Pumpkin & Moonshine, and Something for the Birthday Girl!

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BlogBeauty

Hello! This is my new kit and pattern for Halloween! It's called Pumpkin & Moonshine (inspired by one of our very favorite books). I have always wanted to do some little silhouettes and this seemed like the perfect opportunity! These designs are done on 32-count Belfast linen in the color Antique Ivory, which is sort of like this wonderful, warm pale pumpkin-rind color. And they are stitched with two skeins of DMC six-strand cotton floss in color #3371. The kit is $23 and includes a full-color printed pattern with a black-and-white chart, a 14" x 16" piece of fabric that you can use to stitch both designs, and two skeins of floss. The kit is available here. The downloadable PDF pattern is available here.

The framing supplies are not included in the kit, but here's the story of how I framed these: I often surf eBay for vintage and antique frames for my cross stitch. Some old frames come in really weird sizes that are not standard. I found two little 3" x 7" frames, new in their package, and the price was right so I ordered them. Before they came I was excited and I went ahead and designed these based on the reported frame opening. By the time the frames came, the stitching was done — but the stitched pieces looked really bad in the frames. (The frames were too dark and heavy, and the stitching went way to close to the opening edges, and I just didn't like it.)

So I cut two pieces of 1/4"-thick foam core that were 4" x 8" and wrapped my stitched fabrics around them. (By the way, I buy these boards to use for my cross-stitch pieces, and cut them with a sharp Exacto knife if necessary, and I use short sequin pins to secure the fabric through the edges of the foam core — if you are interested in a tutorial for how I do this, I have details here.) Then I cut a few pieces of kraft cardstock (you could use a cereal box, or some cardboard pieces, or a leftover flat mailer) that were just 1/4" wider all the way around than the mounted embroidery (so, 4.5" x 8.5"). I happen to have a plum tree out front with very straight twigs on it, so I cut some of those perfectly to size (keep the top one a bit longer) and hot-glued them to the cardstock just on the verrrry edges of the cardstock. Make sure you can fit the mounted embroidery in the space and then you can glue that in, too (though I just used fabric glue for that — hot glue around actual embroidery kind of scares me because I'm not that good with it and the glue gun is always falling over and getting on everything). Then I tied a little piece of leather cord (kinda like this one, which comes in a bunch of colors) to the longer ends of the top twig. And voila! I really like them!

I am using a new printer and all four of my new patterns that I am kitting (including three Christmas patterns that I will be releasing in the next week or two) were sent to the printer last week and they are due to arrive here on Monday, September 26. As soon as they get here we will get Pumpkin & Moonshine orders out the door on Tuesday, as I have all the fabric cut and the floss is waiting!

BeautyCoverBlog

I have also designed this sweet little treat, called Birthday Girl. I made it for Amelia's upcoming birthday because this girl just loves her candy, and her cute little things, and balloons, and everything sweet. (It didn't seem right to use her actual name and birth date for something I was going to sell, so I just purposely made up a name and date that would fit her name perfectly, but I apologize if this bears any resemblance to someone's actual name/birth date! I'm going to frog all of this and replace it with Amelia's details when I get a chance.) I think it would also be so cute as a birth announcement for a new baby! It's quick to work up and really fun to stitch. The Birthday Girl pattern comes with both a full-color chart with symbols and a black-and-white chart with symbols, as well as a full alphabet chart with both capital and lowercase letters, numerals from 0-9, and a blank worksheet for you to create your own text at the bottom of the pattern. It is available only as a downloadable PDF pattern, not as a kit.

I am going to start designing more patterns that I release only as PDFs. This just sort of frees me up as a designer sometimes, as I don't have to worry so much about which fabric I am using and whether it's going to be available by the time I go to kit it, and which floss colors I'm using and whether I have enough to kit, etc. And also — it's just easier and faster to do a pattern, for obvious reasons! So yeah, more patterns coming in the future!

That said, as mentioned above, I have three more new Christmas/winter kits/patterns coming, and they are all finished and printed and are being shipped to me as I write. I don't want to launch them until I have the fabric in hand (that's the most important thing to have, and let me tell you, it can be tricky to get fabric in large quantities these days) and the fabric has been ordered, and some of it has been shipped (and some of it is on its way from Europe). I'm crossing every finger until it all gets here and then I will show you pictures and have all the information! I'm really excited. It feels so good to be making things!

We Can Do It

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1stDay

School has started! Child is excited! There have been many emotions!

