Category: 100 day stitchbook 2023

stitch book challenge – day 15 update

3 stitch collages and scraps on my work table

3 stitch collages and scraps on my work table

We are on day 15!  That finishes 3 pages and a new page starts tomorrow. You can see lot’s of pages on instagram and the group in stitch club is really remarkable.

These are my first three pages. I’ve still got today’s 15 minutes to do on the third – bottom right above. This is my third year challenging myself in this way and I’m finding the same pattern appears. In the first three days I create a problem for myself (compositional problem) and on the 4th and 5th days I work on solving it. I love this kind of thinking.

My pages are not always abstract but that doesn’t seem to make a difference in this rhythm. And I don’t always succeed. Last year I found thinking of the pages in pairs helped immensely. I loved having a second chance at compositions by treating 2 pages as one image/idea. And I mostly did not work on them consecutively – having some percolation time in between was key.

Stitch Club member Heather Smith said this about the challenge:

FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM THE 100 DAY STITCH BOOK

I wrote this while getting ready for this year’s challenge and reflecting on my creative accomplishments from last year.

1- With community support I CAN do something every day for 100 days. (or 98 days or whatever was close enough to count).

2- Working 15 minutes a day on a part of a project is quite a different challenge than making a little finished piece of art every day. So much more do-able than those kinds of challenges.

3- Letting go of overthink. It’s ok to start without knowing exactly where the art is going to take you. This was a HUGE change for me, unlocking years of being Afraid To Start.

4- Ideas like company. If you put a few of them together they make more ideas. It’s like propagating plants. And if you put those ideas in one place they become your own thesaurus of ideas, little seed starts for later.

5- A middle aged craft lady in motion (really) does tend to stay in motion – Ann Wood. This momentum has kept building and helped create a nearly daily practice.

I love everything Heather has to say – and seeing this process work for people is satisfying and motivating.  15 minutes a day matters. Find Heather’s instagram page here – there’s lots to see.

 

hands holding stitched mushrooms and text overlay - welcome to stitch club and join button

 

“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”
Linus Pauling

 

There are so many ways to approach making this book and growing creatively through that effort. Working in an improvisational way is challenging and so worth the effort.

When you start without knowing where you’re headed you create space for ideas, for possibilities and happy accidents. You observe and listen and connect. There is no failure, only information.

daily practice matters

It keeps the wheels turning and the machinery well oiled. The minute you do something, take some action, a feedback loop begins. You get information. Begin, listen and respond. It makes you ask the second question and the third and the fourth etc. etc. that will lead you to new places, lead you deeper into your imagination and your magic.

A couple notes :

Is it too late to join/start?

Nope – you can choose to start whenever you like. Catch up with the schedule or work with your own start and end date. There is nothing you need to join – stitch club membership is optional. To participate please read this page carefully and follow the link at the end to the tutorial for making the pages and book.

Is it free to participate?

It is.  You can choose to support the project with a donation here.

Are there daily prompts

Nope- the daily stitching is self directed.

Will you do it again?

Hopefully – this time next year.

Good luck with your stitch book challenge!

stitch book : day 1 is here! and 5 more things bringing me joy

sketch book with colorful quote - "done is better than perfect"

sketch book with colorful quote - "done is better than perfect"
I have one important thought for you and for me today and everyday of the challenge:

Done is better than perfect!

This exercise is so not about perfection. It is for listening to yourself. It’s for your imagination, it’s a place to try things – explore. Show up, try stuff, make mistakes, try again, get somewhere new. 100 days of that is magic.

Life rewards action, give it a chance and it will show up with happy accidents. The minute you do something a feedback loop begins. You get information. Begin, listen and respond.

Be brave and be curious.

onward in stitch!

ann

*learn about the stitch book challenge here

 

DAY 1

stitch book 2024 – day 1


5  things bringing me joy this January

*This post contains affiliate links – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the links – they are marked with an asterisk

small black day planner in my hand

1. day planner

I’m so into it. In olden times I always had a day planner book. It’s for capturing ideas, project planning and a daily record – at the end of each day I make a little list: 5 things about today.
The book is beside my bed and it’s the last thing I do each day. It is very short and simple but recording this little list makes me notice things.

