Things of Spring Cross Stitch Kits Now Available for Pre-Order!

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Oh, spring! I love it! Here in Oregon, spring is glorious, filled with daffodils, wild weather, blossoming trees, and glistening raindrops. Every little kid on the playground has a pair of colorful rubber boots. Every other yard has a lovely, glowing forsythia bush. Around each corner, the sweet smell of pink daphne floats on the air. Snowdrops hang their graceful heads and brave the chilly mornings. I love it all, and wanted to create a piece that celebrates all of my favorite things about spring here. It turns out there are many! ***Designs for "things of" summer, autumn, and winter will be forthcoming later this year. 

The THINGS OF SPRING Cross Stitch Sampler Kit is now available for pre-order. Please CLICK HERE to order.

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Finished Size of Design Area: 6" wide x 8" high (15cm x 20cm); 96 stitches wide x 1286 high on 32-count fabric

The kit contains:

One 14" x 16" (36cm x 41cm) piece of 32-count evenweave embroidery linen in Provence Lavender 90 from Wichelt
(55) 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; if you desire a black-and-white chart, please email me after you receive your order and I will send you a PDF of it.
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

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 your 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.

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 will be shipping sometime toward the beginning of April 2020. The fabric is on order. We will pull floss and assemble patterns and ship as soon as we have everything we need. We have enough fabric ordered to make 250 kits, and that's all the fabric they have on-hand at Wichelt. If we sell more than that, we can order more fabric and it will probably take about six weeks to get (generally it is six weeks). I will advise if it gets to that point.

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 seeing a tutorial on counted cross stitch, please read the one I did here.

For a substantive discussion with examples of cross stitch on different fabrics with different thread counts, please read this post.

As you probably know, I also carry my favorite supplies in my web shop, should you need lovely, high quality tools. These are the exact ones that I use every day. For this project, we have:

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Gorgeous little embroidery scissors.

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Hardwicke Manor 4" hoops.

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And size #24 tapestry needles for cross stitch on linen.

All supplies, and anything else you order at the same time, will be shipped along with your Things of Spring kit. If you need other items before April, when Things of Spring ships, please place a separate order that will ship right away.

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 and we'll figure it out, no worries! I just like to remind people of this ahead of time, because it's a bit easier. I recently adju.

Thank you so, so much for your interest in and conversation about cross stitch lately, and always. I am really excited about these new designs — these are the little things of my life right now, and it's such a privilege to share them with you. You might also notice a sweet little angel bee in there, too. ;) I have always loved these little "favorite things" illustrations whenever I see them around and on Pinterest and, as you can probably tell from several of my other designs, I really just like stitching tiny little motifs scattered around on a background. It's such a fun way to stitch because it's not overwhelming, and you can comfortably finish a motif in one sitting. There are a lot of different colors in this design, but I like that. I even have the summer design finished and stitched, so it will be launching in a couple of months, too. 

With thanks and much love and hope for peace and beauty this spring,
Alicia

Tiny Flowers Everywhere Now

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"Mom, pretend I'm a lost kitten and you found me."

Me, setting the alarm this morning and leaving the house with Amelia, only to come out the front door and almost fall on top of Amelia, suddenly squatting in her winter coat and cowl on the front porch, six inches in front of the front door, writing on a math worksheet (from three weeks ago/not homework): "I'm so focused on my work," says she.

Oh, look at my lovely new quilt! It was made by the lovely Olivia and it is just so exquisite. It's made of all vintage calicos with hand-sewn binding and hand-quilting, and I love it so much. It's a birthday present I splurged on for myself and I couldn't be more thrilled with the indulgence! Thank you, Olivia! It is going to get a lot of love here.

Thank you all so much for all of your comments here and on Instagram about cross-stitch charts and your preferences around them. That was such interesting reading for me! I truly appreciate you taking the time to give me your thoughts on that. I tallied up the responses from both here and IG and the results were (as of yesterday, anyway): 183 people voting for symbols over color and 75 people voting for black and white symbols only. So, more than twice as many people like symbols over color.