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The first two weeks are under our belts and overall things seem to be going well, though I won't lie — it's been intense! Amelia is excited, her teacher is lovely, the kids are wonderful. It's great to be back, and we are figuring it out. The first week she was "revving high," as we say here. Lots of zooming around the school yard, lots of hooting noises, lots of chasing people trying to give them things, or pick them up or carry them around, or — I honestly don't even know what all was happening. Andy took the first week of school off and he and I would be there waiting together under the tree when the last bell rang, and she would be as energized at 3 p.m. as she was at 8:30 a.m. At home, also lots of energy, lots of talking in a very intense new, big-girl sort of voice (you know it if you've heard it — I can't explain), lots of excitement, a tiebreaker-in-the-fifth-set sort of ever-present anticipation, knees bouncing, racquet up: Ready to serve! Ready to receive! Then, on the third or so day after Andy went back to work, sudden tears. Clinging. Hugging on the blacktop. She didn't want me to leave. The bell rang and she bravely carried forth. I shed a tear of my own on the way home. Oh, my heart. The teacher sweetly emailed me later in the morning with the subject line "weepy drop-off." She let me know that she had given Meems some extra TLC when they had gotten up to the classroom and all was well. (I so appreciated the email! During the school day! Wow!)

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The days rolled by. We started getting used to the new routine. New bedtime-time, new breakfast-eating time, new leaving-the-house time. At school, several reported wipe-outs and trips to the nurse's office — a scraped elbow, a second scraped elbow (on the same day), and then yesterday a completely scraped NOSE. And lip. When pressed: "I was carrying Caitlin piggyback and I fell into the grass with my face." Telling me for the fourteenth time that she is "strong enough to carry a fifth grader." Me: "That's wonderful, but unless you are carrying someone out of a burning building, I want everyone's feet on the ground." Gah. Yesterday, after the nose-scraping wipe-out, her first after-school class at new ballet school across town (our [mellow] old nearby one has permanently closed): It did not go well. Parking/drop-off was chaos. The class was also very crowded (not great), and after it she came flying out the door, red-faced and streaming tears, throwing herself into my arms and saying that her shoes were too small, and she had a giant hole in her tights, and she "didn't know anything." Me: "Oh sweetheart! It's okay! What did the teacher say?" Her, wailing: "I have no idea!!! I didn't understand anything!" Ooof.

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So yeah. She left school halfway through first grade. And now she's going back as a fourth grader. She was a little kid, and now she's a big kid. As capable as she is, and as positive as she is, it's been a leap, across a very real gap, and not without a few tears and a few tumbles. But I am just so, so proud of her. I'm constantly in awe of her bravery. My big, beautiful girl. Today after school she wants to go to the dance store to get new ballet slippers to be ready for ballet class tomorrow. She said, "Everyone who saw my nose was like, 'Oh my gosh, what happened to your nose? Are you okay? Does that hurt?' but I just said, "Nope! Ha ha!'" Me: [insert quizzical emoji face] "Mmmkay!" She's figuring things out. Andy and I are figuring things out.  And just trying to take it one day at a time. It really has been kind of a manic two weeks, comparatively. I keep remembering to be gentle with her, and be gentle with everyone, and with . . . everything, everywhere. And to give it the time to let it all settle, as it feels a bit like a prescribed dust-storm right now. But it's starting to settle. I think it's starting to settle.

GabrielPArk

I've been home designing cross stitch patterns. I have five new designs for you. Literally five. In like . . . two weeks of work? Apparently I had a few ideas I'd been waiting to explore. Fingers flying. I will be back with at least one to launch right away. It's for Halloween. My first-ever Halloween design. I'm not really into Halloween. But I don't think anyone considers you a legit cross stitch designer until you have designed something for Halloween so you know I did. I want to proof the pattern one more time and then I'll have it here for you ASAP.

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 These are heady, exciting, mildly nutso days! My girl is growing and learning and changing and trying. And so am I.

And the winners are . . .

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Drawing

3rd Place: Laura Minnich

2nd Place: Kristin Singer

GRAND PRIZE: Ruth Scherer

My "summer ends" sale ended last night at midnight! This morning I printed out all of the names of every person who ordered since the sale started last week and Amelia pulled three winners out of the bag. Congratulations to you Laura, Kristin, and Ruth! And thank you so much to everyone who ordered/entered! That was very exciting! We will have to do that more often now that I have the web site set up for sales. I still have a few orders from the past two days to ship out today, and I will be contacting the winners and getting their prizes out early next week! And I'll be back with a blog post then, too! Lots of exclamation points! XOXOXOXOXO, a

Near the Summer's End

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The Paulsons, Portland, OR, August 4, 2022

Our vacation was really fun, sunny, wet, and hot. We will remember our favorite memories which are mourning doves, floating in the river, crayfish, cool mornings, eagles, wildlife, sandwiches, sleeping, photography, Great British Baking Show, crocheting on the porch, tacos, taking baths, ridiculous tubers, reading, watching Sonic 2, warm rain, eating lunch while relaxing in the river, flowers, fresh air, geese, sleepovers, knitting, pancakes and bacon, which rock is bigger (game), fishies, music, nice rooms, birds, clean, cold water, and listening to meals being cooked.

