Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to You!

comments: 57

25Cookies1

1Woods6

25Cookies1

25Cookies1

25Cookies1

25Cookies1

8Pins

25Cookies1

25Cookies1

Ipad12

1Woods6

Ipad12

1Woods6

Ipad12

1Woods6

8Pins

Ipad12

1Woods6

Owl

Ipad12

Ipad12

Ipad12

Ipad12

25Cookies1

1Woods6

Ipad12

1Woods6

8Pins

1Woods6

8Pins

Oh, HELLO!!! Hi! Happy New Year, dear friends! I am home alone in the house here for the first time in many weeks. I'm in my office and have my hot tea and my fake fireplace on. Clover Meadow is in her office basket here with me and Bridget is in Clover Meadow's living-room bed (a recent development that leaves Clover bewildered and the rest of us sheepishly on edge — but Bridget gets what Bridget wants. Apparently she's the alpha in the entire family). Outside the sky is flat and gray and chilly. Inside I've been tidying — oh the post-holiday endless tidying! I have a new box of thank-you notes that need to be written. I have a new stack of my own books I need to find a place for. I have a small mountain of tiny toys to put away. But the tree is down and the Christmas decorations have been put away (we left the general "winter" decorations out) and the piles are dispersed. Mimi is back to school and Andy is back to work and I should be getting back to work, and I will. But today I am missing them, as I always do after everyone's been home for a while. I think I would like some peace and quiet but as soon as I get it I'm at a loss, and missing the chaos of their warm, loud, messy, darling presences so fiercely it stuns me slow.

Christmas was really nice this year, just lazy and simple and filled with family and fun and lovely gifts and lots of hanging out here. Aunt Susie slept over on New Year's Eve. We blew up Amelia's air mattress and dressed it with flannel sheets and quilts and pillows and she made a nest for herself in the middle of the living room, and stayed up until 11 p.m. that night, long after Andy got home at 9 (and I went upstairs to bed). She spent the night in the living room with Aunt Susie on the sofa and in the morning Andy was back up at 5 a.m. for work and I luxuriated until late morning, listening to my sister and my daughter playing together downstairs. No one needed anything from me so I shuffled down for coffee and then shuffled back up to spend four hours shopping for mini-embroidery supplies on my iPad. Ahhhh, pure bliss of idleness! Much of vacation was like this, in fact. The house was fuzzy and soft, meals and mealtimes were fluid and ridiculous, made of cookies and salad rolls and delivered chicken makhani and delivered chicken makhani again. An endless loop of movies featuring impossibly quaint small-towns, vaguely dissatisfied orphaned corporate executives, and gingerbread-house-building competitions (or episodes of Nature Cat) played tirelessly in the background. A gazillion Perler beads turned into ornaments. Every game and puzzle in the game-and-puzzle cabinet got played or made or was given away. Every new colored pencil, crayon, and bottle of paint got used and spilled. It was glorious, lazy, lingering fun, and for the first time, on the Sunday before school was scheduled to start again, I was sad that it was over. Age seven is basically EXCELLENT.

Amelia got her wild hair cut just after new year, and this was a long time coming as it had really turned into a crazy, vaguely felted sort of cloud around her head. Two big snarls in the back that I would diligently try to untangle — literally pulling hair strand by strand out of the nest — just kept coming back. It was nuts, and a source of howls. She couldn't brush or comb it herself and she wouldn't let me brush or comb it for her. So she decided she was ready to have it cut above her shoulders, and so it is. A cute little bob and bangs. I'm not crazy about the bangs, myself, but she wanted them again and they do look cute on her. I do miss the wild-child tangle, as the haircut aged and matured her in an instant, and it's funny how haircuts do that, isn't it?

My goals for 2020 are to be more organized both for upcoming Posie projects and for meal planning. I basically do neither of these, ever, in any real or dedicated sort of way. I don't make lists and I don't write anything down and I have no calendar beyond the Portland Public School lunch menu, and this is not Grown Up. I would also like to be more organized about my personal knitting and crafting projects, as these are important to me and I have a lot of ideas for things that sort of get lost in the shuffle. Since my office is all nice and fancy now I would like to figure out how to do a little more forward thinking about my schedule, and my plan for the year, especially when it comes to timing Posie projects so that we are not is a mad scramble to get something seasonal out the door. That is one of my least favorite states of being, so I am going to work on that.

