Posts filed in: November 2010

Changing Days Cardigan

comments: 55


PATTERN: Style No. 6043-87 by Bernat Design Studio (1960)
SIZE: 12 months
YARN: Classic Elite Yarns Fresco in 5364 Celestial Blue (I think)

LOVE. HAPPY. GREAT. HAPPY. Oh, it came out just like I'd hoped. I only wish this wasn't an out-of-print pattern so you could make it too. (It's from Bernat pamphlet #87, published in 1960, in case you find a copy out there. I have a call into Bernat to see if there is any hope for a re-issue?) It looks fancy and complicated but I assure you, it is so much easier than it looks.

There were so many beautiful suggestions for what to call this sweater when I sent out the request for help in naming it a few weeks ago — thank you! I was going to take a poll, but then I realized that there was one comment that was really sticking with me and felt just right. Allison said, "What about 'Changing Days Cardigan'? It fits the remodeling during which you made it, the time of year during which you made it, and the preparation and anticipation time for/before baby." Yes. That's exactly it. And since everything I've we've painted is blue-gray, gray-blue, blue, or gray (and the rest of the house was already blue-gray, gray-blue, blue, or gray), this feels right, too. But look at all these other pretty suggestions: Arwen, Winter Sky, Snow-Dusted Meadow, Snowy Skies, Sea Glass. Dust Bunny. Lady Grey. Snow Cloud. Austen. So many other pretty ones, too. Well, I will just have to make more. For now, this one is Changing Days Cardigan.


This YARN. It's 60% wool, 30% alpaca, and 10% angora. I love love love it. I must be way into alpaca. It just feels like everything I want yarn to feel like. It blooms just the right amount. It has just the right feel, the right sort of "finish" — not shiny, not too twisted, slightly fluffy/fuzzy, always soft. It just feels very classic and cozy and delicious. Good colors, too.


So nice. I will make you again, prettiest sweater pattern ever.

Book Signing at Modern Domestic on Friday!

comments: 61

Gingerbread Heart Mobile from Embroidery Companion: Classic Designs for Modern Living

Good morning! Mmmm, I wish I was having heart-shaped waffles for breakfast this morning. It's cold milk and O's here, though. I don't think we ever did eat these waffles when we shot this photo a few years ago for the book. It was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and oh, the coffee was about eight hours old. You know how it is. I do love this picture, though. It is one of my favorite pictures and favorite projects from the book. I'll bring it with me (along with lots of other finished projects from the book) to the book signing on Friday, along with as many chocolate cupcakes with Cloudburst Frosting as I can manage. Please come!

Embroidery Companion Book Signing
Friday, December 3, 2010
5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Modern Domestic
1408 NE Alberta, Portland, OR 97211

I have a new full-time job. It's called Painting and Driving Around. Not at the same time — alternating. First I paint a bunch of stuff until I can hardly move, then I realize that we are missing some key piece of hardware/bathroom fixture/tile/grout/grab bar/whatever that needs to be gotten immediately for installation, and I haul my weary body down to the car and go drive somewhere to go get it (in the freezing cold/dark/pouring rain). The inefficiency of my process is staggering, though I try every day to think it all through and get everything. But between the constant Painting and the Driving Around, it seems there is no time left for actual Thinking Ahead. I would blame the paint fumes but I used all low-VOC paint, so it's not that. I did get all of the Christmas shopping done, so I plan to go absolutely nowhere for the entire month of December to make up for this.

In the past two weeks, I've painted the living room, the dining room, the downstairs bathroom, the downstairs hallway, the stairwell, and the upstairs hallway, and all of the trim in the halls, stairwells, and bathroom. Pretty much mostly by myself, except for the stuff I couldn't reach. I keep expecting Andy to be more impressed with this than he is. Me: "Honey [pointing], I painted the entire living room by myself!" Him: "I know — that's awesome!" Me: "No, seriously, honey, honey — watch [cutting trim with newfound ease] — by myself !" Him: "You're awesome!" Me: "I did it by myself!" Him: "I know that honey!!!" Apparently, nothing short of a parade in my paint-spattered, wrist-weary honor will satisfy me.

