Posts filed in: Shop Talk

'Night, Neighborhood Cross Stitch Sampler Kits (and Pattern) Now Available!

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BeautyBlog1

I'm going to Wisconsin this summer, back up north to, among other places, the little island at the top of the Door County peninsula where I used to go, year after year, on vacation with my family when I was a child. On Washington Island, we stayed in a campground — such a pretty campground — in our pop-up trailer. It wasn't a loud or raucous place, and it was pretty empty most of the times we were there. The camp sites were in a little forest, light and airy with pretty, light-green-leaved trees. I remember waking up in the morning in the trailer and watching the shadows of the leaves dance on the canvas pop-out, and it would be hot in there. At night, we would cross a big meadow to get from the camp sites to the lodge where the pinball and pop machines and showers and bathrooms were. You had to pay for the shower with quarters and that shower was gorgeous. (It was either that one or another one, but in my mind it was that one.) Back at our old house in River Forest, we always ran out of hot water. At the campground shower, with a baggie full of quarters and an enormous, cedar-paneled, skylight-lit shower-room to myself, I stood under the hot, rushing water until my three bucks ran out, and it felt like forever. At night, walking across the meadow, you could see a million stars, the whole Milky Way above you as you tried not to stumble in the long grass, or drop your toothbrush or your towel, or wonder if it had been a bat that had just buzzed you in the cricket-filled night-silence, for fun. I loved that night walk so much. Coming back through the woods, you'd pass everyone else's little tents, little twinkle lights, little campfires, and soft laughter in the darkness. Enchanted evenings. I'm so excited that Amelia will get to see fireflies this summer. We don't have them here in Oregon, and I miss them.

I think this sampler was inspired by those long-ago summer nights. I started designing it shortly after I found out we were going to Wisconsin, and to Chicago. I think it also reminds me of our walks with Amelia around our own neighborhood here in Portland, which occasionally, at certain times of day, reminds me of the one I grew up in (outside of Chicago). She's just starting to draw — numbers, letters, flowers, wings, sun, moon — on the sidewalk with chalk, and the simple beauty of her marks makes me so nostalgic and I can hardly breathe, sometimes. "Moms cry when they are very happy!" she announced to her grandma the other day. "That's true," said my mom while I swallowed hard, and smiled at them.

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So, this is 'Night, Neighborhood. It's a pretty decent size, as designed, with a design area of 12" x 14". It's done on Belfast linen (which is the same linen that My Sweetiepie ABCs sampler is done on) in Amsterdam Blue, using two plies of DMC floss. I love it. I loved designing it and I really loved stitching it. Every element is interesting enough that you never get bored, and small enough that by the time you're ready to be done with that element, you are done. That's sort of the perfect project, for me: parts and pieces that are, in and of themselves, not too difficult and fairly interesting, but that also add up to something that's unique and cool. I'm a bit smitten with this one. (You can click on the images above to see them enlarged.)

The 'Night, Neighborhood Cross Stitch Sampler KIT is available HERE.

If you would like just the downloadable PDF PATTERN, it is available HERE.

 

Here are the details:

Finished Size of Design Area: 12" x 14" (30.5cm x 35.5cm); 192 stitches wide x 224 high on 32-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 18" x 20" (46cm x 51cm) piece of 32-count Zweigart Belfast linen in Amsterdam Blue
(64) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
(2) 24" (61cm) lengths of specialty thread
Stitching instructions
Illustrated stitch tutorial for special stitches
Color cross-stitch chart with symbols
One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer
*Frame not included.

You will need your own:

#24 tapestry needle(s) for cross stitch
Embroidery scissors
4" (10cm) embroidery hoop
Frame and framing supplies

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If you are new to counted cross stitch, or need a refresher on the basics, please see my "how to do counted cross stitch" tutorial here.

As with the Sweetiepie, I think one of the "hardest" parts of making this sampler will be organizing the 64 lengths of floss (in 39 colors) that you will receive in the kit. The floss will come to you in two separate hanks, with 32 24" lengths in each group. The pattern includes a list of floss colors and numbers, along with their symbols as used in the chart, organized into the two groups. I've included a piece of chipboard (thin cardboard) and the instructions for making floss organizers like mine.

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To help you separate the colors, which can be a bit tricky but not really too bad (since you are given the number of lengths included and the color name, which provides a general description of the color itself) I've put some large photos of my floss, all organized, up on my web site here. This should help you figure out how to tell the colors apart, relative to each other. 