8Pins

It was my birthday yesterday! I'm really old now!!!

At Christmastime

comments: 34

13Lucia3

13Lucia3

13Lucia3

13Lucia3

12Cookies1

18ipad9

13Lucia3

13Lucia3

13Lucia3

Ipad3

13Lucia3

18ipad9

18ipad1

13Lucia3

18ipad8

13Lucia3

13Lucia3

18ipad9

18ipad2

18ipad9

13Lucia3

18ipad9

18ipad9

13Lucia3

Oh, December! You are filled with some of the loveliest things. Cold, clear mornings and steaming, spicy drinks. Children bonkers with excitement over the slightest things, the picture of a mouse behind an advent-calendar window, a two-cent candy cane, another tiny ornament for the tree. School sing-alongs and the smell of soup for lunch in the morning hallways. While she's at school, I scurry: writing Christmas cards, baking cookies, starting and finishing a comforter for her, shipping orders as fast as I can so I can get to wrapping the gifts that must be shipped. There's a constant back and forth to the post office. I knit and stitch through the chilly nights, surrounded by aging animals and waiting for my love to get home from work. He comes in with groceries and a blast of cold air and his good cheer, warming the room.

We went to Oregon Ballet Theater's Nutcracker on Saturday afternoon, and it was just pure delight, as always. (The photo of the Waltz of the Snowflakes is by Blaine Truitt Covert, and I always include it here because they don't allow you to take pictures, but I don't want to forget this. It's my favorite part.) Amelia made it all the way through (it's looooong, isn't it?) and snuggled on my lap in the dark auditorium for the last half of the second act. Afterward we went to The Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner, which felt festive and fun and sits beguilingly right on the river in one of the best spots-with-a-view in town. Boats decorated with lights floated down the river beyond the windows. A balloon guy came over and made her a balloon rainbow, and we all ate sherbert and spumoni for dessert. It was a wonderful day. This morning I was lying in bed and Amelia brought me a tiny cup of what looked like four or five crushed up Cap'n Crunches. "Huh," I said. "Thanks, I think?" "It's a special present," she said. "My nutcracker crushed them for you!" Right on.

Thank you so much for all of your pattern orders!!! I'm rounding third on all my little chores, ready to be done with the to-do list. Today Andy is home, and is already doing the school run, and will do the pick-up, too. My freedom is strange and luscious. I hardly know where to start! I'm trying to tie Amelia's comforter while she's at school — this thing so far is still a surprise, and I keep it hidden when she is home, as much as I wan to be working on it because it's taking forever to tie. My fingers are so sore. (I'm using a big fat doll needle to tie it with perle cotton, and I recommend using a very big needle for this.) We are one week from Christmas, and it really does feel like a slow but steady slide, right into the heart of the season. I recorded The Sound of Music the other night and played the Do-Re-Mi scene for Amelia (it always chokes me up, right when Julie Andrews comes swinging through that sunny green bower and the music swells, oh man!). We sang it together for the rest of the night.

13Lucia3

I made these cookies and I thought you might like them. For me they are the perfect Christmas cookie — chocolaty, salty, buttery, and minty. And just the right amount of sweet. They don't keep very long, so eat them up.

Chocolate Buttercream Mints

Cookies (adapted from Hershey's Chewy Chocolate Cookie recipe, which I have a handwritten copy of from twenty years ago but can't find on their web site anymore):

1 cup salted, softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and blend well. In separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Blend flour mixture into creamed mixture. Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 8 minutes (Do not over bake. Cookies will be soft. They will puff during baking, flatten upon cooling.) Cool on cookie sheet until set, about 1 minute. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Frosting:

1 cup salted butter
4-5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Pink food coloring
Crushed candy canes

Cream butter in large bowl. Add powdered sugar gradually and blend very well. Add milk, peppermint extract and blend again. Tint half of the frosting with pink. Spoon frosting into a pastry bag, keeping each color to one half the bag. Use a star tip and blob some frosting onto each cooled cookie. Top with a small amount of crushed candy canes.

 

Wishing every one of you a most lovely, loving, peaceful week as we lead up to Christmas! XOX, A

Dovegray Doll PDFs and Some New Clothes!

comments: 8

Pattern CoverJPG660

Well, hello! Here are some lovely patterns for you! And it's about time, too!

