Category: thanks

15 years of blogging

How did 15 years happen?

I gave myself a project on 2006. And it got me moving. So many ideas that had been rolling around in my head started to appear on my work table. It felt like I swallowed a magic productivity pill but it wasn’t magic, one thing really does lead to another, if you let it.

ann wood sketchbook : perfection

The biggest lesson learned in the past 15 years for me is that done really is better than perfect. Done gets you to feedback, done gets you to the next thing and the next thing etc.. My favorite posts are all about tricking myself into doing things, fighting with the voice that says not to try. To celebrate 15 years I’ve gathered some favorites.

when it all goes wrong :  fling your soul upon the gloom

when you’re searching for ideas : 30 minute figures

when you’re really, really stuck : harnessing the power of your curiosity to get unstuck

when you just can’t get started : overcoming obstacles

dealing with distraction :  building the focus muscle


What keeps you moving? How do you get unstuck? 

Tell us in the comments and as always thanks for showing up!

ann

creatures and dolls stitched by readers

It’s hard to choose what to share here, there is so much. And one of the ideas I have swirling around for this year is making it easier for you to share images with me and with each other.  It’s ambitious but I think it would be lovely to have our own community, a place for sharing what you make and ideas. And I think it adds to the charm of the patterns – you all come up with such sweet variations and details.  Does that idea appeal to you? You can let me know in the comments and I’ll keep you posted as I explore possibilities for that.

Checkout the reader made items below and you’ll also find some instagram feeds that I think will be right up your alley.

Love the color and fabric combinations in this songbird in progress by @summerkiser

*you can click the thumbnails for larger images

4.

Elegant and sometimes nude dolls with lots of reader added details.  Made for the the elegant rag doll sewing pattern.

1. @rukodelie_vesnushki

2. and 3. @marilinalittlecraft

4. @angelamarry1

Sweet tiny rag dolls! Full outfitted for adventure. Made from the tiny rag doll pattern and some of the free miss thistle society patterns.

1. @little.village.time
2. @each.of.these

The last free project of the year was a big hit.  There are lots of little Rocky inspired owls in the world now. Made from the Owl Ornament Pattern

1. @cjasews

2. @catsinthecupboard

3. @paper_thread

Chickens! by @cote_jardin28 I love the garland! Made from the minimalist chicken pattern.

I Love this songbird’s attitude and body language. It’s got lots of birdness. Made by @erinsloanprints  from the Songbird Sewing Pattern.

So dastardly! These ill tempered owls are by @erinpcf using the Dastardly Owl Pattern.

Dear Mr. Socks! All bundled up. The sweet coat is made from this free pattern.

1. @everbelles

2. @terrywilsonnecco

There are so many great things to see. You can checkout #annwoodpattern and #missthistlesociety  on instagram for more.

And please let me know what you think about making a community here- is it redundant? Does it sound interesting to you?

owl ornament diy

And I’ve made you something!

These little owl ornaments are a perfect project for little scraps and they are quick to make. I’m making lots as gifts or to add to packaging.

They’re inspired by the little, lost Saw-whet owl who was accidentally transported to NYC with the giant tree for Rockefeller Center this year. He has since gotten some first aid and been returned to his forest.  What an ordeal for the little guy!

owl ornament sewing pattern

Let’s make little owl ornaments!

You probably already have everything you need. And they lend themselves to batch production A glue stick really helps with that – the parts are little and a glue stick is much quicker and easier than pins. You can set up a bunch of fronts so they’re all ready to stitch.  It’s easier than pins.

download the pattern

You will also need:

  • scraps – wool, cotton and linen are great
  • a basic sewing kit
  • chopstick or similar
  • gluestick
  • buttons
  • embroidery thread

1. Cut out two body pieces, two eye pieces and one head and beak and one each of the three wing pieces.

2. With the right side of the front body fabric facing you use a tiny bit of glue stick to place your pieces as shown. Leave the top wing piece off for now.

3. Use a contrasting color embroidery thread to stitch the head cover and wing pieces in place.

4. Stitch buttons to the center of the circles with embroidery thread also. Use regular sewing thread in a matching color to stitch the beak in place with tiny whip stitches around the edge.

5. Uses a contrasting embroidery thread to stitch around the eyes and add some straight stitches to his breast.

6. Create a loop of string or embroidery thread for hanging and knot the ends. Mark the 1/4 inch seam allowance on the wrong side of the back fabric.

