book giveaway: alicia paulson’s magic garden

I CAN BARELY SEW ON A BUTTON, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling a kinship with Alicia Paulson, whose needle and thread seem as natural an extension of her hands—and more to the point, her spirit—as a pruner or long-handed shovel are to mine. With them, she cultivates a charmed botanical world I love getting lost in (lately, she’s making a real garden in her Oregon back yard, too). Meet a treasured pen pal of mine—and maybe win one of two copies of her delicious new book, “Embroidery Companion,” that I bought to share with you:

From the first time I landed on her popular blog Posie Gets Cozy, I knew there would be a connection—again, though I was the hopeless (and embarrassed) girl who hemmed her junior high school dressmaking project right onto the lap of the skirt she was wearing, and when the bell rang for next period had to go there “wearing” both.

Alicia (self-portrait, left) welcomed me into her sewing circle, anyhow, charming me in the funniest Alicia-style ways. I mean, what’s not to like about a woman you don’t even know who says, “I want to be a gardener. Like Margaret.”

A woman who emails you—though you are still total strangers, really—and asks you about the potato she has planted in a smallish flower pot, and how to care for it? (Answer: Get it out of the confines of that pot, a.k.a., my curriculum of How Not to Grow a Potato 101.)

A woman who sends you links to funny cat trick videos? (And who understands when you send her back jpgs you took of your Jack the Demon Cat’s ultra-pink paws?)

A woman who with counted cross-stitch, traditional embroidery and crewelwork skills created places I want to go and flowers I want to put my nose into, like these:

A woman who writes things like this, about the months following her very serious accident—at 29, Alicia was literally hit by a truck, and almost lost one foot, undergoing many surgeries:

“Embroidery was my best travel agent—and doctor,” she says. “Through almost every moment of almost every day of my recovery, I stitched a wonderland of hearts and flowers. Each morning I set about creating the world I wanted, so different from the world I was in. Every night I fell asleep with a tiny garden in my hand.”

In other words, she gardens within the confines of her embroidery hoop for exactly the reasons I dig and plant and prune inside my deer fence. In order that I may thrive. Sound familiar, anyone? Tell us about it, and win the book.

How to Win ‘Embroidery Companion’

ALICIA PAULSON’S LATEST BOOK includes 30 of her own designs—from an entire alphabet adorned with petals, to a crewelwork Tree of Life wall hanging, and pillows bordered with strawberries or blooming with stylized dahlias. There are fanciful animals in Alicia’s garden, too—the “place” she conjures just teems with color; it lives and breathes.

To enter and have a chance at winning one of the two copies of “Embroidery Companion: Classic Designs for Modern Living” that I bought for this latest book giveway, all you have to do is comment at the end of this post by doing this:

Tell me how you are transported—whether it’s pruning or mowing or maybe something other than gardening altogether—in the way that Alicia describes. (Or if you’re shy or perhaps otherwise feeling speechless, just say hello, and we’ll count your entry anyhow.)

I’ll pick two commenters at random after midnight Friday, September 3, when entries will close. Good luck!

More about Alicia

  • Wander through Alicia’s world at Posie Gets Cozy, her bountiful blog featuring much more than needlecraft.
  • Browse the assortment of craft kits and patterns (free and to buy) in her shop (products are listed down the right column…scroll!).
  • Want a copy of “Embroidery Companion” right away? Buy it here.

(All photos here and in the book by Alicia Paulson.)

  1. Jennifer D says:

    I am an avid gardener who also loves needlework- unsurprisingly my needlework always focuses on flowers and sometimes my bunny whose manure keeps my garden looking good! Alicia’s book looks beautiful and I would love to get my hands on it! Right now I have to get outside and pick all the tomatoes and make sure the dahlais are properly staked before Hurricane Earl barrels through! Enjoy the weekend everyone.

  2. Wendy says:

    I am touched by how many comments involve a gardening grandfather. Mine fed the neighboorhood out of his wonderful garden and I now have my own little herb garden with flowers and a few veggies. I love the start of Spring when its time to plant and you believe anything can grow!