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Remember, you need to separate two plies away from the six-ply embroidery floss length to work the cross stitches throughout the sampler. Special stitches, including backstitches and French knots, use one or two plies, as indicated in the instructions. If you don't know how to do these stitches, I've included illustrations and directions for working them in the pattern.

The chart you will receive is quite large, larger than the actual size of the finished piece, and it is broken into four separate full-color one-sided pages. I used a new printer this time and the printed photos and the chart look gorgeous, if I do say. You can use the pages individually or cut them out and tape the chart together, overlapping the grayed areas. Each color has its own symbol, keyed, as I mentioned, to a list of color names and DMC's assigned floss-color number. To work the design, you follow the chart, counting stitches as you go.

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It also really helps to have something white, like a dishtowel, on your lap as you stitch. The holes in the fabric that you need to stitch through are so much easier to see.

Also, as you probably know, I also carry my favorite supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. For this project, we have:

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Gorgeous little embroidery scissors.

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Hardwicke Manor 4" hoops.

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Twill tape to wrap around the inner hoop. You don't need to do this, but it's nice, and provides more tension to keep the fabric from slipping out of the hoop as you stitch.

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And size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch on linen.

All supplies will be shipped along with your kit.

We do ship overseas! To place your order, you will be required to read this information, which contains details about international shipping and customs fees you may incur when ordering outside the U.S. (If you are overseas, the shipping cost charged by Posie does not include any further charges you may incur when importing goods.) To see the shipping-only costs for your order and location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. If you do need to add things to your order or change your address after you've placed the order, just email me and we'll figure it out, no worries! I just like to remind people of this ahead of time, because it's a bit easier.

Thank you, as always, for your enthusiasm for and interest in my work. Posie is a true cottage industry. I love what we (my assistant Stacey, Andy, and I) do and am hugely proud of how we do it. I'm sincerely grateful for your support of all of my interests and endeavors. Your attention is such a gift. Thank you for it, and for being here, all these years. Xoxoxoxo.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will get back to you here. Thank you!

Honey Bunnies, Lovey Lamb, and a Spring Ring

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I just couldn't pick a favorite. Have you ever tried to do a product photo shoot with a three-year-old? It's a free-for-all. You get FIVE MINUTES. Maybe four. Then it's total chaos and stuffed animals are flung hither and yon, the phone is ringing, the dog is trying to get on the bed, the toddler is under the covers "napping" with all the stuffed animals (that she drags, alarmingly, by ears or tail out from under the dog), and then she's up and out looking for "their friend," the prototype bunny who did not make the cut, who differs significantly from the finished bunnies who did and who will just confuse people who see it who think they're getting a pattern for it but won't get a pattern for it, because there is no actual pattern for exactly that bunny. I dare you to try to explain this (even to yourself) while she's looking at you with her bunny-rabbit eyes, hugging and kissing only her prototype (new best) friend that you don't actually want to photograph before she's off, and down the stairs to get some juice. I never want to forget these days. I love it all. It's pandemonium, but I love it.

Meet the Honey Bunnies and Lovey Lamb softie crochet patterns! They are now available for your after-hours very-relaxing crocheting enjoyment.

The Honey Bunny Crocheted Softie Pattern has two color variations (greens for a boy bunny and pink/white for a girl) and is available HERE.

The Lovey Lamb Crocheted Softie Pattern is available HERE.

 

We also are offering yarn packs that include all the yarn you need to make one critter, along with the plastic safety eyes and nose, and a length of embroidery floss to stitch the mouth. Details about the specific yarns are included on the web pages for these packs (as well as on the pattern pages).

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The yarn pack for the BOY bunny is available HERE.

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The yarn pack for the GIRL bunny is available HERE.

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And the yarn pack for Lovey Lamb is available HERE.

Please note that these yarn packs do not include a printed copy of the pattern. You must purchase the pattern separately and print it at home (you'll have an option to purchase it from the yarn pack pages in the web shop, as well).

