* Winter Rabbit Now Available *

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Oh, I got so lucky with this design! It just hopped out of my fingers into the design program. Like, I drew the rabbit the way I wanted to on the first try. That literally never happens for me. I just really love this little guy. He scampers happily through the first snow of my imagination.

This embroidery is done on 32-count Natural Brown linen from Wichelt with 2 plies of DMC floss. The stitching area at this fabric count is 6" x 8" (15cm x 20cm), and that's 96 stitches wide by 128 stitches high. You can fit this in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame. All of the floss is included in the kit, along with the fabric, and the printed full-color pattern (if you prefer a black-and-white chart, as always just email me and I will send you the PDF for your use).

To order the Winter Rabbit KIT, please click here.

To order the Winter Rabbit PDF pattern only, please click here.

Cross stitch is done with #24 tapestry needles, so don't forget those if you need them. Our beautiful Hardwicke Manor hoops and Bohin heart scissors are back in stock, too.

And if you need any of the other kits in this series so far, we still have them all in stock. Click on the image to take you to the "Embroidery Kits" page where they all live.

Natural Series

Thus ends the "natural" series, as we called it around here, never having come up with a better name. I was inspired by old-fashioned seasonal woodcuts for this series, and I really haven't exhausted that inspiration so it might come back. Gosh I love how they all look together. I don't know. 2021. The work of 2021 was rough. It makes me feel so many things to look at these, and to see beauty in them after all. I can't stop looking at them all together. How strange. I feel like crying. Why am I crying!

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Here! This is the Winterwoods ABCs Sampler Kit, now back in stock. It might have been the first cross-stitch kit I had ever designed. It is stitched on 28-count Cashel linen in Smokey Pearl with Weeks Dye Works hand-dyed floss.  I will design more kits with hand-dyed floss in 2022, I think. I love it but it's very expensive and it's nice to have kits, I think.

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We also have First Snow kits restocked. This was the first in a series from a few years ago. It's done on 32-count linen with DMC floss and fits in an 8"x10" frame.

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And Things of Winter is also now back in the shop!

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And we also still have Winter Wreath kits in the shop (along with the other designs from the hoop series). These are so quick to stitch up and make such nice little gifts.

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Last year we reissued one of my very favorites, Love and Joy. We still have them in the shop. It's done on 28-count linen with DMC and fits in an 8"x10" frame. Easy to change that year to 2021.

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And Anna has made a new batch of lotion bars so all of them are in the shop right now (but they go fast, so don't wait on them). They make perfect stocking stuffers! This one is Peppermint Cream.

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I also still have packages of pretty winter postcards available. Eight postcards with eight white envelopes.

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And ornament patterns (just one kind of kit left of these, Sweet Home).

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And don't forget this free pattern for A Flow'ret Bright crown for Santa Lucia Day. Just look at that sweet girl. Gosh. Four whole years ago this was, now.

I hope these early winter days are warm and cozy for you. Thank you again as always for your orders and your interest in my work. I'm more grateful that I can say. I wish you the simple joys of stitching this season. I will be back with more of what I'm up to next week and show you how we decorated our house this year. Our tree is up, our mantle is fancy, and want to bake some gingerbread cake right away. Love you guys. XOX, a

Natural Beauty

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I mean, what can I say. Mother Nature speaks for herself here, much more eloquently in a single arc of wild rosehips than I could ever hope to. I wish you could smell the forest, and hear the birdsong, hear the soft gurgle of the streamlets as they meander through the tangle of trees. Oh, soft days. Soft light. A line of black geese across the white sky. Amelia can't stop talking, bouncing ahead of me down the trail, carrying the trail map, looking for a spot to stop and have her snacks she packed. She's just so happy in the woods. After the arboretum (first set of photos; second set is from Mt. Talbert) we stopped at "elephant park" (it's near the zoo, and has a now-broken elephant statue in the sandpit) and then to Elephant's Deli and had lunch on the patio under the heaters, just us girls. It was just the absolute perfect day. After a summer of near-constant outdoor activity, it's rare that we have such perfect weather on the weekends, when she has no school. Wondrous nature and walks with my family, my healing salve, my joy. These days sustain me through the dark and the rain.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and then the Christmas season will be upon us. I had lunch with my darling friend Beth Twist last week. We sat outside in our coats and scarves on the heated patio of the California Pizza Kitchen and ate and talked for four hours. We were the only people out there, ha! :) I had such a great time talking shop. My new design is coming, I swear — we just need to pull floss for it, but the fabric and the patterns are here, so I'll release everything early next week and we'll ship at lightning-speed. I never did show you the digital for it so now I guess I'll keep you in suspense for the real thing. It's my favorite yet in the series. Once we release this guy and the reissued winter kits next week we will be completely done with the reissues and this 2021 seasonal series. For once, the end of my work for the series is coinciding with the end of the calendar year. Aside from the wholesale-pattern-project I keep yammering on about, I have no idea what I am going to design for 2022! I really don't know! I have a lot of vague ideas but I haven't really dialed in a concept. Should I keep doing 8"x10" seasonal cross-stitch designs? Should I do some small little designs? Unique framing options (little grapevine wreaths as frames, for instance)? "Regular" embroidery (not cross stitch)? What should I do for 2022???