(Written by Amelia [though we all contributed our favorite memories] in the guest book on the morning of our departure from the river house; edited for spelling :)

I know I've been gone for a while, and I'm not even that sure where I've been. Nowhere, really. Honestly, this summer has been quietly wonderful. We didn't do anything big. There were days at the library and days at the park, days at the pool and lunches in the shade, ice creams and popsicles. Play dates, playgrounds. A lemonade stand. A trip to a movie theater for brunch, a day at the mall. Days spent outside at grandma's, afternoons spent watching television at home in the air conditioning. Bike rides and reading. Before school starts, we're planning a trip to the zoo next week. The sweet, simple pleasures of a summer where we didn't have endless heat waves (they were short) and the sky wasn't filled with wildfire smoke. I've never been so grateful for a summer.

We went to the river house for several days this month for our annual summer vacation. The owner texted me the morning before we were supposed to leave and said, you can actually come today if you want to — no one's here and it's ready for you. For free! We were all just sitting around for once, so we packed real quick and headed down a whole day early. Bonus day! It was great. That was just so nice of him. Amelia used my big camera a lot and took some of the photos above. I usually have epic reading experiences at the river but this year — I really had no book that pleased me! And it was kind of a bummer! But, never mind. I sat in the river under my beach umbrella, listening to eagles calling, listening to the water, listening to Amelia and Andy play. The riverbed is covered with a thick layer of giant, slippery cobblestones. Millions of them. It's very shallow where we are, but very hard to walk in, so my foot and I usually stay put. Amelia walked up ten or fifteen yards and floated back toward a waiting Andy dozens of times. Every day, all day. He patiently waited for her to "swim" down to him. She loved it so much. I loved watching them. Overhead, swallows swooped. I tried to take some quilt pictures but it was so hard — I had forgotten the tripod, so it was impossible to get good shots inside. (I'm still planning to sell some of these but I seriously cannot get decent photos of them and it stresses me out.) For dinner, we made tacos, or chicken verde, or spaghetti. For lunch we ate sandwiches in the sun. At night we watched The Great British Baking Show, something we did last year and loved doing again. We have traditions there. It's our ninth summer there. We've been going since Amelia was baby. She says it's her favorite place in the world. I think it's mine and Andy's too. Gosh, it was just so nice.

It was sweet but short, though. The end of summer is nearing so quickly. Amelia starts school back at her neighborhood elementary school on August 30, and as that date approaches I am filled with so many conflicting emotions I can't even count them, let alone name them. I am a spaghetti tangle of feelings. Andy and I have both been working a lot the past few weeks. I have some new designs coming up that I am excited to tell you about — I will have a birthday/birth announcement sampler pattern release this fall, and then a whole brand new seasonal cross-stitch kit (and pattern) series available for 2022-23. The first one of the new series will be released as a pre-order in a few weeks — it is a winter design called Evening Skate. I have winter, spring, and summer already (digitally) designed, and am working on autumn 2023 (so, a year ahead — wow, first time for me to plan ahead!). Anyway, I also have some exciting (to me, at least) announcements coming up this fall — my wholesale preparations are getting going (I'll be talking more about that soon), Andy and I are testing out some brand new lotion-bar shapes and scents (and yes, we will finally be restocking our classic bars [and a lot of our sold-out supplies in general] as well), I want to have some cross-stitch Christmas ornament patterns for you, I will be dyeing some yarn for a holiday release, I want to write a new quilt pattern, and my friend has invited me to participate in something really awesome next spring (more on that soon!). So, school is starting for Amelia and work is starting for me!

Before that, let's have a sale! In preparation for making my web site ready for selling patterns wholesale, my web designer added something I've been wanting on my site for a while now: a discount code! Yay! I have been wanting this for ages and finally it has happened! And as a way of saying thank you to every one of you for being here on this blog and in my web shop through thick and thin, I would like to have an end-of-summer sale of 15% off everything in my web shop from now until the end of August.

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In addition to that, every single person who orders anything on my web site during the sale time will be ENTERED INTO A DRAWING for one of three prizes:

Third prize: One Stitcher's RSVP kit (currently sold out!), or any in-stock kit of your choice if you already have this one

Second prize: One Stitcher's RSVP kit (see above), one Hardwicke Manor 4" embroidery hoop, one package of twill tape (for wrapping hoop), one package of Bohin size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch

GRAND PRIZE: One Stitcher's RSVP kit (see above), one Hardwicke Manor 4" embroidery hoop, one package of twill tape (for wrapping hoop), one package of Bohin size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch, one Bohin heart-shaped 3 1/2" embroidery scissors, one skein of hand-dyed fingering-weight yarn, one yet-to-be-released new-designed lotion bar, one big bar of all-natural handmade cold-processed soap, and one handmade-by-me ceramic soap dish!