Also: We will be taking orders for yarn today and then ordering quantities directly from Brown Sheep Company tomorrow (and we'll keep doing that this week, and next, etc. — so we definitely won't run out). Since this is my first crochet "kit," I really wasn't sure what the sales would be like, and I just didn't want to guess and run out, or guess and get stuck with a whole bunch of yarn in colors that weren't best sellers. This yarn, Lambs Pride Superwash sport is technically machine washable, though I personally wouldn't ever throw one of these critters into the washing machine. But you can easily spot clean them, which I thought was important for a kid's toy. This sport-weight yarn, which is manufactured in Nebraska, is not the softest yarn in the world but it is really durable and it resists pilling very well, in my experience, and I just love it. Brown Sheep Company is one of my favorite companies that I work with. I have carried one of their other yarns (Nature Spun Sport) for years, and designed all of my Little Animal Family knitwear with it, and I love that yarn, too, but it isn't a superwash. Lambs Pride Superwash Sport is almost the exact same yarn as Nature Spun Sport, as far as I can tell, except that it comes in different colors and it is (as I mentioned) washable.

So, because we will have to wait a week for the yarn to arrive, we won't be shipping these yarn packs lickety split, as we usually do. But we will ship them as fast as we can once the yarn arrives so you will have plenty of time to make everything in time for Easter! I would expect to have everything ordered today out by the end of next week.

And if you don't want to crochet a lamb, maybe you would rather cross stitch one?

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Do you wonder how I have time to do these things? So do I, mamas. So do I. But I've got mouths to feed, people, and my honey bunny can eat a six-dollar container of organic blueberries faster than you can say 28-count Cashel linen by Zweigart in Smokey Pearl.

This is my Spring Ring. It's just a little counted cross stitch design that can be finished with a 4" (10cm) hoop. It's got fifteen colors and is done on 28-count Cashel linen. It will come as a kit and as a pattern.

 Kits include:

  • One 7" x 7" (18cm x 18cm) piece of 28-count Cashel linen by Zweigart in Smokey Pearl
  • Sixteen DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss in 24" (61cm) lengths
  • One 5” (12.5cm) square piece of wool-blend felt, for back
  • One 8½" x 11" (22cm x 28cm) piece of white chipboard for making floss holder
  • Stitching instructions and full-color cross-stitch chart

But you will need to get your own:

Note that a full-color printed copy of the pattern is included with this kits, but the hoop is not included (but is available for purchase separately here).

 

The Spring Ring Cross Stitch KITS are available HERE. They will be shipping at the beginning of next week.

The Spring Ring Cross Stitch PATTERN is available HERE. It is available as a digital PDF for immediate download.

 

Thank you for listening and thank you for shopping! Tell me if you have any questions — I'll be home for the rest of the afternoon and evening! I'll be sprawled on the sofa, but I will rouse if you need me! OVER AND OUT. And happy almost-spring, loves. Xoxo

***Oh yes — forgot to mention, temporary bunny tattoos (see Amelia's hand) go out with every order. :)

***Also: The link to digital patterns that appears on the screen after you finish checking out doesn't seem to be working properly. Skip this link and look for an email that will come (immediately) to the email address you used to place your order. That email will contain a link to your patterns for you. Sorry about that. I have a query into SendOwl and will hopefully have a fix soon. Problem solved. Sorry about that!

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.

Fall Sewing (and Free Shipping)!

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Oh, fall! I love you. Even the torrential rain you sent us all day long on Halloween did not dampen my enthusiasm. We came home with ten pieces of sopping wet candy and one soaking wet Little Red Riding Hood. Amelia conked out and I put on new pajamas and made a list of things I want to make. I reorganized my studio last week. I have been sewing LIKE CRAZY. I'll show you when it's not so incredibly dark all day long and I can take some photos both of the studio and of my new projects. Wool, yarn, floss, tiny buttons, tiny stitches, quilts, sparkly things, ornaments, little animals, granny squares, teapots, knitting needles, bring it on. My fake fireplace is lit and my chai is hot. It's very good!

I've been getting a lot of questions about whether there will be a new ornament kit this year, and no, I will not be doing a new kit this year. I didn't do one last year, either. Back in 2012, when Amelia was born, I kind of made the decision that I would stop doing them. I did do one that fall (Night Before Christmas), and I loved it, but for several years — six, in fact — ornament kit design and production kind of took over our lives here, in a way. It definitely took over our space, and it really took over our time. And because Christmas ornaments are such a deadline-oriented project, I was just feeling like there was no wiggle-room in it, schedule-wise, for me. I'm a pretty impulsive crafting person. I get an idea and I get on it. If I'm feeling it, I bust a move. If I'm not, I don't even try. I didn't think I could design for Christmas in April, and I really want October to be about birthday stuff and pumpkin patches and Halloween costumes, and getting ready for our own family holidays. Also there are other ideas I have for new projects and designs that I, in my limited amount of work time right now, just want to be free to follow. So, I never say never, but for now and indefinitely, I won't be doing new ornament collections. I walk to do some other things — a new quilt pattern, quilt kits of a sort, new crochet patterns, a softie bed kit. I have a million ideas for 2016.

