Home and Away

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Long birthday weekends are pretty awesome. Andy's involved cake (and yes, I must tell you that I truly think that the cake Martha made for us last summer trumps my longtime go-to chocolate cake, the Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake! I do still always make the Cloudburst Frosting (scroll down on that page a bit), though; I don't know if I'll ever love a frosting more than this one, but I'm willing to give it a go [I love frosting, especially frostings that are mellow, like this one]); lots of salad rolls, both take-out (as was the entire green-curry-shrimp birthday dinner) and homemade (I used this recipe, and added silken tofu, and it was wonderful); lots of driving (we got our new car); lots of waterfalls and gorgeous views (and babies signing "rain," as she is doing, above [draw both hands down with straight fingers, like rain falling]); and lots of backyard laziness and baby lovin'. It was such a nice weekend, and soooooo nice to have some time off, for both of us. Oh, so nice.

I don't think I realized how stressful buying a car was until it was over. I firmly believe that Andy and I are probably the worst possible car buyers on earth. Everything I read about how to act when you're buying a car is pretty much the exact opposite of what we did. I'm still feeling bewildered about why cars should have different prices for different people, depending on how they negotiate. It reminds me of when I was in Italy (twenty-three years ago), at the post office, asking how much it cost to mail a postcard. The post office dude literally looked me up and down, leaned back, crossed his arms, and said, appraisingly, "For you? Ninety thousand lire!" or ninety million lire, or ninety lire, or whatever it was. I stood there thinking, "No, not just for me, for everyone!" (And I swear, after I paid it, he just tossed the postcard over this shoulder, anyway. Okay, I might be exaggerating that. But seriously, Martha, did you ever get my postcard from Rome?)

And that's how I feel about car shopping, too. Shouldn't there just be a price, and then you pay it if you want to? And if you don't want to pay that you keep shopping? I don't know. There's this point in the process where you're basically like, "Okay, just gimme the damn thing already and let's go home!" Sadly, that point is reached about five minutes into the process for both Andy and me. We're looking at cars but we're thinking, in tandem, "Where should we eat? Is it gonna be sunny all day? Do you want to watch Psych musical again tonight?" and it's all kind of a cool-customer bust.

Eventually, by some miracle, I knew exactly which car I wanted. Certified pre-owned in the model I liked, 2013, and silver. Boom. But none were currently available within 100 miles. :( I stalked the web site of the dealer where we bought our first car (which actually was a pretty good experience, as far as I recall). Suddenly one came up — a miracle! — just when I needed it. I called the dealership so fast I could hardly talk: "Oh my gosh! Hold that car! I'm so excited! I want that one!!! Don't let anyone look at it! I want it!!!!!!!!" I had no idea what the price was, at that point. I told my friend what I did and she about fell off the phone she was laughing so hard. The salesman was probably like, "Awesome, easiest rent I've ever made in my life, lady right there in the blue."

And yeah, we did buy that car (amazingly, from the same guy who sold us our 1995 Volvo sixteen years ago). It is quite lovely. It has Bluetooth. I didn't even know what that was. Our old car didn't even have a CD player (and it had started breaking down every six months or so, and, lately, every week). I said from behind my new steering wheel to Andy as we wound through the gorge on the historic highway, through tall trees and forests of Queen Anne's Lace, watching the blue and green ridges fade into the haze of a perfect summer day,  "You don't even realize how used to all your stuff not working right you really get." And then we were all, wow, look at us entering the new millenium! Cool! It's an absolute delight to put a baby into a car seat without having to first fold your body into an origami crane, then bump her head on the ceiling of the car, then basically sort of toss her toward the seat in the middle, and hope she lands more or less square, then rearrange her from the side while your back is getting completely jacked, and then tighten the straps (while she's reaching for her doll, or her milk, or her shoe). She's always been a really good sport about being put into the car seat (I really don't know how, but that's kind of her style, and more proof that she does not have my DNA), but I see now that there were times when, especially toward the end of the day, I just didn't want to do it again. When I put her in the new car it's like boom, in, and I'm all, "What? That's it? People do it like this? And we can go to a place, and then maybe go to another place?" I don't know. Anyway, the new car feels very safe and very functional, and I suddenly want to go everywhere. . . .