Oh yes, we have great conversations these days. One: "There's too much stuff in my office! I can't move!" "I'm sorry!!!" [repeat 450 times]. Another: "I'm so tired!" "I know, I'm so tired!" "I'm exhausted!" "Me too!" There's: "I painted the hallway myself!" "I KNOW. YOU'RE AWESOME ALREADY." And endlessly: "Where is the curtain rod/bathtub grab bar/hammer I just got?" "I don't know I didn't touch/move/take it" [repeat fifty times]. My favorite: Him: "Have you seen my stud finder?" Me: "I didn't use it. I've already found my stud [wink]." Saturday night while driving home in the rain from the home improvement store again: Him: "That person's license -plate holder thing says 'I'D RATHER BE SAILING'." Me: "I want a license-plate holder thing that says 'I'D RATHER BE AT HOME'." Him: [Busts out laughing.]

Impulse remodeling — interesting. You start one thing and it snowballs into fourteen things. I was probably warned. I probably ignored. Definitely ignored. Good news: This will be the last week of chaos, I think. I really mean it this time. Other good news: I love everything that we have changed. It feels like an all-new house. It feels good to repair and take care of the house for the future. I'm surprised at how satisfying that's been. I believe our bathrooms will last for a long, long time. I will have lots of pictures and details for you, too! Need to find the curtain rod.

Happy Thanksgiving!

comments: 57


So sorry for my absence! It is a quiet, frosty morning here, and the day is just waking up. We will have my family over later this afternoon for dinner and pie and games and I can't wait. I am grateful for so many things, including everyone who comes here with so much good will and so many kind words for the past five years. You've brought warmth and beauty and brightness to this place, and I am thankful for so many things you have taught me about the world. Thank you.

On the menu today: Turkey (of course), stuffing, roasted vegetables, seven-layer salad, broccoli caserole, baked beans, au gratin potatoes (from Nigella — these are insane), spinach gratin, sour cream apple pie, pumpkin pie. For the first time I have not done any Christmas shopping in November (I usually shop early) but I have a plan to get it all done tomorrow. Isn't that bizarre? I don't know that I've ever even shopped on Black Friday before. But I am really looking forward to getting out there in the crowds and fun, for some reason. Cooking and shopping seem like a vacation compared to all the stuff we've been doing lately, and I cannot wait.

Wishing you a great weekend and start to the holiday season!
Love always,

Alicia & Co.

New Art for the Rearrangement

comments: 53

"Spring at the White House Farm" by Billy Jacobs

I just got this print at a cute little store here in Portland (Sellwood) called American at Heart. It's going to go in this little space right above the TV inside the "entertainment center" (I always think that is such a hilarious name for this piece of furniture. I picture it like, you open a drawer — someone pops out singing showtunes! Behind the cabinet door — a clown juggling apples! That's entertainment!). Anyway, I have always really liked paintings like this, and the sheep in this one enchanted me. I actually saw this on Tuesday and couldn't get it out of my mind for the past couple of days, and went back and got it today. The sky in the painting looks EXACTLY like the sky here in P-town looks today. Someone told me they are saying snow for us here, maybe, sometime next week? Oh please oh please!

Thank you for all of the sweater-naming suggestions!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There are too many good ones. I don't know what to pick. Too many good ones! Maybe we'll have a vote. I'll try to find one of those vote-taking widgets. The sweater is still sopping wet, so it'll definitely be a few more days before button-time. It seems that it didn't dry at all in the past day. The weather yesterday was stormy stormy stormy. Clover froke. The heat in the house was off because there is tile being set in the bathroom, and the tile saw is outside, so the back door is open most of the time and the wind was whistling. Cold cold cold. Clover Meadow = nervous and cold and pleading for things to go back to how they used to be. Before her sofa went from being over here to over there. Before her pillows went from being over here to over there. Before wind and rain. Before, when everything was perfect. Yesterday Miss Jenny sent me a link to the most hilarious blog post ever — Allie at Hyperbole and a Half just moved, and the dogs . . . oh man, you just have to see how funny this girl is.

