a cozy spot and something to sew : what’s on my worktable

fabric needle case stuffed to bursting with important scraps

They get better with age and use. All sorts of important treasures are stuffed in here. The original ribbon closure blew out a while ago as the girth increased and was replaced with a red string that wraps around. I love the red string, a happy accident.

stitch experiments on my worktable

I’m working on some smaller needle books, just one or two pages, really just for needles. There were a bunch of little stitch experiments (I think the original idea was amulets) hiding in the above over stuffed book that are being incorporated into the covers. A couple are for gifts and there will be a few in the shop too (post holiday I think).

Little pin dishes will be available in January too. They are glazed and waiting to be fired right now.

and little dolls

sewing fabric hair to a tiny doll

The hairstyle on this tiny lady is a little different than the style in the pattern – it’s super easy.

1. Add about a quarter inch to the length of the hair fabric.  Other than that follow the pattern instructions until the hair is attached. Tuck in the edges of the end and gather.

2. Twist the fabric.

3. Wrap around the head, pin and whip stitch with tiny stitches to tack it to the head. So sweet.

tiny doll with fabric hair

tiny rag dolls in progress

It’s been ages since I worked on tiny dolls and wardrobes but now I’m on a roll. I’ll show you more next week-ish.

not a creature was stirring…

christmas card with water color illustration of a mouse, seen through a baseboard mouse hole, decorating a tree

christmas card with water color illustration of a mouse, seen through a baseboard mouse hole, decorating a tr

Except this guy.

A brand new card made from a daily painting. Also note in the background the beginnings of a Christmas tree. The Norfolk pine has been on Christmas tree duty since 2014. It was my first tree as an adult. Some years it’s fancy and some years it’s simple. I’m still on the fence about this year. So far it just has a little tinsel. It takes me around ten minutes to place a single strand of tinsel. I’m one of those people… Next week I’ll get serious about decorating and wrapping and will of course report all developments to you here.

Are you decorating? Have you made ornaments or garlands or cookies? Are you sewing gifts? How long does it take you to place a strand of tinsel? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Yes, it takes me a long while to place my decorations. It is part of the celebration and process. Makes me happy. Thank you for your “newsy” notes and examples of your work. I love the needle books and have made several for friends. That takes time to, because you have to have just the right fabric for the pages. Oh so much fun!

    • Thanks Rita snd -yes! It’s all about the fabric choices. Happy Holidays!

    • sally stanley

      Gosh, has that Norfolk Pine been around since 2014?!?! It was done well and always beautiful decorated.

      • Hi Sally! Yes -2014 – isn’t that crazy? And it would not have made it through the first year without your tip about the shower. It has grown a ton in Connecticut. Happy Holidays!

  2. We have two more craft fairs to get through and THEN I can buy a tree and start decorating. It’s ok though, because I tend to leave the tree up well into January. So no cookies or homemade marshmallows, yet. Next week should be very festive I think (hope). If I could have tinsel (cats) it would take me at least ten minutes to get it right.

  3. PamelaArtsinSF

    Dearest Ann, All so lovely. i love seeing what you do. And I would LOVE one of your needle books so I really hope to get one from your shop. I am in SF and it finally got cold (for SF) so I am feeling festive….making gifts and wrapping them for my friends is fun. Our tree is up and looking pretty. Happy Holidays to you.

  4. Happy Holidays, Ann! I get so excited when your email comes! I love all your patterns and creative news! Thank you, again, for always taking the time to send it out.

  5. Penny Gallman

    Planned and hosted a quilt guild Christmas Party yesterday for about 50 members. Played silly games and kept our masks on (I’m in Washington, one of the six states with mask requirements).
    I made your wonderful crow pattern. I call him Carl, the Covid Corvid.
    I love all your work. So beautifully done.

  6. Please keep making and showing the larger needle/art books. Love those!
    I am down to 3 art trees…….an iron store fixture, probably to store jewelry/necklaces on, and I have hand made bird ornaments on each arm; my Diwali tree……a small LED pre-lit
    tree ; and what I call my Dr. Seuss Tree with only one very special Cirque du Soleil ornaments, various and assorted small art trees on coffee table and chubby snow people in the window for passers-by to see. There used to be so much more but this Gm is so much more manageable.
    Thank you so much again. Ann, for all your posts , Inspirations , and pink table!!

  7. Always enjoy your creations. I am an antique doll collector and I do some decorating on the littles shelves. Our home is small so not a lot of indoor decorating. But we line on a 60 acre farm so I do quite a bit outside

  8. Debby O’Keefe

    In the picture of the 3 dolls, woolen sheep and clay dish did anyone else see what looks
    like a cat face in the gold purse? Just me?

      • Sue Sabala

        Lovely inspiration! Thank you, Ann, for letting us into your workshop.
        (I saw the yellow cat face, too!)

    • So funny about the cat face! I did not notice but there it is!

  9. We are using my Norfolk Island pine this year. I have several strings of clear plastic icicles that I have strung around the branches, but I’m going to remove them because I think the tree is not big enough to support them, yet. It’s only half the size of yours: still a baby. The branches are looking a little droopy with the weight. Other than that, there are lights and several paper mache ornaments I’ve made or collected over the years. Always enjoy seeing what you are doing, and thank you for the freebie patterns. I have a friend who collects sheep so I think I will make her a couple, but probably for Easter rather than Christmas as I’m bogged down with other things right now. Happy holidays to you and yours, Ann.