Sunshowers and Flowers

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Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who purchased a new kit, or pattern, or supply, or all of the above!!! Stacey is here packing up kits and getting them on their ways to you as I write. I am so excited for these critters to get out into the world. I've been hanging out with them so much these past few months that it is kind of an indescribable feeling to watch them leave the nest. It really is. I love it, and am more grateful for your enthusiasm and support than I can truly ever say. Thank you very, very much. I think we've finally figured out how to make up quantities that don't give me a huge stomach ache of anxiety, too, either because there are too many or too few. I feel like the quantities are just right this time — we still have a good number of kits that I expect will get us through the summer in most of the fabrics; everything was ordered very evenly, and things like make that me so happy.

Thank you also for every single kind comment about the new web site and blog design! I truly appreciate them! Some people are not as happy as I am about the new designs, but I absolutely love them. I think both designs fit me and where I am in my life and work right now just perfectly. I expect I will probably still want to tweak the font and background color a bit for readability after I sit with it a while, and have some time to think. But in general I think both of the designs are simple and pretty and plain and clean, and that is exactly what I wanted. I like the larger photos, and I'm very happy to have the flowers that I drew and my special bunny (who was originally inspired by a snippet in a turn-of-the-century Swedish embroidery pamphlet that my friend Jeanne-Marie found in her grandma's attic, and sent to me when I was working on my embroidery book — I used him in that book and on Mimi's first Christmas stocking, in case you recognize him!) included. I know change is hard for some people, but after nine solid years of blogging on the exact same template (that I didn't ever really like in the first place, but I didn't have the skills to change much) I, at least, am beyond excited to start using something pretty and new.

Right now I need to run and finish the cake that's just come out of the oven and is cooling on the rack. It's Mr. Andy Paulson's forty-third birthday today, and I've got big plans with my sweetest little loves for picnics and playgrounds and presents. xoxo

***Yes, that is Greta's incredible rose-and-raspberry tattoo. (We love you, G. Have a very safe trip and text me when you get to Ohio, dear, dear girl. xoxo)

New Animal Sewing Kits, a New Web Site, and a Brand New Look for the Blog!

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Well, good morning! Yes, you're in the right place! Welcome to my new . . . everything! I have so much to tell you. But first let me tell you about the newest members of the Posie Little Animal Family.

There are four new members of the family. The first is Miss Juniper Kitty. She wears an empire peasant dress, a knitted wool cowl, and removable Wellington boots. She has two dress and yarn options. This is Emma and Georgina dress fabric with Lemongrass yarn:

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And this is Edenham dress fabric with Dark Magenta yarn:

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Edenham

Next there's Miss Dandelion Doe. She's a shy little doe in a mini-dress, knitted kerchief, and removable embroidered boots. Here she is in Fairford dress fabric with Blue Fog yarn:

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Fairford

And my personal favorite, Thorpe dress fabric with Arctic Moss yarn:

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Thorpe

Then there's Miss Phyllis Mouse. She, too, wears a mini-dress but with knitted wool leg warmers and moccasins. Here she is in Elysian dress fabric with Lavender Cloud yarn:

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Elysian

And this is the lovely turquoise colorway of Betsy dress fabric with Lullaby yarn:

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Betsy

Mwah. Love her.

Okay, and then we have the long-awaited and ever-dapper Mr. Basil Fox, here sporting a gray gingham cotton lawn shirt with denim jeans, a scarlet wool scarf, and removable boots:

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He has four shirt/yarn options:

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And of course last but not least, you know Miss Maggie Rabbit. We still have kits for her, and she has a new scarf color to go with her Meadow dress fabric:

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Hello, little girl. It's good to see you again! :)

CLICK HERE to see all of the KITS in the Little Animal Family!

And CLICK HERE if you'd just like to download the digital PDF patterns for any of these animals.

Each kit includes a printed pattern with stitching instructions and photos, an embroidery tutorial, a knitting pattern, and all full-size pattern templates. Each item page also contains a detailed list of what materials are included in each kit and what else you will need to have. You can choose your fabric/yarn from the drop-down menu for each animal. Each softie kit costs $34 each, plus shipping. Fabrics and yarns are not interchangable between kits, nor do we sell yardage of any fabric.

All of the clothes and accessories that have been designed for these animals are interchangeable between animals. Dandelion's knitted kerchief includes ear-holes that only really fit her and Maggie, but the kerchief can be worn as a little shawl by the other animals. (And Basil's pants and shirt are pretty much the same pattern as the original Little Pants and Shirt for Rabbits pattern, FYI.) But if you purchase a kit for one of the animals, you might also want to look at the rest of downloadable animal patterns for making more clothes and accessories for your particular critter.

