Wrapping It Up

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Well, hello there! How are you? I finally have a morning to write. This is our long day, with ballet at the end of it, and it is just plain looooooong. Ballet doesn't end until 5:00 p.m. For us, that's very late to be out of the house. We're getting used to being out when it's dark. It's suddenly dark, and cold. November! It's here.

Thank you beyond words for all of your orders for the advent calendar. I'm so grateful for your interest and your support. We are almost done wrapping every single thing and are planning to ship at the beginning of next week. It's very exciting to finally be at this point and I'm so anxious to finally start sharing the goodies here. I'm already working on my next project, which will be inspired by the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is such a beloved book. The version illustrated by Inga Moore is just so extraordinary. Andy, Amelia, and I have been listening to the audio version read by Finola Hughes, and I seriously can't recommend it enough. She does an amazing job. And I am one of those weird people who really just can't get into audiobooks. But this one is totally on point. I love it.

I drew a new embroidery design inspired by the story, and worked it over the weekend, and I just loved doing it. Almost the entire thing is done in a single ply of DMC floss. It was such a cool experience to watch Mr. Robin come to life stitch by stitch by stitch. I didn't think I could do something so naturalistic but it sort of happened like magic. It's honestly easy! You just do it! This design will be available as a kit that is part of another treat box later this spring. (It will also be available as a stand-alone kit.) I'm also planning to do a yarn/knitting version of the treat box, and I'm working on that now, too. Stay tuned. We will make a lot more of these, hopefully one for everyone who would want one. It will be smaller than the advent calendar and the items in it will not be wrapped — the wrapping of every single item in the advent calendar was absolutely bonkers, and I'm afraid that was a one-time-only experience for this crew! I literally lost track of the number of hours we spent wrapping. So this will free us up just to make more boxes. I have so many ideas. It's gonna be really fun.

I took a soap-making class at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) over the weekend and it was really fun. Those pink moons are my first-ever bars of cold-process soap! They are made with olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, lye, almond cybilla fragrance oil, ground oatmeal, and madder root. They won't be ready for another five weeks or so. Andy and I went to the bookstore on Monday while Mimi was at her grandma's and I got a couple of soap-making books and now I'm so anxious to make so much more. I started following a bunch of soap-makers on Instagram and have been watching soap-making videos on YouTube and ohhhhhhh dear, here we go. Andy knows the signs of an obsession coming on. He says he sees one coming. I have many, so I hardly notice anymore. I've been so excited by the new things I've learned this year. This is exactly what wintertime is for.

I also started a micro granny-stitch crocheted blanket inspired by this lovely one by Deb. I, too, used Lucy's tutorial for the stitch (I chained 302 to start) and this video for the magic knot method for changing colors. I've never used magic knot before and it's pretty wonderful. You do end up with little knots on the edges but they're so small I don't care. I planning to give this to Amelia. I'm using all fingering-weight mostly hand-dyed yarns, both my own and those that I just have. My mom gave me the headboard and footboard from my childhood Jenny Lind bed. We don't have the side rails (or, for that matter, a box spring). But I think I want to try to find some of those second-hand (if they fit — are they standardized? I need the kind that hook in) and set this bed up for Amelia. Her Ikea toddler bed extends all the way to a regular twin size but it's so damn low that it's really hard to make and I seriously don't think I have ever approached that bed without stubbing my toe on that middle leg and practically fallen into the bed. I've literally kicked that thing probably a thousand times. It makes me insane. Anyway, she's six years old now and she's ready for a taller bed, and I loved this Jenny Lind when I was little. She's just starting to want to hang out in her bed before sleeping and after waking up. She has a clipboard with paper on it that she carries all over the house now and she is constantly drawing. She sits up with her little light on and draws almost every night before she falls asleep. This is just amazing to me. I don't know why. When kids just start doing stuff like this, stuff that they just decide to do with no prompting, no suggestion, no encouragement, etc., it is so exciting. It's just all them, becoming themselves. I love it. I love her.

***Oh! By the way — several people have mentioned to me that they were having trouble with my blog lately, and I was too. I opened a help ticket with Typepad and they wrote back and said that last month they "upgraded to support HTTPS — something which had been requested by many Typepad bloggers for months. Some of our more veteran bloggers like you may have links that use http instead of https in older content and so these will need to be updated to use the secure URL now that it is available." So, it turned out that the links in my template did need to be updated. I was able to figure that out and fix them, and it seems to be working fine now, but do let me know if you have any more problems and I will look into it!

****Actually, I don't know that it's fixed. It looks like all of the old photos are still calling up the http prefix. More to come on this — I've opened another ticket. UPDATE: Looks like Typepad was making further changes yesterday that were causing my old photos problems, but I'm told they've discarded those changes and are still working on a future solution. So, we'll stay tuned and I'll keep you posted. Thank you! XO, a

Northern Light Yarn Advent Calendar Now On Sale -- SOLD OUT

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Hello! The Northern Light Yarn Advent Calendar will be available today, Wednesday, November 7,  at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, and then again later today at 6:00 p.m. PST until both batches sell out. To purchase a kit (U.S. orders only, please), please CLICK HERE starting at 10:00 a.m.