At night, I've been doing a lot of knitting. I just knit another sweater. I'll finish the last sleeve and then take a picture of it. I used bulky yarn that was in my stash. Bulky knitting on size US10 needles is not my favorite, but boy is it fast. I really like the CQ sweater and might knit that. I've been keeping my house pretty cold so I can wear all my knitted stuff. I've also really wanted to make a Gamaldags in this color combo for years. I need a hat. I never seem to have a hat for when it's really cold. Maybe this one. I love this sweater in this color. I bought myself two early Christmas/birthday presents and got this paint-by-number kit and this one. Are those not just so utterly adorable and weird??? I've been really indulging in the "selfish" crafting lately. You gotta kinda take what thrills you can get. I am reading this pretty spooky book called Madam that I saw on Melissa's Instagram. I'm about halfway through and I can't put it down. It's so creepy! I started reading it before Halloween but I am a slow reader. Fast knitter, slow reader!

I wish you all a peaceful and abundant Thanksgiving weekend. I am so grateful for your friendship and presence here in my life! Thank you! XOXOXO

P.S.: Amelia was horrified that the girls on the trail ahead of us pulled up the mushroom in the photo above and "left it alone there to die." I think they must have done it accidentally because I heard them talking but didn't know what they were talking about until we got to where they had been and saw the mushroom right there. Amelia wanted to replant it. Andy and I had recently watched this movie on Netflix so I didn't think it would work. It wouldn't have worked, would it have? Anyone know what kind of mushroom it is?

Mud Days

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Soggy is an understatement. It pours and pours. It pours every day. It's warm, windy, and wet. I feel like I'm slogging through mud, inside and out. Inside, I knit and knit. Hundreds, thousands of yards of stitches, on fingering-weight yarn for my Soorik and bulky-weight yarn for my Getting Warmer. When I'm not doing that, I'm surfing Ravelry early in the morning under a pile of down and flannel, drinking coffee by the light of my iPad, looking for something else to knit. I bought two new raincoats this year, one dark green and one like a dark . . . bark green? Like pine-tree trunk. I meant to return one of them, depending on which one I liked better, and much to my chagrin I liked them both and I am keeping them both, even though they're really similar. They are both perfect Pacific Northwest winter raincoats, in my opinion. I hadn't gotten a coat in a few years and I've made up for it this year. Now I want to knit a hot pink cowl. I think it will look cute with either coat.

We also got two new plug-in sconces for the kitchen and two new lamps for the living room. I am happy with all of them. Andy did a pro-job hanging the sconces and then getting cord covers for them (the cords were black, and plug in under the cabinets). The sconces take 60w bulbs, which is very nice in there (and a lot brighter bulbs than we usually use around here, ha!). So now I can take pictures of dinner in the dark. The other day was Helen's rice pudding to serve with Ikea Swedish meatballs and gravy. This is just the best rice pudding in the world. It's a recipe from Andy's (Swedish) grandmother and we make it regularly. It's perfect for meatballs, and I actually have started baking it for about ten minutes less than the recipe calls for. That leaves a lovely, jiggly layer of custard on the top and it is all just [chef's kiss] perfect for a sloppy, soupy rainy day.

Thank you so much for the blog recommendations on my last post! I am enjoying checking everything out! I sent my last pattern of 2021 in to the printer a few days ago and it will be here on the 22nd, and then we will get to work stuffing kits. We are reissuing Things of Winter, First Snow, and Winterwoods ABCs kits later this month, as well, so stay tuned for that! (Those are all links to the patterns, BTW.) And when all that is done, that will be the END of the reissues and the end of 2021! Yippee!

Clover needs to have some teeth pulled and they can't get her in to do that until next month. She is otherwise healthy, which is good news. Agatha continues to destroy every houseplant (I only have three left) while also being incredibly cute and also mildly savage. I'm planning to make my way through this list of ice-skating documentaries and videos. I have so many texts and emails I need to answer. And I should probably order some groceries. Blah. Not inspired to do that. Every outdoor play-date and hike has been canceled this week due to the rain. I'm already over it and it's only November.

Autumn Skies

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The weather has certainly changed and fall is here here here. The yellows are vibrant, the skies are gray. Amelia and I found a glorious patch of cosmos flowers near the muddy soccer fields near Reed College. Purple and pink, glowing in the rain. She doesn't have any Zoom meetings on Wednesdays and I just love that. The wet woods receive us, their slippery, leaf-covered paths slick with shining maple leaves as big as your head. We stop and get chai and hot cocoa on the way, and Amelia desperately wants to carry her cup into the canyon. She has visions. I try to accommodate if they don't mean that you fall down a flight of stairs (there's a flight of stairs) into the pond. The days while the leaves will still be hanging on the trees are drawing to a close. Soon the black branches will be bare, and it will rain more, and it will be colder, and wetter, and harder. Goodbye, social life! It was nice knowing you!

At home, I work while she's in school. This week I've been making a database of all of the brick-and-mortar cross-stitch stores around the United States. It's taking me a long time, but I like this type of torpid busywork. When I get tired of that I go back to reformatting my patterns for eventual wholesaling. By "reformatting" I mean a couple of things. They need some text changes and omissions; my patterns tend to be pretty beginner-friendly, and people who shop at cross-stitch stores generally don't need instructions about how to, say, press their fabric, or use a cross-stitch chart, or frame their work, etc. I also made an executive decision, based on some discussions we had here around this issue, to only offer wholesale printed patterns with black-and-white, not color, charts. Black-and-white charts are also (from the anecdotal evidence I've found and the pros I've asked) the industry standard. For almost two years, since we had those chart-y conversations, I've offered black-and-white charts in my PDF patterns, but I still print only color for my kits (and I will continue to do that). But printed patterns for shops will only be available in black-and-white. And before I get them all printed, I have to do a lot of reformatting of my files — re-exporting new charts and redoing the color-chip lists. I had my graphic designer, Greta, make new product line sheets and an order form and stationery for me, and it's all so pretty (she always gets where I'm trying to go, even better than I do).