Pattern CoverJPG660

These first two — Dovegray Doll and Little Peasant Dress, Pinafore, and Lace Stockings — you know well. They are exactly the same as the patterns available in the doll kit and the dress kit. But now you can download them and print them at home. As you probably know, you will need Adobe Reader to view and print this pattern on your home computer. 

This next batch of knitting patterns are only available as PDF patterns. The first one is Little Flower Sweater. It is a top-down seamless sweater in sport-weight yarn. It has a simple two-motif that is easy to manage if you've never done colorwork before. I love this sweater and it is the inspiration for the kidd0-sized version I am developing. (That is in its final phase and will be released in early 2020 if you want to do some dolly-and-me dressing.)

Little Flower Sweater Pattern Cover 2660

Then there is Little Cable Turtleneck, and it, too, is a top-down seamless raglan sweater done in sport-weight yarn. It has a simple turtleneck and cable running right down the front, also an easy introduction to cabling. I sort of want a sweater exactly like this for myself. But I am planning a kid-version of this in 2020 as well.

Little Cable Turtleneck for Dolls Cover660

Little Raglan Pullover is basically the same as my little stripey pullover without the stripes. Again, top-down, seamless, raglan, sport-weight. It has contrast solid colors at neck, cuff, and hem. I used my hand-dyed sport-weight yarn for these samples. (I sooooo wanted to get some mini-skeins together to make some kits for you for this sweater but it won't happen until January, either. I'm making a kiddo-version pattern in worsted-weight and I will definitely have hand-dyed speckled worsted- and sport-weights available when I launch that. The weather is so gross now that it makes dyeing yarn a bit challenging for me right now. That, and the fifty-thousand other things I have going on. But, just know, those yarns are coming and they are going to be so pretty. I've done a few skeins just for myself and I'm really happy.)

Little Raglan Pullover for Dolls CoverJPG660

Now, here are some Little Accessories for Dolls. They include a ribbed scarf, a cable scarf, a heartwarmer, and cowl, a wrap, a bonnet, and leg warmers. Some of these patterns (leg warmers, wrap, cable scarf, ribbed scarf) exist in other individual animal patterns. But I wanted to bundle the accessories together here for those who only want the knitting patterns and not the accompanying sewing patterns (that come with the original designs; you can see them all here). The bonnet and the heartwarmer and the cable cowl are new. They're just cute. Easy construction, also all sport-weight, you'll have the whole passel of them done in three or four Christmas movies. That's how time should be counted right now. How many Christmas movies will this take me? Hmmmm [finger to cheek]. Three or four.

Accessories Pattern Cover660

Last is the Little Raglan Cardigan. Every single solitary time I write the word "raglan" I write "ragland." Every time. Should you find this typo anywhere here let me know. I'll only be shocked if you don't find one.

This cardi (top-down, seamless, sport) is a slightly reworked version of an older pattern I had written for animals but this time it has no dedicated buttonholes. Those proved to be 1) annoying (I was doing a cast-off/cast-on buttonhole) and 2) too big anyway. So this pattern has no buttonholes; you can put buttons on either side, and you can slip the buttons pretty easily right through the knitting. They're quite small. We have some buttons here, but if you can wait until the new year I am going to be selling hand-dyed doll buttons in really beautiful colors (mustards, pinks, mauves, grays, clays, greens) instead of bright primary colors and I am excited about this. I just ordered 1,000 tiny buttons so stay tuned for those. I'll show you here on the blog when I'm done. They're perfect for all sorts of small doll clothes. The usual story: I couldn't find ones I like so I just had to make my own and start selling them, too. You know how it goes. This is everyone's story.

Little Raglan Cardigan for Dolls CoverJPG660

Anyway, have so much fun with these! I'm using the hashtag #dovegraydolls and, so far, #littleflowersweater if you'd like to post your creations to Instagram. These patterns are all up on Ravelry now, too. I've seen a few that people have made so far and oh my stars, your photos do bring me such joy! Please post them or send them to me. They seriously make my day more than you know! Thank you!