We still do have ornament kits available: Ice Skating Afternoon, Snow Day, Sweet Home, Winter Cabin, and Night Before Christmas are all available in the shop. Walk in the Woods is totally sold out and will not be restocked (though it, and all of the other patterns, are always available as downloadable PDFs). Winter Cabin has less than 50 left, and it won't be restocked when it sells out.

I found out recently that the Mr. Basil Fox kit is going to be featured in the holiday gift guide in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. EXCITING! This was an awesome and totally unexpected surprise. The magazine comes out in mid-November, and although it can be hard to predict the response, I do expect that the web shop itself will see a surge of new traffic around that time. We do not plan to be restocking anything between now and Christmas. So if you are interested in buying a Basil Fox (or Winter Cabin) kit especially but even anything else in the web shop, I would do that in the next two weeks, before mid-November when the magazine hits mailboxes and newsstands, because there is no time for us to restock anything this year.

If you click on the images above each photo should take you to the page in my web shop where you can buy the pattern or kit for yourself. And because I love you, we are offering free shipping on all domestic (United States only) orders today through Thursday, November 5 at 9 p.m. PST (because that's when I go to bed). You don't need a code, just go on over. The image above is made of thumbnails that will take you to all of the individual product pages for items pictured. Happy sewing, dear friends! And thank you so very much for all your interest in my work over these many (fifteen!) years that I've been making patterns and kits. You are the absolute best, and I'm so grateful. Thank you. Xoxo

***Gina asked a question that I get asked a lot — what is the best project for a beginner, or someone with enthusiasm but not a lot of sewing or needlework experience? I honestly think that the Winterwoods ABCs Sampler Kit is the best project. You can read my counted cross stitching tutorial here, which will teach you everything you need to know. And with a bit of practice you'll have such a good, cozy time with this one. Each motif is small, and the gorgeous hand-overdyed thread means you hardly have to make any color changes to have a rich, textured piece. I have gotten more emails from people who say they have never stitched anything before making this one and they loved it. It's one of my very favorites, and I hope you have a great time with it.

Prettiest Party Hats Sewing Kits and Pattern Now on Sale!

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BeautyBlog

Hi! Here are some party hats! Do you want to make them? We have a kit!

It's the PRETTIEST PARTY HATS SEWING KIT and it is now available!

This kit will help you to make the FOUR party hats shown above. It costs $36 plus shipping. The printed pattern, included in the kit, includes templates for numerals 0-9 as well as the entire lowercase alphabet, in case you want to put the birthday girl's initial on her hat, instead of her age. :) I thought what would be cute is that you could make all of them the same number and give them away at a party, or you could make one this year and save the others for next year, and next, and next, and change the number. Or you could make all of them with different initials for different people whose parties you are attending. You could also attach the circle/number patch with Velcro if you wanted, and change it out every year. Oh, the possibilities are just endless [wink]!

Approximate finished size: 7" (17.5cm)

This kit contains:

  • Stitching instructions for hats with color photos for each step
  • Illustrated embroidery tutorial
  • Printed pattern templates
  • Templates for numerals 0-9 and the entire alphabet
  • 31 pieces of wool-blend felt in various sizes and colors to complete hats
  • DMC embroidery floss
  • 2 yards elastic cording for chin straps
  • Clear sequins and clear beads
  • 4 metallic tinsel poms
  • 30 tiny black poms

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You will need:

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These hats are sewn entirely by hand — you do not need a sewing machine to make them. They are fairly simple, and the hardest part is stitching up the back side of the hat, but I show you how to do that so don't worry about it too much. They are so much fun to make. The flowers are very simple and come together easily, and if you just practice your blanket stitch (instructions included) beforehand you'll be fine. They're just sweet little hats. I'm really happy with them!

Here are some detail shots of the four hats:

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We have made a limited number of these kits, and once they are gone, they are gone (in these exact colors, at least, because I know that this mauvey color above is already discontinued [and that was my favorite, naturally]).