Speaking of funny, did anybody see that Martha Stewart Thanksgiving special that's been on, where she shows the bloopers at the end and drops the turkey on the floor and then says, "Oooops." I rewound that about five times and laughed so hard. The way she drops it just cracks me up.

Before and After Blocking

comments: 106


Oh, hello! Here we are. Right where you left us. The entire house is completely rearranged and half of it is repainted. You would not know it, looking at the pets. Or maybe you would, since rearrangement does not suit the dog, for one, and now that we are on the other side of chaos (just working on the room details now — yay! — will show you soon), she is exhausted and has barely moved in a day and a half. Moving every piece of furniture to a new location and painting = dog with perpetual worried expression/exhaustion from worrying. Poor little honey. Yesterday I sat for about a half an hour with her, belly up and flopped across my lap. She snuggled in so completely I had to keep checking to make sure she was breathing (head thrown back, paws dangling). But I do believe that most of the chaotic chaos is behind us and we can start settling in. So sorry to be gone for so long but I have not had a minute of quiet, and I can't find anything now (cord that connects camera to computer). But again, now it's just fussing with the details — and I am so, so, so much happier with the new arrangement!

How I had time to finish this sweater, started two weeks ago, I really don't know. All I can say is that it went super fast, was the most beautiful little cardigan pattern I have seen in a long time, and was pure pleasure to knit. The pattern I used for this is called Style #6043-87 by Bernat, and is from a 1960 (Ravelry says this pattern is from 1970 but my copy definitely has a copyright of 1960 . . . ) pattern book published by Bernat. I saw Crackerjack Knits's beautiful version on Ravelry a few weeks ago and found the pattern on Etsy. I will give you all of the details about my version once I put the buttons on, but today I just had this urge to show you the sweater before blocking.


MINIATURE. Of course, this is a ribbed sweater, so it is going to shrink up a bit because of the ribbing ('cause that's what ribbing does). But still I thought it would be fun to look at it before and after (and, I guess, during) blocking, just to demystify the process for anyone out there who is not sure how to wet block. For what it's worth, this is how I do it, anyway.


First, you put a blocking board on top of your dog because she is too tired to move. No, first you get your sweater nice and wet in your new shower (because when they put the sink back in they did something to the stopper because now water is leaking everywhere so you shouldn't use it until it is fixed — sigh). Anyway, ramble ramble: Get it wet. Don't worry that you are going to felt it, or ruin it, or whatever — cold water and a run from the bathroom to the blocking board is not going to felt your wool. I have talked about how to block at length in this post (and details about where to get a blocking board are there, too). Having a blocking board is just super awesome. It folds up and gets stuffed in the closet when I'm not using it. It has a printed grid that helps me keep everything straight. ou can pin right into it. It has a nubby surface which holds things while you pin. Once the little sweater is wet, I toss it on the board and open it up and find the center back. I center that on a grid line. Then I just basically find the side seams (I did this seamless, so there were no side seams, but I counted ribs to figure out where they should be) and start generally pinning everything into place. You can get a feel for how big the sweater wants to be. I try to stretch it comfortably — not toomuch, not too little. The water and the stretching help the yarn relax; I spray more water on it if it's starting to dry out while I'm working. As I pin, I try to keep everything symmetrical, of course, and shape it in a pleasing way. With a circular yoke, the bottom of the sweater wants to be a bit A-lined, so you work with that.


Stop to kiss snuggly pets as necessary. Man, they are so darn sweet. Pinning this thing literally took me close to an hour. I am slow. That was the slowest I've moved in five days. You have to have time to do this, and go slow, and re-pin when necessary. It's not a rush-rush procedure, but I figure I just spent who-knows-how-many hours knitting the thing, I don't want to give it short shrift on the blocking (because the blocking is where the magic happens). You want to take your time with this.


Use a lot of stainless-steel pins. Any other kind will rust, and you don't want that. Pin your center front opening very straight — the grid really helps with this — and make sure that each side is even in length, and that the sleeves are the same length, and that the neck opening is centered, and that the shoulders have the same pitch. Stuff like that. You do one final bit of fussing just to make sure, then just let it dry for a day or two, depending on your climate. I absolutely can't wait for this one to dry. This is the first baby sweater that I have found myself wanting an adult version for. I think I would wear this every single day. I haven't decided what kind of buttons to put on it yet.