  3. Annie says:

    I tried to figure out what it is for me…I have lots of hobbies that I really enjoy, sewing, knitting, gardening. I’m better at some than others, and I spend most of my free time knitting. But when I look back into my life, the thing that really transports me is writing, and specifically poetry. It is how I begin to understand myself. It is something I need to do more.

  4. Kate says:

    Raising two children I find it is not often that I have something to show from all my work. At least not something tangible and visual. My work is in dealing with the most important most invisible things in life. My sewing/embriodery is the balance to this. Sewing is something I can begin and finish, a progress that I can see with every new stitch. My heart swells with every finished project. I want to scream “LOOK!” and just walk around with it in my arms. It forces me to live in the moment. That simple, peaceful, productive moment of creativity — where all is well.

  5. Polli says:

    I am transported by my garden because when I walk into it, everything else falls away. The smells – when my first basil comes up I’m in heaven! And I love the miraculous progression from seed to tumbling plant that is bearing delicious food, with just the work of my hands and sun and water. It makes me feel like some things are still right, some things can be relied on and those are the things that deserve our attention and faith. The immediacy of the need of the garden is what I love.

  6. i collect color.

    this means
    i flower~garden as best i can in the florida heat,
    i buy yarn even though i do not knit
    i have jars of crayons stacked on my window sill.

    i collect color
    if i cannot grow my colors i buy them
    often i seek them out on blog’s
    such as
    Posie Gets Cozy,
    which was my first book~marked blog Ever

    {{ i hope i win as i have alicia’s first book
    which is plum yummy }}

  7. mims says:

    Ah, the rich gardens of wool crewel bedspreads! And if you are so lucky, to be surrounded by a canopy of crewel beddrapes! I love that Jacobean aesthetic.

  8. Carrie G says:

    I love to garden and sew and photograph. When the three are mixed together, it is as if the laundry gets done on it’s own, the dish washer empties itself and the kids are always quiet.
    My favorite escape was an embroidered bird on a branch that made it onto a quilt I made. I loved the time I had to create that and to live in a different place for a bit.

  9. ellen rocco says:

    After many, many years of “knowing” I couldn’t draw, I was moved to give a book about which I had read, The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, a try. What I found out is that I CAN draw! When I see something I want to remember or just something I want to “see” in a different way, I can whip out a little note book and a pencil and actually draw something on paper that I can look at and recognize as what I am seeing. Picasso need not be concerned, but I cannot tell you what a difference this has made to me!

    Alicia AND her book sound like they work just the same magic.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome to all — and particularly to first-timers. Those of you who are regular know that on typical posts, I give a personal welcome to each first-time commenter. Obviously if I did that on these giveaways, I’d have the most comments — and maybe win the books myself! :) Instead, a group welcome will have to suffice here. Hello to:

      Burndett, Leanne, Barbara, Lisa, Joanne, Sheri, MaryJo, Cathi, Teri, Linda, Becky, Cat, Ginger, Janel, Charity, Peculiar Whimsy, Nellie, HB, Julia, Joanne, Raji, Cathy, Caroline, Claudia, Linn, Christine, Toni, Sharon, Kathy, Lisa, Charlotte, Dorothea, Mia, Laura, Jamie, Janet, Andrea, Krista, Nancy S, Nancy, Corinne, Patty, Adrienne, h30mel, Jenn, Stephanie, Delilah, Leslie, MoniCue, Ali, RachaelDaisy, Jenny, OjaiGal, Sharon, Patty Rose, Susie, Barb, Katie, Allison, Mira, BethF, Livy, MzTallulah, LoriAnn, Desi, Laura, Samantha, Victory Garden Yarn, Susan, Sally, HR, Kelly, Hayley, Martha, Molly, Anita, SK, Cori, Georgia, Deb, Carlee, Ali, Marie, Barb, Michael, Amanda, Ellen, Concha, Julie, Annie, Ana, Jennifer, Heather, Brittany, Sabine, Ann C, Jill, Michelle, Mona, Laura, Lori, Karen, RaeJean, Jamie, Renee, Mary, Beth, Jennifer, Missy, Carrie, Mims, Some Pink Flowers, Polli, Kate, Annie, Wendy, Jennifer, Beth.

      Phew! So glad to “meet” so many who admire Alicia as I do.