For further information, please read this post about the calendar.  Thank you! XOX, alicia

***FIRST BATCH HAS SOLD OUT. I'm so sorry for the frustration. The site crashed, and then started working, and then sold out within minutes. We will be adding more this evening at 6:00 p.m.

***SECOND BATCH HAS SOLD OUT. I am speechless and I thank you beyond words. Thank you so, so much. If you did not get one, please know that we will be making special treats available soon. I promise! Xxoxoxoxoxo

The Inspiration for My Yarn Advent Calendar

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These are my winter colors.

Sea-glass greens of the winter woods. The muted gold of lit candles. Moody grays of heavy clouds. The lilac skies in the winter gloaming. Neon pink and lemon-yellow Christmas lights. The violet luminescence of alpenglow. The cool whites of snowfall. The warm browns of the winter kitchen. Hot brown tea in my teacup. Piles of peachy quilts on the bed. Knitted blue things falling out of baskets. White flannel nightgowns on tiny tip-toers. I like mustard golds and ballet pinks, inky-dark blues and milky greens. I like Arctic sunrise colors. Mountain snowstorm colors. Nordic rose-golds and frozen ice blues. The opalescent rainbow of sparkles on snow.

For the past few months, I've been working on a "yarn advent calendar" to sell. Have you ever heard of these? People do them all sorts of different ways. Mine will be like this: You will receive a box filled with individually wrapped goodies sometime between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December. Then on December 1, you will start opening your treats, and you will open one for each day of December until December 25. These treats will include twelve different hand-dyed 20g fingering-weight mini-skeins, twelve other treats, and, for December 25, one full-size 100g skein of single-ply fingering-weight super-wash 100% Merino wool. The mini-skeins and the treats for the 1st through the 24th will alternate in a mostly random way. The mini-skeins are all fingering-weight yarns, but they are in many different colors in several different super-wash yarn bases, including Merino wool/Tussah silk, Merino/cashmere/nylon, Merino/lurex (metallic), Targhee wool/nylon, and Corriedale wool/nylon. Some of the colors are subtly shaded with few "speckles"; some of the colorways are busy with color and spot. All of them have been hand-dyed by us here in our kitchen in small batches, lovingly handled and carefully colored by way of the odd little process I developed over the past several months of dyeing yarn. After dyeing, we wound every single mini by hand. (I won't do that again, but I did it this time because I wanted a variety of bases. . . . ) My speckles are sort of soft with some dark bits, and my colors are generally soft, clear, and light. I just really try to dye each yarn exactly how I like it, and what I love most about the yarns I've been dyeing is that I think they knit up so beautifully. Sometimes I really like hard-speckled indie-dyed yarn in when it's in the skein but I've noticed that I like it a lot less when I knit it up. My yarns knit up in a really pretty, kind-of subtle way, in my opinion, with gentle color changes punctuated occasionally by flecks of darker or brighter colors. The yarns, when knitted, really do remind me of opals.

What will the treats be? When I started brainstorming what little treats I wanted to include in this calendar, I knew I wanted to include things that winter knitters would use or like. Each calendar has many elements in common, and some things that are completely unique; no two are exactly the same. Some of them are things I've made by hand. Some of them are things that Andy and Kady and Kelsey and Kayla and Sadie and Lydia and even Amelia have helped me make (and wrap). Some of them are things I bought just because I thought they were wonderful and that you would like to have them. Some of them are things to eat and drink; I worked with several amazing Portland and Northwest vendors to provide you with four of these special things. Most of the things that I made by hand are things I had never made before I started working on this kit. I taught myself a lot of new stuff. Many, many hours, weeks, and months of trial and error and experimentation and just plain hard work went into making these things truly special, and I am so proud of all of them. I've had the absolute best time creating all of these gifts, as well as the yarn, and I sincerely hope you love it all.

It's been really hard for me to make this decision, but I have decided that we will sell and ship these to the United States only, and will not take international orders for these advent calendars. We are planning to ship these calendars the week of November 19. There will only be 50 available for purchase, and they will be $215 each, plus $15 shipping in the United States only. We will ONLY ship these to addresses in the U.S. The boxes are too heavy, the shipping costs are too high, there are food items in the boxes, there is glass in the boxes, we don't track international packages, we can't control customs costs for you, and we definitely can't guarantee receipt or delivery on time — there are just too many factors that are causing me no end of stress around this, so for this first time out, we have decided to simplify this situation and ask that you do not order a box if you are outside of the United States. . . . I'm terribly sorry if you were looking forward to this, and hoping to have one shipped overseas. If we continue to do these in the future, I will find a way to accommodate.

Also, if you would like to order other things from my shop, please place a separate order, as we cannot ship anything else with these advent calendar boxes. They are only big enough to hold the advent calendar, and they will serve as both the gift box and shipping box at the same time.

Once these advent calendars sell (if they sell) they will be completely sold out. There are absolutely no more than fifty boxes because that is literally all that we have made. However, I am planning on selling some of the special treats that are in the package to the general public; they will be available only after the recipients of the advent calendars have opened their treats on the specific day that they are scheduled. So if you miss out on the advent calendar itself, you will be able to purchase some of the treats included à la carte, after the surprises have been revealed to the original recipients. I'll be showing you what's in the advent calendars day by day as December goes on, because I think that will be so much fun.

