Tuesday, May 27th

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At 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time is when I'm planning to make the four new animal kits (and their respective PDF patterns) available! I'll post all of the information and links here, so stay tuned!

Thank you and have a wonderful weekend, everyone! xo

Rose Time

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Last night, everyone in this house slept at least an entire EIGHT HOURS. It was magical. I went to bed at 10:00 p.m. and I woke up at 6:00 a.m., even before the boo. She must have been a tired little boo. I really can't remember the last time any of us slept an entire eight hours in one whole stretch. It's weird how getting to do things that you used to be able to do that you really can't do anymore can just make you SO HAPPY, isn't it? Aaaaaaaah. It was awesome.

So, it's rose time here in the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. Can you believe those big peachy roses in the first photo? And if you could've smelled them, you would've swooned. These were just in someone's front yard, on on of our routes around the neighborhood. I did this:

The-soul-of-the-rose-1908-detailJohn William Waterhouse, The Soul of the Rose, 1908

Except I was wearing paint-covered sweatpants, glasses, and a bad ponytail. Bummer. It was still pretty awesome. The roses were as big as oranges and looked as heavy. Petal petticoats. Glorious with layers.

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GOOD GRIEF THEY'RE PRETTY.

I take photos of our neighborhood's community garden (like allotments) every week or so, throughout the year. That's it up there, with the little wooden shed toward the back of the field. I like to watch the things in it grow and change as we walk by through the year. We walk by it almost every day. Behind it is the park and the baseball field. My meadow flowers in my own front parkway beds are still coming up. They actually look like a bunch of weeds right now — little weeds, sprouting willy-nilly. Hopefully it's not all weeds! I recognize some things. I know I see cosmos seedlings. That alone makes me very happy.

This week we're finishing up the new web site and the new kits and the new blog design and the new, I don't know, everything feels new. We've picked out a new (used) car. My dearest Greta is moving back to Ohio in a week [CRYING FIT]. I don't really have words to say how much we will miss her. She has been with us for two years and really is like part of our family. But I have a lovely and wonderful new assistant named Stacey who's been working with us here for the last month, and she is ready to receive the hand off. AND her favorite Pandora station is Wilco Radio so how lucky am I? It's gonna be good. We expect to launch the new web site and new softie kits and patterns next week, after Memorial Day, but I'll pop back in here before then and let you know exactly when!

The first things I'm going to make as soon as everything webby is finished are baby sunhats. Not that she'll keep them on her head, but I'll try. I've got the baby rash guard, the baby sunscreen, the baby water shoes, need the baby sunhat and a cute baby beach towel. I must be ready for the day the pool opens (late June!). I know you're not supposed to run on the deck, but I'm going to sprint to the water's edge. Look out.

Summer Begins

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I actually made something yummy all by myself for dinner yesterday, which was kind of a miracle. I've made this kind of rice-shrimp-corn-bean bowl many times before but this one came out really nicely. It's just a bowl of steamed jasmine rice on top of which I've put a big blob of Cuban black beans (I use these, from the refrigerator section at New Seasons), broiled shrimp (marinate them in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, then broil under the broiler for a few minutes), avocado, sour cream, and a lot of fresh corn salad. To make that I tossed a couple of tablespoons of olive oil with a clove of finely minced garlic, a half-teaspoon of salt, and some ground black pepper. To that I added a handful of quartered cherry tomatoes (and you could add some minced jalapeno or some cilantro, but I didn't have those) and then the kernals from two ears of corn, which I gently sauteed in some ghee (clarified butter) for a few minutes. Mix the corn, tomatoes, and the dressing well and let it stand for a few minutes while you put the bowl together. Mimi loved everything in here and so did I. I need to make these more because they're really easy and fast and filling.

It was really hot here this week — in the high 80s and even 90s — but today it is chilly and overcast and breezy. That seems like more appropriate weather to post a picture of this Fimma sweater, finished but not blocked. This was a BLAST to make. I loved it. I seriously loved it. At first I thought it was going to be small but it's not. I made the size 4 and this is probably size 4. I do have a problem with some fair-isle patterns (well, and some circular yoke patterns in general) because the yoke just does not seem well-proportioned. It's too tubular. But I guess we'll just have to see it on her (when she's four). I'm making another one (right away). This one, above, is made of worsted weight yarn (I used Cascade 220, which I'm not sure I've ever used before); it's quite thick and heavy. I decided to try and make the new one out of sport weight (Brown Sheep Nature Spun) and use the directions for the size 8 pattern. So we'll see. I started it a couple of nights ago. The body of the new sweater is light blue. It's always kind of amazing to me that the design is made entirely of only four colors (and, actually, for the mustard Fimma above I used two shades of the pink and two shades of the blue, just to give it a little more depth). In choosing them I stuck with a very dark (it's kind of a raisin color), a very light (cream), and then two midtones (the turquoises and the pinks). For the new sweater I chose a very dark (navy blue), a very light (cream), and three almost-midtones (the two pinks I'll interchange, and pale gold).