  10. sharon says:

    I like to watch things grow
    the word nursery means 2 different things to me.

    In my 20’s while I was training it meant an intensive care nursery where sick babies grow into bigger, stronger, healthier ones. Or, a well baby nursery where babies are check out and screened to home to their regular homes.

    In my 30’s and 40’s it now also means a place to stop on the way home from the other nurseries to buy some plants to grow in my garden – usually flowers.
    which I have always thought of as my own well baby garden

    I learned how to embroider from my italian grandmother but, never thought of embroidering a garden until I read this post

  11. Heather M says:

    I’ve always loved gardening, but hadn’t been too sure of my abilities until a few years ago. I live in a co-op complex where we have a large space for vegetable gardeners to try their hand at growing. One year, we realized our garden space might be taken away due to a shortage of parking spaces (no!) so I stepped up to the plate, thinking I was going to do paperwork and organizing, and found myself digging in (literally) and enjoying the many fruits of my labour.
    The last few years have been difficult health-wise and I am now on permanent disability. I find solace in the garden and have grown (pun intended-ha) to love my experiences with dirt. My chard grows like a weed, my beets and cukes are soo incredibly sweet (I even made pickles for the first time-yay me!) and my sunny yellow Toms make the best sauce for shrimps. I love my garden and love how it challenges me physically to exercise those arthritic joints. Besides, I’ve met some fantastic neighbours who have become more like friends to me. The best part for me? The fresh air is absolutely intoxicating!
    Thanks for the chance to win Alicia’s new book! I’ve been a follower of hers for some time and can truly atest to the healing powers of handicrafts. I am always inspired when I visit with her and am also grateful for the discovery of your blog. A new friend who also loves to garden. Yes, life can be good :)

  12. Kimmer says:

    I am lucky enough to have several “escapes” that transport me this way… I would say that quilting/fabric play is the BIG one (as evidenced by my enormous stash of cottons), followed closely by any other type of crafting or drawing, gardening (flower more than vegetable, but veggies will work in a pinch), scratching (sometimes bizarre!) thoughts into a journal, playing with my children (ah, the nostagic smells of Crayola crayons and Play-Doh!)…

    LOVE to read Posie for her many inspirations… looks like I need to add you to my list as well!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  13. Allison says:

    There are a number of ways of transportation that come to mind when I think about gardening. We live out in the country in East Texas and keep a big garden where we grown southern favorites like okra, butter beans and purple hull peas. We also love to grow herbs, zinnias, potatoes and asparagus. I suppose the neatest thing that I experienced in our garden this summer occured when laying a soaker hose through our tomatoes. We probably had about fifty tomato plants all together planted in rows about 3 feet apart. Our tomatoes were already caged and had grown quite large, lush and beautiful. I got down on my hands and knees and crawled between the rows, pulling the hose through and laying it beside each plant. The soil was cool underneath me, the tomato plants made a thick canopy over my head. I was in a jungle. And that smell, brushing up against the tomato leaves. The smell of summer and anticipation of the delicious bounty that was yet to come. The pleasures of gardening.

  14. Julia says:

    I love Alicia’s work, and have always wanted to get more into embroidery, thank you so much for the chance to win a copy!
    Sometimes when the weather is just the right kind of cool and damp, I’ll be wandering through a forest trail somewhere, and come upon a mossy patch, or a little grotto, and feel a kind of wonder. I think it goes back to my childhood love of enchanted woods and fairies. So walking trails with my camera in search of flowers, mushrooms or ferns to photograph is my transporting hobby. I can be there for hours! I really should do it more often.

  15. Dani says:

    What transports me lying down on pillow at night, closing my eyes knowing somewhere in my nights sleep a dream may come, a quiet visit from my mum and dad, long passed now visits in my dreams. We do varies different things and yet it’s the talks that touch my heart to hear their voice often I a hug even if only in a dream, I smile. I wake my day is already complete as I had a visit from two very special people who even in dream show me how much they love me still, how close they really are even if only in a nights sleep.