My yarn advent calendars will go on sale at two different times: The first 25 will be released on Wednesday, November 7, at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. The second 25 will be released later that same day, November 7, at 6:00 p.m. I hope this gives more people a chance to get one if they want it. Please know that you must complete payment in order to get a calendar; the cart does not hold your purchase as you shop. You must go all the way through the checkout process to complete your purchase before it is yours.

This project has been a true experiment for me and I have learned a lot, and I know I will learn even more as I put these on sale and deliver them in the next few weeks. We are almost done with everything here. If you miss out (assuming these sell), please know that if everything works out we plan to do more of these around different themes but on a smaller scale — about half the size — in the future. My next theme that I am already dreaming about is The Secret Garden. I'm super excited. Let me know if you'd be interested in that one. It will help us plan.

Phew. Anyway, thank you for indulging me and if you have any questions I will try to answer them! Thank you!!!

Photos and illustrations, from top to bottom: 1. Children Playing in Snow by Lucy Grossmith 2. By Alicia Paulson 3. Unknown 4. By Alicia Paulson 5. Alicia Paulson 6. Snow Girl by Sweet Reality XO 7. Morning Mist by Akihiro Hori 8. By Alicia Paulson 9. Unknown 10. By MixPixBox 11. Winter's Tale by Birgit Franik 12. Winter Garden by Lucy Grossmith 13. By Alicia Paulson 14. Encaustic by Jeff League 15. Urho Kekkonen National Park, Finland by Valentino Valkaj 16. Unknown 17. Poem by Natalia Crow 18. By Alicia Paulson 19. Pink Block on Green by John Hoyland 20. Blueberry Scones by Yuliya 21. Alicia Paulson 22. Winter Morning by the Top Road by Nicholas Hely Hutchison 23. By Alicia Paulson 24. By Alicia Paulson 25. Alicia Paulson 26. Unknown.

Halloweentime

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Ahhhh, tomorrow is Halloween. It's never been my favorite holiday. I'm really not sure why. This year we put some orange lights on our fence and some fake cobweb stuff and now I like it a bit better. The yard looks cute and delightfully seasonal, I must say. My garden is one of those that is filled with grasses and meadow-type plants, and they look beautiful now. I love the season, I've just never been that into Halloween, even as a kid. The only costume I can really remember wearing is a giant footie sleeper — I was a "baby." I wore my hair in two high ponytails and carried a stuffed animal and sucked my thumb. In, like, fifth grade. Uninspired. I remember that I just wanted to be warm and comfortable and I didn't want to wear my coat. It was always such a bummer when it was cold or raining on Halloween and you had to wear a coat over your costume. I also remember one time, also when I was a kid, that I wanted to have a Halloween party in our basement because a character in a book I was reading had a Halloween party in her basement. Our basement wasn't finished. It was like a cellar. I colored about twenty pumpkins with colored pencils on notebook paper and cut them out and hung them around the basement. It looked pathetic. I don't know why I wanted to do this — it was not a good basement for a party. I think I stuck a notebook-paper pumpkin on the washing machine. It was there for the next twenty years. The party was a total bust. It kinda makes me sad for little me. I couldn't wait for it to be over. Amelia is obsessed with candy, so she can't wait for tomorrow. She never gets that much but even ten pieces of candy to her is like winning the lottery. She's really in it entirely for the candy. She went to a party this past weekend at a school friend's house and took her owl mask (she's an "owl princess," by the way) and wings off within five minutes of getting there. I asked her if she wanted more elastic for her upper arm, or another solution to those wings (not sure what it would be, but I could come up with something, I bet) and she said no, thank you, byyyyyyyyyyye. So we'll see. There's something to be said for the costume that's as wearable as possible. I'm not sure this is it. . . . But it sure was fun to make. (I used this pattern for the mask and this tutorial for the wings).

We went to the pumpkin patch with our dear friends the Montgomerys, with whom we've gone to the pumpkin patch every year since our kids were babies. I love these kiddos together so much, romping and falling and running and riding. Pure joy. They're getting big now. The weather this fall has been unbelievably gorgeous, mostly dry and crisp and golden. The rains came in suddenly on Saturday afternoon; Amelia and I were out in the country then, and we got dumped on. On Sunday afternoon, thunder rumbled across the sky from one edge to the other. Andy laid on the sidewalk and listened to it. The sky on the west side was steel gray; to the east, the bright-white sun was poking through holes in the clouds. Thunder . . . thunder . . . and swishing of yellow leaves on the trees. Soon, everything will have fallen, and it will just be cold rain. I'll like that, too, as I do, but I can see why people feel anxious about November. It's very gray and very dark. I honestly don't know how Portlanders who don't knit or crochet make it through the winter!!!