A Rainy Tree Day

comments: 22

Ipad8

7Trees1

7Trees17

7Trees2

7Trees5

7Trees4

7Trees3

7Trees8

7Trees6

7Trees10

7Trees9

7Trees11

7Trees12

7Trees15

7Trees14

7Trees7

Ipad1

7Trees18

7Trees16

Ipad7

7Trees19

7Trees20

7Trees22

7Trees21

It was so rainy. A true Oregon December afternoon. It was the only weekend day we had available to go get our tree at the tree farm, so we went out. My camera was sopping wet, I have to admit. But oh, it was nice. It's so nice to be out there in the woods, with the fog and the wood smoke and the pine trees and the salamanders, the ponies and the sheep, the smell of freshly cut Christmas-tree trunks, roasting hot dogs, sticky candy canes, handmade candles, rain on cedar needles. It's been a while since we've been out in the woods, just shuffling around. My favorite part is always sitting out by the fire. The rain stopped for a bit and I could see the bright white of the sun behind the clouds. The bare branches of trees were black and sparkling. The far-off pines, far across the field, were wrapped in low cloud. We drove up and down the hills of Oregon City (also, does anyone else think that Oregon City just goes on  f o r e v e r ???), wound up at the pub for lunch, then went home and decorated the sweetest little noble fir I ever did see.

I got my new doll knitting patterns up in my web shop, and I will be back to show those off here ASAP! I also should've reminded you earlier about my free pattern for a winter crown but I kept forgetting. It's technically for Santa Lucia day (on the 13th, so you would have to work fast if you wanted it for that) but it would be good for a solstice night, too. We decorated for Christmas here at the house and I have a few projects going, so I'll be back with those soon, too. I did make this nightgown for Amelia today for Santa Lucia Day. It's in the wash right now. It's a surprise. She and I went to a vintage fabric sale in the church basement in the neighborhood last weekend and got this amazing red velvet embroidered ribbon that I thought would be perfect. I used McCall's pattern #3381 from 1972. I just like the cut of these vintage patterns, even for a peasant shape. Amelia is a nightgown girl, and this is her shape (with the elastic neck and cuffs) of choice. It's white flannel.

Ipad5

And it's so long, size 7, that I can't even get the bottom in the picture. Big girl now.

*** Thank you to M., who commented that salamanders have toxic secretions and shouldn't be touched! I had no idea and we definitely shouldn't have been holding them! Gah!

Decembery

comments: 20

3Kitters

3Birds1

3Gloves1

Clover1

29Tday1

Ipad9

28Sweater12

3Hydrangea

29tday2

Ipad12

Ipad11

29tday3

Ipad10

3Sunflower1

3Squirrel1

3Room2

Halllooooooo! Happy December to you! It's hard to believe it's December already. I'm not ready. I have so much to do and, really, not enough time to get it done. Mild frustrations. I sat down this morning specifically to answer emails and ship orders and blog, and naturally the internet wasn't working. Stuff like that. The house is still mostly covered in pumpkins. Mimi and I did go to JoAnn's to pick up a few things the other day (one of them the pre-assembled gingerbread house — I have no aptitude for frosting together vertical walls) and she got some supplies to make a wreath for her room door. She cut apart a few little sprigs and added the pom poms and picked the ribbon and I couldn't have done it all any better myself.

Thanksgiving was warm and wonderful. We cooked and my family came and the house was trashed and we had such a nice time. I hope yours was lovely, too. I love Thanksgiving weekend so much. It always feels like the longest weekend of the year. Andy had Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off, and this was extraordinary. The three of us went out to lunch and then to see Frozen 2 on Friday, and on Saturday Andy cleaned his closet (it was like an excavation — this is what happens when you don't move house for twenty years) and I cleaned Amelia's room. We moved almost all of her hanging clothes into the guest room closet. We only have three small closets in the house. It was a little bit bittersweet — I remember so well those early years, when I filled her clothes rod with dozens of tiny little calico dresses and wooly sweaters. It feels like yesterday. But it was time for these big clothes to not be hung above the dresser anymore. Taking them out filled the room with light and air. We dusted and remade the bed and hung some new pictures and cleaned surfaces, ready for the tiny Christmas tree I promised her. She actually asked for a new mattress (she has one of those extendable toddler mattresses from Ikea right now and she doesn't like it — truly a girl after my own princess-and-the-pea heart). I am making her a new Calicozy quilt for Christmas and I really need to get on it! Anyway, her room looked so pretty and sweet when we were done tidying it that I just sat in her chair and stared off into space for about forty-five minutes and, as I told Melissa, I have not felt that level of general satisfaction in a long time. It was really nice.