I don't exactly why these patterns are so much fun. I think part of it is that, if you're choosing new colors, you really don't have a very good idea (at least I don't!) of what the colorwork pattern is even going to look like. So it truly reveals itself in every row (this is knitterish thrillsville, people!!!). It's just the perfect amount of excitement, and it comes a little bit at the beginning (you start at the bottom of the sweater, and the bottom of the sleeves) but mostly at the end — and it goes faster at the end, because you're decreasing. All good. It's kind of the right order of a project for me (though, again, I'm not sure bottom-up sweaters fit as well as top-down — thoughts? Does it matter which way you go, or is this just a coincidence in my own personal project list?). There are a lot of ends to weave in, but I think I did all of them in less than one episode of American Pickers. So, this sweater still needs to be blocked and I think I'll do that today. And oh yeah — obviously, I decided not to steek it after all. After all that work it seemed more prudent to pick a pattern that has the steeking built into it, since I've never done it before (several of you suggested this lovely Kate Davies sweater, which I may try).

In spite of the weather today, it feels like summer has truly arrived. Sweeeeeeet!

Little Bird

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It's been a busy week — playing, people, parties, perfect weather, broken cars (again, after it was supposedly fixed — no comment; car shopping), pastries, parks, a birthday, birthfamily party, knitting, golden sunshine, rainy nights, more playing, the days rushing like stars across the sky in a fast-mo video, a beautiful, sparkling blur of all the things and places and people I love. Amelia travels her spaces with confidence and moxie, here, there, everywhere, full of light and delight, always with a stick in her hand, tongue out, always happy, always curious, forward, forward, naturally careful but without fear or hesitation, arms open to everyone. At the start and end of each busy day we lie in the big bed listening to the noises float through the open windows; it's there where I get to think in long, looping strings of images like garlands of photos, her sweet face in every one as my fingers thread through her hair and trace her golden eyebrows. She lies soft and quiet at my side, thinking her own baby thoughts. Little bird with ruffly, downy feathers tucked up close. Her softness, her sweetness, her sounds. In the distance dogs bark. Neighbors arrive home or leave. Breeze blows. Voices ebb and recede. We drift and dream. I can hardly wait for each new day. When it comes: Good morning, my dearest sweet lovely adorable little dearest sweetest darling. What will we do today? Everything, everything. Oh, everything's possible.

My gosh, it's just so good. This precious gift. This feeling of amazed wonder, and overwhelming gratefulness that never leaves.

Rain Day

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And all of us home together on a Sunday. With nothing to do and nowhere to go and no car (which suddenly and completely lost all power on Friday afternoon while I was going 35 mph from Barbur Blvd. to Naito Parkway with baby sleeping in the back seat — seriously scary, with nowhere to pull over, and now I'll be trading in my nineteen-year-old Volvo and getting a new car — wah). The imposed immobility was a boon; rarely do we spend a whole weekend at home together without going somewhere in the car. We walked as much as we could stand to in the rain. We talked and cooked and worked on the yard and took a bath and read and slept and I slept some more. I fell asleep on the couch while watching Globe Trekker. I almost fell asleep in the bathtub reading Diary of a Nobody (which Andy loves, he being a big Jerome K. Jerome fan, too). I told him I felt sure my connective tissues were dissolving, I was that tired. My arms and legs felt like noodles, my brain blank and woolly. Amelia, who has not been keen on bathing without screaming this winter, later came in with me and played contentedly, drawing with the bath crayons while I poured water from a little cup over and over again down her back. We did this for ages and only screamed once. The water eventually turned chilly and she got out and I stayed in and drained the tub and turned on the shower, as hot as I could stand. Daytime stretched into dinnertime, then bedtime. The sky turned gray then light then gray then rained then lightened then rained then poured. I ate tapioca pudding for dessert. I'd like to do the whole day over again, and keep it exactly the same.