I'm stitching on my winter design and am almost done. Next year I've decided not to do as many seasonal designs, mostly because they really lock you in to the calendar! And I need more freedom right now. I have some other design ideas. It probably won't work but we'll see. I really want to be a part of the cross-stitch community but I don't think I'll ever have a floss-tube (i.e.: a YouTube channel where you talk about cross stitch). I just don't have time to watch it and I definitely don't have time to do videos. But I think it's great that they have such a vibrant community when so much of blogging has fallen away (personally heartbreaking to me, but hopefully it will come back — if you have a blog, please comment here so I can check it out!).

I've been trying to buy some new lamps for our home. Almost all of our lamps are the same ones — simple stick lamps from Ikea, over ten years old by now. We have at least ten of them that I can count offhand. The problem with these (I'm sure I've mentioned this, I am obsessed with it) is that they use chandelier bulbs and you can only use Ikea shades with them. (You can't use clip-ons because, chandelier bulbs.) Well, Ikea makes only one shade for these lamps right now and they are dark gray. So, blah. I would cover the shades I have but they are all made out of basket-woven wicker. :| Except for the kitchen ones, which are black, and with a bunch of pleated fabric on them they would be completely opaque. So I've been surfing Wayfair (I need matched pairs and have joy for retiring) for hours, looking for new lamps. I've been doing this for like a year. I can't seem to commit! Ah, silly obsessions. Thank goodness for them!

Chit-chatting about the little things here. Tell me yours.

I'm kind of taking the rest of the day off. Andy is home to run homework this afternoon and I've ordered some lunch (banh mi sandwiches and Vietnamese coffees, my weaknesses) and I'm about to start the colorwork on my Soorik tunic. (I still need to make an entry for that, sorry.) Amelia is going to be a "vampire queen" (her idea) for Halloween (I did not make this costume, I just bought it online) and she and Andy will carve pumpkins tonight. It's supposed to be sunny on Sunday which is really wonderful. Halloween on a sunny Sunday, wow!

***Her sweater is here. It still fits, yay.

October Birthday

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Oh, this girl. I love her so. She is such a sweetheart. Her birthday was lovely. It started the day before her birthday and went through the weekend. She wore her fancy dress for much of it. She decorated her own cake. She is so big and grown up and wonderful. I was so grateful that her family and friends celebrated her, near and far. We rented a pavilion in the park on Saturday and the weather could not have been more glorious. It was a busy and delightful week (and in the middle of it all, schoolwork!). We go big! But how can we not! Baby girl is already nine years old!!!

(Big pavilion photo by my darling Holly Klein.)

Make It More Mellow

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Gosh, the light has been so harsh lately. Every time we go out it feels like blazing sun in a cloudless sky, or in a sky where the clouds are of zero consequence, and it's harsh. It hurts my eyes. Last weekend it was, like, 86 degrees or something and I am so over it. I'm ready for things to be a bit more mellow. We are staying home today, and I am glad. In fact, right now I'm up in bed in my nightgown with a second cup of coffee, laptop on top of the comforter, light just starting to come through the windows. I'd like to stay here all day and knit, and drink hot things, and watch TV, and do no chores. Amelia's birthday is coming up in a few days and it will be a busy week, so I'd best recharge. I don't feel ready.

Thank you SO much for all of the orders last week and beyond. I am eternally grateful for every single one of you. Orders come in a bit differently than they used to — the trajectory of orders is lower but longer. We get fewer orders than we used to but there are still over two hundred. I try to ship as fast as I possibly can while sharing the office with Amelia. I make so much noise in there that I have to do it when she's not in school. The office is getting heavily used! Haha.  Actually, every single part is in heavy rotation. We're definitely getting our mortgage-payment's-worth out of this little house lately.

Many trips to the post office later, I have cleaned up the offices and have designed the last (winter) design in 2021's cross-stitch series. Do you want to see the digital? I never know if people want to see that before the finished, stitched photo. And sometimes I think, in my spare time I should be one of those designers that launches PDF patterns based on digital pattern covers; there's a way to export cross-stitch patterns so that they look like they are made of "virtual" stitches. It's not as fun or as pretty but I would have more designs that way. I have more ideas than I have time to stitch. I don't know. Just a thought. I still need to work on my wholesale pattern efforts, which was my New Year's resolution in January of 2020. That got stalled out because of pandemic, but it's still on the list.

Andy's been home on vacation for the past week, mostly to have oral surgery last Tuesday. We spent most of the day on Thursday at the vet with Clover Meadow, who is now fourteen and is probably battling some dental issues herself. Our vet's office says they have lost six or seven of their vets over the past year. I don't know if you've experienced this where you live but it is practically impossible to get a vet appointment that isn't four-to-five weeks out. We had to go way out to the suburbs and wait in the parking lot of a different walk-in emergency vet for two hours to get seen on Thursday. Clover still isn't exactly right and probably needs to have general anesthesia for some dental investigation. It's really hard with dogs this old. Aging has been pretty hard on her. It's tough. I can't seem to talk about it! Urgh. Hurts my heart.