I’ve also marked each of the 100 days for the stitch book challenge and get to experience the deep satisfaction of checking them off.

I love that it’s small enough to always have with me so ideas can be written down as they happen and the calendar aspect brings so much more organization and context to those notes.

The book is beautiful and super simple. After I looked at every day planner on the planet I went with the *hobonichi techo (a6 size in black gingham).

autumn and ann walking on a path at the squam art retreat

2. Imagination day camp

Next September my friend Autumn Song and I are co teaching (again) at the Squam Art Retreat. We are currently creating a big playful day of imagination igniting fun. That is she and I walking along the path at Squam, ideas and plans tumbling all over the place. We have endless things to say to each other and all sorts of surprising new intersections appear. It’s a you got peanut butter on my chocolate situation for sure.

Autumn and I first met at my experimenting with dolls workshop in 2016. The class was improv based – a yes and approach to making a figure. I loved Autumn’s ability to completely immerse herself in the creation of her doll and watch her gentleman moth emerging a little bit at a time.

a moth doll madefrom antique clothing in progress

“My name is Cedric Randolf. I am a moth, I fought in the Boer War. I am quite wise and quite old. In one eye I have a cataract, with my other eye I see only goodness”

I love working with Autumn. Ideas flow easily between us, they bounce back and forth and get deeper and more detailed and weirder and sillier etc. etc. We both like to think about thinking, where ideas come from and the absolute joy of making things and that is what imagination day camp is all about. Check out Autumn’s instagram here. And her website here.

You can find out more about the class and fall retreat here.

 

slip covered day bed

3. A cozy spot

A perfect spot to hibernate and stitch and watch the snow. I’ve been looking for THIS daybed forever. It turned up (the exact one I wanted!) at a garage sale for just a little money and in perfect shape. The mattress is a chunk of memory foam and the cover is made from big scraps and some toile curtains from a thrift store. This was my first experience with welting and I give myself a B+.  Am I a little awash in toile? Yes. But I like it.

4. What it is

By Lynda Barry. It’s a big book about process, ideas and creativity. I took it out of the library so often I finally bought a copy- *it’s currently on sale. It is visually very dense and when I first looked at it I thought it would be too difficult to navigate – text is hand written and intermingled with tons of collage and drawing. You have to spend a little time with it. She asks questions like what is an image? What is an idea? What is a memory? What is a story? That will make you think. It’s written for an adolescent/teenage audience so it’s perfect for me…

5. Great Horned Owl 

I saw a great horned owl!. First time ever. I had been hearing them in evening, calling in the little forest just behind me since I moved to my current place in Guilford. That small, dense patch of trees got cleared for development and there were no more owl calls.  This winter I started hearing him again on my run and then one evening there he was, huge, in a tree right above me at dusk, calling and being answered by another. That night I got to write “saw a great horned owl” in my list of 5 things about today.

Are you feeling new yearsy?   Are your ready for stitch book 2024? Have you ever seen a great horned owl!? What’s bringing you joy in 2024? Let us know in the comments.

the stitch book challenge starts soon and community membership is open!

light and bright fabric scraps gathered on a table - the prints are sweet and vintage

stitch club membership is open again

Let’s start with the membership and then get into some ideas for setting yourself up for the stitch book challenge. You don’t need to join to participate but it is a great place to find support and share your progress.

What happens in stitch club? It’s the private ann wood handmade community, a great place to get inspired, share what you’re working on and make sewy friends.

New for 2024

The international scrap festival in february with ideas, challenges and a scrap swap

creative sparks- monthly prompts to get your wheels turning

enrollment in the 2024 stitch book group (you don’t have to participate – but if you do the group is super helpful)

sew-alongs and more!


light and bright fabric scraps gathered on a table - the prints are sweet and vintage

The 2024 100 day stitch book challenge begins on 1/19 and ends on 4/27

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CHALLENGE HERE

Please use the link above if your are brand new to the challenge – you’ll find all the info you need.