You don't have to do anything besides order to enter (and you can place as many orders as you like, but there will only be one entry per customer). The sale will go from now until midnight on August 31! After the sale ends, I will put all of the customer names who have ordered during that period into a hat and have Amelia draw three winners. I will announce them here on Thursday, September 1!

I've never done anything like this before but I've always wanted to! I've been so conflicted about summer ending, but I hope this will be fun for all of us, and I look forward to seeing who wins! And thank you very much for participating!

Parks and Playdates

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Oh my, the busy days! A lot of these photos were on my phone. We've been busy around town and busy at home. Amelia went to a week of pottery camp and is doing tennis camp this week. In between there have been lots of visits to parks with friends and having friends over and swimming with friends and just generally having a lot of fun. It's wonderful. I try to take these big vertical photos to show you the big trees at our playgrounds. At least the playgrounds that this mama prefers! (Some playgrounds literally have no trees and no shade, and I honestly cannot handle those.) It's hot today — 97 degrees forecasted — but really, until today, the weather has been absolutely perfect this summer. Eighty degrees and sunny, sometimes cloudy (yay!). Once it stopped raining, the sun came out (mostly) and the local gardens absolutely exploded with joy. We needed that rain so, so much. A few months of spring rain has made summer living just blissful. Absolutely blissful. I'd forgotten that the grass could be green, the plants could survive, the trees could look quenched in July. Well, I am loving it.

Next week is Andy's and my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Egads!!! That means we've been together for thirty years now. Silver anniversary. Instead of getting a silver present, we bought three little gardens to plant in our raised beds. We got one August Afternoons and two Summer Dreams pre-planned gardens, all from High Country Gardens. They shipped to us back in May and we planted them then. The plants were very small and a few did not make it. But all of the rain we had this spring — oh man. What a lucky, lucky break for us and these little gardens. Everything got watered in so well and now it is just lush and growing beautifully. The above picture is from the day last week when Andy planted a few of the replacement plants I bought at Portland Nursery and Amelia was helping him dig and tidy. We weeded everything, trimmed the vinca and clover, and fixed the willow fences, and everything is looking so pretty now. (In the picture there are a lot of oak leaves on the ground, and I'm now remembering that in the days before it was really windy one night and a ton of leaves blew down from the neighbor's trees — that was weird, because they usually don't do that.) But anyway, that area looks better in real life now than it does in that picture and I will take another one to show you how nice. I think I really recommend these gardens. We have replanted that areas so many times. Over the past twenty years it has been a rose garden, many failed vegetable gardens, a random wildflower garden, a random flower seed garden, and kind of a messy dahlia garden. BUT NOW it is going to be an August Afternoons and Summer Dreams garden and I am absolutely determined to take care of it and not replant this area again.

The tree to the left of Amelia in the picture is a gnarly old plum tree that dies more every year. I'm fairly certain it's almost a hundred years old and it has had so many large limbs that have died and then been trimmed that it just looks horrendous. It also drops cherry-sized plums all over the sidewalk which explode upon landing and make such a mess that people actually cross the street rather than walk past our house (like right now — they're falling now). We are going to apply for a permit to have it removed and replace it with an Eddie's White Wonder dogwood I think it is. Or a Venus dogwood or a Starlight — any opinions on these? (There's a list of approved parkway trees under power lines that we have to choose from.) I hope our permit gets approved. You can't really see the tree in this picture but it has a large, low-hanging limb that hangs over the driveway into our neighbor's parkway and it is dead now. There are sooooo many of these plum trees around Portland and they all look to be really ancient and just totally gnarly. The plums are sour as anything (and are super tiny to boot) and the trees just get so covered in lichen and suckers and, I don't know. They're pretty gross. I wonder if they were all planted at the time these neighborhoods were built in the 1920s. I have no idea how much it is going to cost to remove the tree, or plant a new one. I'm scared. I hope it's not a huge amount of money. We've been putting this off for a while. We were told the last time we got the tree trimmed (maybe four years ago) that it needed to be 50% dead to be removed, and ours was only 40% dead. Pah!