  16. Dulce B says:

    I have a brown thumb, my husband is the one who is great a gardening, and he has been nice enough to plant 5 rose bushes that give me so much happiness every time I look at them. I love going outside early in the morning and admire the roses covered in dew and snip a few to bring them inside.
    But the thing that gives me peace is crochet. I was 8-years old when I first saw my aunt teaching my older sister how to crochet. I wanted to learn so badly but they wouldn’t teach me because I was too young… So I stole one of their magazines and thread and taught myself how to do it, which accounts for the funny way I hold the yarn. But it has been my favorite hobby since. Now,, twenty years later and after 3 kids, I still find the time to crochet, I love the whole experience, choosing a pattern, the feel of the yarn in my hands and the finished product.

  17. Melanie says:

    Hello! Your blog is beautiful – I came through a link from Alicia’s site. My husband and I recently purchased our first home – this blog will be the perfect resource for next summer’s garden!

  18. Jenny says:

    In the spring and summer I spend my time outside in my gardens surrounded by my beehives. I love to collect plants from loved ones and then use them in my canning or soapmaking adventures. In the fall and winter I spend my time in my craft room usually sewing or scrapbooking. The hum of the sewing machine is a sound that relaxes my soul and I made sure to spend as much time on it while my babies were growing inside me so they would hopefully have the same experience.

  19. CherylK says:

    Late winter, when my seedlings are starting to emerge under the lights inside, is a magical time for me. So much potential for the coming gardening season…new life…the first scent of soil, while the snow is still swirling outside.

  20. missy says:

    I love to mosey through over to posey gets cozy because I am so inspired by Alicia in so many ways. Thanks for this opportunity . . .

    Knitting, and particularly knitting patterns which incorporate leaves, are my way of “gardening”———-> my knitting needles and the process of creating, transports me to a serene, happy and content place.

  21. Heather says:

    I love gardening in many ways, but this summer we were blessed with a bumper crop of green beans. And there have been so many days in the last few weeks, where I have come home from work, grabbed a bowl and then just gotten lost picking beans for dinner. Somehow I can spend ages just poking through the leaves, visiting the spiders, checking out the vines, and just completely meditating while my fingers search out pods ready to be picked.

  22. Catherine says:

    I grew up in South Africa, literally spending every day playing and swimming under the African sun, in our back yard. My Mom transformed our garden from nothing into an amazing garden filled with colour! I watched that garden grow – my parents lived in that house for 32 years. Because of my husbands job we have moved around alot and I am yet to own my own home and garden. I decided after a few months into our first rental that I didnt want people to walk into my home or garden and realise it was a rental – it was my home, so I painted and I more importantly I gardened. We have lived in a few homes now and I always smile when I do my final walk around when I leave because I am leaving a piece of myself somewhere in the world – my garden. I am proud to say that the gardens always look a little better than when we first met. Every garden always has plants that mean something to me – that bring back memories of South Africa, Virginia, Germany, the United kingdom. Moving is hard. Every time it means starting new, having to find your way around, make new friends, moving further from family but being in my garden and planting the old favourites and adding the new memories, I am surrounded by my old friends and family. And thats it in a nutshell ….when I walk into my garden, wherever that may be in the world… I’m always home.

  23. Amanda says:

    I am transported to the past when I garden. I have so many fond memories of my Dutch grandfather working in his garden or hot house as a child and when I am involved in my own garden I can’t help but feel reunited once again.

  24. Cricket says:

    My mother, who was an avid gardener and president of her local garden club, died 16 years ago. I have some rudbeckia that was transplanted from her garden (long since mowed over by the people who bought her house) growing in my garden. Every time I see those cheery flowers winking at me with their kind dark eyes, I am transported back to my mother’s garden and the oasis of beauty and renewal she created there.

  25. jody says:

    I followed Alicia and then my sister introduced me to you. A perfect combination and no small wonder that your kindred spirits found one another. I used to earn my living by gardening until my third round of Lyme Disease. The illness that it brought made normal living pretty uncomfortable, but knitting and quilting transported me during the dark days of IV antibiotics. How can the spirit NOT rise when witnessing a handful of zinnias wading in a mason jar on the windowsill? I think that you and I garden in the same location (Hudson River Valley?) and thankfully, I am able to create beds and borders again, although I will never again do it professionally. You and Alicia have both inspired me and I thank you! I’d love an opportunity to win the newest book.

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