Domestic Artistry

comments: 75


I've been waiting impatiently for this beautiful book to arrive via Royal Mail and USPS. Written by my friend Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity (yes, ships internationally) is everything I've been hoping for and so much more. As a devoted follower of Yarnstorm, Jane's inspiring, thoughtful, and sophisticated blog about her home, her family, her inspirations, and her creative work, I stand in awe of her accomplishment here.

This gorgeous tribute to the quiet pleasures of home-life celebrates Jane's explorations in baking, knitting, embroidering, reading, movie-watching, quilting, traveling, parenting, and art-appreciating with all of her tongue-in-cheekiness, wit, understated style, humor, and unparalleled eye for a view. Jane's unique vision and her natural ability to see the relationship between the home and the wider-world outside — whether she's looking at a conker in the back garden or the vibrant streets of New York — is nothing but endlessly inspiring to me, and I'm grateful that she shares it all. I've never seen a book quite like this. Hanging around with Jane through her blog and now her book makes me see things, makes me think things, and makes me want to try things. But mostly it heightens my appreciation of my own hands, and the ways that anyone's hands can be used to slow down our very fast, extremely complicated lives and gain happiness and satisfaction from taking care of ourselves and those we love.

This is, for me, the pleasure of my favorite lifestyle books, TV shows, movies, magazines, and blogs — they do not "overwhelm" me by presenting "impossible" standards that I can "never aspire to achieve," as their detractors have suggested. They inspire me to take better care of the little things, simple joys, and average moments that fill my life. Hard times and heartaches have shown me the little things are not small things; we each have our own to appreciate. Who am I to say what will or will not change the world, but I absolutely believe that peace begins at home.


For you, dear Jane, yesterday, after absorbing the lovely tapestry of your book, I made rice pudding. Not a colorful or particularly original comfort, but what I would bring you, sprinkled with a little irony, which you would, of course, like better, because it would mean that I get it — along with the overwhelming majority of readers who've lobbed comments back at several members of the British press, who have greeted the publication of this book with criticisms that seem disturbingly unsophisticated at best, downright vitriolic at worst.

Yes. It is amazing what some rock buns and a bit of sock knitting can stir up.


Cheryl Haas says: October 12, 2007 at 11:01 AM

Dear Alicia,
I have never left a comment!(before)
I check and read your blog daily! You and your lovely family are an important part of my day. Thank you for the generousity you show to us all by the gift of sharing you demonstrate.
I am writing to ask permission to paint your beloved, Audrey. I want to send you and your Husband a special keepsake in her memory. My I have permission to use a photo of her from a previous post.
from the prairies of Saskatchewan Canada

Well said! I listened to the 'woman's hour' attack on the book and jane and our way of life on our Radio 4 (you can listen to it on the web)- couldn't believe the fuss!
We just see and appreciate the joy in the mundane.

Soo, did you order this book? Cause I really really want a copy, but I wasn't sure if you could order off of if you weren't in, you know, the UK..
Also, is that an embroidered napkin? It's lovely!

Elizabeth Mackey says: October 12, 2007 at 11:09 AM

Hey Alicia,
The way you wrote about Jane's book is how I feel about your blog. Your "cozy" outlook on the day to day of cooking and crafting,has inspired me to do more with the artistic gifts that I have,and not be lazy!
Don't you think the British are cozy people in general?:) That is the feeling I get from them when I have visited the U.K. They always seem like they are bundled up in lovely sweaters,drinking the perfectly brewed pot of tea.

(oh! the first post is so sweet!)

Hurray hurrah! My copy of Jane’s luscious book arrived in yesterday’s mail. Oh my, what a stunner it is!

Congratulations Jane!

P.S. I'm feeling all woozy and shaky and only some Clover Meadow will make it all better. ;)

P.S.S. Betsy, yes you can order from Amazon UK even if you're someplace else, that's where I got mine from. :)

Here Here - Jane Rocks.
and so do you!

What a gorgeous cover! I will be looking for this in the stores.

Have you ever made kheer? :)

I want a home so I will never, ever have to live in a side-by-side duplex with a neighbor that just took up the tuba. He's practicing as we speak and I'm finding it hard to be nice... you know a few weeks ago when you yelled at that guy? I'm feeling that way right now.

Peace does begin at home. Thanks for saying what needs to be said. And yippee! for the new book.