Anyway, mid-July. I'm taking a pottery class at the community college down the road. I went to my first class on Friday, having completely missed the actual first class the week before because I read the date wrong. I literally almost cried. I was just sitting around doing nothing, anxiously awaiting the start of my pottery class!!! Hello! I threw two pots in the class. Well, in open studios, too. The class is from about 9:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., and then open studios (where you get to just practice on your own) is from 1:30 until 4:30. My second pot took me two hours, I do know that. The clay (B mix?) was so, I don't know, sturdy? I couldn't get the pot "open." I didn't want to mess it up! Which was just silly. But I mean . . . let me just say . . . how unbelievably awesome it is to just sit there for two hours and throw one pot. I didn't even care. The music was on, the other students were so sweet and friendly, the teachers were just great. And I just sat and centered the clay and then opened the clay and then pulled up the sides. For two hours. One pot. Me to teacher, at 3:30: "Paul, I want to throw another pot but we only have an hour!" Paul, drily: "I could throw an entire dinner set in an hour." Hah! Paul. Gahhhh, it was so amazing. I was there from 9:30 until 4:30, all by myself! I don't know the actual last time I spent seven entire hours away from either Andy or Amelia. It's been years, guys. Y e a r s. It felt like the most ridiculous luxury. Throwing pots! Listening to non-Minecraft music! Not rushing because no one needed me to do something other than what I was doing, and nothing had to be cooked or cleaned there, and no one was crying about anything, or needed to be driven somewhere! Oh have mercy it was an exquisite indulgence, and to think I missed the first class!!!!!!!!!

Thank you SO MUCH for all of the orders these past few weeks, as well. I am so grateful for your orders and your interest and enthusiasm — thank you so much! The Stitcher's RSVP kit is almost sold out and I haven't decided if we will re-issue it. I have some extra evenweave fabric from kits over the years that I am going to try to use up before buying more. The minimum amounts I need to order from the distributor have increased (for certain fabrics) and I just don't have the numbers that I used to to make doing large quantities of kits an absolute no-brainer like it used to be. 2022 was the year I was supposed to be getting my patterns ready for wholesale (along with, you know, 2021, and 2020, blurgh) and I am going to focus on that when Amelia goes back to school in the fall. I swear I am going to! That said, I have lots of new ideas, so I will have lots of new patterns — they just might not all make it into kit form. We'll see. It's been a long few years and I've been doing my best not to just get . . . lost in space. Like everyone else, I'm sure. One foot in front of the other. That said, A Tender Year: July hasn't even been designed yet. It'll all get done eventually, I hope. Maybe just not during this actual tender year. But when I have more help from Portland Public Schools.

Some good shows: The Great Pottery Throwdown (obbbbbviously). We've watched it two or three times now (and the most recent season is so great). We really liked Signora Volpe (kind of a cross between Miss Marple and Under the Tuscan Sun). I just finished bingeing all of the seasons of Line of Duty on the recommendation of a friend and that was intense! If you have a child, we all really liked Just Add Magic. I also really liked Redemption, though Andy didn't see it. I love television.

Summer Stitching 2022

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Cover jpg web blog

Oh, you know it! I still want to be invited but I'm not coming! I'm staying home with my kitters, and my needle and thread, and my Monty Don shows and my nightgown and my Stella light and maybe the teensy-tiniest bit of guilt/regret, but I'll get over it! I can't help it. I'm an INTJ! And no matter how many times I take the personality test it never changes, for better or worse. Knit knit knit. Stitch stitch stitch. Make another cup of teeeeeea.

This piece is stitched on 32-count linen (that's 16 stitches per inch) with two-plies of DMC six-ply cotton embroidery floss. Please note: Most of this piece is stitched "2 over 2," or 2 plies of floss over 2 threads of fabric. But the text is stitched "1 over 1," or 1 ply of floss over 1 thread of fabric. That's tiny! But you can do it.

Finished size of design area: 6.25"w x 5.2"h (16cm x 13cm); 100 stitches wide x 83 high on 32-count fabric

This design is available as a kit, and contains:
  • One 9" x 10" (23cm x 25cm) piece of 32-count evenweave linen from Wichelt in Mediterranean Sea
  • (29) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
  • Stitching instructions
  • Color cross-stitch chart with symbols
  • One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer

You will need:

If you'd like just the downloadable pattern available as a PDF (which contains color and black-and-white charts), please CLICK HERE.

To learn how to do counted cross stitch, please click here.

For help with framing your finished piece yourself, please click here.

 

Beauty3 blog

Here we finally have A Tender Year: June.

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This design was stitched on Kona cotton (this time in colorway Dusty Peach) and wrapped around an inexpensive 5" x 7" (13cm x 18cm) stretched canvas. (If you'd like a tutorial on wrapping canvas with embroidery, please see this page.) It uses DMC floss. The pattern includes illustrations for all the stitches included, so if you are a beginner you should have no trouble. If you'd like to stitch along with the entire series, here are the January, February, March, April, and May patterns.

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We still have many kits left for some of my summer designs from previous years. This one is Strawberry Summer, also stitched on 32-count linen to fit in an 8" x 10" frame. It is also available as a downloadable PDF pattern.

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Here is Summer Wreath. It is available as a kit, with everything you need included, or a downloadable PDF pattern. This is part of an entire series, so if you are interested in stitching all four seasons, please see Spring, Autumn, and Winter Wreath kits. All PDFs for them are available here.