If only the rest of the house felt like that. . . . I have some serious tidying that needs to happen before Christmas can move onto the property. That will be happening soon!

***Some business housekeeping:

The Dovegray Doll pattern and Peasant Dress, Pinafore, and Stockings patterns are now available as PDFs! I'm so sorry I didn't get them up last week! I am still working on my new knitting patterns and will be getting them up soon!

The pink handwarmers in the photo above were early pink prototypes for my Misselthwaite Mitts. Ultimately, I settled on green for them. I dyed some yarn recently for kits for those, too, and we have seven kits (green) in stock if you prefer.

The pink sweater is a basic raglan that I'm writing a pattern for. I dyed those yarns and I am hoping to make some yarn available for when the pattern launches, too. I want to do a video that shows you how I dye yarn if you would be interested in that?

Mimi's drawings were inspired by Flora Waycott's sweet book, Draw Every Little Thing: Learn to Draw More than 100 Everyday Items from Food to Fashion. I bought her this book and a learn-to-write-cursive book and she has been using both of them every day. It's so adorable.

Keeping Warm

comments: 39

Ipad6

Ipad5

Ipad7

Good morning, dear friends! Hello! I'm alone in my office today, drinking my tea and tidying all the mess I've made here in the past few weeks. I'm seriously happy to say that the last of the pre-orders were dropped off at the post office yesterday and your kits are on their ways to you. Thank you again, so, so much, for your sweet orders and patience while we've put these together. As soon as I catch my breath I will put the PDFs up on my web site, probably by the end of the week!

Our furnace has been broken for the past few weeks. The furnace dude has been here probably five times so far. On to Phase II (expensive repairs). It hasn't been very cold here, luckily. The thermostat reads around 65 on most afternoons, which is a bit colder than I keep it, generally, but not too bad. I kinda like it now. We bought a few tiny fake (electric) wood stoves. I put one in the fireplace (which we never use to burn wood) and one in my office. Mimi already had one in her room. They really work great. I'm kind of used to having these little pockets of warmth around the house now. I only keep the heaters running when we are actually in the rooms, but if I get up to go to the bathroom or go to the kitchen or whatever, the hallways and the bathrooms and the stairwell greet me with a whoosh of cold air. It's kind of like hot sauna to cold-water pool, in a vague way. I'm wearing sweaters around the house, which I've never done. I pretend I'm Finnish. Once the furnace gets fixed, I honestly doubt we'll keep the heat any higher than 66 or so. We used to keep it at 70, but I'm guessing that will be too hot for us now. Beds are deliciously cozy. Mimi has probably seven quilts and sleeps with her fan blowing on her every night. Even in the middle of winter and covered in flannel and duvets she wants her fan blowing. I burrow down under the covers, drinking coffee in the dark, twinkle lights on a dimmer switch, watching the windows turn gray. It's a glorious time of day.

I'm missing my girl terribly today. She's at school and I'm . . . caught up. Funny how it hits you out of the blue as soon as you do get a few minutes to yourself, which, when you're in the thick of it is all you ever want. Quiet. Clean. But as soon as I do ever get a few minutes to myself, I feel so very at loose ends, missing the endless questions, the chatter, the Mama look!/Mama watch!/Mama look!, the piles of tiny pieces of cut-up paper, the hundreds of thousands of drawings left on every surface, the banana peels left on the desk, the shoes left anywhere and everywhere, the love notes written on sticky notes, their sticky strips grimy with crumbs and crud. It's baffling but happens every single time. Oh lord how I love her. Last night she chose to forego our nightly lullaby, which is a book about animals going to bed that I have sung out loud (to a tune we made up) every night for the past four years. Last night instead, without ceremony, she chose to read to me while sitting on her bed in her nightgown and robe, a Little Golden Book about a duckling. I forget which Little Golden Book about which duckling (there are a few). She's reading so well and it's like a dream. It is my dream. I had a flashback while she was reading, her hair falling onto the pages, to when I hung snowflakes from her ceiling, and time folded up right there, for a moment, and I caught myself hiding a sob. She was a baby and now she is a girl, sitting cross-legged, reading books, drawing dollhouses, writing notes. Every night before we move to her room, we sit in the big bed in our big nightgowns with our tiny reading light and she reads to me and I read to her. Teeth brushed, feet up, curled together, done for the day. She leans into my arm, perfect fit. We read and read. One more book. Warm and heavy. Linger here. Just . . . this.