Sugar Pie

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We've been going out so much (to these tulip fields on Wednesday, and yesterday it was a wilting 88 degrees, and tonight it's a block party, and tomorrow it's dinner at our friends') that I never did make the dinner I've been meaning to make (not that I know what it is), but I did, at least, make a pie yesterday. Rhubarb (and blackberry), from this recipe. Strange recipe, really, and it doesn't seem like it will work, but then it does. The rhubarb and blackberries could not have been more tart. And this thing is so crazy sugary — and eggy, which I love — that it actually balances. But it's not like the typical creamy custard you'd expect (or like the one in the sour cream apple pie, I guess is what I'm thinking of). It's more like . . . goo. It's strangely good, though, and it was good for breakfast, too. My pie dish is cast iron, a gift from my sister but I think it's this one, and honestly, I don't think I'll ever use another pie plate. Because it actually browns the bottom of the crust. And it's big and deep. Good pie, good dish. Good days.

I've had a lot of irons in the fire lately, and things are finally starting to come together. New logo, new branding and packaging stuff, new web site, new blog design, new animal patterns, new kits, new fabrics, new yarns, new work routines as I shift more and more production out of the house and down the street to Spooltown. Just a lot of new. New and nervewracking. I'm thrilled with all of it, but still, it's new. I'm still expecting that we'll launch all of this at the end of this month, but now it's suddenly this month. And then once it's all launched and out there in the world, my dream is to take the summer off and go to the river and the pool every day with my girl.

Something's missing from our back yard! Still getting used to it, but oh, what an amazing thing it is to sit on your own back porch in your nightgown with pie and watch the stars come out, stars I've never seen before from this place. I made wishes for my baby girl and my love and family and friends and animals and watched the sky go from blue to ultraviolet to night. I think I'll do it again tonight, too.

Camassia Girl

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Camassia Natural Area, West Linn, Oregon; April 26, 2014.

Petal Push

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I cast on the other night for the Fimma sweater, totally inspired by my dear friend Amy talking about Lopapeysa sweaters on her blog. I've knit a couple of fair isle sweaters in the past and I forgot how much fun it is. I was in the mood for something new and fun and . . . worsted weight. I'm not sure what gauge I'm getting — too lazy to check. It feels a bit small — this is the size 4T, and it looks like it will probably fit Meems right now. Of course it's thick and heavy so my timing is suspect, but the fact that, as I write this paragraph, it is absolutely pouring down cold rain and hail balls makes me feel a bit better (all things being relative). That's how you feel better about it pouring down cold rain and hail balls — make an Icelandic sweater.

My thought is that I will steek this [bites nails and cringes]. I don't actually think it's all that scary. But it seems like it's one of those fun things to be scared of, only to be pleasantly surprised at how do-able it is, and I need that this week. Got anything else like that for me?

Between downpours, my girl and I have been having sweet days. She is eighteen months old now and must be the sweetest creature on earth. She "talks" almost constantly — classic baby babble, and was there ever a sweeter sound? Oh, my love. Happy, happy girl. She knows what she likes, which is almost everything but sippy cups and baths. We're working on transitioning to sippy cups. When they're handed to her she throws them down as if you just handed her a cup of hot cod liver oil. I think we've tried four different sippy cups now. She sees the sippy cup coming and she starts winding up her pitching arm. In her future big-girl room we sit in the window seat and point at all the things we can see from the window: Birdy. Tree. Flower. Birdy. Car. Dog. Birdy. Our neighbor's trio of enormous dogwood trees flower pink, and glow in the rain. Wow, says Amelia. She carries pink petals and rocks in her hands as we walk down the block.

I like the anticipation of April. I like it when things haven't really started yet, but they're just right there. Almost there. I like going out when it's sunny and lovely and staying in (though we still go out) when it's sopping wet. My wildflower seeds are sprouting. Sprouting!!! I am easily pleased, but really, doesn't it feel like a miracle, every time?

My goal this weekend — tomorrow — is to cook something. That will be a miracle. I can't remember the last big meal I cooked for Andy. He's done so much cooking lately. I'm good at picking up Thai food. I'd better start trawling food blogs right now. I don't remember what to cook, let alone how to cook. Not even kidding.