What should I call this one? Any ideas? #6043-87 (what a romantic name!) just is not doing it for me. But my brain is stuffed with all of the dust bunnies that came out from behind the entertainment center when it was moved, and I can't think.

Downloadable Ornament Patterns Now Available!

comments: 43

SNOW DAY (2010) Ornament Set Pattern

WALK IN THE WOODS (2009) Ornament Set Pattern

ICE SKATING AFTERNOON (2008) Ornament Set Pattern

The downloadable PDF ornament patterns are now available for each set of ornaments — yay! Please click on each of the links under the photos above to purchase them for immediate download and get started this weekend!

Each pattern contains a supply list, photos, stitching instructions, pattern templates, and an illustrated embroidery tutorial. As you know, you will need to have Adobe Reader to open PDF files.

I've also written out a list of the exact felt colors (and sizes of the pieces we include in our kits) and embroidery floss colors for each kit for those of you who would like that information. That list is available to download HERE. (And if you've already purchased a kit but would like to make more ornaments to match, feel free to use that list, too, of course.)

If you need tracing paper, fabric markers, or dressmaker's chalk pencils, I like these.

When you're done with your ornaments, please take pictures of them and add them to the Flickr group!

Thank you again for all of your interest in these ornaments. We have had so much fun doing them this year. The kits for Snow Day and Walk in the Woods are now officially sold out; we still have quite a few Ice Skating Afternoon kits, which you can still order here until they are gone. But do hurry! Once they are gone, they won't be available again until next year!

I am going to take a few days off to collect myself and try to make a dent in the ginormous pile of chores piling up in my in-box and here at home so that I can start the holiday season with some peace of mind. I told Andy that I wanted to rearrange all of the furniture this weekend and he is still looking at me like I've done lost my mind. I've seen this look before and have decided that the best way to handle it is to play dumb. "You want me to move this thing, that's over here, and weighs four thousand pounds, over to there?" Me: "Hmmmmmmmm? I can't move. The dog needs me" [batting eyelashes sweetly while holding dog belly-up on lap and scratching her stomach]. I'll let you know how that works, should you have need for a room re-do of your own.


After the "Before" but Before the "After"

comments: 59

The downstairs bathroom:


It looks amazingly similar to the state of my in-box. And my brain. Weird how that works.

Thank you for all of your nice comments about the upstairs bathroom! It was so much fun to finally share it. I am scaring Andy now. Because now I want to re-do the kitchen cabinets. Like these:


These cabinets are from the Maidstone collection from Martha Stewart's new line of kitchen cabinets at Home Depot. I can't get either MS or HD's web sites to work and they both keep freezing my computer or telling me that "maidstone" can't be found, but I know that's what these are called because I have the catalog.

 I also intend to put up (I mean "have someone put up") paneling with peg rails like this:


pretty much everywhere in the house. Well, in the bedroom. And the hallway. And the other hallway. And the kitchen. Just those places. And the paneling will end below the peg rail. Or maybe a little shelfy thing. I'm not sure yet, since as mentioned my brain is still like this:


But I do promise to try and answer my emails and also get the ornament pattern PDFs up in the next couple of days — I'm sorry I haven't done that yet. But it is on my list this week so I will collect myself and make it happen and get back on a more normal schedule. Thank you!!!

The Upstairs Bathroom

comments: 163


It's done! And I looooooooxoxoxoxoxoooooove it!


I am a happy lady with a working bathroom these days. Fixing this bathroom has been a great experience. It is really the first time Andy or I have ever had anything in our house truly remodeled, save for having our front picture windows replaced with casements a few years ago (and that was awesome, too). I would say this was a very small and simple "remodel" by remodeling standards, since everything stayed in its place and no walls were eliminated or anything like that. But for us it's been huge. And seriously wonderful.