Now, can you believe this, but I'm done with almost all of my Christmas shopping. I was getting up at 3 and 4 a.m. recently and decided to do something productive with my time instead of surfing Pinterest in the dark. So I just did it. I did it all. On my iPad. That's a first. My friend had texted just the night before that she was done herself and I was inspired. I also bought myself five new books to read in the hot tub. I can't remember what all of them are. Mysteries. I also bought Amelia what I thought was a pretty cute birthday present — I got her a new apron, new cookie cutters, fluorescent food coloring, her own icing tips, and a few new bottles of fancy sprinkles. Do you remember when Sears used to have a WishBook catalog that came out every fall? Oh gosh how I loved that thing! I would spend hours as a kid just paging through it and marking things I wanted. I really wish they still had something like that. They have an American Girl doll catalog, and Amelia does love those. But there's just something about the WishBook. Like, I think it must have had every single toy in it. And do any of you Chicagoans remember Service Merchandise? Oh I loved that place! I used to go there with my dad. Wasn't there a conveyor belt or something? I don't even remember how it worked! I just remember that I adored it. I remember one time my parents left us at home with a babysitter and went shopping together and brought home a White Stag sweater dress for me, with a zipper neck. It wasn't from Service Merchandise but I swear I think it was from Madigan's (that was another old Chicago department store that I used to love). Ahhh, sigh. I was just telling Andy yesterday that I really miss going to Amling's for Halloween, too. Does Amling's still have a carnival and caramel apples and pumpkins in the parking lot and stuff like that? Aww, I'm getting so old and nostalgic. When I look at the pictures above, I think, These will be Amelia's memories of getting pumpkins for Halloween in childhood at Dolan Creek Farm. . . . Nicest people ever, and every single member of their family came and found us on the property yesterday and said hello to us, remembering us from last spring when we stayed the weekend there for Andy's birthday.

I bought a cute cereal bowl with a flower design on the rim on eBay the other day, and when it gets here I'm going to make soup and take a picture of it in that bowl. OH! And I found the old poetry books I was talking about in my last post and I will show you those, too. They are so cool. I meant to do that. I'd best press "publish" on this now, though, and get on with the day. Of relative leisure. I hope you are all well and wish you a peaceful weekend. Xox.

(Riverside pictures above from Milwaukie riverfront, not Dolan Creek Farm.)

Edited to add: More from the western suburbs of Chicagoland memory tour: Kiddieland! Come Back Inn! Russell's BBQ! (And obviously Marshall Field's and Weiboldt's.)

Autumn Designs Now Available!

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My third design in this year's seasonal series is called The Mist and All, and it is now available! The name of it is taken from this lovely poem by Dixie Willson:

I like the fall,
The mist and all.
I like the night owl's
Lonely call —
And wailing sound
Of wind around.

I like the gray
November day,
And bare, dead boughs
That coldly sway
Against my pane.
I like the rain.

I like to sit
And laugh at it —
And tend
My cozy fire a bit.
I like the fall —
The mist and all.

I just love that poem. I'm not sure when it was written; it appears in a book called Poems for Boys and Girls which was compiled by Marjorie Barrows in 1945. I love those old books of illustrated poetry compilations for kids. My mother had a few of hers from her own childhood that I remember just staring into for hours when I was a kid. I need to find them for Amelia. They're so cool.

This embroidery is done on 32-count Natural Brown linen from Wichelt with 2 plies of DMC floss. The stitching area at this fabric count is 6" x 8" (15cm x 20cm), and that's 96 stitches wide by 128 stitches high. You can fit this in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame. In this design I combined one ply each of two separate colors of floss for the areas of the owl head and wing, the mushroom cap, and the oak leaf. All of the floss is included in the kit, along with the fabric, and the printed full-color pattern (if you prefer a black-and-white chart, as always just email me and I will send you the PDF for your use).

To order The Mist and All KIT, please click here.

To order The Mist and All PDF pattern only, please click here.

Cross stitch is done with #24 tapestry needles, so don't forget those if you need them. Our beautiful Bohin heart scissors are back in stock, too.

And if you need any of the other kits in this series so far, we still have them in stock. Click on the image to take you to the "Embroidery Kits" page where they all live.

Autumn Launch Cross Stitch

 

Now, here is our hoop design for fall, Autumn Wreath.

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This is the fourth and final 4" hoop design of 2020-2021 and I have loved developing these. They are inexpensive, quick to work and frame, and make great gifts. The kit includes a printed pattern, two pieces of muslin fabric (one for stitching, one to use as a liner when framing), all of the floss you need, a hoop for framing, a piece of felt for the backing, and a ribbon for hanging.

To order the Autumn Wreath KIT, please click here.

To order the Autumn Wreath PDF pattern only, please click here.

You will have to trace the design onto your fabric so it can be helpful to use this fine-point water soluble marker for that (sold separately).

And if you'd like to purchase any of the other kits in this series, we have those as well. Click on the image to take you to the "Embroidery Kits" page where they all live.

Autumn Launch Rings

We also have re-issued a limited number of autumn kits from last year and the year before.