There are lot’s of ways to approach this hundred day challenge. My plan is to go boldly forth into the unknown. Start without knowing and create time and space for ideas that don’t easily present themselves in the general course of things. That’s what showing up does. You show up and work. You move your mind and your hands and see what happens.

It’s a terrifying proposition. It’s uncomfortable. And it’s how you get somewhere new. This is the third annual stitch book challenge and just like the two previous years I’m excited and also very nervous to start. Daily commitments are hard. Showing daily progress is hard, especially after you’ve gone on and on about how creative and productive the process is.

But here we are again. I can’t resist. Can you? I’ve got some ideas and lessons learned from the previous years to help you get ready.

My plan is to not have a plan except for:

Thinking of the pages in pairs. I loved having a second chance at compositions by treating 2 pages as one image/idea in last years book. I mostly did not work on the two pages consecutively. Especially when I wasn’t happy with what I’d done, putting the idea aside and letting it percolate for a bit helped a lot.

I’m also leaning towards leaving my edges raw again.

fabric book with abstract stitch composition opened to a 2 page spread

support the ann wood handmade free pattern library with a happy donation 

Support the 100 day stitch book project and the always growing free pattern library.

Click here to add your support.

 

remove obstacles

Make it as easy as possible to show up. For me that means having my materials accessible and transportable. A to-go kit is essential. I’ve got scraps, some cut pages (I don’t cut them all in the beginning), a little needle book and a thread pouch. And because the world really is magic  this sweet tote bag, made by a friend, arrived unexpectedly on the very day I was looking for something to contain my stitch book supplies.

15 minutes is even more doable if everything is already set up.

plan for the bad days

In 100 days there will most likely be some bad days. Some way too busy or sick or too something days. The secret to those days is a predetermined, minimally acceptable effort. This is also known as “phoning it in”. Protect the habit, protect the momentum and do something. I’ve had days where I was sick or traveling and teaching and way too stretched but I stitched some basic straight stitches or added a super basic  applique for 15 minutes. It was not my most present or mindful or thoughtful work but it got done and that mattered.

And if you do miss a day?

Keep going. Maybe do an extra 15 minutes when you can.

warm up

Engage in some productive procrastination. I’ve been doing some new yearsey sorting and organizing of fabric. It was a perfect time to start to pull out scraps for the 2024 book. As I sorted and ironed, scraps spoke to me and I’ve made a little collection. I’m surprised by how much white and light colored stuff I pulled – it’s not my usual jam. The sorting and collecting lit the spark and got me more excited and curious than nervous to start. There are colors and ideas I’m looking forward to experimenting with.

January 19th will be here before you know it! Will you join me in 100 days of stitching? Let us know in the comments.

onward!

ann

finishing the hundred day stitch book : suddenly a prawn appears

day 99!

There was no plan for a prawn. He just turned up. He was immediately preceded by an octopus. That’s what I love about an improvisational process. Ideas. One thing really does lead to another if you let it. You get somewhere new by starting without knowing, make a mark (in this case a stitch, a patch etc.) and respond to it.

day 99 2023

These undersea friends in hats bubbled up from somewhere mysterious. They inhabit a world that is rich and expansive idea-wise. I’m going to spend time in that world. This is my favorite thing to do in life.

day 95 2023

Daily practice has a serious slog factor. It’s often hard to show up for. Days inevitably get weird and busy and difficult. I’m blown away by how many of you showed up for this. The community as well as instagram and facebook is filled with those efforts. Thousands of stitched pages. The last of the 100 days is tomorrow. Wherever you are in that process congratulations on showing up and thank you for sharing your one of a kind imagination.

support the ann wood handmade free pattern library with a happy donation 

Support the 100 day stitch book project and the always growing free pattern library.

Click here to add your support.

 

 

finishing the book

To finish your book start here.

None of what I’m about to say will make any sense to you unless you’ve reviewed the assembly pages linked above. I started putting my book together yesterday and I’m assembling a little differently this year. It’s going to take forever, tons of hand stitching.

