Cold and Clear

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So cold these past few days, and the air tinged with blue, or silver, or some color I can't quite capture. Frost color. A ballerina's skirt color, frozen drops balanced in the air as evening descends. So begins my longing for snow. Maybe this year. Maybe this year. . . .

Inside, outside, inside, outside. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we go over the river to be with family. I've been thinking so much about forests and trees and little houses and fields. I was telling Andrea about my junior-high American history teacher who didn't use the hideous overhead lighting in the room (oh, it was wonderful, wonderful, and I still remember him for it) and gave us a new hand-drawn, hand-labeled map of somewhere in New England almost every day. The maps were absolutely exquisite, the names magical. Plymouth, Concord, Dover, Wethersfield, Salisbury. Every year at this time I think of them, and would give anything to find that binder full of those lovely maps. How do we ever know what will stay with us, and why? Will Amelia remember the tune of the lullaby I sing every night as we snuggle and read under the quilts in the big bed? By the light of our tiny lamp, with the winds blowing outside, overwhelmed with gratitude I wrap around her, and quietly sing of small things.

I wish you much peace and comfort and love this holiday weekend, and throughout the season. Thank you for your generous, peaceful, and kind presence here. May your days be merry and bright, and filled with love.

Love always,
A+A+A+C+B. Xoxo

Autumn Leaves

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Hard week filled with terrible losses, both across oceans and across the street. I've had a bad cold since Wednesday and have been prone under layers of covers for a couple of days. The only crafting accomplished was when I effectively felted my hair to my head, rolling around while alternately broiling hot, then freezing cold, then scorching hot, then shivering — perfect felting conditions, along with the frustrated, erratic tumble-dry of my tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable. When I woke up (not entirely accurate, as that implies that I was asleep, which I really hadn't been in days), I went into the bathroom and saw that my hair had matted into a pretty decent Brillo-pad tower. Marge Simpson. Feeling a lot better today, but wow. I don't know what that was.

Amelia and I went out for a walk this morning, my first time outside at length in quite a while. It was sunny and lovely after days and days of cold, dark, howling rain. Autumn is hanging on, brilliant and sparkling with quiet beauty. I'm grateful for this, for eating biscuits at the bakery with my girl, for her dramas and discoveries, her sweet hands on my cheeks, crying because my skin was too hot, playing with her toys all yesterday afternoon in the warm house while the winds wrapped 'round, and we stayed quiet, and close. I wish you warmth and light this weekend, and peace. Peace be with you, dear friends. Xoxo, A


WIP Mash Up

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So then. I have a bit of a list. A whirling, swirling to-do. It's all because (I'm convinced) Stacey (Wonder Assistant) and I finally took the time to clean my office very well. We emptied every nook and cranny. We didn't get rid of stuff as much as we thoroughly rearranged. It had been a few years since the last time. Remember how pretty my studio was then. I'm sobbingly happy to say it now basically looks exactly like that again. Even better, in fact, because I folded all of that fabric in the glass cabinet onto the comic book backer boards. That project, though it took a long time, was a righteous success for several reasons. 1) Obviously, it's much neater and more functional now — I can actually see what I have and that means I am using it like crazy. 2) I became intimately acquainted with those fabrics again, and that was kind of nice. I feel like I really know what's there now, and it is inspiring to feel in control of that pile. And 3) There's a lot less fabric there than I thought (believe it or not). Not, perhaps, in terms of numbers of prints. But certainly in terms of actual yardage. To be wrapped on a piece of backer board, a length of fabric needs to be about 18" or it won't really fit nicely around it. Many of the pieces in my Glass-Cabinet Stash are between 18" and a yard. Some are 2 yards. Very few are longer. A TON were less than 18" (and those are all folded into shoe holders from Target, now on my sewing table). Anyway, all of this was very, very satisfying and also revealed to me that I have more quilts, toys, and patchwork dresses in my future, because I am determined to use up this stash (even though it fits oh so perfectly now I almost can't bring myself to touch it. But only almost) and this stash is made of smallish pieces.