***Woopsie, forgot to tell you that I finally finished the bobble lampshade! Very happy with it.

Wild Violet

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Despite the sleep deprivation, I can hardly wait for the mornings to come: the birds, the clear light, the glow, the green, the birds, the baby talking — ba ba, na na, ma ma, mum ma, DA?!? [screams and points]. "Buuuuur-DEE?" Ba ba na. "Dawg?" She's the original uptalker. It's the sweetest music, all of it. The dogs race for balls in the dog park near our house. High above the baseball diamond the trees burst forth in sprays of green, each one a different shade. It's ridiculously picturesque. Trees like an oil painting of trees. There's a tree-lined path straight through the middle of the park, like a colonnade. We saunter it each morning, listening to the birds, talking to the sun and flowers. Slow, slow. Stay like this, just here. Growing up, I lived one house away from a huge park. A school-yard. My school. Gravel fields. A backstop. A giant swing set — they probably don't even make them that tall anymore. One time I jumped off and wiped out and screamed so loudly my dad heard me in our house. Towering oak trees. Sand pits. The tall chain-link fence surrounding the whole lot, way off in the distance. The railroad embankment covered in ivy and phlox. The scruffy baseball diamond, the single splintered bench per side. The giant brick wall (the side of the school gym) against which my sister and I hit a million tennis balls (I was good, she was great). The cracked and peeling hopscotch board. The four-square boxes. The rusty basketball hoop on its tilted pole. The crabapple tree where my neighbor Hali and I spent an entire afternoon singing "Rhinestone Cowboy." The bridal veil bushes. The outfield toward which I boinged sharp little rocks with my new tennis racket — they flew like rubberbands — until a string broke, which shocked and worried me so badly — I'd just gotten the racket that day, after a long wait — I wanted to run away from home. The park was always so incredibly empty, except for us. No one besides us neighborhood kids ever played there when school was out. No parents ever went there. Mine could sometimes see us from our house, if they looked, but no adults ever "went to the park" with any of us, and we wouldn't have wanted that. We went outside after dinner and we came home when the streetlights came on. Every single night. Lightning bugs and hosta flowers. The smell of the mosquito spray belched out by giant trucks that came to fog the neighborhood in the worst mostquito years (good lord). Humidity so thick you were always damp. Lawns green and thick and long. If we were going to go in someone's house, one of us ran home to tell our parents, and then we still kept an eye on the streetlights, and left when they came on. Oh, the wild suburban spaces we roamed. The overgrown backyards and train embankments and far, shady corners of forgotten spaces behind the Prescotts' potting shed. Things were so different then. The park in River Forest is a fancy park now. I sat in it and cried a little the last time I was home. I was crying about lots of things, but a little bit for the park. The school is gone and the fence is gone and the gravel and buckling asphalt are gone and it's a lovely, green, well-manicured, shady, beautiful, fancy playground with perfect grass and cedar chips and swirly slides and safety swings. It belongs to people from all the surrounding streets, not just ours. An obvious improvement, of course. But. I wonder if the kids on our old block still play alone in it every night the way we did. I wonder where my dearest little sweetest wild violet will run wild.

Spring and Moon

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Warm and cloudy, my favorite combination. Amelia's nose is running and she will no longer let me wipe it without twisting in frustration. We walk through the quiet, cloudy streets. It's so quiet. At home, our yard is under construction: We've finally taken the leap and hired a landscape architect to help us design and install perennial borders in front of the big windows (where we had the sewer party that basically destroyed all the shrubs that had been there a few years ago), the front porch (where the removal of the neighbors' eighteen-foot-tall laurel hedge changed the conditions from deep shade to blazing sun, and fried everything we had there), and the picket fence (which basically had nothing but peonies in front of it). The clematis stays, but almost everything else is moving or changing. I'm very excited. I tell you, once I get an idea and make that Pinterest board, consider it done (not really, but without the board I'd probably never get going, somehow). These are some of the last areas of this property that needed help and they were just beyond us. It's pretty exciting to see the guys out there creating actual beds, with edges, and properly making circles around trees, and planning for plants that will actually do well in their spaces. I'm hoping for something a little wild, a little bit prairie, a little bit meadow, a little bit woodland, and a little bit English. How's that for a directive?

Down in the veggie beds, which are on the parkway and not actually in the yard, I planted my wildflower seeds over the weekend. I took your good advice and made my own mixes and used a couple of packets, including one for a fairy meadow (yes, please!). I'm pretty haphazard these days. I feel lucky when I've fed everyone three meals and gotten a shower and four or five hours of sleep myself, so I did not belabor this project in the end. I mixed the seeds with some sand (you told me to do that, too, I think, so thank you!) and just shook that mixture all over the prepared beds. Amelia sat in her high chair and watched and played with a ponytail holder. I LOVE that she says "WOW!" about a hundred times a day, and it means both "flower" and "wow!" She sat out there with me saying, "Wow!" and we watched the world go by for a while. I sprinkled the beds with the hose (which she thought was hilarious) and now we are waiting five to ten days for something to happen. I can hardly wait.

Andy stayed up last night to watch the lunar eclipse and took these amazing photos! Aren't they cool?

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.