We do ship overseas! To place your order, you will be required to read this information, which contains details about international shipping and customs fees you may incur when ordering outside the U.S. (If you are overseas, the shipping cost charged by Posie does not include any further charges you may incur when importing goods.) To see the shipping-only costs for your order and location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. If you do need to add things to your order or change your address after you've placed the order, just email me and we'll figure it out, no worries! I just like to remind people of this ahead of time, because it's a bit easier.

There is a downloadable PDF pattern available here if you have all the supplies and just want the pattern. The pattern lists the exact color names from National Nonwovens (the brand of felt I use) as pictured in these hats.

Okay! If you have any questions, please ask them here in the comments and I will get back to everyone here. Thank you ever so much, as always, for your enthusiasm and support for the things I design. I truly appreciate every single order and kind word you give. Thank you, very, very much, most sincerely. It honestly means the world to me!

Sun Shines

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We've had a week of perfect weather. It's incredible, just incredible, how much easier, happier, and sweeter it makes everything. Today it's perfectly sunny, with a slight breeze blowing. Birds are singing. The sprinkler's waving. I feel as if I can think. The other day Andy and Amelia were out and I was sitting in the yard with the sprinkler going. It was spraying just inches from where I sat reading, in the middle of the day, which I usually never let it (or myself, for that matter) do. Within ten minutes, I had four hummingbirds playing in the sprinkler, just feet away from me. I could actually hear their wings buzzing. It was amazing. And then, all of a sudden there were about a dozen little chickadees or finches (I don't even know) playing in the magnolia tree (just a few feet away in the other direction) that was getting wet from the sprinkler. The little birds were all taking showers in the wet leaves, and just singing and singing. It was one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. I felt like Snow White. It only lasted about fifteen minutes but I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time. I dared not move a muscle. It was just so wonderful.

Have you heard of Magic Custard Cake? This thing is really quite amazing! It's kind of like a giant Dutch baby pancake. Or what I always wish clafoutis was but it never is. Try it. I thought it was absolutely perfect. I really like this kind of plain, custardy-type stuff so much. Plus, it's magic (you'll see!), so that's cool.

Party hat kits won't be ready this week. Wah. My fault. I need to reprint one of the pages of the pattern and will send that back to the printer tomorrow. But that's the only thing that's holding us up, so I'm thinking we can put the kits on sale next week, and I will let you know the details on Monday. So sorry about that. I have lots of things to tell you about shop-wise, so I will put together my thoughts about all that very soon! It's been hard to think but, as mentioned, it seems to be getting easier.

Munch, munch. Try this banana bread from Nigella, too. I have it in her How to Be a Domestic Goddess cookbook, but I can only find this one in metric online. You'll have to translate it. It's incredibly moist. I made two loaves and shared one at a play date and we're still eating the other one, two days later, and it's just as good as it was the same morning I baked it. Andy made this chicken tikka masala for us and it is one of my favorite dinners (and again, you have to change the salt amount recommended if you make this recipe — it's insane; we use 1 teaspoon wherever they call for FOUR).

Meems and I are going to have a lazy day today. Thrifting, grocery store, picnic in the yard, maybe another mango milkshake for dessert. This weather. What a blessing. I wish you a truly wonderful weekend! xoxo

***No, that's neither my nor Andy's tattoo; it's my mom's. 'Cause she's cool like that.

Little Kitchen

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Well, I persist. I cleaned out the kitchen cabinet and added forty recipes to my Paprika app and I've been shopping and cooking almost every day. Since my original freak out, we've only eaten out once as a family (when Andy's work picnic got rained out on Saturday and moved to the brewpub) and I had lunch by myself out yesterday. All of this still feels very, very good and is making me happy. It was truly shocking how much money was being spent on eating out or ordering in. I still am astonished at how much groceries cost (like, 'cause then you have to cook them, etc.). It will be interesting to really run the numbers at the end of this month and see how much was spent on groceries and how much on eating out.