Here, we are allllllmost done with the yarn advent calendar. Now that Halloween is almost here, I feel like I can move forward with this. I know I haven't said that much about it, at least not in proportion to how thoroughly it has taken over this house and my life. All our lives, here. I'm going to put together a post about it and let you know the sale date and times (I think I'll offer it in two batches that day, at two different time — there are only fifty calendars available) early next week. I don't know how much to say about it, because I really, truly want it to be a surprise. That's been so much of the fun of it. I'll dish on the yarn details, but not the other stuff, I don't think. I'm doing so many things for it that I've never done before, and I have honestly loved every minute of getting all of it ready. That said, I'm also ready to be done with it, and send it all off into the world. It's almost time. We have thirty more skeins of yarn to wind and fifty more _______s to make and a whooooole lot of wrapping and tagging and assembling and boxing to do, and then we're done. . . . Yay!

Leaves by Hundreds Kit Errata Alert! (And the PDF is ready.)

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The Leaves By Hundreds Came Pattern Blog

Halllllloooo, dear friends! Autumn is here in earnest around these parts. I'm in my little office today, playing catch-up and bashing away at my to-do list. Yarn is literally hanging and drying (or, not drying, as it's freezing in here, and I kind of forgot how loooooong it takes yarn to dry when it's chilly) all over the place. Kady and I dyed thirty skeins of yarn yesterday and it all came out exactly how I wanted it to, which was nice, for once.

* * * ERRATA ALERT! * * *

What didn't come out as I wanted it to was page 5 of the Leaves by Hundreds Came pattern that got printed and went in all of the kits that have been mailed out. A very kind customer (Andrea! Thank you!) alerted me this weekend that the bottom half of the chart (page 5) is smaller than the top half of the chart (page 4).  Each chart on its own is accurate, but if you try to tape them together, as instructed, they will not match up. Somehow I scaled page 5 slightly smaller than page 4. I cannot for the life of me figure out how I did this between the time I printed and proofed this and then sent it to the printer. But I messed something up on my end, and I'm really sorry about that.

We are reprinting 100 copies and are going to re-stuff the kits that have not yet been sold. But there are about 400 kits out there already — we literally finished shipping every single thing in our queue last Thursday, so I can't get those back. :( SO if you are one of those people who has received your kit and you would like a properly scaled page 5, please email me at posie@aliciapaulson.com and let me know, and I'll send you a corrected page 5 as a PDF. If you are someone who DOESN'T tape your chart together, then this won't affect you at all. But if you would like a new page 5 that you can print at home, please let me know and I will help ASAP. Be sure to print it at 100% with no scaling, no "fit to page," or any other changes.

That said, the PDF version of The Leaves by Hundreds Came is now up and running and you can purchase it HERE.

More from me soon. Various fires to tamp down here but I belieeeeeeeeve I will get caught up someday!

Now You Are Six

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Six whole, big years old. My goodness. I never really have words for these things. The week has been a whirlwind of swirling leaves and party streamers and birthday cakes and fancy things, wonderful and bright and filled with fun and family. We have a big family party every year, and this year there were some people who couldn't make it because of traveling and fighting colds and some new family we'd not yet met. Andy's parents flew in from Chicago and they're here until Wednesday. It's my absolute favorite time of the year when everyone is together, celebrating this lovely young lady, who grows more beautiful inside and out every day, and every year. Mimi and I drove her birthmama home after the party on Saturday night, and Bethy told us the story of Mimi's birth, about the Pitocin and the water breaking, the nurse we all really liked and Bethy's long torso and the Lord of the Rings soundtrack cranking, the seven pushes and then the ease with which she slid into the world, eyes bright and tiny fingers ready to hold. I remember it all and I don't — it is a blur, even though I was there for every minute. It was 5:42 p.m., dark and raining. In my mind everything was golden. I remember all four of us, her birthparents and Andy and me, huddled around tiny, tiny her like big, thumping hearts. It was by far the most profound and exquisite and utterly overwhelming moment of my life. I think about it all the time, any random Wednesday, watching her do plies at ballet, running down the hall at school, racing me up the stairs to bed, climbing into the car for the millionth time, every average and forgettable thing — how grateful I am for every single minute of this, all this ordinary beauty that started in such a extraordinary way. My darling girl, you are six, and every day of your life, even before you were born, has been such a dream come true.

Today, Monday, the sky is brightest blue. The sun is low, the air cool and crisp, just like they say. We kept Amelia home from school today so she could have more time to play with her grandparents while they are here, and in a while we'll go up to her favorite park and play for a while. We're about three-quarters of the way finished shipping kit and lotion bar orders, and I hope to be caught up by the end of Wednesday, speaking of Wednesday. It's been mildly bonkers trying to keep everything going while having a party, etc., but it's all okay. We're feeling really good about what we have left to do to catch up, and that's its own reward. I love working, and tree outside my office literally looks exactly like the tree on my kit, so it just all feels right and fine. Watch your mailboxes, and let me know what you think of everything when you get it!

Now, Halloween. "Owl Princess" costume request is next on deck. I can get on board with this!

Sweater Weather!

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Good day! Hello! How are you? Hellooooooooo! It's me. I've been bonkers busy and I'm so happy I finally have time to sit and write. Hello! [I'm waving.]