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This is the Things of Autumn kit from fall 2020. It's also done on 32-count fabric with 2-plies of floss. It's part of the "Things Of" series, and yes, Things of Winter kits will be reissued in a few weeks, too. (Things of Spring kits are entirely sold out because very unfortunately the fabric has been discontinued. Things of Summer kits are still available.)

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This is The Leaves by Hundreds Came from fall 2019. It's also done on 32-count fabric with 2-plies of floss. Its reissued companion pieces, Summer Storm (summer) and Time of Flowers (spring) are still available, and First Snow (winter) will be reissued in a few weeks.

Last month Andy was putting things away for me up the attic and let me know that there were four boxes filled to the brims of already-cut fabric strips for Calicozy ComfyQuilt top kits, just waiting to be assembled. I honestly do not know why these were up there and why I had not yet made them into kits, but now I have. You might remember these quilts from when I originally made them several years ago:

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They are made almost entirely of vintage cotton calicos from the 1980s (some might be before, some a bit after) and Kona cotton solids. This quilt is set on-point, so the square patches actually display as diamonds. It is designed to be turned inside out instead of bound, tied at each patch intersection, and filled with a poufy, inexpensive comforter from Ikea (though you can use batting, if you like). The Ikea comforter can be purchased both at the Ikea store and on-line.

To make the Calicozy ComfyQuilt, you will also need to purchase the Calicozy ComfyQuilt PDF pattern, available only as a digital download, HERE.

And then if you are interested, you can purchase a quilt-top kit of ready-cut 4.25" solid and calico strips (please note that the kits are for the TOP ONLY — please review the pattern page to see what other supplies you will need to finish this quilt) in one of several colorways, shown below. The kits that I've made up come with all of the fabric, including calicos and solids, you need for a Throw size quilt (58" x 58" [147cm x 147cm]). That is the only size I am offering. The fabrics are already cut into 4.25" strips so all you need to do is cut those into 4.25" squares and go, go, go! I made these composites on my computer to show you the fabrics that are likely to be included (though you might not get every single one, and you might get one or two that is not pictured). Click on each image to be taken to my web shop where you may purchase a kit in the Throw 58" x 58" (147cm x 147cm) size.

COUNTRY HOUSE

Country House Blog

 

HOLLY JOLLY

Holly Jolly Blog

 

COZY RAINY DAY

Cozy Rainy Day Blog

 

IVY LEAGUE

Ivy League Blog

 

SAILING VESSEL

Sailing Vessel Blog

 

HOLLY JOLLY BUT MAKE IT PINK

Holly Jolly Pink Blog

 

MERRY WEATHER

Merry Weather Blog

Okay, now! We also found some Phyllis Mouse and Dandelion Doe supplies in the attic, and I have made these up with vintage calicos as well. Do you remember these girls?

Miss Phyllis Mouse kit

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Miss Dandelion Doe kit

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We no longer have Liberty fabric dress fabric available for these kits, but I've used a large range of vintage calicos (with 100% wool sport-weight yarn from Brown Sheep) for them instead. Click on all of the little thumbnails on each product page to see all of the prints that are available for each animal. All of the items included in the kit are listed in detail on the product page, so please have a look at those and let me know if you have questions.

And last but not least, we have more Autumn Woods lotion bars, too! These are made with beeswax from local bees; coconut oil; unrefined shea butter; lanolin; and essential oils of cedarwood, fir, balsam Peru, and a drop of cinnamon. They have an earthy, spicy scent, and are perfect for fall. I just used mine last night on my elbows and it was nice.

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WHEW. That was a lot. Thanks for hanging in there with me. I hope these projects bring you some joy and peace this fall. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to respond directly. Thank you!

UPDATE, 9:30 a.m. PST: The USPS has temporarily suspended all First Class International shipments to Australia, as of September 17, 2021. I have disabled shipping to Australia on my web site for now. When the USPS resumes shipping, we will be able to ship to Australia again. So sorry for the frustration. If you are in Australia and you would like me to hold items for you until further notice, please send me an email or leave a comment here and I will get in touch to arrange that, no big deal. Thank you! Xo, a

Also: We ran out of the temporary tattoos we have included with orders for many years! It looks like the original company we used doesn't make them anymore. Let me know if you liked having those and want me to find another company to make them. Or let me know if you didn't care either way! It's always good to know these things and I don't think I have ever asked!

School Has Started!

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Yep! It's September! School has started! Amelia is behind me right now virtually presenting her "All About Me" report. She is reading it out loud to her class in the sweetest, most presenter-y voice. I wish I were recording this. "My favorite color is magenta." Agh, she's so sweet. They're all so sweet. I love these kids. Amelia has a gigantic pink gift-bow in her hair right now. It's on a wire and came on a present from someone at some point; I can't even remember who. It's about half the size of her head. She looks like a Victorian doll. But school (they are following the Florida Virtual School curriculum, for anyone interested) is going great so far. It's only been two weeks, of course. But the amount of stress that has been removed from my life now that only the teacher is asking her to do her work and I'm not asking her to do her work (as I was when we were doing Oak Meadow, which turned into a bit of a power struggle, and I hated that) is immeasurable. This seems better for both of us. I mean, I have no idea if this is a "better" education. I'm not saying that either way — I guess only time will tell and I really don't know. But she is happier, and I am happier, and it is just better for our relationship and that's worth a lot right now, so I would say it is a better education for her at this point. She had to answer some multiple-choice questions on the module that gives an overview the lesson set-up, and one of the questions asked what they liked best about learning; she enthusiastically chose “taking tests!” Her second was "doing worksheets." Which, like . . . I burst out laughing. Aren't they supposed to hate worksheets and tests, or . . . ? :) Ha! And I think Andy’s still planning on doing some special studies with her when he’s home. They really enjoyed that.