At night I'm going back through my whole entire blog and adding all of my recipes — well, my recipes and things I've linked to that I've liked — to my Paprika app. My sister told me about this thing over a year ago but I never really got into it before. It's basically like a recipe box for your online recipes. You add recipes and photos to the box from anywhere on the internet: There is a list of compatible foodie web sites where you can download (from inside the Paprika app) any recipe very easily; if you're on another web site, and the recipe's format is not easily readable by the app (like the recipes in my blog aren't), then it's pretty easy to use the cut/paste function and get it formatted properly and into the recipe box. What's also cool is the scaling function (you can cut the recipe down to a sixth, or multiply it several times over) and the grocery-shopping function (you tap the recipe and it adds the ingredients to the shopping list for you). Oh, and the meal planner calendar. And the app syncs with my iPad and my iPhone as well as Andy's phone (though you have to buy the apps all separately, I think?), so we don't have to tell each other what to get, etc. I'll just say, "Can you pick up the stuff for fish tacos?" And he just goes into his app (synced with mine) and it's all right there, shopping cart full.

I'm sure everyone knows all of this already and is using all manner of apps like this. I have no affiliation with Paprika, I just think it's very cool; if you know about stuff like this and know of something better, please let me know, though I might be already too-invested in this one — it does take some time to get all of your recipes in there, one by one, and I've spent a few hours on it now. I wasn't using any recipe software at all, so I'm thoroughly goggle-eyed excited by this. My Paprika recipe box doesn't contain anything that I haven't actually made yet. My plan is to get all of my tried-and-true things in there first (and honestly, there are more than I thought, which is good). I've only gotten through about two years of my blog posts that contain recipes (forty) so far, so I have a ways to go. But I feel happy and inspired, and I'm pretty energized. It's a start. When I'm done I'll probably go through my cookbooks to see if any of those recipes that I like are online already. And then, if I'm not totally fried, I'll look at my actual handwritten recipe cards and see if it's worth at least putting a reference to each recipe (and a photo) into Paprika so that I can find add them to the meal planner calendar and find them in my own kitchen, etc. This all brings me no end of satisfaction. I have honestly been trying to get myself organized like this for years, probably for as long as I've been cooking.

Last week I made roasted tequila-lime shrimp and put the shrimp in this excellent quinoa salad by one of my dearest friends Sarah Kline, who is an incredible cook and an inspiration to me in every way. The whole thing was awesome. Then I made more of the blackened fish tacos again but this time I baked the fish in the oven in parchment-paper pouches and I MUCH preferred that, even to grilling. I also added my dad's coleslaw (which is very sweet, and which I really love with spicy stuff) and an easy sauce with a bit of sour cream, a bit of mayo, and some chipotle sauce. Then one morning I woke up and just wanted waffles. This required going out to the garage and finding the waffle maker, which had fallen off of its shelf (we keep some of our extra kitchen appliances in the garage because our kitchen is so small) and I had to haul it up by its tail and thread it back through a giant baker's rack, with the garage door falling on me, etc., etc., to get it out. Got it out and had to clean it within an inch of its life because it hadn't been used in I don't even know how long. Cleaned it (got tennis elbow here), made the waffle batter, then destroyed the first batch of waffles (which required cleaning the waffle maker again, swearing, foot stomping, general despair) as well as the second batch of waffles (which got scorched when, while banging the waffle maker over the sink to "clean" it, I accidentally turned up the darkness setting to Burnt). Luckily I had made so much batter (I'd doubled it, because I intended to be very clever and freeze some of them) that I had enough for one more batch, which came out very nice (though floppy) indeed. And lastly (you're bored now), I made spaghetti and sausage with peas (I added the peas) from the Barilla web site, which I think is very good in general and I have gotten a lot of nice recipes from there over the years. 

DAMN. It was a good week. But I am rusty nails. Out of practice. And kinda tired. That was a lot of cooking. And a LOT of cleaning. But I am determined to improve. Thank you to everyone who left helpful comments about the whole cooking thing on my first post about this a few weeks ago. I do plan to go through those suggestions to see if I find other things that are going to help with this, because it seems that I am not the only one who finds it all very challenging.

I remember a long time ago my favorite teacher (the elegant and inimitable Mr. Don Rehkopf from Oak Park-River Forest High School) told us that he'd had terrible, illegible handwriting as a student. But one day he had a teacher who had beautiful handwriting, and he was so inspired he decided to change his own. And so he diligently adopted a whole new model for his handwriting, and, as a result he had the most unique and gorgeous handwriting I'd ever seen, before or since. I've never forgotten the story, and I can picture his lovely handwriting as I write this. A metaphor. I always think of that lovely, kind gentleman when I'm trying to do something new.