* * * T H A N K   Y O U   S O o o o o o   M U C H * * *

lovely, lovely people for all of your orders over the past couple of weeks. I'm so excited about the new kits and lotion bars and it's always just so nice to get your feedback after scurrying away behind the scenes for so long. Things are coming together and it feels great! Kady (new assistant) is sitting across the room writing postcards to go into orders in the next weeks, and yesterday she packed up our little business card packages, and Andy is about halfway done pulling floss. Next he'll start cutting fabric. Kelsey has an infant so she's at home in her kitchen making hundreds of lotion bars for me. Amy's darling daughters are wrapping and date-stamping mini-skeins for the advent calendar at their house. Kady and I dyed thirty new skeins of yarn on Monday, and those will be mini-skeins for the advent calendars soon. It's truly like a hive of activity around here, and I like it. It feels as if we are squirrels ourselves, industriously preparing for first frost. School has been awesome. At home, there are new railings on the front stairs and new scents being tested in the kitchen. Yarn is being wound, and there is lots of knitting, and I'm teaching myself to make candles. Amelia has been drawing and writing and creating little books constantly. Andy's been cooking for us and there have been park visits and neighborhood adventures. We're getting ready for his parents to visit, and for Amelia's big family birthday party in a few weeks. Everyone is excited! I'm doing that embroidery (from this pattern from Florals and Floss) on a bodice for Amelia's birthday dress that I need to finish. It's go-time.

Pictured above is the Sorbet Mini sweater I'm knitting for Amelia. The kid's pattern is only in Danish, so I'm using the English version of the adult pattern (which I made for myself but apparently haven't photographed yet; I will do that) and plugging the kid's numbers in. She saw my sweater and wanted a mini version, so I had to cast on immediately, as you will when your child shows even the slightest interest in your knitting. I have so many things I need to get up on Ravelry that I haven't yet, so don't bother looking for this from me there. But I will do that soon. I have a basket full of WIPs, it's crazy. All I want to do is knit. I splurged on some yarn from Churchmouse Yarns (along with a candle and a bar of soap) and I'm planning to make Amelia a Volo sweater with that after seeing Kyrie's on Instagram the other day. (That picture just literally destroys me. It is so gorgeous.)

Amelia was home with the sniffles yesterday so we made applesauce muffins, which is one of my mom's recipes from my childhood. They are so delightful.

Applesauce Muffins

2 cups Bisquik*
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1 slightly beaten egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

*If you don't have Bisquik (I don't have it but my mother always did, and this is her recipe) you can use 2 cups of all-purpose flour plus 3 teaspoons baking powder and then add in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, as well.

Mix ingredients together until just combined. Fill 12 muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. Let cool a bit then dip top in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar.

And here is the recipe for applesauce that Andy always makes for us and it is wonderful. I know it seems odd to use the microwave but this applesauce has a really fresh taste that is so much nicer than cooked applesauce on the stove top, in my opinion:

Applesauce
from the New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins

2 McIntosh apples
2 Granny Smith or other tart apples
1 cup water
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Halve and core the apples: peel them if you like. Cut each one into 6 wedges or 1-inch chunks. Combine the apples, water, and lemon juice in a deep microwave-safe 2 1/2-quart casserole. Toss the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and add to apple mixture. Cook, uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir, pressing apples into liquid and return to microwave. Cook for another 5 minutes. Using a hand blender, mix apples into applesauce.

Would you also like to make carnitas? We used this recipe from The New York Times and it was absolutely scrumptious.

Pictured above is the rainy afternoon bath I was taking last weekend. I was in the happiest spot — perfect water temperature, vanilla bubble bath, bath pillow that my dear mother-in-law gave me for my birthday, reading Little Women — right before Andy almost cut the tip of his thumb off (thank you for saving it, fingernail) and Amelia went outside to talk to some people (?!?!?) and the dog started barking her head off and running down the front steps to the sidewalk (never, ever does she do this, but naturally she picked that time to do it, and it turns out she was talking to/barking at a fellow neighborhood Cardigan corgi named Mulberry). Andy howling, then wandering out with a bloody dishtowel on his thumb and his face white as a sheet and not explaining anything, Clover losing her mind, Amelia talking to strangers. It was full-on Donnybrook. Naturally, by the time I had hauled myself out of the tub and dried off and put my clothes on the situation came back under Mr. Paulson's control (he's okay, and Clover came back up the stairs, nonchalant, as if nothing had ever happened). I should've gotten back in the water but I didn't. Nevertheless, that tub and that book and I are going to need to reschedule. I want to make my own soap and bubble bath, too. I got one of those things that covers the drain on the tub and lets the water get really, really high and it is literally life-changing.

Oh, and also thank you so much for all of the kind words and inquiries about Amelia's portrait from a few weeks ago. I painted it myself. It was a total fluke, I literally don't know how I did it, and I'm pretty convinced it was magic, so naturally I haven't tried to paint or even thought any more about it since.

***The cowl is an advent calendar sneak peek . . . :))) More on this soon!

The Leaves by Hundreds Came Now Available for Pre-Order

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THE LEAVES BY HUNDREDS CAME Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now available for pre-order. Please CLICK HERE to order.