Okay. So, that's nice. Something else that's nice is that my dearest is now old enough to be in the studio with me. She watches Blue's Clues and Backyardigans on the computer, draws in her handy-dandy notebooks, eats an incredible number of bananas, sorts buttons into complicated rows, breaks a lot of colored pencils by smashing them, tip-down, as hard as she can, tries to get her hands on any marker or pen we accidentally leave lying around, "knits" (which means she takes yarn and wraps it around her hand or finger about two hundred times), sweeps, types, and generally keeps me very good company. This is a new development and it has been life-changing for me. For both of us, really. She's very proud to be "working" in here with me. I couldn't be happier.


The other day I said, "Are you going to learn to knit and sew when you grow up?" And she said, "Yeah. I'll do that for you."


[Insert wide-eyed emoji guy here.] Only if you want to, baby girl! Only if you want to, really! Wink.


I just want to squish her all day long. MWAH. I love you.

Now, projects. Do you like her sweater? Apparently I knit an entire sweater without mentioning it once or taking any progress photos. It still needs to be blocked, but, yum:



This is the Top-Down Garter Stitch Baby Jacket on Ravelry. My details (not many, sorry) are here.

I think I started that back in September. Or maybe it was after I'd finished the birthday quilt, in October. Regardless, I like to have easy projects for nighttime. Really easy. We wake up early around here (5:00 a.m., every morning, no matter the morning) and go to bed early — Amelia is asleep by 6:30 (since the time change) or 7:00 p.m. every night. That gives me about two hours of total and complete leisure time before I fall asleep. I get every single chore finished before I put Amelia to bed so that there is absolutely nothing left to do other than drink tea, watch TV, and knit/embroider/crochet. I like this schedule. A few weeks ago, I saw these lovely photos (I actually saw one first on Pinterest) and decided to make a blanket exactly like the one pictured (I just figured out her color scheme, chained 160 to start, and am simply doing V-stitch), using my fairly substantial stash of DK- and sport-weight yarn.


This will have a border like the one in the picture (white, I think, with blue, and black?) and is, ostensibly, for Amelia's future big-girl bed, which we've been talking about a lot around here and which I think will be this one, because those head- and foot-board panels are calling out to be wallpapered, aren't they? Cuteness. I told Amelia that when she goes potty only on the potty seat we can get rid of her changing table and crib, and then she can have a big-girl bed. She was very excited. The next day she told me, "When I get my big-girl bed, then I'll go potty on the potty seat!" Errrrrrr, um, no that's. . . . I did not see that coming. . . .

NEXT. Thanksgiving dress for Meems:


Blue gingham for the blouse, vintage calico (from Knittn' Kitten, I believe) for the pinafore. Probably the long version because I have such a soft spot for a long dress for the holidays. Interestingly, this blue gingham fabric (which is like a voile, super light) is on my work table in one of the photos in the studio re-do post I linked to above, from five years ago. I believe it was from Mill End Store. Will probably go for a brick-red ribbon on this. Eighty-five cents for a pattern back then. Wow.

For me, I've been making skirts like this:


This takes 2 yards of cotton calico, with extra for the patch pockets. It's gathered crosswise, from selvedge to selvedge, onto a 2" waistband with elastic in the back. It's pretty much the skirt I've been wanting for years and just never really got around to making for myself. I've made two so far (the other one was teal calicos), and wear them with some really soft cowl-neck sweaters  (I wear them tucked in) I got from Ann Taylor Loft, and really soft and wonderful over-the-knee socks from Sock Dreams. And a chunky clog. Good, classics-professor-at-the-grocery-store winter uniform. Hoop earrings. Another skirt planned in these fabrics:


I'll write a tutorial or pattern or something when I get some time. Really easy. (And by the way, that orange poppy fabric I just got last week at JoAnn's. The smaller brown calico was in the stash.)

NEXT. Amelia's nightgown and robe. She wanted both, and I just couldn't resist this pattern, or fabric (double-sided pre-quilted cotton, also from JoAnn's).


I'm not sure how she even knew what a bathrobe was. We don't wear them, but I may rethink that because:


Aaaaaaaaaagh!!!! I love it so much! It has a drawstring waist. I did the neck with binding using toothpaste blue vintage bias tape. I want one exactly like this for me. Mommy-and-me robes? Too Grey Gardens?