In other unrelated food news, our pretty apples are doing amazingly well! I counted them this morning. There are twenty on our tree, and they are just starting to turn the most gorgeous shade of blush red. How do we know when to pick them? Will they fall off or something when they're ready? I can't believe how happy this tree makes me.

Also, IT RAINED. POURED. Oh my stars it was the best fifteen minutes in the world.

I'm making myself a new macrame necklace. The one in the picture is too short (ran out of cord) so I had to start over. Details to come.

And how do you like my pretty party hats?

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For your party-planning pleasure! We're making kits (and a pattern)! They should be done by maybe next week? Stay tuned! I will discuss!

Basil Fox Back in Business

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Just a quick note to let you know that dapper little Mr. Basil Fox's softie kit is back in the shop with several shirt options (even a new, 1/4" magenta gingham, which is adorable). I also added some fabric/yarn options to Maggie Rabbit (who was sold out, too, in case you were waiting for her) and Juniper Kitty. Just click on the little thumbnail photos on the product pages to see the options, and be sure to choose them from the drop-down menu when ordering!

Thank you! I'll be back soon with a post, but I'm doing some housekeeping today, so . . . working on my to-do list! :) Feels good. Xox

April Flowers

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Oh my goodness, thank you for the sampler orders. Thank you VERY much!!! I am so happy. I truly appreciate your orders and all of your sweet words. I'm really excited about this project and this kit and I really can't wait until they start arriving in mailboxes and you get stitching. Stacy is packing and shipping like a rock star. I'm very proud of this one and I truly hope you'll be pleased! Thank you so much for your interest and your enthusiasm and your support. It means the world to me.

Answers to questions, mostly about what was represented by certain letters: Yes, J is for Jam (or Jelly, or Jar); V is for Violet (after my sweet Violet girl); P is for PIE (blueberry, in this case). AND yes, there is a PDF pattern available if you have floss and fabric of your own — it is available for immediate download here.

As far as making the design in a fabric of a different count (i.e.: one with fewer stitches per inch, presumably), yes, you can do that. Please read through my tutorial which includes a discussion of stitch count (and how it's related to the "thread count" of your fabric). Theoretically, you can work a counted cross stitch pattern on any thread count evenweave fabric you prefer, though it's important to have an understanding of how changing the thread count will change the look and the overall size of your motifs and your entire design. Most cross stitch patterns will give you the dimensions in stitches, as well as inches (or centimeters) on whatever count fabric has been used for this sample. In this case, the finished size of the design area (that's from stitch to stitch, not including any margins) on My Sweetiepie is 13.1" x 10.3" (33cm x 26cm); that's 210 stitches wide x 165 high on 32-count fabric. If you are using a different thread-count fabric, it's important that you recalculate the dimensions in inches or centimeters so you know how much fabric you will need (plus framing and handling margins). For instance, if you are using 28-thread-count fabric, that's 14 stitches per inch; divide 210 stitches by 14 to get the width of the design area in inches, and divide 165 stitches by 14 to get the height (of the design area) in inches. It works out to be 15" x almost 12". So you'll just want to make sure you understand that before you use a fabric with a different thread count.

Ahhh, the days have been busy! Four days, no naps. You know what I mean. Funny things being said. Yesterday, after dinner, I'm in kitchen loading dishwasher, Mimi's in high chair in dining room, starting to wimper.

Me: "Meemers, are you sad?"
Amelia: "Yes."
Me: "Why, honey?"
Amelia: "Because I want to go to sleep in my little crib!"

Later, we're both lying in the big bed and she's pretty much completely asleep. She suddenly pops straight up and says, loudly, as if startled, "I love APPLES?!?!?!"

I whisper, "Yes, you do." She lays back down and goes to sleep.

Easter was lovely. On Saturday there was a neighborhood Easter-egg hunt, which was very sweet. We had brunch with my family on Sunday and then spent the rest of the day gardening and going to the park. She got a watering can from the Easter bunny and watered in all the new plants. Remember my wildflower garden from the seed packs in the parkway beds last year? Well, tons of those flowers were perennials, and they're coming back. I threw a whole bunch more seeds in, too. I thought they were incredibly pretty, though the beds got pretty scrappy as the really hot weather moved in. But, what didn't. I get pretty scrappy when the really hot weather moves in. 

Today, though, it's wonderfully cold. Birds are singing. Flowers are blooming. Leaves are busting, so juicy looking you want to munch a mouthful like a little bunny. Favorite spring dinners? Any suggestions? I need cooking inspiration, yet again. Last night I made my shrimp bowls. Thinking about doing that again, with quinoa and chicken. What are you making? What's good?