So, it's really fall. It's still kind of sinking in. Amelia's first week of school went blissfully, thrillingly by in a flurry of new shoes and new routines, long drives and books on tape (thank you for the recommendations). It's been nothing short of extraordinary, for all of us. She seems to have, literally, matured before our very eyes, all in the span of a week. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. I went from having zero time to myself during daylight hours to having six entire child-free hours a day, and I'm still getting used to that, and now am missing her profoundly. In a good way, but still. These milestones. I mean, everyone says this will happen and then it does. I remember this so well four years ago when she first started going to a lady-in-the-neighborhood's house for two mornings a week with three other little kids. Leading up to it I was really excited to just have a few hours of time to myself, and then a couple of days before it was time for "school" to start I totally lost my nerve and got profoundly nostalgic/sad/happy-in-a-sad-way/generally emotional about everything and nothing at all. It was like my body, unleashed from its constant, real-time diligence, sort of blobbed out and puddled in the road. I feel like that today, heightened, perhaps, by the morning's golden light, and cool breeze, and suddenly red leaves. I don't know. Her tap shoes came in the mail yesterday when we got home from school and she hastily pulled them on, and had me tie the bows. Immediately afterward her grandma drove up, bringing with her two big pieces of big bubble wrap, and Amelia's glee as she tap-popped every cell in her new black-patent shoes and her turquoise tights almost brought me to tears. Fall. I get choked up. She loves everything so much. And I love her.

Here is The Leaves by Hundreds Came, a piece I stitched earlier this summer in anticipation of just this lovely, fleeting season. Autumn is the shortest and most precious season we have here in the Pacific Northwest, at least in my opinion. It starts off warm and bright, gets cool and crisp by October, and sometime in November, once the rains and wind have whipped the trees bare, it is quickly over. The title is taken from a line from a George Cooper poem:

October's Party

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came —
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly "hands around."

Vital Statistics:

Finished Size of Design Area: 6.25"w x 8.5"h (16cm x 22cm); 100 stitches wide x 138 high on 32-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 14" x 16" (36cm x 41cm) piece of 32-count evenweave embroidery linen in Milk Chocolate (color 95) from Wichelt
(46) 24" (61cm) lengths of various colors of DMC 6-ply cotton embroidery floss
Stitching instructions
Full-color cross-stitch chart with symbols over color blocks
One piece of chipboard for creating a floss organizer

You will need your own:

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

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

This kit is designed to fit in a ready-made 8" x 10" frame. All you need to do is make sure the frame is deep enough to fit a piece of foam core (and glass, if you want to use glass. I never use glass. I don't like it. I have my embroidered pieces hanging all over the house, and I don't feel that they suffer appreciably for being exposed). What you will do is wrap you embroidery around a piece of foam core, and stretch it with the help of about a million sequin (about 1/2" long) straight pins. You can read my tutorial about how I've done that in the past (though I finished the rest of the framing with custom frames at a frame shop). But with an 8" x 10" piece you can even buy the pre-cut foam-core at the craft store (JoAnn's or Michael's, or easily online) for just a couple of dollars. A frame store can also cut foam core for you for just a few dollars if you ask nicely.

This kit will be shipping sometime around the middle of October. We have the fabric and floss on hand right now and I just have to send the pattern off to the printer this week. We will assemble and ship as soon as possible, if we can manage it sooner than mid-October, and I'll keep you posted on our progress here.

The pattern-only option will also be available separately as a downloadable PDF, but not until sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'll post here when that is ready, too.

This kit is done with two plies of DMC cotton embroidery floss on 32-count linen. That means it has sixteen stitches per inch. If you are interested in waiting for the PDF because you're worried the 32-count linen is too small, I think you'll want to read this post about cross stitch that I wrote a couple of months ago. It will help you determine what supplies you need to purchase, particularly fabric.

And, as always, I carry my favorite embroidery supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. These are the exact ones that I use every day.

I also have put together a new lotion bar for fall, and it is delighting me enormously. Here is Autumn Woods:

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As I mentioned when I first launched lotion bars this summer, when I started dyeing yarn earlier this spring my hands started to get really dry from all of the washing and rinsing of yarn I needed to do. I got interested in making lotion bars with my own customized essential oil blends. Lotion bars are great because they have no water in them, so they last for ages and a little goes a long way. I've been really pleased with how they well they work and they smell absolutely amazing! Autumn Woods is 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. It's such a nice, light, earthy, spicy smell. I totally love it. By the way, thank you to all of you who provided feedback on the first round of lotion bars. Everyone was so nice and happy with them that it made me feel so great. I'm so glad you like these, and, in addition to this new one, I'll also have a new one coming for winter, as well (probably sometime in November). These don't sell out; as I develop new scents and source new molds all of them will be available indefinitely in my shop, so keep them in mind as stocking stuffers as we get closer to Christmas, because they make perfect little gifts. We'll make as many as we can sell.

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To use, just hold the lotion bar in your hands for several seconds until it starts to melt a bit, then rub lotion into skin and cuticles, or anywhere you need some TLC. It also works great on feet, elbows, and knees. 

