roasted root vegetables and quilts and flannel nightgowns and walks in the woods again. It's been a great summer in a million ways. But I'm ready for September. I'm always, in spite of myself, ready for September.

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.