***Her sweater details are here, and her dress and pinafore here. :)

My Sweetiepie Sampler Kits Now Available!

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Well, good morning! Do you know your ABCs? We're learning them here, and we want to share ours with you!

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My Sweetiepie ABCs Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now ready to order here!

You can click on both of those images above to see them enlarged. :)

This counted cross stitch sampler was inspired by the delightful experience of living with two-year-old Miss Amelia Paulson while she learns, among billions of other things right now, her ABCs. It is stitched on 32-count linen (that's 16 stitches per inch) with two-plies of DMC six-ply cotton embroidery floss. Suitable for boys and girls of all ages, it is, to date, possibly my favorite thing I have ever designed.

Finished Size of Design Area: 13.1" x 10.3" (33cm x 26cm); 210 stitches wide x 165 high on 32-count fabric

My Sweetiepie ABCs Cross Stitch Sampler Kit contains:

One 20" x 18" (51cm x 46cm) piece of 32-count Zweigart Belfast linen in Stone Gray
(79) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
Stitching instructions
Illustrated stitch tutorial for special stitches
Color cross-stitch chart with symbols
One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer
*Frame not included.

You will need your own:

#24 tapestry needle(s) for cross stitch
Embroidery scissors
4" (10cm) embroidery hoop
Frame and framing supplies

If you are new to counted cross stitch, or need a refresher on the basics, please see my "how to do counted cross stitch" tutorial here.

This is not a hard project, and can definitely be done by beginners, but it is big! And the stitches are small! And there are a lot of colors! There are 47 colors in this sampler. But come on, that is why it is AWESOME!!! Using so many colors gives these little motifs so much depth and richness, especially relative to each other. Besides, you don't want this project to go fast. You want to sit with this and watch every episode of Outlander and then start the new season (which just started).

That said, I think one of the "hardest" parts of making this sampler will be organizing the 79 lengths of floss (in 47 colors) that you will receive in the kit. The floss will come to you in three separate hanks, with about twenty-six or -seven 24" lengths in each group. The pattern includes a list of floss colors and numbers, along with their symbols as used in the chart, organized into the three groups. I've included a piece of chipboard (thin cardboard) and the instructions for making floss organizers like mine.

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To help you separate the colors, which can be a bit tricky but not really too bad (since you are given the number of lengths included and the color name, which provides a general description of the color itself) I've put some large photos of my floss, all organized, up on my web site here. This should help you figure out how to tell the colors apart, relative to each other. 

Remember, you need to separate two plies away from the six-ply embroidery floss length to work the cross stitches throughout the sampler. Special stitches, including backstitches and French knots, use one or two plies, as indicated in the instructions. If you don't know how to do these stitches, I've included illustrations and directions for working them in the pattern.

The chart you will receive is quite large, larger than the actual size of the finished piece, and it is broken into four separate one-sided pages. You can use them individually or cut them out and tape the chart together, overlapping the grayed areas. Each color has its own symbol, keyed, as I mentioned, to a list of color names and DMC's assigned floss-color number. To work the design, you follow the chart, counting stitches as you go.

It also really helps to have something dark on your lap as you stitch. The holes in the fabric that you need to stitch through are so much easier to see.

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Also, as you probably know, I also carry my favorite supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. For this project, we have:

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Gorgeous little embroidery scissors.

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Hardwicke Manor 4" hoops.

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Twill tape to wrap around the inner hoop. You don't need to do this, but it's nice, and provides more tension to keep the fabric from slipping out of the hoop as you stitch.

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And size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch on linen.

All supplies will be shipped along with your kit.

We do ship overseas! To place your order, you will be required to read this information, which contains details about international shipping and customs fees you may incur when ordering outside the U.S. (If you are overseas, the shipping cost charged by Posie does not include any further charges you may incur when importing goods.) To see the shipping-only costs for your order and location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. If you do need to add things to your order or change your address after you've placed the order, just email me and we'll figure it out, no worries! I just like to remind people of this ahead of time, because it's a bit easier.

What else do I need to tell you. I don't even know. Other than that I am crazy excited about this! If you do have questions, please ask them here and I will pop back in throughout the day to answer. Thank you!!! Xoxoxoxoxo, A&Co.!

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.