That said, there was a lot of interesting feedback within the comments beyond just raising hands for one or the other, and I was quite keen to read further when people elaborated on why they like black and white. Some people only had black-and-white printers, so they struggled with printing shades of color under symbols. Some people mentioned using highlighters on black-and-white to mark progress. Some people use colored pencils to color their black-and-white patterns, especially if they are inclined to change the suggested colors. Some people, I think, are just used to black and white patterns and are more comfortable with what they are used to. But generally I just love hearing all of this and it seems clear that, going forward at least, I should be offering both a color chart and a black-and-white chart in my PDF patterns. This way you can choose which you like, and print only the pages that are most useful to you. So, done. I have one pattern that I haven't released yet (a Little Women–inspired sampler) but that is completely finished, and it does not have a black-and-white option. It is coming out soon (I need to final-proof-it) as a PDF-only option (we're not doing a kit for it). But after that, my future PDF patterns will contain both a symbols-over-color chart AND a black-and-white chart for you.

For kits, however, when we print hard copies of patterns to include in our packages, there will still only be a color copy. It is just too much expense and waste to include paper that won't be used. If, however, you purchase a kit and you would like me to email you a copy of the PDF that contains a black-and-white chart to print on your own, I am more than happy to do that. You just need to email me and request it.

I will have at least four kits coming out this year, as I am working on a new seasonal series, starting with spring. We will start taking pre-orders for that next week!

Part of the reason I'm asking about this is because one of my plans for 2020 is to begin offering my cross-stitch patterns to cross-stitch shops around the country. (They will probably be in color only? Still researching that.) For many years for various reasons I have not pursued this but it's weird, now that Amelia is in school all day and only five minutes from the house, it's like suddenly some things just have become so clear and possible. My time and energy are suddenly my own for almost six whole hours a day (and not spent driving for 2.5 hours of that, like the Hellacious School Commute of 2018-19), and I can see a future for my work that I couldn't see very well before. I realized that I really want to become a part of the cross-stitch community and just enjoy it in real life more! I am kind of a loner and I really don't mind being quiet and alone when I get the chance (not often, quite honestly). But I also think I need to pursue more purely social opportunities in my life that don't involve just other moms and kids. I literally don't have a single conversation with any other adults where we are not either with our kids or sitting and waiting for our kids. Well, I did have breakfast with Jenny yesterday and we were not with our kids. And tonight I also am going to a mom-friend's house with other school mom-friends to watch Pride and Prejudice without kids. But that is rare! I swear!!! So I am going to try to make an effort to either take a class or go to some meet-ups or do something that would be really fun but just for adults, and we'll see how it goes! I'm not sure exactly why making my patterns available wholesale is somehow equated with having only-adult interaction in my mind but it is, and there you go.

Speaking of, kinda funny. There's a cafe in an old church I like to go to to work on my computer. It's a community space that is used for a lot of different groups and functions and is really big and wonderful. I've been going there for years but the past two times I've gone, I've gone at the exact time as some kind of kids' concert in the chapel next to the coffee shop. It's like a Raffi concert but it's not Raffi. I was there on Monday morning and everything was very quiet. I was sitting in the far corner (still working on the master floss list — I can't even count how many hours that thing has taken me) with my back to the room and at some point I could hear the singalong start in the chapel. It went on for a while but then everyone cheered and it was over — and suddenly the cafe was literally FILLED with children, babies, and parents. It was deafeningly loud. They were everywhere. And they weren't just passing through, they were settling in. I made a sound recording and sent it to Andy to make him laugh. He texted me a picture of Amelia back at home in the bathtub (no school), making a bubble beard on her chin. We both agreed, however, that it's strangely relaxing to be in the midst of chaos when none of the crying children are actually yours. Like, only if a totally random child somehow actually fell into my lap, which would've been highly unlikely, would I have had to do something about any of it, and thus it was quite pleasant and relaxing to be in the eye of the storm and know that none of it required anything from me!

***By the way, for those who asked about my little white television in my office, it is this one.

Currently Taking a Poll . . .

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I posted this photo to Instagram this morning. I took it yesterday as I was working in my office making a master list of names, numbers, and symbols of all of the floss colors I use in my designs. Currently that's 116 different colors. We (well, Andy does this, not me) keep them on 500g cones and pull floss whenever we put kits together. I have never made a master list and it is NOW TIME. So I have been working on that, and it is annoying and tedious to get it all formatted and create all of the little swatches of color/symbol that I use in the key and it is taking me absolutely forever, but in the long run it is going to be brilliant for me to have this without having to reinvent the wheel every time so I soldier on. . . .

But, the question came up at Acorns and Threads the other day about whether "people" (i.e.: you) like black and white cross stitch charts

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or whether they prefer symbols over color.