It's a small room — less than 7' x 7'. For many — too many — years, the shower in the corner (behind the door) leaked through the floor somewhere and into the downstairs bathroom. So since we had another shower downstairs we just stopped using this one, knowing that replacing it would necessitate a whole big re-do, since the flooring was ruined and the room really needed to have a fan/light wired in. Neither of our bathrooms had fans, and the downstairs one doesn't even have an exterior window anymore; it was obvious that if we did one we'd really have to be doing a remodel of both bathrooms. So it has taken us a while to get here, but here we are, halfway done! It's been so worth the wait. Because look how pretty this new shower is:


Isn't that pretty? I know, right?


Here is the shower in the mirror. We wound up needing to replace the shower, the toilet, and the flooring. We kept the sink and faucet and the wall shelf that we had, and the medicine chest is original. When they installed the ceiling fan (which also has a regular light and a yummy cozy heat lamp), I also had them wire in new places for sconces on either side of the medicine chest. We also had wainscoting added, since (oddly) there was a chair rail already in here but no wainscoting beneath it. I have always wanted sconces and wainscoting, and I think these additions have really finished this room properly.


For accessories, I happened to have had these two little wire tables (the other one is next to the shower) from back when I used to have my boutique, and they have been just right in here. I really didn't want a big solid floor tower or whatever; I needed a few shelves but I really wanted to keep things light. In the hall just outside the bathroom is a built-in linen cabinet with three huge drawers and two big shelves. The shelves hold all of our sheets and towels. The top drawer contains all of the un-pretty bathroom things that don't fit in the medicine cabinet like the hairdryer (which I almost never use anyway) and bottles of cough syrup and bandages and that kind of stuff. The built-in linen cabinet was a major selling point of the house, as far as I was concerned. I remember doing a jig in the hallway when I saw it. To be honest, I'm quite shocked at how little we actually need in the bathroom itself. A lesson to me.


The floor — I got my gray. It's kind of old-school (literally — I think we had this floor in my old school) and I think it is nice and classic in here.

Wanna see the before photos?




Not the worst, but not great. And by the way, the paint color in the old bathroom was a very bright turquoise. The new paint color looks a bit different in each of the new photos, but it is much more gray and subdued than the "before" color. I took the new photos on two separate days and I think I had my white balance set differently each time, so it doesn't appear consistent. But I would say it's a warm bluish-gray. I really love the new color. I am so happy with the navy gingham curtains, too. I used to make all of my curtains, but after making a curtain for every single window in this house I vowed I would never make a curtain again unless I really, really, really wanted to. And so far I haven't even remotely wanted to.


My decorating inspiration in here was kind of a traditional Swedish-country feel: mostly creamy white, basic chrome fixtures, a little bit of gray and a little bit of blue, navy gingham, and a bit of warm wood (and by the way, I am working on putting together a list of my favorite Scand-inspired books and blogs for you soon). When in doubt, I left it out. The result is, I think, a room that fits in with the era of the house (1927) and our simple style. Like so many of you told me it would be, this project was so worth it. The day the bathroom got finished, I went up and sat in the corner of it, on the floor, and felt so peaceful and happy. I just marveled at how inspiring it is to watch something go from being a space that was halfway unusable to becoming one of the nicest rooms in the house. I'm so pleased with all of it! Should you have need, here are the details:

Paint: Wall color: Wedgewood Gray by Benjamin Moore; trim: Floral White by Miller Paint
Shower: Tigris Round with Walls by Maax, from A-Boy Plumbing (it's the one on display in the stores; the fold-up seat was special ordered there, but I don't remember who makes it)
Light fixtures: Kent wall bracket with Streamline Clamshell Opal shade, by Rejuvenation Hardware
Floor: Connection Corlon in White Cliffs by Armstrong from Contractor's Furnishings Mart
Curtains: Cabin Check Tier Curtains in Navy by Country Curtains
Wire tables: America Retold (these are several years old now, so I don't know if they still make them)
Wooden vase and candle jar (with flameless tea light): West Elm
Fancy candle and medicine-cabinet knob: Anthropologie
White glass soap dispensers, bath rug, wastepaper basket, towel holders, and towels: Target
Stripey wooden brushes: World Market

Afternoon Delight

comments: 56


A walk. Perfect weather. We waited until 1:30 p.m. to leave the house, hoping the light would start slanting by the time we got to the trailhead. The trailhead starts in a neighborhood. It's the walk we take every year now. It's our go-to walk and I love it.