The difference is leaving the page edges raw. I did this in a workshop in France last summer and liked the effect. You can check that out here. (PS if you’d like to join me for France 2024 please use the contact form to message me and I’ll hook you up with more info)

It’s easy to do but the hand stitching on all those pages takes a while. If you’d like raw edges just follow the book assembly instructions and  at step 11 in the slot section you place the wrong sides of the pages together. And again for the tab section in step 9 you place the wrong sides together.

I put together my first two sections (according to the chart) yesterday. Checkout the demo below and then refer to the official instructions.

First you need to number the pages in the order you want them to appear in the book. 1 is the front cover and 20 is the back cover .

Then arrange the numbered pages according to the chart.

Sew the seams for the first two sets of pages (section 1 on the chart).

Press the seams open.

For the raw edge finish place the wrong sides together.

And hand or machine stitch around the edges. The tab and slot edges are not raw – they are folded in and should be whip stitched closed  – just follow the directions here.

Just like last year I’m a little happy and a little sad this is over.  Daily commitment is hard but once again It was so worth it.  How about you?  Are you assembling your book? Did you have a favorite  page?  Let us know in the comments.

organizing small scraps, stitch book progress and a cardinal sew along

colorful tiny fabric scraps layered on white linen fabric

A new way of saving really tiny scraps happened by accident.  And besides storing them it can provide a bunch of inspiration for stitch book pages. Last year all the little offcuts and tiny scraps saved for the book project were in a basket and everyday I would dump it out and sort through it.

colorful tiny fabric scraps layered on white linen fabric

Lately I’ve started laying them out on a piece of white-ish linen to get a better look at them. I wasn’t thinking about design but while randomly laying them on the fabric appealing shape and color combinations turned up, little places to start.

The linen has enough texture to hold them in place (I think any fabric with some texture would work) and If you put a piece of wax paper over the linen and scraps you can roll it up and all your tiny scraps are saved for next time- easy to see and mess around with, a textile white board for experiments.

day 28 2023

We are 4 weeks into the 100 day sketchbook challenge as of today (2/17) and tomorrow completes page 6.  I’m trying something different this year and thinking about pages that will display together when the book is assembled as one composition. It’s definitely an experiment and we will see if it’s effective when the book is done.

cardinal sew-along

Use the songbird sewing pattern to make a cardinal. This is a quick, mini sew-along, it  begins now and ends on March 1st.

cardinal sewing pattern

What’s different about this sew-along: there will not be additional blog posts – the details for making the cardinal are already on the blog here plus in the other sew-along people pretty much worked at their own pace. I will be making a cardinal too and posting in the stitch club community as well as the facebook group and instagram. To participate use hashtag #cardinalsewalong on instagram, the stitch club community or in the facebook sew-along group to show us your progress. At the end of the sew-along a team of esteemed judges (really just me) will award a prize for the best cardinal. The prize will be a marvelous collection of scraps and your bird will be featured on the blog. The cardinal prize will be announced on Friday March third so please post your photo by the first of March.

And speaking of March, I’m already in full spring cleaning and organizing mode, especially in the sewing room. I haven’t seen this work surface in weeks.

Are you feeling spring cleany? How do you save your tiniest scraps? Will you join us in the cardinal sew-along?  Let us know in the comments.

7 ideas for your 100 day stitchbook (#4 is my favorite)

sewing supplies on my messy work table for day 1 - scraps and cut pages

The 100 day stitch book challenge starts today! Please be sure to read these two pages completely before you start:

1 – Before you do anything else please read this page carefully.

2 – Find the tutorial for how to cut your pages and make the book here. We don’t assemble the book until the pages are done but it’s good to know where we are headed.

And it’s not mandatory but helpful : check out this blog post.


 

That’s it! And you’ve already done the hardest part – showing up. I’m so glad you’re here and I’ve got some tips to help make this daily commitment easy and productive for you.

1. Keep your materials easily accessible. Maybe you don’t have a permanently designated stitching area or table. I like to do my sewing and painting in the same sunny spot so I put all my stitch book supplies on a big tray so it can be whisked away when it’s time to paint. And when it’s time to stitch (usually in the morning) there is no significant obstacle to starting, just grab the tray.