It's freezing in here! It was 44 degrees this morning. All the windows were open upstairs and the wind whipped through. I've been waking up way too early, like 4 a.m. When that happens I just chuck in any attempt to go back to sleep and get up, go downstairs and make a cup of coffee, and then come back up and get under the covers and surf Pinterest in the dark for a few hours. Surfing Pinterest makes things feel like the old days, when I decorated rooms and made clothes and cooked more. It makes me want to do those things again, so I like it. Still haven't done many of those things but I'm still trying. I don't mind getting up at 4:00 because it's very quiet (aside from Agatha meowing at me; she's a very meow-y cat) and I get some time to myself. I printed off a recipe for apple muffins this morning. That's on my list for the day. Maybe it will be a muffin lunch here.

Having Amelia occupied for part of the day has given me more time to work, and I am so happy to be working. Two new kits are in production right now; FedEx tells me that patterns should be here today. New assistant Anna is just amazing and is putting together all the kits, including two reprints (The Leaves by Hundreds Came and Things of Autumn — we'll re-launch those at the same time as the new ones), and making more lotion bars. Andy has pulled the floss for all four kits and that's all done. We found some stuff (Phyllis Mouse kits and Calicozy strips) in the attic that we didn't know we had so I've been putting some new-old things together as well. Amelia's desk is ready and Andy finished building the big shelf and we gave his old desk away. We've all been working nonstop for the past few weeks and are slowly catching up.

I started a new Porty Cardigan last winter. It's another thing I recently found. I picked it back up and have been knitting the body and am now trying to bind-off. I'm using Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight. It's probably the scratchiest yarn I've ever used and I really hope I like wearing it when it's all done. It has definitely not been my favorite yarn to knit with, though the colors are splendid. I also recently found and finished another Granny's Favourite in Woolfolk Far for Amelia. I apologize for the scanty info on these Ravelry entries; I don't seem to remember anything about them! Need to write things down more. A few nights ago I had this very old memory of a sweater vest I had when I was a kid — it was navy blue, just a crew-neck wool vest, but it had an intarsia autumn tree in red, yellow, and orange on the front. I remember that I wore it on a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago on a beautiful, beautiful fall day and I just loved that vest and that museum and that day. I remember riding the bus on I-290 and looking at the Congress El at rush hour. I found this pattern started it (without the fair isle) in Nature Spun sport and am planning to embroider a fall tree on the front in duplicate stitch for Amelia. I'm hoping to have it done by her birthday. I've been just knitting in circles every night as I watch This Farming Life. (I'm on Season Three, which is the last season for me as I started with Season Four, and I will be SO SAD when I get through it! I love this show so very much! Should I just start watching again? What do I do? I need more!)

For dinner, I made Creamy French Mustard Chicken and everyone here really liked it, including Amelia, which made me feel really good. I roasted some vegetables on the side and, I don't know, there really is nothing like cooking something autumnal that your child will eat to make you feel happy and accomplished.

August Days

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I’m doing this post from my iPad. This is a first so I wonder if these photos will format correctly (ed: they did not, but I fixed them on computer :((( ). Forgive, it seemed better than nothing. These were all on my iPad from the past few weeks. This was August. I’ve had a keen, poignant sense this month of wanting to not “waste” a moment on Amelia's behalf. I try to get us out all day, every single day. I’ve never really done that before, except by accident. This week it’s been morning tennis lessons at the park. The tennis courts are way off in the corner of the park, overlooking the dry hill and the railroad tracks down below. Beyond the tracks is the multi-use path and then the Willamette River that cuts our city in two, east side and west side. We are decidedly east-side people this summer, sticking close to home and, in fact, going to Sellwood, a neighborhood a few miles south. Suddenly everything we do is in Sellwood: Sellwood Park and Sellwood pool and Sellwood tennis lessons, and the rhododendron garden near Sellwood, and my fish-burrito place and Reed College canyon, and my mom’s house and then, I don’t know, back to Sellwood for something again. Too bad we don’t just live in Sellwood. But we've been outside all month nevertheless.