  10. Debby: YES I SEE THE CAT !! Too too clever. Did Ann do that on purpose or are we just seeing things???

  11. Jane Miller

    I love your creativity and find myself holding my breath when reading your blog posts, just waiting for the next awesome item you are making. Love the little dollies and the pin dishes and will want them all! Can’t wait to start my tiny doll, and her kitty friend. Thanks for being you!

    Oh, gave up on tinsel ’cause the cat wanted to eat it. But I used to be a one strander as well.

  12. Cindy Taylor

    Dear Ann, I so look forward to your newsletters. Keeping up with friends, even those we have yet to meet, is so special! I love your creativity and all the darling things you make. I’ve been a doll maker for 40 or 50 years and a doll lover my entire life. Yours are just exquisite and fun! Most of all, I love your needle books! I learned about them years ago when I volunteered at a living history museum. Ladies have had a needle book, sewing kit, housewife or hussif-whatever name you call them by-for hundreds of years. I’d like to hope that we’re keeping that legacy alive for generations to come. Again, thank you for your cheery, fun and informative newsletters. Happy Holidays Ann!

  13. Hi Ann. Thanks for your lovely newsletter, it always gives me a boost. I live in New Zealand so we celebrate in hot weather – picnics, walks and swimming at the beach, Christmas lunch/dinner under an umbrella outside, cotton clothes and fresh vegetables with seasonal fruit. Quite something. I have experienced snow and cold with my sister who lives in Canada though so know well what you are experiencing. I am busy finishing off my grand daughters gifts – a treasure box and for her birthday straight afterwards a cabinet I have made from scratch to keep her tiny dolls in – your pattern of course. Keep meaning to send photos of them. Smiles your way.

  14. After retiring in two years I hope to decorate a tree with the oranges, popcorn and cranberries and old fashioned tinsel. I made custom pillowcases for everyone this year. The most fun was putting together fabrics that expressed everyone’s individuality.

  15. Adrienne Stanford

    The peace and creative freedom in your posts is such a joy! I can literally feel my shoulders drop back down when I come home from work and see a newsletter in the inbox.

    This makes me want to make tiny dolls for gifts. I think they’d make fun surprises nestled among the Christmas tree hollows.

    Thank you for the peace your posts bring, and the patterns and ideas.

    Enjoy the magic of this time of year!

  16. Dear Ann,
    I agree with Adrienne that your posts are a balm to the spirit.
    My needlebook has become indispensable, and I’m looking forward to seeing the smaller
    This year, I made our grandson a Very Nice Mouse for his ornament (he got an owl last year), and I made a Little Bird for his new sister, whose nickname is actually “Birdie”.

  17. Hi Ann!
    I saved this post as a reward for when I finished my last of three days of baking cookies (I gift away many). Decorating is finished, cards are mailed. Once the gifts are wrapped I’m going to sit back and enjoy it all!
    I finally finished Santa ornaments that were started at the beginning of Covid for all the girls in the family (sorry guys) as well as your needle book (I love that book!) that I made using pieces of my daughter’s and granddaughter’s baby clothes (yes, I’m a fabric hoarder). I also made your Very Nice Mouse for my daughter to use when photographing the shoe box rooms made by her Interior Design class.
    It’s always a pleasant surprise to find one of your posts. I like to save them for when I have time to sit back and take everything in. Please keep them coming! Merry Christmas!!

  18. Henriet Ferguson

    I have just been for a lovely sunny but ice-cold walk in the woods, and scored two bare twiggy branches. I tie ’em together as a tree, to go with my foot-high metal house. This house has christmas lights in it, switched on whenever I need some extra light around. Maybe I’ll add a few ornaments too…

  19. Linda millard

    Linda millard
    It’s been unusually cold and wet here in Sydney town so almost whispers from Northern Hem which is so lovely . I always enjoy dressing the tree with my treasures given and collected over 60 yrs from far flung global places amongst home creations and pieces given throughout my childhood from my soulmate father. Such joy unwrapping , touching, remembering and placing .
    Thank you Ann for sharing your life and it’s treasures too. ! You give joy to many .
    Merry Christmas .

  20. Phyllis de Vries

    I love everything you create, Ann and have followed you for a number of years. I have kept a notebook about you for inspiration and delightful memories. It is filled with photos of your Brooklyn apartment and your enchanting creations. In one photo you are wearing a Victorian skirt that fits you perfectly. And this little tree is in there too! Your cards are simply magical. XO Phyllis

  21. My husband loves to decorate so I usually sit back (or ply him with more eggnog), tend the fire, and call out encouragements and commendations.
    I made a sewing-machine pincushion for myself when you first shared that idea, then made 3 more for gifts! I love the way they look and mine is constantly in use, as I also put it in my embroidery box when I sew on the sofa. Very versatile!
    Thank you for sharing, it’s grand to have a brain with different ideas.

  22. I lost most of Christmas in a house fire. So this year I have a stick tree with lights and 4 embroidered ornaments. I have some of your trees as well as a tiny kitty, and some wood trees. It’s a regular forest.

    I am working on ships to sail through lights and snowflakes. Paper mache has been my friend. I have made a glorious new waste paper basket out of a panettone box and scraps of fabric, too small to sew any thing out of. I was thinking of lucky fish from paper mache. So much to do. Happy Holidays.

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