The nightgown (flannel, also from JoAnn's [yes, I used about four coupons there that day] with a vintage embroidered ribbon from I know not where) is from a vintage pattern, Simplicity 4719, and there are a couple more planned. Next is one out of this dotty grayish-blue.


I have a few more nightgown patterns, too. Just realizing now that she needs a new one for Santa Lucia. Last year's is so worn out it's dingy, and too small. This is a problem I relish.

NEXT. A winter sweater. And a swingy skirt (I need to adjust the waist, because it's too big). I don't have the pattern in front of me but I don't recommend it, either way (it was vintage). Next time I'll use the same formula I developed for my gathered skirts above. This one is kind of a circle skirt.


The sweater pattern is Trixie on Ravelry, and it's quite darling, though there are no projects to date, so I'm not sure what it looks like on. I'm making the 2-3T size in House of a la Mode Stunning Single Ply yarn in Candy Cane Lane. Love this yarn, and it's local, too, from Happy Knits, my happy place (and Amelia's, too):


Yay! Isn't it brilliant of them to have a play area? With chalkboard-painted walls? Oh my stars, how I love these guys she is drawing every single day. They are so cute. The arms? Or legs? Love.

What's next. Advent calendar. This goes closer to the top of the list. I don't want to be late with this.


This is the Advent calendar pattern from Purl. They have a kit, too, but I have a ton of felt I'm trying to use up. I did order their sequins and beads, though, just for something special. I've never really had an Advent calendar before. I think we had paper ones, with little windows, but they weren't a big tradition with us. Andy says this one is similar to the one he had growing up. I changed the pattern a bit and am adding Velcro dots to stick the little ornaments on the tree (instead of straight pins). I finished the number embroidery and added the dots yesterday, and it's cute. The dots look like snow.

Lastly but certainly not leastly, a Friendship Quilt based on a beautiful quilt that Lucy made.


I'm making this with my BFF for the past twenty-six years, Martha. She lives in Boston. We were college roommates, and sewed Laura Ashley dresses together waaaaaay back then in our little white cottage with the big blue table on 8-1/2 Avenue. She wore flats with hers, I wore Doc Martens. She has a wicked-awesome stash of rather proper '80s calicos. I have a mish-mash with mutt-like provenance. We're trading 30 or so 2" selvedge-to-selvedge-cut strips, then doing something like this with a mixture of our own and each other's strips:


Each little square on the grid represents 1.5". Colored rectangles are blocks of horizontal strips. I've been wanting to do a quilt like this since I re-pinned this one a long time ago. I really love my quilting Pinterest board. Sometimes I just look at it and feel generally extremely happy that someone invented quilts. They are so beautiful. This one is going to be special to me.

This post is very long.


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* * *  T  H  A  N  K      Y  O  U      Y  O  U      G  U  Y  S !!!!!  * * *

I am gob smacked. Thank you for your orders and all of your kind words. You guys are seriously awesome. And I am truly grateful. Super-stellar awesome-assistant Stacey has shipped almost everything, with the rest going out on Monday. Then there will be more five thousand Maggie and her animal cousins' kits all over the world at this point, and I'm so proud of them. Thank you ever, ever so much for buying and making my patterns and kits. I love designing and producing them more than I can say, and am very grateful for your enthusiasm and support. Thank you so much.

So, it's deep fall, isn't it. October was really busy. Halloween came and went (in a torrential downpour). The Red Riding Hood cape (McCall's M4567) was a total fail. It was so crazy big and so heavy (I even shortened the thing by about a foot or more!) it wouldn't stay on her shoulders at all, and I couldn't blame her for not wanting to wear it even once! I tried a few solutions, including buttons at her shoulders (her hair wound around them horribly) and tying it on like a backpack under the arms but nothing really felt functional. Halloween morning I made a run to JoAnn's for yarn and a giant hook and wound up speed-crocheting a new hood in a few hours. The pattern was also sort of nuts and no one was more amazed than I when, lo and behold, a hood came off my hook, and the child donned it willingly. Until it started raining cats and dogs and every one of us and our friends were in a ton of rain gear, slogging through the drowning neighborhood in a downpour to get about twelve pieces of sopping candy. Man, I wouldn't trade it for anything.