One hint on ordering books from the UK. I always use The Book Depository, since they have free worldwide delivery. I've had good experiences about them delivering books to Finland, where I live. I too am a fan of Yarnstorm (and Posie gets cozy, of course:), and have been looking into getting the book and they do have it on The Book Depository. Here's their site:

I have just read your post, then I went over to Yarnstorm's,then to some articles about her book and now back to you. Unbelievable! Good buzz. Soon the book will reach critical mass - the moment when the whole world knows about it...this = $$$. That's really great p_rn. Good for Yarnstorm. Knitted hats off to her. Bravo! And as always, we adore your words and collective support and friendship. Thank you.

As I was enjoying your lovely post today, my little boy came in and asked to see Clover again. So, of course, I said yes and then we had to play the little video of her and then my two other sons came in when they heard the music, and we all agreed that Clover is really adorable. We giggled at her fighting the sheep. We like to narrate what Clover is thinking/saying and we think she's so funny. Thanks for the sweet moment.

Alica, I am very interested in reading this book and plan to do so. I loved what you had to say about finding the importance of "average moments" in our lives, and I can relate to it completely. I am one of those stay at home moms who gave up my "other life" (for me, a nurse) to raise my kids. There are so many days where I wonder exactly what it is I'm doing - I don't seem to accomplish much, other than mundane things like making the coffee, feeding the dog and the kids, getting kids to the bus, kissing husband goodbye, making beds and dinner, changing diapers, laundry, etc, etc. Things that I have to do over and over again day after day.

But there are times when I get a glimpse of how life will not always be like this, with the hand of one child in mine, the baby on my other hip, waving goodbye to the third one as she rolls away on the yellow bus. As mundane as it seems now, I know that I will most likely miss these days when they are gone.

I don't even know if this is what the book is about! But if it's anything close, I'm sure I will enjoy it!

You inspire us, as well, with your writings, recipes, and projects. Keep it up!

Hahahahha....but isn't it always the way of the world? Those who just don't "get it" must deride or belittle or try to derail.... whatever they can, really, in order to make themselves feel better about being in the dark.

ever hear of the Nibble Theory?...

Great post! I love the photo you took of Jane's book - so beautiful to not just show the book but to show it *in context*. Sigh, I aspire to be a photographer one day... :)

isn't it the most scrumptious book ever?!?
my copy arrived yesterday, too. I'm so happy to know you two lovely, talented ladies.

That book sounds absolutely scrumptious! And so are your photos, as always.
And I understand exactly what you mean about "their detractors" ( Martha springs to mind- never got all the criticism, I didn't need to aspire to be like her - I simply admired all she accomplished). Heck with those darn detractors , who asked 'em, anyhow??

Okay - that's funny - while I was composing my post, somebody beat me to "scrumptious"! Funny to me!

I finished reading Jane's book this morning and baked the wonderful flapjacks from the book earlier in the week. I'm amazed at the negative response some journalists here in the UK have given to the book. It has really hit a nerve here!
I loved the book and I hope it gives rise to a domestic revolution!!! Hope you enjoy it too :)

"...little things are not small things." What lovely and true words that echo my feelings toward things domestic. I once worked for a company that very successfully made and sold products by women for women. It attracted many, many detractors (most of them women who felt that it wasn't right to like something that seemed created for women. (How wrong is that?) It was interesting too because businessmen were very complimentary toward the company, due to its extreme financial success.

I'm eager to order the book too and I think I can do it on Indigo in Canada--I'm just trying to decide what other books to order to get my free shipping! (If only your book was ready, Alicia, then I could combine the order. But I notice Amy Butler has a new "lifestyle" book out, so maybe that.

Rice pidding is a very common desert in Portugal! we call it "arroz doce" (sweet rice)...

Nadine in Paris says: October 12, 2007 at 12:29 PM

Hello Alicia,
This is a great, elegant post on Jane's book. Expecting my copy to arrive any time now. Can't make any sense of the reaction of the British media (I'm French, maybe that's why...), although I do have some ideas.
I am addicted to your blog too. Lovely photos, inspiring ideas, both so simple and authentic. And you've introduced me to Corgis, beautiful dogs! (I have a cute and smart Bichon Frise)

Oh, just checked on Indigo and the book isn't available to order until December 1 in Canada (thought I'd mention it in case other Cdns became excited by my post). Now I have to decide whether to wait and save on the exchange and shipping.

Ms. Pierce Powell says: October 12, 2007 at 12:43 PM

My first comment: I thoroughly enjoy your honesty, artistry, and the delightful way you interact with your life. It all shows in your sparkling photography. Thought you should know.

P. Powell in Oakland, Ca.

this seems like JUST what you needed, after your post yesterday. i'm glad you got it :) (the JUST, not the book. that too, but you know what i mean!)


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About Alicia Paulson


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