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Here is Things of Summer! It's probably one of my very favorite designs I've ever made. We have kits available, and also the PDF pattern. (Things of Autumn and Things of Winter kits are still available; unfortunately, the fabric for Things of Spring has been discontinued so that kit has sold out and will not be back in stock. PDF patterns are available for all.)

SummerStormBlog

There are a few sweet Summer Storm kits left. I feel like I have more of these in overstock but I will need to find them. It is also available as a PDF.

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This is the Midsummer Sprigs design. I cannot find where I ever did post about this, but I know I did! We never made this into a kit, but it has been available as a PDF pattern for many years. It is stitched with hand-dyed Weeks Dye Works floss, but DMC conversions are given in the pattern. I love this design. I have it hanging in my upstairs hallway. It's done on 28-count black linen fabric. If you think you might have trouble stitching on black, try stitching with a white dishtowel on your lap. It will really make the holes in the fabric pop, and you'll be able to "see your stitches" much more easily.

Beauty 1 blog

I know I said that I would do a Scarborough Faire skirt sew-a-long! I think I'm going to have my hands too full this summer to organize that but I am going to make some of my vintage calicos available for sale. This skirt is just cool because there are no actual pattern pieces: Instead, you will take your measurements, plug them into my formula, and cut a bunch of rectangles based on that formula. The pattern walks you through the whole thing, with illustrations for every step. The pockets will fit your phone, keys, and wallet. I have four or five of these skirts now and I wear them constantly. Make it is short or long as you want.

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Have you stitched the Daisychain ABCs Sampler?

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If you have been wanting to, I have four crewel-wool packs for this pattern available in my shop right now. We found them when we were doing some spring cleaning and I've just listed them. You can also do this design in DMC floss, but it looks so cool in wool, I think.

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I have a few Summer Day lotion bars right now. We will try to restock all of the scents in the fall, when we have more time.

Last but not least, if you want to stitch a pretty Queen Anne's lace flower on something, I have a free pattern for that:

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I hope you find one of these projects to your liking. I love stitching in the summertime when the light seems to last forever and there's more time to linger with needle and thread. Please let me know if you have any questions about these patterns and kits, and thank you, as ever, for your interest in and support of my work. I appreciate it beyond words! XOXO

Summer Starts

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A mostly cold and rainy start, but still, it's a start! We've had a busy and fun few weeks, with a ballet recital, a midsummer festival, and a trip to Oaks Park amusement park for Father's Day. I love these traditions and it feels so, so good to be back at them. The weather held off raining for the most part, but you can see how muddy it was at the midsummer festival. We broke a record for rainfall in April, May, and June (so far). No one is really complaining, not out loud at least, because I know we all think that if it can keep the place from burning down in August, we'll take it. This week has been beautiful, and everyone is ready for sunshine. Yesterday it was about eight degrees, and even the plants were thrilled. I mean, you could see it! Everything sort of stood up a bit straighter, faces pointed toward the light.

Amelia was a bit bummed that she hadn't dressed fancier for the midsummer festival, and I promised to make her a cute Swedish or Norwegian (turns out she's both, along with having ancestors from Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, Mexico, Northern Africa, the Levant, Indigenous North Americas, and Spain — amazing! Thanks Ancestry!) dress for next year. I'll have to do some research on that! I do love a challenge that involves folk-wear. Andy is 60% Swedish. Turns out, Ancestry says I'm 7% Swedish myself. Never knew! Matching family outfits???

I'm in my office, trying to get caught up a bit. I've finally had a bit of time this week, and it's clear that I have so much work to do to just . . . get myself back on track. Back on track. I have a million projects that are about 90% finished, with the hardest, most un-fun last 10% abandoned, pre-completion. Hmmm. Necklaces, paintings, ceramics stuff, glazes, underglazes, kiln stilts, beads, quilting stuff, yarn stuff, just . . . lots of stuff, and lots of allllllmost-finished but definitely not-finished stuff. I have cross-stitch designs that I've never stitched that I want to complete. I have a box of cross-stitch fabric that I want to turn into a few small runs of kits. I have three big boxes of undyed yarn that I want to dye. Maybe I'll get my mojo back in the fall? I'm usually a finisher. . . .

Thank you so much for all of the book recommendations for Amelia and I to read together this summer! It's just so exciting. We finally finished Anne of Green Gables last week and it was just a wonderful experience. I had read the book before but I absolutely loved reading it out loud to Amelia. For our next book, I decided to go with Thimble Summer, which was one of my childhood favorites. It's must longer than I remembered, so it's just perfect for her right now, and I think the main character, Garnet, is actually nine, going on ten, just like Amelia. But I'm thrilled to have the list that you all recommended, and I thank you for your suggestions and thoughts and memories. I love them.