2. Speaking of time to stitch, doing your 15 minutes at the same time each day can have a magical effect. Even if it’s not always possible, doing it most of the time can help get your subconscious on board. For me this benefit kicks in after a few weeks.

3. Invite the universe in. Find inspiration for shapes and marks in your day. Take a walk and see what you can see through the lens of your stitch book project. Invite happenstance, grab a scrap without looking for a place to start or splatter some paint or dye or your page before you stitch and see where that leads you.

4. Have a plan for the bad days. They are inevitable. I have lots of them. Decide ahead of time on a minimally acceptable effort for yourself. And keep a collection of inspiring/favorite scraps in reserve so if you’re stuck or super stretched for time you have an easy win. Trust me, keeping the daily commitment helps create and build momentum. It is much easier to keep going than to start. It’s also helpful to have a simple to-go kit. Last year a lot of my stitching happened while traveling.

5. Get the benefit of community. It’s so helpful. There are lots of ways you can do that. Share your pages on instagram using #annwoodstitchbook , join the stitch club community (lots of day 1 pages are already posted!) or team up with friends for group stitching.

6. There are no mistakes, only information. Having a healthy (and productive) attitude towards mistakes, failures and bad days is key to creative growth. Since I was a kid my process has begun with this direction to myself “start making your mistakes”. Mistakes and missteps are full of information and signposts towards work you end up liking.

7. The blank page can be scary and paralyzing. The idea of starting without any structure can be daunting. So give yourself a little structure but still preserve the spontaneity of the process. For example, decide to use one color – maybe just shades of red. It gives you a refreshed perspective on your stash and a place to start. You can do this with shapes too – what if you were limited to just circles for one page? I promise, circles will begin to present new possibilities to you.

a textile book with a vintage floral page and an applique chandelier

We won’t assemble the book until after the 100 days of stitching but I did want to offer a possibility for an alternative way of finishing the book so you can have it in the back of your mind while you’re making your pages. I taught a stitch book class in France last summer, a sort of travel journal. The edges of the pages are left raw and showing instead of turned in. I’m leaning towards finishing my 100 day book this way. We can talk more about how to do that when it’s time to assemble.

2023 day 1

stitch collage in blue

Good luck with your 100 days of stitching! Are you ready to get started? Let us know in the comments.

onward!

ann


support the stitchbook project

Support the 100 day stitch project and the always growing free pattern and tutorial library! The response to the stitch book project in particular has been astounding and resulted in significant additional server costs (it’s all about gigabytes and bandwidth…)  Thanks so much to everybody who has already made a contribution! This would not be happening without you.

the shimmering space between

materials, fabric and fabric scraps gathered on my worktable

When I began my first 100 day stitch book last year the plan was to be purely abstract. To commit to a “yes and” improvisational process, let go of outcome, be concerned only with making marks with stitches and responding to those marks. Create for the sake of creating.

a collection of very small fabric scraps and colored thread ends in a little ceramic dish

On the first day there was a little pile of fabric scraps and a blank page. The scraps were odd and unintentional shapes – off cuts from other projects.

The vision of pure abstraction dissolved almost immediately, representation crept in, sometimes obviously (to me) and sometimes subtly. There were boats and trees and castles and mushrooms, vessels, and lots more. My first impulse was to work to banish those recognizable images. The problem was they snuck in on their own. I didn’t plan for them. And that really was the improvisational process I had committed to.

day 6 2022

So I let them come. Sometimes they took over and sometimes they shimmered in and out as I worked. The revelation was the images I ended up liking the best, the pages where I felt like I got out of my own way (the whole point of the exercise) shift between abstraction and figure.

2 slow stitched collages in a textile book

Did I make the image or did it just appear?

It’s sort of like looking at clouds. Clouds don’t try to look like anything in particular but it happens all the time, we perceive an image. There is a word for it and everything – pareidolia

“ the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. “

That was the biggest revelation and lesson of last year’s 100 days. It pointed me towards a place that feels inspiring and creative and challenging, a good place to play. The ambiguity is freeing.