My god, the tennis lessons are terrible. Twenty-five little kids, two teenagers literally on their phones. The “teachers” are sitting on the ground looking at their phones. The kids throw balls across the court for a half an hour. That’s the activity. Just throw balls across the court while the teachers take a break at 10:30 in the morning. Then at 11:00 they do their main activity. That’s stand in line, wait your turn, then go to one side of the court and "serve" a ball over the net. They can barely hit a ball. Amelia throws it up fifteen feet in the air and backwards over her head. If they whiff it, and most of them do, too bad, that’s their turn. Then they go to the other side of the net and “receive” (mostly nothing). Then they go back and wait in line again. They do this for another hour (the teenager, lobbing balls dolefully toward them, gives them no instruction, no advice) and then the lesson is over. There’s only one other mom who stays for the lesson, as I do, knitting at the picnic table up the hill. She, chasing a toddler, is apoplectic (love!), has already emailed and called the director with complaints, and we’ve both spoken to the teenagers — alas, this is all on plan. After the lesson, we compose: Amelia is thrilled, pink-cheeked and delighted that she hit two over the net. She’s with her bright-pink backpack and her racket and her pink water bottle, in shorts, knee socks, and a button-down Peter Pan–collared blouse over a long-sleeved striped t-shirt with her hair in two long, tangled braids, smiling and telling me that tennis is her new hobby, that she’s going to be in the Olympics when she’s a teenager, she will be, in the Olympics, but for gymnastics. All of this breaks my heart in a hundred thousand different ways. I feel pieces of it exploding weakly up into the parched, ancient pine trees above. The air is cool and scented with pine and chlorine. It’s the end of summer and I ache with love and sorrow daily, in every moment. I love her so much and want every good and golden thing for her, every day. She screamed at the park yesterday when the ice-cream man came and she got her Powerpuff Girl ice-cream bar, literally screamed like she'd been bitten; I froze with alarm and turned to look at her but she was just that happy, and we all, even the kids, bubbled with laughter.

I won't tell you about the hellscape of the hospital or what it's like right now, the things that Andy tells me and how tired he is, how hard it is day after day, the beds in the hallways and the skeleton crew, and I burn with a helpless and bewildered fury that it has come to this. Every day, tears in my eyes, trying, trying. We've been instead focused on organizing some of the house a little bit, and had a big shelving unit delivered yesterday to replace Andy's desk, which has become a catch-all for his stuff in general. It's basically become a shelf that really sucks as a shelf. The only time he actually sits at the desk is the day, maybe twice a year, that he cleans off the desk, and that only lasts minutes, at the most. Seems dysfunctional to have a desk that only gets used for fifteen minutes a year. So, once again with the giant wall of cube holes, and storage cubes, and putting things away, and fixing the smallest spaces in a futile effort to assuage the greater chaos and terror of the world at large and all that we cannot control in it.

The weather, hallelujah, I have zero complaints about, and today it will be 75 degrees, max. This makes doing outside things (oh you pretty things!) so doable and delightful, and today, after tennis, we'll go (again and again) to the park.

I have two new fall designs, the next in my seasonal series, coming out soon. I’m still stitching them — well no, I’m still stitching ONE of them. I haven’t even started the hoop-design stitching because the cross stitch is taking forever! It has large areas of solid color. This series has been kind of a departure for me but I have really grown to love it (though I might be the only one — it has not been a bestseller) But did you see the digital on Instagram??? It's adorable. I’m hoping they’ll both be out by early October, at the rate I’m going. I’ll also be reissuing Things of Autumn from last year, as well as The Leaves by Hundreds Came, from 2019, and Andy still has to pull floss for all four of these designs and you can see why things take us a while. . . . But we will get there.

Amelia will stay home this fall and will be enrolled full-time in our school district’s online-learning option. I reorganized her half of the office we share, and got an IKEA pegboard for various supplies and headphones, a computer-monitor riser to raise up the computer (which she doesn't actually use but I use for all my order shipping) and give her room to put her school-issued Chromebook beneath it, and a new filing cabinet for her folders and papers. I spent a few hours over the weekend sharpening every single colored pencil that would fit in the desktop carousel I bought for pens and pencils. I wish that I had done all of this for her last year. I don’t know why I couldn’t figure out that I needed to do this, and I think the disorganization of that desk space — it was all sort of an afterthought, and never didn’t feel like an afterthought, even eighteen months in — did not contribute to her success in any way, though, I mean, she generally succeeded in spite of my failures. I also think that the way we did it (working with her in the mornings on Oak Meadow [the Waldorfy curriculum that we purchased separately] and then having her go to virtual morning meetings with her class and then back to virtual math with them in the afternoon) was actually just hectic and confusing and divided her attention and ours in stressful and unproductive ways. Andy had much more fun with it (and she with him) than I did. But I’m always trying to do my own work in the margins, and that’s hard. Posie is a business and has always needed to be a business, not just a hobby; we rely on the money I make, and not working much these past few years has been really stressful financially, on top of it. We calculate each risk, and make decisions, and worry whether they are “right,” and try to get it all done the very best we can. Like everyone. But wow.

Shows I am OBSESSED with: Clarkson’s Farm and the fourth season of This Farming Life. Oh my gosh I love both of these so much. I love them and every single person in them. I guess I’ve secretly always wanted to live on a small British sheep farm. I didn’t know how much. I love Gardener’s World, too, of course, and there are a gajillion seasons of that, as well as Escape to the Country. But these farming shows. Aghhhh, they really have my heart.

To end, I made the sweet romper (out of luscious Woolfolk Far) for darling Emily’s new baby. And I cross stitched this adorable design by Samantha Purdy for my little sister’s birthday. I can also heartily recommend two Instant Pot recipes that I’ve made that are just awesome. Salsa verde chicken (I might’ve mentioned this one before, but I make it every single week now) and this chicken teriyaki, which Amelia inhaled (no surprise, it’s smothered in honey; you could probably reduce that easily). Also this sumac chicken was great. I like chicken and rice. One good thing about pandemic life is grocery delivery, which has been absolutely wonderful for me and I’m very, very grateful that it exists.

Thank you for the comments on my previous few posts. Your words mean a lot to me and I’m very grateful for your presence here, and for your orders and interest in my designs, at all times. Thank you.