I myself am reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, which was a birthday present from my sister Julie that I'm only now getting to. I really like it. I recently finished The Good House and An Innocent, A Broad, both by Ann Leary. I also really liked both of them and read them very quickly. Another library book that I am reading is called Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton. (I read an interview with Ann Leary and she recommended this book; I actually read the interview before I had read any of Ann Leary's book, but I liked the interview so much I decided to look the books up. Here is the interview.) Not sure why I'm spending so much time reading when I actually have four hundred other things I need to be doing, but there it is.

I have finished my design for A Tender Year: June and I also have a brand new cross-stitch kit and design finished and I am going to stuff those kits today. I need to run right now but come back tomorrow and I'll have a post so that you can see them!

P.S. Amelia got a little autograph book at her end-of-the-year class party and had the idea to take it to Oaks Park on Father's Day and get signatures from all of the ride operators throughout the day, which was basically the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life.

This Was May

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This was May, though there were a lot more necklaces, paintings, flowers, books, getting cats out of trees, worry, and tears for the state of the world. A lot more tears. And helpless, seething anger and fear for our children's futures. Every night I fall asleep to a sleep story (right now, Humphrey in Rio) on my Calm app, taking big, deep breaths and listening to the traffic outside. In my head, when the story finishes and I'm not yet asleep, I throw imaginary pots on the potter's wheel, slowly centering clay, feeling it push against my hands, feeling myself attempt to steady and control it. I'm terrible at it, in fact. The clay spins and slumps.

The weather has been warm but still very rainy, generally speaking.  The sweetest thing is watching Agatha learn how to be outside. At times we're still unsure about this decision we've made to let her Out. But she, mostly with great caution, has been going outside for about a month or two now, ever since the weather has warmed up. The backyard is fenced and she mostly stays in it (though we did find her in the driveway a few weeks ago, which is why I say "mostly"). But mostly she literally creeps around the backyard, trying to move so no predators see her, apparently. She listens to the birds and sniffs the air and lays on the warm bricks in the sunshine, watching little bugs crawl in and out of the cracks. She sits on the back porch and tilts her face up toward the sun. She runs over to me, meowing loudly — it's genuinely like she's trying to talk to me, and tell me things about Outside — whenever I come out. She sits under the thick hood of climbing hydrangea against the wall when it rains. Three times she's run straight up the trees — twice up the apple and once up the dogwood, each time going way too high. Making the choice to run up a tree gets you a swift trip back into the house. (Andy and I look at each other, grimacing, picturing ladders and balancing and trying to grab a cat that is trying to stick every claw into you while you teeter precariously. Great.) We bring her in whenever we are done worrying about it for the day, or whenever we leave the house. But her joy — her absolute wonder and pure delight as she sprawls out, furry belly splayed on the hot wooden stair, listening to birdsong — you can literally sense it, and it makes me so happy. I wish you similar, simple joys.

Amelia and I have been spending several hours every week in the children's department at a suburban library. She gets her homework done and I sit in a big chair and read and read. I don't know why we didn't do this all year, but we only started a few weeks ago. It's really nice. She's motivated to finish the homework so she can go play on the library computer. I'm thrilled to have several hours of enforced reading time that I don't normally get/take. I've finished two books there since we started going (one was Northern Spy and one was The Secret Place; not sure I recommend either, actually). Not sure what I will read today.

Thank you very much for all the feedback about the books that Amelia is reading/listening to. I really appreciated the discussion about Anne with an E (and Harry Potter). I think I will watch that Anne myself sometime and save the Megan Follows version for Meems this summer. We are almost finished with reading Anne. And now I really have no idea what we should read this summer! I like reading the classics out loud to her because I know she probably wouldn't pick these up herself. But she really likes listening. Hrmmm. What next?

Last (and late): A Tender Year: May is finally now available. Thank you so much for all of the sweet ideas for this, and I'm so sorry for the delay. Hoping to have June finished before July, I swear.

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Big Blossoms

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That exact lilac is sitting on my desk right now, the first I've picked of the season. It's actually my neighbor's bush that hangs over our fence. It's way in the back of their yard where they never go and I'm not even sure they know it's there. Last night we had a FROST warning. I'm so over it. It's just freezing cold and raining every single day. We broke a rainfall record for April. My car is leaking from somewhere onto the passenger-side floormat. It's perpetually wet. I had wanted to have a few girls over for pie under my apple tree. I thought of this about a month ago. I even bought a new tablecloth for the outside table. But there hasn't been one reliably clear day yet todo it. The garden is EXPLODING nevertheless. We kind of miss the show, however, as we run in our raincoats from the house to the car, trying to keep cold rain from hitting us in the face. My gosh, the flowers are so beautiful! The piiiiiiiiinks. I staunchly insist this is my favorite time of year but I won't lie I am freezing and kind of tired.