Kits Are Happening!

comments: 10

Ipad3

Ipad1

Ipad2

Yes, we're getting there! We assembled kits all weekend and every minute this week so far and I just got back from dropping off the first load of packages at the post office. These are complicated to put together so it is taking quite a while to make it all happen, but we are getting there! You should start seeing shipping notices through this week and probably into the weekend, but I expect to be done with pre-orders by then. We have close to five hundred kits going on right now and I'm doing most of the shipping myself, so thank you for your patience! I am so excited for everyone to start receiving these packages and making their dolls. I've really loved seeing the combinations that everyone chose. It's so much fun when these ideas that I have actually start coming together and turning into something. It's my favorite part!

We will be assembling lots more doll kits after this first batch ships, so please feel free to continue to order Dovegray Dolls. There are still lots of dress kits to choose from, and don't forget that the clothes will fit all of your Little Animals as well! I expect that even new Dovegray and dress orders will be going out by the end of next week, so there is still plenty of time to make these for Christmas presents! My first three new doll knitting patterns have come back from the tech editor and I will be launching those soon, too. Lots happening!

Anyway, gotta run and keep shipping but I'll talk to you soon. Thank you again so much for these orders! I'm very grateful that I get to keep doing this work! XO, a

***Also, if you want to post progress on your doll on your Instagram I'm using #dovegraydolls as the hashtag. You can email me your pictures, too, and when there's enough I'll put them here on the blog. I cannot wait to see what you make!

Night of Magic

comments: 13

 

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween15

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween7

Halloween7

The weather we had on Halloween was BONKERS perfect. I could not believe it. It was the most gorgeous night. We traipsed through the neighborhood with the neighborhood crew, minus a few who have either aged out of our raggedy bunch or have moved on to other neighborhoods. It's not an awesome trick-or-treating neighborhood. I don't know why. A lot of people just aren't home. We were home after about 6:00 and we literally had only one group come up. We don't make it very far, mostly just around the block. Amelia was highly motivated by candy. It's all about the candy. She wanted, for many months, to be a zombie. She couldn't describe a zombie. Then she switched to ghost. I knew, as she described it (sheet over her head with two holes cut out for eyes), that this was a costume she'd literally take off within five minutes. I tried to talk her out of it for practical reasons. We looked at "ghost" costumes on-line and ran into this pumpkin costume from Pottery Barn Kids. Then she wanted that. I was busy enough and she was flighty enough that I caved and bought it. On sale, but still. I'm selling it on eBay next year, for sure. It was cute. She was happy. They had a parade at school and she went to a birthday party at a bouncy house place the next day, then had a play date to bake cookies on Saturday, and in general it was party party party, candy cake cookies, and quite honestly, as much fun as she had and as lovely as that evening walk around the neighborhood was, I'm relieved it's now November.

At the house, Andy and I am in the homestretch of putting Dovegray Doll and pinafore dress kit contents together, and are still on track to ship at the end of next week. Thank you for being patient! After we finish shipping I will release the PDF patterns of each. Several doll sweater patterns are with the tech editor right now, along with the kid-version of the Little Flower Sweater. Lots of things going on. I'm spinning plates.

THANK YOU ever so much for the book recommendations and the cooking advice! Oh joy! I checked out four of the books from the library (I can't remember exactly which ones, I need to look) and have more on hold. I'm reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn right now and it is very good. I also made these oven-baked barbecue pork chops (except I used country ribs) and they are totally delicious. After about 45 minutes of baking, I poured the juices/sauce into a saucepan and reduced it until the sauce was thick and sticky and it was so good. I had potatoes on the side. Even Amelia ate an entire decent-sized rib.

Making Progress

comments: 68

IpadDinner1

IpadREed1

Sweater3

Autumn here in Portland has been cold and crisp and brilliant, but it's freezing in the house today and I am rather cranky. Mimi and I took a walk around Reed College over the weekend and I am missing her (at school) and Andy (at work) today. The wind is whipping about out there and the car thermometer said it was 35 degrees when we left for school. Gusty wind is unnerving to me and always has been. I feel like I'm clenching my jaw and trying to ward off a shiver. My heart is breaking for everyone affected by the wildfires in California. Having a cold wind here is nothing compared to a burning wind, and I truly hope they catch a break in the weather that can help with these fires soon.