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I was quite astonished to find that all of the (four) people that I asked said they preferred black and white.

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So now I am quite curious. . . .

I have always done my charts in symbols over color, as you see in the second sample, because that is my personal preference. But now I truly want to know: Is it yours, as well? Do you like black and white charts that you can copy easily? Or do you prefer color? Tell me everything. I am listening. (And thank you if you have already left a comment on Instagram!)

* Thank You *

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Thank you, dear friends, for every one of your kind words. We were so touched by them all, and by your sweet and generous presence here. You are so kind, and I appreciate it so much. Thank you. Thank you. I am so grateful for you.

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It's been cold and gloomy here, for the most part, though it is lovely and sunny today, and it was sunny yesterday, too. The school yard has turned into a giant mud pit; one of the moms at school told me that a branch of the river runs under the neighborhood, and there are drainage problems. Mimi and I discussed on the way to school this morning that we've both given up on getting snow this year. It seems like we never really even got close. It's tricky when you start seeing loads of daffodils before Valentine's Day, but we have them. Spring, it seems, is already on its way.

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Nevertheless, I stretched my First Snow embroidery over the weekend, and did Time of Flowers and Summer Storm, as well. I have The Leaves by Hundreds Came to do, as well as a few more I haven't shown you yet! I have been stitching a lot this winter, and thinking about what designs I want to create for sale this year. Thank you for all of the feedback you gave me on my embroidered jewelry from a few weeks ago, by the way! I was so excited to hear that you like it. I am going to pull together a pattern for those necklaces and pins, and at the least offer some of the brooch and pin trays in my web shop so that you can make your own. I am also planning to offer another seasonal 8″ x 10″ (framed) cross-stitch collection this year. I have already finished stitching the spring edition and am working on the summer one, so that I can stay a little bit ahead of schedule for once. I will show you that new work soon, maybe later this week if I can continue to pull it all together.

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Last week I wanted to make some little clay hearts for a garland, so I used this recipe for cold porcelain clay. It was a lot of fun to make and play with, though it didn't come out like I had wanted it to. It was rather blobby as it dried, and any sharp lines that were cut or carved got quite soft and puffy. The hearts still came out kind of cute. I probably need to get some regular modeling clay (polymer clay is too hard for my hands, I think) to make what I am envisioning. Sometimes I want to take a clay class again. I used to throw pots in college, and Andy did, too. Pottery was a popular thing at our school and I think every single one of our friends took it at some point. I don't even know if I want to throw pots on a wheel or just play with some clay in my hands again. I might look into it, because it would be good for me to get out of the house a little bit. I'm always here.

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I would've love to take this paper mache workshop because how adorable are these little creatures? I love paper mache. Who even knew there were classes in these things? I really need to get out more.

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This little ray of sunshine. Oh how I love her so!!!

Goodbye Bee

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We lost our little cat Bridget this weekend. We'd known it was coming for a while but, even knowing that, it was still so hard. She was twenty years old this spring. We found her when she was a baby kitten. She was always pretty feral. I kept thinking back to the one time she'd ever sat on me in all the years we lived together. It was that first morning she lived with us. At the crack of dawn that morning I'd crept into the guest room (guest room because Violet was stressing) to visit her. I was so excited. I laid down on the floor on my stomach and rested my head on my arms. She came over and climbed up onto the back of my legs and tucked her little feet under her like a tiny roosting hen. She sat there for ages. I didn't move a muscle. I remember just having the biggest smile on my face — a kitten! Sitting on me! We had a new kitten! She was sitting on me! Everyone else was asleep.