All bars come in a reusable tin, as pictured. Please note: Lotion bars are solid at room temperature but can start to soften in very hot weather while in transit. Your bar will be packed in its tin with absorbent paper, but shipping it at this time of year may result in the design appearing a bit soft by the time it reaches you. This won't affect its qualities. Many people did say that they received their summer lotion bars in very hot weather and they looked absolutely none the worse for wear, so I feel pretty confident that yours will look great. But I did want to mention it just in case.

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We do ship overseas! To place your order, you will be required to read this information, which contains details about international shipping and customs fees you may incur when ordering outside the U.S. (If you are overseas, the shipping cost charged by Posie does not include any further charges you may incur when importing goods.) To see the shipping-only costs for your order and location, just place the items in your cart and choose your location (or enter your zip code, if you are in the U.S.) and it will tell you how much the shipping is. As usual, I have a sincere request: Please check on and update your shipping address correctly in your Paypal preferences so that there is no confusion when we go to ship. If you do need to add things to your order or change your address after you've placed the order, just email me. I will cancel your order and you can place a new one with all of the things you need, etc. I used to try to combine orders manually for people and it has just gotten too complicated for me, so I'm going to go back to my original policy of just one order per person if you want everything you order to ship all at the same time. If you place two orders, I will assume that you want me to ship them separately unless I hear otherwise.

Please note that all supplies, and anything else you order at the same time, will be shipped along with your Leaves by Hundreds Came kit and lotion bar. If you need other items before the kits or lotion bars go out, please place a separate order that will ship right away.

Whew. THANK YOU everyone. I am very excited to get into my new routine and have more time to work. I have so many ideas coming up and I'm really looking forward to sharing them with you.

With love and gentle thoughts for this most tender season of change,
Alicia

And Now, School

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Amelia started kindergarten this week. This is her picture from just before we left the house on the first day. The mix of emotions on her face just melts me into a puddle of love and hope and excitement and pride. Oh, what an intense time! Everyone says this, and it really is, especially when you're starting a brand-new school. But it's been absolutely wonderful. I find myself smiling constantly. Partially because I have some free time now, I won't lie (it's amaaaaaaaaazing). But also and mostly because school is just thrilling. New people, new places, new routines, new activities, new opportunities (tap dancing!), new expectations. And not just for her, but for all of us. We have a new commute, too, and it's long; please recommend kids' audiobooks we can listen to on Libby, or podcasts for my drive home. . . .

So yes. Now that I find myself with more free time — like, exponentially more free time — than I've had in months, and actually even years, I'm outside in the yard with my camera, taking pictures of raindrops on apples. It's incredible what doing that does for the soul, and everything else. I've missed it. I've missed writing more often, too. But I honestly need quiet to write, and there just hasn't really been much quiet in my life. I have a lot of things I need to get organized around here. I remember this from last year, too. It felt like literally every drawer and every cabinet needed cleaning and reorganizing. The refrigerator and freezer need major emptying and scrubbing. The pantry looks like a jumble sale. Amelia's tiny dresser is stuffed, literally stuffed full, of clothes that don't fit her anymore under all of the new clothes that do fit her. The basket that holds all of the hats and mitten and scarves now also (I notice) holds five outgrown Amelia sweaters, and a couple of new ones.

Speaking of clothes, I don't know if I've mentioned that for the past two years I've bought almost every single thing Amelia owns (that I didn't make) used on eBay. For years before she was born, I sewed clothes for her like crazy (you knooooooooow that). But I only sewed up to about a size 4, because everyone warned me that she would start rejecting everything I made or picked out around then. Well, when she turned four, she still didn't care what she wore, and she basically had no clothes. I was still very picky but I didn't have time to sew like I had before she was born. So I started browsing eBay regularly. Occasionally I would go to kid's resale stores or Goodwill but I don't have a lot of time to do that, either. So I do spend a lot of my nighttime free-time in my nightgown surfing my iPad for stuff that I like that I know she will like and that is also very affordable. I'm pretty cheap. I make offers constantly, and they get accepted pretty regularly. I have a firm cap on what I will spend. I'll splurge on things like coats because for some weird reason I really care about coats, even my own coats. But in general, I look for the nicest clothing brands that make good quality clothes and I tryyyyyyy to find the absolute cheapest price that someone is willing to let it go for, plus postage. This is still generally so much more affordable than buying anything new (though not as cheap as Goodwill) and it keeps stuff out of the landfill for longer. I've always loved clothes, ever since I was a little girl, and for some reason I find browsing used clothes and vintage patterns extremely fun and relaxing. I was selling her baby clothes on eBay for a little while but it was a lot of work and I stopped pretty quickly after I started. I need to go through Amelia's clothes again and decide what to keep and what to do with the rest. The topic of clothing production and consumption is very fraught with tension and I'm trying to learn more about it and educate myself about the issues. I do want to get back to sewing more for Amelia again, as well. I did make her first-day-of-school outfit, above. The blouse was from Simplicity pattern #9091, circa 1970. And the skirt was a simple elastic-waist skirt from Simplicity pattern #8623, circa 1969. Both pieces were size 7 (though she's only going to be six next month) and made from vintage fabric and trim. She requested a shirt and a skirt and this is what we came up. Sweetest darling, ready for anything.