Vacation

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After dinner, we’d watch Season 3 of The Great British Baking Show. Outside, dusk would be falling and the eagles would start their nightly patrol of the river. The house faces east, so mornings are bright and glittering; at night, the sunset leaves the front row of burned-out trees in shadow and turns the ones behind them rose-gold. When we’d first arrived in late afternoon, we gasped to see the damage the wildfire (specifically, here, the 2020 Dowty Road fire, an offshoot of the Riverside Fire) had done. From the house I had vertigo looking at the wall of dead, twisted sticks. I could not stop imagining what it was like when it had been roaring with flame. I texted a few of my friends in distress. They answered, distressed: It'll grow back.~~~~ After a few days we got used to the burned, blackened branches, the charcoal-black tree trunks. But sometimes when I was sitting in the river looking down at my book, I would look up, expecting to see the lush, luminous waves of green I had known, and instead I'd see the black sticks, and it was shocking every time. The grass in the yard was bone dry, the weird, tangled brush that surrounds the property already bleached and brittle. We were melancholy, especially Andy and me, especially me. Amelia seemed, as with all else these past two years, to take it in stride. Each night we'd talk about the things we'd bake when we got home: pavlova, jelly roll, a Religieuse Ancienne. Spanische Windtorte! Yes. Anything we wanted. The darkness fell and it was nicer, though we were attuned then, as ever, to the potential scent of wood-smoke in the air, coming from any direction on the night wind. We never smelled any smoke. But I never stopped worrying that I would. I tracked the sky multiple times a day for smoke plumes or, at the least, that particular orange haze that haunts us now in the summertime west, but the air was clear, the sky was big and blue or just filled with regular clouds. Amelia slept in a different bed every night, the best one by far the upstairs double that overlooked the river, high-up in the green trees on our side.

During the days there was a heatwave and the temperatures were regularly in the high-90s or 100s. This part of the Clackamas River is quite lazy and shallow; Andy is easily able to walk across it. The water is crystal clear unless you walk through and disturb the rocks and sediment. Even then, it settles almost immediately, and you can see that the river bottom is covered with big, round stones, thousands and thousands of them, sliding over each other and slippery with rusty-brown river glaze. On the hottest days, dozens of people (we're only forty-five minutes from our house in Portland here; it's close) floated by in rafts, inner tubes, and boats, from morning until dinnertime. It's so quiet out there except for the sound of rapids downstream about a hundred yards — you can hear them but you can't see them yet, and floaters always lift their heads at that point, becoming interested, securing the cooler and radio a little better, not knowing exactly what’s ahead. But generally they slide past our house in a bright, languid, lazy way, music loud and laughter easy. Their conversations are weirdly amplified; I don't know why. I could, as if they were standing next to me, hear everything — or nothing, maybe depending on the direction of the wind. I started writing down anything I could hear as they passed.

Guy [incredulous]: "There's a Robin Hood festival?!?"
Girl: "Yes!"

"People are leaving the state."

Older lady: "Where are we? [Looks around.] Okay, we've got at least two hours to get sober."

Girl: "I haven't had a period in like seven years."
Other Girl: "And you're having your period NOW?"

"You cannot watch that show. But if you're hammered or if you get high . . . it's so funny." [Ed: I think they were talking about South Park.]

"He's the oldest worker I've ever gotten along with."

Guy: "Cool, we're going on Thursday night."
Other guy: "I'll be there. I can leave the state now. I don't even have to ask permission."

"There was, like, orcas and they were, like, playing with beluga whales. They have this video of, like, a whale coming up and kissing some guy on the boat."

And many more that I heard before I thought to start writing them down, including a lot of stuff about child-custody issues.

I was in the river every day, sitting under my new umbrella from morning until about four p.m., reading. I brought multiple metal chairs out there and had one for myself, one for my basket (with books, phone, water, glasses, etc.), and one for my feet. Andy and Amelia went on several "adventures" down- and upriver, walking into the woods and out of sight, to the pond south of the house, Amelia reporting to me on her walkie-talkie: “Mama, there is a giant salmon here being eaten by crawfish, over!” I rotated my chair throughout the day so I was never actually in the sun (not sure how I made it through any length of time down there in the past without this umbrella). I was reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and The Searcher by Tana French. Station Eleven is a dsytopian, post-apocalyptic novel. It’s truly haunting in its prescience, a post-pandemic story written in 2014 that nevertheless made me cry when I read one of the pages out loud to Andy, so true to 2020-21 did it ring. (Last summer, just a month before the fires, I read Year of Wonders, which is about a 17th-century village that quarantined itself during the plague, while sitting in this exact same spot. Usually I pick lighter fare, go figure.) Eventually The Searcher, which is equally dark in many ways but takes place in the winter-bare hills of the Irish countryside (I really love that she focuses so much on atmosphere and place), started to win out for my attention and I didn't put it down; I've got about forty pages left now. I've read several Tana French novels now. I've read The Witch Elm, The Trespasser, The Secret Place, Broken Harbor, and Faithful Place. I just think the way she paces these books is pure genius; anyway, they sure take me right along.

Us at the river house in 2020. In 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013. (N.B.: The original house burned down [not from a wildfire] in the winter of 2015 and was replaced with the current one, so that's why we didn't go in 2015 and also why the house is different in the early years.) This place is in my soul and I love it and I pray for 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

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