My May Tender Year design continues to be nowhere in sight, and I don't even have a drawing for it yet. It just doesn't feel like May! It feels like March. What things should I put in May? Help. I don't even have any ideas! If you're keeping up with me on these and you are waiting for May, feel free to yell at me. :| I know. I'm sorry. The days unroll in a scattering of pompoms and beads and blossom petals across the floor. I seem to be doing the bare minimum, somehow. Not sure why.

There is a month or so left of school. Amelia will go back to in-person next year. I am both happy and sad, worried and relieved. Or something. I don't know what I am. I'm trying to savor this time without simultaneously wishing it would change. I can see her growing up before my eyes. At bedtime (or actually, several hours before bedtime, as it turns out) we do our usual routine where we go upstairs (this is early, at about 6:00 p.m.) and we change into nighties and brush teeth, etc., and then I read to her like we always have. We used to snuggle on the big bed in the big pillows and read picture books from the library. But now she likes to play with this pretty fabulous Calico Critter apartment complex she set up in my bookshelves. There are several floors of rooms. It's a hive of activity. So I sit on the bed. She plays and plays and I read chapter books out loud. (Then I go downstairs and she stays up and plays. I need my mommy-TV time.) Right now we're on Anne of Green Gables. I read a chapter or two a night, editing it on the fly (there is a lot of negative adoption talk, among other things). Every night we say, worriedly, delightedly, "Oh, I cannot wait to see what trouble Anne is going to get into today!" Amelia, the child who had more homemade dresses than she could wear, is perplexed by all the talk of puffed sleeves, and Marilla's unrelenting refusal to provide: "Why doesn't she just make her a dress with puffed sleeves?" Genuinely nonplussed. :) I have not watched the newest Netflix version and Amelia has not seen any of the TV series. Not sure which one we'll watch when we finish the book. We read The Borrowers this fall and watched The Secret Life of Arietty shortly after. I didn't really like it, I remember. I didn't realize there was an actual live-action Borrowers (from 1997, apparently) but maybe I'll check out that one. I do remember liking the Megan Follows Anne series when I was younger. I've heard the Netflix one is violent? Or something? Disturbing? Maybe I'll preview it. Amelia recently finished reading the first Harry Potter book to herself, so we are all watching the movie at dinnertime, a half-hour or so at a time. It's the first "big" book that she's read alone to herself so it's been fun to wait for her to finish to watch the movie. Believe it or not, I have never read the books and I guess I had watched the first movie twenty years ago but remember almost nothing about it. My most vivid memory of anything Harry Potter–related is inadvertently going to Costco for one of the first and last times (we just have never really been Costco shoppers; the stores are really far from our house) on the Saturday morning that one of the Harry Potter books had just been released (I don't remember which book it was; probably the third or fourth) and the store was literally filled with children sitting in shopping carts — like, in the actual cart part of the cart — reading big huge Harry Potter books as their parents pushed them around and tried to stuff groceries in the cart around them. Like, fifty different shopping carts, each with a reading kid in it. Isn't that a funny image? Lol. It seemed very meta, actually, like something I could picture happening at Hogwarts itself. It was so sweet. :)

I've been trying to think of and make some props for my jewelry pictures I want to take, so I spent the weekend crocheting little things and making a big Perler bead girl. Maybe I can style them to figure out how to include them in my pictures. I really enjoy doing Perler beads! They have the same meditative quality as designing or doing cross stitch except that you can do them with your kids. We tried dyeing some white Perler beads with Rit synthetic dye, which dyes plastic buttons really well. But the dye did not strike the Perler beads nearly as well as it did the buttons so I don't know if I will try that again. The were pretty, though. But like, the red dye turned the Perlers to peach, and I couldn't get anything darker than that no matter what I did. So it's only good for certain colors. The peach was pretty, though.

Okay, better go figure out what's for lunch. Anyone else have a hard time figuring out what's for lunch? I literally never have a clue what to make.

Fooling Around with Beads Lately

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And where have a been lately, you might ask? Making jewelry. Random! I have such capricious interests and habits. Every month it's a new obsession. For the past two weeks, all I've been doing is figuring out how to make necklaces. Literally have spent hours a day very happily doing this. I have not even started my May Tender Year yet, agh. I ordered a ton of different kinds of beads on Etsy last summer. I have wanted to make necklaces absolutely forever but I could never really figure it out. Making jewelry can be kind of tricky until you figure out exactly WHAT you need. And there are a lot of choices, so this is often easier said than done. I wound up making a few different kinds of necklaces, some for adults and some for kids. Naturally, now I will be opening an Etsy shop to sell them. I go big. Make three necklaces and find yourself designing a packaging concept. Welcome to my life. These are not my fancy pictures, just stuff I snapped on my iPhone to show my friends. I need a sturdy, sunny day to take some pictures and then I will show you. The weather has been as unreliable as I have. One minute sunny, next hailing, next sunny, next raining. 

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Look at my tree. It's so beautiful it almost makes me cry. Spring is my absolute favorite time of year.

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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