Let’s talk about another word- intuition

“the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

The point of this 100 day exercise is to listen to yourself, to learn to feel for and trust your intuition. Really listening, connecting to your intuition and expressing yourself is difficult. Daily practice helps. What might 100 days of showing up and listening reveal about your own work, process, imagination?

The 100 day stitch book begins on January 20th and ends on April 29th. Find the details here.

materials, fabric and fabric scraps gathered on my worktable

I’ll close this post with your warm up assignments :

Checkout the stitch book I made last year- starting at the bottom of the post you can see each page over the five days and you can see the book assembled here.

Gather some materials and put them in a box. Label the box 100 day stitch book 2023. The hard part is over, you already started.

Will you join me for 100 days of stitching? Let us know in the comments and join us in the stitch club community.

textile book tutorial part one – organizing and assembling

*This tutorial is divided into two parts. This is part 1, part 2 is here. Please read both completely before beginning (start here with part 1).

book made form cotton and linen fabric scraps rest on a worn blue table with sewing notions and a pile of scraps

The easiest way to understand how this little textile book is constructed is to watch the video of the last step –  assembling it –  first.   After that we can talk about creating the pages etc.

Don’t see the video? – find it here.

My first two pages form the 2022 stitch book are above are above. You can check out the finished 2022 stitch book here. If you are stitching along with me this year stitch your pages before you assemble the book. I’m sharing the assembly tutorial now so you know where we are headed. Plus it’s a really cool way to make a textile book that you could use for all sorts of things.

Learn more about the stitch book project here 

To create your pages you need 20 rectangles – 7 X 5.5 inches – you can use the page template download below to make them.  Ignore the other marks on the pattern for now – just cut the rectangles. I’m using cotton and linen for the pages. Do not use heavy or thick fabric for your pages.

Stitch whatever you like on your rectangles, embroidery, collage, mess around, try stuff, meander. Leave about 1/2 inch margin all around the edge to make book assembly easy.

To make the book  you will need these  templates:

download the page template here

download the page chart here

how to assemble the book

Before assembling the book finish stitching on each of your 20 rectangles however you like – (I’m using plain fabric rectangles for the demonstration book today).

Clearly mark the  – right side –  of each of the 20 finished pages with its number using masking tape and a sharpie marker.

The book has 20 pages, including cover and back. There are five sections – each composed of 4 rectangles/pages.

3 sections have slots.

and 2 sections have tabs.

Use the page chart to layout the sections.  For example The first section (a slot section) would look like this.

Use pages 6 and 1 for the front and 2 and 5 for the back of section one.  We are looking at the right sides of the fabric.

And here it is assembled – front and back – page 5 is on the back of page 6 and page 2 is behind one. Use the chart and it all works out.

Below is section 2 – a tab section.

Lay out your 20 numbered pages in 5 sections following the chart and then use the instructions here to sew the slot and tab sections.

With all your sections sewn assemble the book.

assembling the book

Get set up by laying out out your pages just like the left hand column of the chart. Then follow along with the video at the top of this post.

PS – the designer of the slot tab method of binding books is Michael Budiansky – checkout the handmade books blog for more– it’s a cool site.

textile book tutorial part two – making the sections

*  The tutorial is divided into 2 parts. Please read both parts entirely before beginning. Seriously, it helps. Start here.

The book has 20 pages, including cover and back. There are five sections – each composed of 4 rectangles/pages.

3 sections have slots.

and 2 sections have tabs.

This tutorial demonstrates how to construct the two kinds of sections in the book – slot and tab. Before you begin to sew the sections please read this post on how to create and organize the pages.

You will need:

  • your 20 pages/rectangles
  • chopstick or similar
  • a basic sewing kit
  • embroidery thread

make a slot section

1. To make a slot page take two rectangles and lay them out with the right sides facing you.

2. Place one over the other – right sides together.

3. Draw a half inch margin down the right hand side of the top piece.

4. Clip the short lines on your page pattern. Fold the center section back.

5. Place it over the rectangles and mark the short horizontal lines.

6. Sew the half inch seam above and below those marks.

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