It's a gorgeous, gorgeous morning here today. Andy and Amelia are headed out together for the day and I'm sitting in my newly reorganized office trying to collect myself. My office is so clean and tidy and . . . where am I, seriously. It hasn't been like this in years. This morning I made a giant list of all of the things I want to make this fall. Bathrobe (she wants a bathrobe, which cracks me up) for Meems. Nightgown (she wants nightgowns) for Meems. Thanksgiving dress and pinafore for Meems. Thanksgiving skirt (gathered, with pockets — I've made two already and love them — will tell you how I did it as soon as I get my act together) for me. Friendship quilt with Martha like this gorgeous one by Lucy. This sweater for Amelia. An advent calendar. A crocheted blanket I am halfway done with but I don't think I've shown you yet. A kooky flowered skirt for Amelia. Christmas dress for Amelia.

Seriously??? It does seem like a lot. I think it will be okay. The quilt's obviously a long-term project. And a lot of the other stuff can be done on the sofa while watching Christmas movies, so what could be better?

I've also been cooking a lot. I made Ann's No-Knead Bread. I made Thai curry lentil and sweet potato soup. That was excellent. I made Tessa Kiros's meat sauce from Apples for Jam, which is one of my favorite cookbooks (though the font they used for the recipes is seriously unreadable). I made dirty chai (that's chai with espresso, FYI) cinnamon rolls using the one-hour dough from this recipe and the filling and frosting from this recipe. OH MY STARS WHAT AN AWESOME PAN OF CINNAMON ROLLS THOSE WERE. I made butternut squash and spinach lasagna. That, too, was very good.

I guess I made a runner for my dining room table, too. Apparently Andy had the whole week off and I got a little excited.

Fall Sewing (and Free Shipping)!

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Oh, fall! I love you. Even the torrential rain you sent us all day long on Halloween did not dampen my enthusiasm. We came home with ten pieces of sopping wet candy and one soaking wet Little Red Riding Hood. Amelia conked out and I put on new pajamas and made a list of things I want to make. I reorganized my studio last week. I have been sewing LIKE CRAZY. I'll show you when it's not so incredibly dark all day long and I can take some photos both of the studio and of my new projects. Wool, yarn, floss, tiny buttons, tiny stitches, quilts, sparkly things, ornaments, little animals, granny squares, teapots, knitting needles, bring it on. My fake fireplace is lit and my chai is hot. It's very good!

I've been getting a lot of questions about whether there will be a new ornament kit this year, and no, I will not be doing a new kit this year. I didn't do one last year, either. Back in 2012, when Amelia was born, I kind of made the decision that I would stop doing them. I did do one that fall (Night Before Christmas), and I loved it, but for several years — six, in fact — ornament kit design and production kind of took over our lives here, in a way. It definitely took over our space, and it really took over our time. And because Christmas ornaments are such a deadline-oriented project, I was just feeling like there was no wiggle-room in it, schedule-wise, for me. I'm a pretty impulsive crafting person. I get an idea and I get on it. If I'm feeling it, I bust a move. If I'm not, I don't even try. I didn't think I could design for Christmas in April, and I really want October to be about birthday stuff and pumpkin patches and Halloween costumes, and getting ready for our own family holidays. Also there are other ideas I have for new projects and designs that I, in my limited amount of work time right now, just want to be free to follow. So, I never say never, but for now and indefinitely, I won't be doing new ornament collections. I walk to do some other things — a new quilt pattern, quilt kits of a sort, new crochet patterns, a softie bed kit. I have a million ideas for 2016.

We still do have ornament kits available: Ice Skating Afternoon, Snow Day, Sweet Home, Winter Cabin, and Night Before Christmas are all available in the shop. Walk in the Woods is totally sold out and will not be restocked (though it, and all of the other patterns, are always available as downloadable PDFs). Winter Cabin has less than 50 left, and it won't be restocked when it sells out.