She was such a cute kitten, all fluffy and wide-eyed. It was early spring when she came, just after St. Patrick's Day, and we named her Bridget. She was gray, white, and peach, and for some reason she always reminded me of a feisty little Irish girl. She was really feisty. That first morning when she came and sat on me just because she felt like it? Never to be repeated. Ever. She did not like to be picked up, she never sat on our laps, she hissed at everybody (hissing kitten!), and you could only pet her on the forehead or behind the ears while not looking at her. You could pet her if you looked at something else, like something across the room or to your side. But if you pet her "wrong," especially while looking at her, she would punch you right in the face. It was clear after those first few days that she had never been handled by people, and had probably been born outside and had spent the first six or so weeks of her life before she came to us outside. Neither Violet (who was five when we came to Portland from Missoula) nor Bridget could be kept indoors. (When Violet was still a kitten in Missoula she actually jumped out of a second-floor bathroom skylight and got out onto the roof [which she fell off of, into a bunch of hosta plants in the side yard]. We weren't home at the time. I remember that when we'd left the house, she was there in it. When we got home, she was nowhere to be found, and not a single door or window was open. We could not find her and we literally looked in every single place she could be. Eventually, after exhausting all rational options, I noticed that the skylight in the bathroom ceiling was open. It was sort of a flat plane of glass that was like a casement window that you could push open a few inches; one of our roommates had probably taken a shower and left it open, never thinking it would be a problem. She must have literally jumped eight feet straight into the air to get to it, or somehow vaulted from the sink and grabbed the trim with her claws. We ran outside and standing looking around the perimeter of the house, and there she was, sitting in a big plant.) She just wanted out. All the time. And Bridget was the same. So from very early days our cats always went outside. Violet was almost eighteen when she passed away in 2012. Both of those good girls spent most of their time outside and still came home every single night of their lives. They were so good about always coming home. I really appreciated that about both of them. They were so reliable in that way.

The Bee spent most of her days lounging, or hunting, or running off any other cats that came anywhere near the house. She had a funny little trilling, chirrup-y meow that I can still hear in my mind. She was light as a feather and quick as a whip. She would sting you if you weren't careful. If she ever walked across someone's lap, all of us, the whole family, would freeze and hold our breath. She made Clover nervous every single day. She enjoyed the neighbors' yards more than ours, and we frequently got reports from our neighbors on either side that she was sunning herself on their patio tables. The goal of her life since about 2015 was to walk across all my stuff (knitting pattern/counter/embroidery floss/pattern papers/scissors, etc.) on the sofa and knock it on the floor and then come around behind me and drink out of my ice-water glass. Every single night. She'd also, before the days of the sheep fleece (see below), stalk and harass me until I finally got off the sofa to go to bed and then she'd be in my spot so fast; I would literally still be scooching toward the end of the chaise lounge in my nightgown and she'd already be in the warm depression I'd left behind. She brought in probably a half-dozen birds over the years, which was so distressing I can't even tell you. She lost every collar and every bell that we tried to put on her. Every single one. She was free and she wanted to be free. I know she loved us in her Bridget way and we loved her in ours.

She had been mostly inside for the past couple of years, but she'd still go out on the back porch and lay in the sun during the day when it was nice. Slowly, as she got more and more arthritic, her territory shrunk, and since this past autumn she'd been mostly sleeping on a pile of handmade quilts in her basket (which was originally baby Amelia's gorgeous Amish basket, with the wool-stuffed cushion) under the sideboard. A few months ago I found our sheep fleece that we'd gotten at the flock and fiber festival in the basement for some reason. Amelia had taken it outside and it had some little pieces of sticks and grass in it, and I'd been meaning to brush it out. We brought it up and put it on Clover's bed, and Clover Meadow absolutely loved it.

And so did Bridget. :))) The picture above was taken a few weeks ago by Amelia with my phone. Clover's face makes me laugh so hard. She is so nervous because she's literally about to get run off by Bridget. Which she was. Repeatedly. Within seconds of that photo, The Bee was on the fleece. Eventually we just gave the fleece to her and put it in her basket and then she hardly ever, ever came out of her basket. And for these last few weeks I think she was just about as comfy and cozy as a creature could possibly be, and that brings peace to my heart.

She was such a little fighter girl until her dying day. Andy and I counted at least two separate times — once about four years ago, when she had an infection behind her right eye, and again about five months ago, when she had a seizure that messed up her back permanently — that she literally fought her way back from the very edge. This time, this last seizure she had on Thursday was too much, and it broke her tiny, fragile body.

We buried her in the front border, very near the driveway where we had found her all those years ago. It's a nice place, under the plum tree with a view of the birdbath, and we'll be able to see the spot from the dining-room window. I know she is at peace, and so is Violet, out there, too, just a few yards away. And so is our beloved first dog, Audrey, who we lost so long ago now. All of them such good friends to us, for so many years of our lives.