***

Typical conversation with Amelia Paulson:

Me: "Hi!!! How was school???"
Her: "It was great!!!"
Me: "Yeah? That's awesome! What did you do?"
Her: "I don't know!"
Me: "Oh! Well, did you play with someone?"
Her: "Kind of."
Me: "What was their name?"
Her: "I don't know."
Me: "Ah. Did you learn how to do something new?"
Her: "I don't think so. I don't remember."
Me: "Hmmm. Well, what do you do all day? What's the schedule? Like, what do you do in the morning? Do you have a rhythm to the day like you did in Waldorf school?"
Her: "Yeah, we have rhythm of the parrot, it goes squawk, squawk, squawk."
Me: "Okay."

Or:

Her: "I don't like school."
Me: "How come?"
Her: "Because it's too long of a day!"
One minute later:
Her: "Mom, why am I going home so early today??? [wailing] You said I could go to aftercare!!!"

***

As for me, I have so many new projects cooking and no assistant. Aaaaaaaaagh. Things keep not working out, and the girls keep moving out of state or getting other jobs. I'm mildly freaking out. Kelsey will start working with me this fall until her house sells and she moves back to Idaho. It's good, because in addition to launching the new fall cross-stitch kit (the last one in the seasonal series, and a bit bittersweet for me, I have to confess — I have loved these so much) and a new fall lotion bar, we ARE GOING to do a hand-dyed-yarn advent calendar. YES! I'm twitching. I am excited. It's going to be so pretty. It will also be pretty pricey, as there's a lot that's going into it, including lots of special treats. I will have more details for you soon. Because we are only going to do fifty of these, I might release them ten at a time, at all different times and on different days, so you have a couple of chances to order. I think we are also going to limit these to U.S. orders only, because the boxes will be pretty heavy and we will be shipping pretty close to December 1 (because there is so little time for me to work on these; but I really want to do them). Anyway, if these go well and people like them my plan is to do seasonal advent calendars, like "countdown to spring equinox,"  or "countdown to Midsummer," etc. But in a gentle, whispery way, not like a COUNTDOWN! [shouting] kind of way. We'll see. I have plans. Stay tuned. And watch for new cross-stitch kits and lotion bars in the next week or two!

Has anyone ever hired a professional organizer? I think I might need some help. I need to redo the storage and functionality of my office, and I'm feeling overwhelmed by where to start. I feel like a lot of what I'm storing in my office is stuff I used to use but am not using right now, though I do plan to use it in the future. I don't know. I just want to start this new phase of life with a bit less spatial chaos than I have right now. I feel like I've been totally jerry-rigging every process for a while.

Every thought and prayer is with North and South Carolina right now as you brace for a monster storm. . . .

***My new obsession: baking donuts from this recipe. Sorry I forgot to mention.

Wind in the Willows

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Ohhhh, I want to go back. Three days at the river. It was short but felt long, in some ways. You follow the sun, there, moving chairs and blankets to stay in shade or face the river, from morning until dinnertime. The day passes in quiet arc of meals and trips down to the river and trips back up the hill to get out of wet, sandy swimwear and rinse off the sunscreen. Bald eagles circle lazily above. Ducks splash and dive and surface. It's absolutely incredible to be in a place where there are no roads, no cars, no other people. Where there is complete freedom to do whatever you want, for as long as you want, for Amelia to just wander around and find things to do, or not do. For me to be able to hear her wherever she was, even when she was out of my sight, building fairy houses or stacking dominoes or taking a bath. At dusk, the crickets come out and their chirping is the loudest sound around. Each night, after Amelia went to bed, Andy and I sat around eating bowls of cherry ice cream and watching a Christmas movie on Amazon. I don't know why we watched that but it just felt like a vacation thing, and required nothing from us in any way. I read (I did not finish my book, nowhere near) and knit (I ran out of yarn) and none of it bothered me one bit. I spent countless hours just watching the river roll by, and watching the light change, and watching the birds. The air smelled like mud and green things. Amelia saw a snake in the brush — twice — and screamed the house down. Andy pulled her up and down and across the river in her raft, going ashore often to explore, looking for the beaver carcass they found last year, finding a beaver den, finding crayfish claws, gloopy seaweed, snail shells soft as fingernails. Families of ducks flew up and down the river roadway from morning until night, landing with a collective sploosh. We rolled around on quilts on the grass and took long showers. We all slept so late that we missed the mist rising off the river in the mornings. We cooked and ate and let the house get so messy you would've thought ten people were living there instead of just us, just us three. It was just wonderful.

On the way home, we stopped off at Amelia's new school for her first meeting with her new teacher. As the teacher led her around her beautiful new classroom, and introduced her to the class bird, and showed her cursive letters and told her she was going to learn how to write them this year, Andy and I sat off to the side and whispered quietly to each other, talking about the room and the teacher and Amelia and everything, and feeling so full of hope and nervousness and pride and a thousand other emotions I don't know how to name.

About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

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.