I found out recently that the Mr. Basil Fox kit is going to be featured in the holiday gift guide in the December issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. EXCITING! This was an awesome and totally unexpected surprise. The magazine comes out in mid-November, and although it can be hard to predict the response, I do expect that the web shop itself will see a surge of new traffic around that time. We do not plan to be restocking anything between now and Christmas. So if you are interested in buying a Basil Fox (or Winter Cabin) kit especially but even anything else in the web shop, I would do that in the next two weeks, before mid-November when the magazine hits mailboxes and newsstands, because there is no time for us to restock anything this year.

If you click on the images above each photo should take you to the page in my web shop where you can buy the pattern or kit for yourself. And because I love you, we are offering free shipping on all domestic (United States only) orders today through Thursday, November 5 at 9 p.m. PST (because that's when I go to bed). You don't need a code, just go on over. The image above is made of thumbnails that will take you to all of the individual product pages for items pictured. Happy sewing, dear friends! And thank you so very much for all your interest in my work over these many (fifteen!) years that I've been making patterns and kits. You are the absolute best, and I'm so grateful. Thank you. Xoxo

***Gina asked a question that I get asked a lot — what is the best project for a beginner, or someone with enthusiasm but not a lot of sewing or needlework experience? I honestly think that the Winterwoods ABCs Sampler Kit is the best project. You can read my counted cross stitching tutorial here, which will teach you everything you need to know. And with a bit of practice you'll have such a good, cozy time with this one. Each motif is small, and the gorgeous hand-overdyed thread means you hardly have to make any color changes to have a rich, textured piece. I have gotten more emails from people who say they have never stitched anything before making this one and they loved it. It's one of my very favorites, and I hope you have a great time with it.

Fields and Furrows

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Oh, the pumpkins, the pumpkins, and the little kids. The gray pumpkin morning turning to mist and drizzle (perfect). The birds, my goodness, what you hear there in the cold, country air. The sky is filled with birds, and they are enchanting. The kids run and stumble. There is all the time in the world here with our dear friends, the Montgomeries, and their darling boys — my heart bursts watching them all pick right up where they left off last year, covered in mud, searching for the world's smallest pumpkin, Amelia and Asher walking straight out into the field without a backward glance, the cow train over the rutted fields jolting every adult on it into slipping a disc, the caramel apples and sausages and kettle corn we can't resist. Faces painted. Zinnias blackening. Sunflowers folding. Cornstalks softening in the rain. Later, beer and burgers at the brewpub, and I can't wait for them to light the fireplace there. If only every weekend were this one.

Look how little they were last year, and the year before. Oh, sweet darlings.

Speaking of rainbows: At home, I begin to achieve the unthinkable, and fold my fabric stash onto comic book backer boards. During every waking free moment I have. It feels like I will never get to the end. But look how pretty! More on this soon.


In Fairyland

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Oxbow Park on Saturday. The weather was absolutely perfect — cool and cloudy and still, still, still, the light flat and clear. We puttered near the beach then hiked a little trail into the forest I've always wanted to wander. All the leaves hung like mobiles, gently turning, or not even turning at all. The woods smell so good. It was wet, which was good. Mushrooms bloomed like fairy umbrellas, a different kind at every turn. Rain-soaked moss glowed green against the soaked soil. Our girl ran fast and sure down the trail. She's happy here, and my heart explodes into a confetti of pine needles and tiny acorns. She picks up things to show me. She puts her sorrel dollies to bed on a log under her dad's ever-present bandanna. High above, out of sight, we hear birds. I try to stop her to listen, which she does, for a short moment. But mostly she is high on freedom, zinging along down the path, turning around to go back to something she saw, trilling her own special song, sometimes serious and quiet but mostly prancing, dancing. Suddenly, a tiny winged creature whips into the tangle of bracken and branch. I stop in my tracks and look for it, and see it for a second, settled on a tiny tree. In another second it is off, shooting lower into the brush. I strain to see it again, but I don't — the tiniest bird I think I've ever seen, hardly bigger than a moth! What was it? Brownish gray, and very round, like a flying baby mouse? A bushtit, perhaps, but extra small? I'm so charmed I can hardly move. I would venture into the fairy circle at that moment, following, I feel quite sure.