Thank you ever so much for your thoughts about how (or not) you use the yarns suggested in patterns. That was so fascinating to me, and I seriously love reading about peoples' personal experiences around these things. I would say the vast majority of people do not use the suggested yarn but substitute something they already have, or buy something they know they already like. I guess yarn, like fabric, is just one of those things that is so personal, and there are so many different types of it available (generally speaking, especially if you're buying it on the computer) that choosing it is just a further part of the creative process. Some people did say that if they like the photo on the pattern they want to make it exactly as pictured, because that's why they liked it in the first place. I totally get that, too. I don't know, I just like reading all of these little quirky details about everyone. I've been knitting along on my little flower sweater pattern for kids. This little sample is the six-month size in Cascade 220. I finished all of the grading for sizes (from six months to twelve years) on Friday and have the pattern out with a couple of testers right now. I'm currently knitting the size 8, this time in Berocco Ultra Alpaca, for which I get the same gauge as 220 (20 sts x 27 rows over 4"). I'm enjoying everything about this process so much. This is my first attempt at writing knitting patterns that are graded and there is so much math involved. I have always liked math a lot, for an English major, and I am finding that everything about this is exciting to me, even if I do have so much to learn. :)

I made my mom's chicken paprika (which we call "chicken and dumplings") the other night. It is very rich but it is just delicious at this time of year. I have been in a cooking slump lately — about the only thing I can do consistently is make tacos on Tuesday. It's Tuesday. I'll be making tacos. I need a good book and some good recipes right now. I have nothing to read and no idea what to cook.

Swatch, Swatch, Swatch

comments: 35

Ipad13

Little Flower Cover 2

Ipad14

I'm swatching yarn samples like crazy, trying to decide what yarn to use for my little kid sweaters. The doll sweaters use Nature Spun Sport. I wanted something slightly heavier for the kid sweaters but I wanted it to feel the same-ish. Right now I'm leaning heavily toward using Cascade 220. Huge palette of colors, light worsted—/DK-weight. It has the kind of halo I like, and the "yarniness" I like — I liked plied yarns without a ton of twist, and I like yarns that aren't too smooth and round. Just round enough. It feels old-fashioned and rustic-y, but it really softens after blocking and it is durable. It's affordable and very readily available, and this was really important to me. Downside, it’s made in China. :(. Originally I was totally going to use acrylic for these, but it just was not working for me, no matter what I did. It just wasn't make me happy when doing colorwork. It just wasn't giving and stretching the way it needed to. As soon as I switched back to wool it was just like . . . yep. There's a superwash 220, too. I'm getting the same gauge for the superwash and the regular, which is apparently a bit unusual, as the superwash is supposedly lighter. I'll do samples in both, just to see.

This brought up a conversation at the yarn store yesterday. When you knit a pattern, do you use the yarn that is suggested? Do you just go to your own personal favorite? How much does the yarn used by the designer influence you? Can you see past that if you don't like it, or is it a major factor in whether you can visualize your project? Do you just go to the store and pick something out and then try to find a pattern for it? Tell me everything. I'm really curious about this now. I almost never use the yarn that's recommended. I have no idea why. Rebel.

***By the way, for you non-knitters, "swatching" is the process of working up a little 4"-square sample of knitted yarn, generally in the stitch pattern the design calls for, to see exactly how many stitches you get per inch, and how many rows you get per inch. This is your "gauge." All patterns should have a gauge, and it is super important. One stitch short on a 4" gauge swatch can add up to being several inches off on your finished piece, so it really matters. Number of stitches across is more important to match; matching rows can be trickier. Usually patterns will tell you how many rows (or rounds) to knit and also give you the length in inches and centimeters you are aiming for (on a yoke, sleeve, or body, or an amount of ribbing, etc.). If you know how to knit and you've heard about gauge but you still think it's kind of confusing (I did, too, when I was first learning), leave me questions and I will answer them. And also by the way, if you are interested in writing knitting patterns, The Beginner's Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns by Kate Atherley is excellent. I highly recommend it.

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

Archives

Photography

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.