Yes, we do ship internationally, but please read the following before placing your order: All international shipments are sent via USPS first-class international mail (or Priority, depending on their weight) and are charged a higher shipping fee depending on the weight of items and the destination. Shipping fees are added automatically when you place your order; to calculate them you need to walk through steps 1 and 2 of the ordering process. Once items leave the U.S. they are not able to be tracked past their last location here. It is happening more and more often: You — especially if you are in the United Kingdom — may also be charged import taxes, customs fees, duties, or other charges by your home country when you receive the shipment; you are responsible for these. Unfortunately I can't control where, why, or how customs agents determine whether to charge you or not and, after shipping thousands of overseas packages through the years, there doesn't seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to who gets charged. Please note that the USPS does not allow us to pay any taxes or fees for you on our end, prior to shipping. I mark all of my shipments "merchandise"; please don't ask me to mark them as gifts because it is illegal to do that, and I won't. Thank you!

Because we are shipping so quickly, please make sure that your shipping address is correct when you place your order. Since Greta is literally moving to Ohio tomorrow, but wanted to be in on this first day of the sale at least, we will begin shipping orders today, so it's important that you check your address on your end properly before submitting your order, because once it's out there, it's out there! If you do need to change your address (before it is shipped), or anything about your order, or add things to your order, etc., please email me immediately. I will not be able to add anything to your original order for you (because the system won't let me), but what I will do is cancel the original order and have you place a new order with everything you need in it. I do not accept phone orders, or checks in the mail.

My best advice is that if you like a particular fabric/yarn combo, do not wait to order it. I can never predict exactly how things will go, but in the past, new kits have sold out very quickly. (I will update this page as things sell out.) We WILL make more kits if they sell out, but we will use new fabrics and new yarns, because it's just a lot more fun that way. I rarely like to do the exactly same thing twice! But we can talk about that more if/when it happens.

Last but not least, before I let you go I just have to say exactly how incredibly thrilled I am to show you my new blog and web site designs, built by the amazing, lovely, and extraordinarily talented folks at Aeolidia. I'll talk more about the process of how this all came together after I get some sleep, but for now I just want to invite you to explore these new designs and thank you so much for being here!

P.S. If you have any questions or problems today, just let me know in a comment and I will answer here (as soon as I can). Thank you!

***Okay, a few answers  sorry for the delay! Regarding skill level to make these: So, I always say that you need more enthusiasm than skill to make my projects  although they aren't designed specifically for beginners, my patterns do include step-by-step sewing instructions with photo illustrations, along with drawings and instructions for particular sewing and embroidery stitches. That said, in the pattern I do encourage everyone to practice stitching on scraps of felt, or to make a practice dress (or shirt, or pants) out of other fabric first, to practice. The clothes  especially Phyllis's and Dandelion's dress  are challenging, because they're really small! If you have clothing construction experience it helps, because you understand the order in which dresses (and shirts) kind of get put together. That all said, as I also always say, it's just stuffed animals, not brain surgery! So just go for it and have fun! I have had several people write to me in the past year since Maggie was developed to say that she was the first thing that they've ever made and they enjoyed making her very much, so I think you can do it! And if you ever don't understand something, just let me know and I will help you!

***I don't teach people how to knit in the knitting patterns, however. You do need to know how to knit  cast on, knit, purl, increase, decrease, cast on in the middle of a row (I use backward loop), and read knitting directions  in order to follow the directions for the knitwear. There are so many videos online that can teach you these basics, so if you have a hankering to knit, these patterns are small and pretty simple, and are good first and second projects.

***I've gotten a couple of emails from people who are having trouble finding their digital patterns after payment. So, after payment is completed, the screen will display a link toward the bottom of the box that says "Click here to download your pattern." Just click it, and then save your pattern to your harddrive. Then print it out for your use. If you should miss this link, a separate email  not the order confirmation or the Paypal, but an automatically generated email from the server that hosts the patterns  will be sent to you at the email address you used to place the order, and that will also include a link to download your patterns. These emails do bounce sometimes, so do check your junk folder. If all else fails, don't even worry  just email me and I'll send them to you via email, no problem!

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.

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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.