Sometimes I think I'd like to bring a chair, and sit. It's not the walking so much as the being inside the forest that I like. The woods are so dense, the trails so skinny, with drop-offs and margin-less shoulders, at least where we go, that there's really no place for just sitting. I'd probably feel self conscious, parking a chair on the trail, if someone came by (and someone always comes by). But if I could, I'd sit in the chair with my feet up, and watch, and listen. I'd sit very still, and wait. I'd hope for something to ignore me, and get close. I'd hold my camera in my lap and use the articulated LCD screen to see something if I wanted to take its picture so that I wouldn't have to raise my arms and scare it off. Amelia would wander and find a place to be alone, talking to herself and making dolls out of pine cones and petals, houses of rocks and wood. Andy would probably lie back and look up at the trees. I hope I can find a place, just a little place, where we can do this all alone. I'd like to stop, and sit, and think, and listen, listen to the birds and my girl's sweet voice in the forest, and watch instead of move.

Twinkle Twinkle

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Oh. My goodness. Has any child in the history of the free world ever blown out more candles for her third birthday? The cakes (and creme brulee, and chocolate mousse) just kept on coming. Wow. I think she thinks her birthday is a week-long national holiday. I think so too. We did so much stuff. I took so many pictures that they all got out of order, and I can hardly remember which days were what. Man, it was fun. We went to Sunday lunch at Jake's Grill with Andy's parents, who flew back to Chicago on Tuesday. Andy gave her the incredible crocheted squirrel from this pattern (his name is Marty, and he has his own birch-bark-sided house, with lights; the man is a crocheting genius) and the five crocheted acorns he spent all summer making. I gave her her quilt. We made breakfasts (both felt [cookies for breakfast] and real [pancakes]) and drove out to Multnomah Falls and its lodge for lunch. The day was silly gorgeous, the night filled with cake and candlelight. And suddenly my sweet baby is a little girl.

The house is recovering, and I've spent almost every lazy minute crocheting a blanket myself. Outside the windows the leaves fall and fall and fall, and the sky is more gray now on more days than it was a week ago. I've taken hundreds of pictures in the past week, and we've driven a zig-zagging spider web from one corner of town to the other, doing stuff. Autumn is short and so special now. It's dark after dinner, but I keep the window behind the sofa wide open in the evening, and sit with tea in the my flannel nightgown under a little comforter, and listen to the leaves rustling outside. Then I close the windows tight, and pull the blinds and close them, too, and we snuggle in.

P.S. Andy saw this post and sent me the actual selfie from the shot above:



Party Girl

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Her third birthday party, filled with all of her beautiful people — birthparents,  grandparents, birthgrandparents, aunties, uncle, birthsiblings, cousins — all of us here together, all family now. In my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined how it could be, and yet it's better than anything I might've hoped for. Anything. It amazes and humbles me daily, and yet on this day every year (though this year her party was not on her actual birth day), when we are all together again, all joined in so much love for our sweet girl, being part of an open-adoptive family overwhelms me with gratitude, amazement, and pure joy. How blessed we all are that she is here! How blessed we are that we are family because of and for her! How blessed we are to have each other, every one! I would not have it any other way.

She said goodbye to her guests outside in the afternoon rain, careening up and down the driveway with the giant umbrella, then zoomed back into the house to race around a bit more. Clover Meadow, who had been on her best behavior all day, went zooming back and forth between the living room and dining room about eight times, doing laps as fast as she could. Small ones were still zooming for quite a while; the rest of us collapsed in various heaps.

Parties are so crazy — there is so much going on and they go so fast and there are so many people and it's so loud and raucous and fun. I don't take many pictures during them, though I always intend to. There was a lot more to the weekend  (I do have more pictures of that; we just got back from dropping Andy's parents off at the airport, in fact). I ran into some of my neighbors at the grocery store last week. We were all waiting in line and we started talking about our earliest childhood memories, which for everyone there started at age three. I hope hers start a few days before, and that she will remember what a magical time this weekend was. I know I'll never forget it. My sweet love. Your party was so, so nice.


Pre-Party Prettying

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Someone's about to have a little shindig this weekend!

embroidered A


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




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.