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Goodbye, dear little Bee. I love you and miss you. Rest now, and be well, little darling. Be well. XO

Tiny, Tiny Stitches

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Thank you for all of your sweet birthday wishes! I had such a lovely day and it feels like it has stretched into weeks. I've been lazy and lingering and literally soaking up the blissful, fuzzy, languid blur of January, where I am determined to hibernate, raising my head only when necessary. I must be part bear. I prefer to be swaddled in my cave during these days. I hung a new calendar and have gotten Amelia to school on time and have fed everyone more-or-less successfully but mostly I've spent this month just . . . puttering.

And letting it all settle.

In my head I have a million creative ideas, things I want to make and things I want to try and things I want to develop for Posie. That's generally an uncomfortable place for me, and I try to roll with the feelings and inspirations — I let them all tumble around, falling out of my hands and onto the fabric and onto the page and onto the screen (in the case of new cross-stitch ideas; I design on-screen in a program called PC Stitch) and try to just let myself be loose, to see what sticks without getting tight about it. I almost always have more ideas than I know what to do with. For me, rather than ever feeling particularly "blocked," it can (more likely) be tricky not to follow every impulse I have to make something down the rabbit hole of turning it into a pattern or kit, since turning things into patterns and kits is my job, after all. I come to all my work impulsively, for the most part. The design process is very impulsive, and happens in a burst. But the vast majority of the time after that is anything but impulsive. It's the opposite. It is spent figuring out the details, both the details that are technique-specific to that particular project and the details that are source- and supply-specific — what fabric do we use for this? Is it about to be discontinued? [Of course it is.] What's the alternative? What's the turnaround time to get 55 yards of it? How do we wind 3 grams of lace-weight yarn so that people can use it? What colors of floss do we have on hand so that we don't have to place an order, now that they've changed the minimum ordering amount to $1,000? Will people be able to do this tiny thing that I can't even explain how to do? Can I explain how to do it? How many times does this need to be proofread before I press "send" to the printing guy? How did that typo get in there? How many did we print? Why is it more expensive now than it was six months ago? All the things. I do enjoy figuring that out, for the most part. But: I really love just being in the zone of the primary creative process of making something, because that is the first love. That's the love that knows no bounds.

Thus it was that I found myself stitching away on tiny little botanical specimens, using one ply of six-ply embroidery floss, and finding even it too thick for what I was trying to do (so I started using machine-sewing thread for the roots). Amelia has a penchant for old field guides — it's funny and interesting and Andy and I sort of hold our breath and look at each other wide-eyed with relief every time she comes home from the school library with one of them instead of another Bad Kitty book (which, no offense, but I loathe). I was flipping through one of her field guides, and then I pulled out some of my own old illustrated field guides, and then I found myself ordering "brooch trays" from Etsy and Amazon. . . . It all happens fast. Within about an hour I went from "What's with the whole pin thing? I don't get pins!" to becoming obsessed with pins, and thinking about pins all day and dreaming about pins and wearing a pin on my coat and giving pins to everyone in my family.

The pins and necklaces above are about 1" (2.5cm) (pins) and 1.5"-2" (4-5cm). I stitched them all on regular Kona cotton using mostly hand-dyed floss from Weeks Dye Works and a company called The Gentle Art that I got at my beloved Acorns and Threads. I used, as mentioned, one ply of floss while stitching. I sketched out the basic shape of the plant freehand with this extra-fine chalk pencil. I stretched each little circle of fabric around a tinier circle (or oval) of cardboard and glued it into the brooch tray. The shape of the pin holders was such that I didn't need glue on those. Wild thyme, bog star, sorrel, fern, heather, forget-me-not. Now started, I haven't been able to stop in weeks, and have reordered more settings to make more tiny scenes. I'm going to send some of these to my friends, and maybe I'll sell some eventually, once I get a big enough collection finished. I almost never sell finished items, but that sounds nice right now. Maybe I'll make a pattern and tutorial if I don't get onto something else right away, knowing me. It just feels great to make these while dreaming of spring, and of how all of real little plants are waiting in the ground for it to warm up a bit before they uncurl themselves and gift us with their spirits. Embroidering things this small is a sweet conjuring that feels like magic. You should try it. Should I do a pattern? Maybe I will.

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I promised to take care of Foxie today while Meems is at school She got him all tucked in.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to You!

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

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

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

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

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

At Christmastime

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

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

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

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

Chocolate Buttercream Mints

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

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

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

Frosting:

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

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

 

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

Dovegray Doll PDFs and Some New Clothes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Rainy Tree Day

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

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

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

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

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

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.