I haven't been outside too much lately. Our weather here this week has been ridiculously, uncharacteristically (I think) gorgeous. I feel my body start to panic a bit: I'm not ready for the rain to start after all. I would like to stay in this dappled, golden sunlight for a while.


With the berry things, ready to be turned into a piece of William Morris wallpaper.


With the red leaves like a canopy of feathers.


With a little dog who stops and waits.


But I go slow. The slowest speed I've got, in fact.


The houses at the edge of the woods look out over the great river, toward the mountains.


What we notice is the incredible quiet. It is so quiet here in the neighborhoods at the top of the woods. And it smells like pine trees.


Here is a music school. I don't remember its name. If I lived up here, I'd send my kid for lessons here, just 'cause it's so cute.


It's so quiet.


I think so much about houses these days.


I have always thought about them a lot, but lately it's been a lot lot.


"My camera can't find the focus on this seed pod thing. I wish I had a new camera," I say for the thousandth time.
"Please get one!!!"
"Oh, you want me to get a new camera?"
"Well, if it would make you happy. . . ."


These cones were like little grenades. We'd never seen ones like them before, but I think they are cedar cones. There were about forty or fifty of them all over the sidewalk, and the tree they were falling from from about three stories high. I do think that if one hit you on the head it would knock you down. They weren't quite as heavy as golf balls but they were relatively heavy. I'm going to clean the ones I picked up and put them in a bowl.


Besaw's, you are awesome. You are just so good to us after our walks.


A spinach salad with roasted vegetables. Seriously, seriously delicious.


This photo needs no explanation.

Lemon Meringue Sweater

comments: 103


PATTERN: Liza Sideways Saque by Kristin Rengren from the book Vintage Baby Knits: More Than 40 Heirloom Patterns from the 1920s to the 1950s
SIZE: 18-24 months
YARN: Louet Gems Fingering in Goldilocks and Cream

Another sideways sweater (I guess I like doing sideways sweaters), this one called Lemon Meringue. Started in September and just now finished. You can tell I've been busy when it takes me that long to finish a little thing; generally my attention span doesn't last that long! This one is a bit fiddly, too. Kristin's book is cool — all vintage baby patterns that she's reworked in contemporary yarns. Many lovely things. One day I just got a bee in my bonnet to do this one, which I think is sort of an unusual color and pattern for me. Oh, the exciting life I lead!!! This is the second sweater that I have made in Louet Gems and I must confess I am ready to work with something softer, that has a bit more loft to it. I don't know why this yarn keeps coming into my life. Gems is quite twisted, and though your finished garment winds up being sort of bouncy and chunky, I think I prefer loftier yarns in general.


I added the buttons to this sweater and left out the ribbons at the neck edge and bottom eyelet row. But I think the neck is really wide without the ribbon — I actually pinned it closed in this photo because it was flopping over and I wanted to be able to see how it looked up — so maybe I will have to add the ribbon in and just stitch it in for safety; I don't know. This was my first time doing kitchener stitch, which you use to turn under the hems at the neckline and cuffs (and you're supposed to do it on the bottom edge, too, but I just was ready to be finished at that point so just ended in garter — kitchener takes me forever to do). It is a cool stitch. I watched a video to learn how to do it because the text directions were bewildering me. I wish I knew what video it was, but there are a lot of them out there if you just Google what you're looking for. That's one way that the internet is just so awesome for knitting. I can't even count how many things I've learned from videos of people doing the actual stitches. Seriously helpful!

I am so happy to have some time to knit again now. I have two sweaters on the needles — the Winter City and a vintage one I just started last night. I hope to get back to sewing for baby again very soon, as well. I cleaned up my studio yesterday — it was trashed. But it was all so easy to put to rights for once, since the big re-do, and now it is pretty once again. Just in time for the rain to start falling, which is key. Bring it on, if you must.

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