7. Place the hanging loop on the face of the owl with the loop facing down and the tails near fabric edge.

8.  Place the back body over the front – right sides together-  pin and sew the seam leaving open along the wing side.

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the big 2019 review and what’s coming for 2020 : predictions, wishes and plans

antique japanese textiles

let’s start with what’s new

The second annual international scrap festival is in the works and it’s  expanding to an entire month. February will officially and forever be International Scrap Month. That’s one of the nice things about inventing a festival, you get to be the boss of everything and do stuff like that. If you have met me then you know I have freakishly strong hands and I like to be the boss of everything.
antique japanese textiles*The magic fabric above is courtesy of my Brooklyn neighbor Sri threads. There is more about it at the bottom of the post

Stay tuned for details, I’m gathering a bunch of cool projects for  scraps and creating a couple new tutorials for you.

And I wonder what you think of a scrap swap? Is that something you’d be interested in participating in? Tell me in the comments please. If you’re into it I’ll try to hook you up.

bat applique on a vintage linen

I’ve just added part 2 – embroidering the details to the bat appliqué – find it here.

More about what’s coming up in a minute – let’s look back

2019 went by so fast. And negativity bias is real. When I looked back my first thought was – what happened? I only made one new pdf sewing pattern and one new booklet for the shop. It seemed like an extremely unproductive year but then I scrolled through the year of blog posts and saw I published a record breaking 13 free tutorials. That was not my plan but it is what I did. Here’s the list in the order they appeared:

needle book
easy rag doll shoes
dollhouse fireplace
tiny dishes
little pants
doll bed
doll quilt
straw doll hat
bat -updated!
paper boat
penny rug
paper swan box
wax paper crystal ornaments

I’m already working on more tutorials for this year. You’ll see the first couple during the February Scrap Festival.

a couple other 2019 highlights:

*365 little paintings – I stuck to it, didn’t miss a single day. I found a rhythm and I feel like a voice is emerging. And I’ve kept going with the daily practice, still making a little painting (or drawing) everyday. I put them in the shop about every 6 weeks and there will be a new batch on Tuesday 1/21.

*And I made a  paper ship installation at the Squam Art Retreat and taught workshops in Los Angeles, New Hampshire, Vermont, France and Kentucky. Such a big year.

what’s coming in 2020

In addition to planning the second annual scrap festival January is for organizing and finishing. I get very spring cleany in January – do you? There are too many unfinished projects and too many piles of things waiting to be sorted. I’m tackling those things first.

stitching a soldier rag doll and owl

And by the time you’re reading this, I will be deeply focused on getting new sewing patterns across the finish line: the large scandalously nude rag doll, captain charmley (currently headless above) and the crow. Probably not in that order. And news is coming soon on 2020 Workshops – I’ll be in France in June and July and at Squam (spring session) in New Hampshire but those are both waitlist situations. You can join me in Vermont in March though for a super cozy workshop with French General and there will be more workshop dates for the fall very soon, I’m working out logistics now.

predictions, wishes

Looking ahead – I think and hope in 2020 we will see a resurgence of blogging. Blogging like it used to be. So many disappeared into social media. I love seeing people’s creative lives and homes. If you have a favorite blog please share it in the comments – I’d love to see. I also think smaller networks will continue to emerge – online meeting places where conversations happen and algorithms don’t choose for us.

And for me: there are all sorts of things I’d like to make this year and things I’d like to try – like printing fabric and sewing more clothes. I’ve got lots of ideas percolating and I bet you do too. My biggest wish for 2020 is margin. Putting some space between things. I’m very happy in just about everything I do as long as I don’t have to rush. I’m making a rule for myself to never rush again. I will definitely fail at this but I’m trying anyway, keeping it at the front of my mind when I’m planning things. I think it’s a discipline and will take practice. And I also believe it’s a choice.
I hope your year is full of ideas and projects and lots of time to make things.

And as always, thanks for showing up here – it makes all things possible,
ann

antique pink textiles

PS – Fabric is almost always where I start, and often fabrics that finds me. The glorious fabric at the top of the post appeared on my doorstep, a magical gift from Sri Threads. So much to think about, color combinations I would never have thought of, mending by other hands, all sorts of serendipity and  endless places to start. You can see more of it on my instagram story today and check out the Sri Threads instagram feed here – there is lots of inspiration there.

PPS – Don’t forget to tell me about the scrap swap – if it’s something you’d like to participate in please let me know in the comments and I’ll get to work on it.

dioramas at squam

diorama detail

If you visit here often you know that June was mostly a traveling and teaching month for me beginning with a diorama class at Squam. It’s a fun class to teach and I always learn a bunch too, in preparing as well as the class experience. There is always magic in that class. The magic in people who show up for it and experiment, magic in that forest, and always in that gathering.

play house gathering at squam

It continues to be one of my most favorite places.  Elizabeth Duvivier invented Squam and she invented me as a teacher.  She was willing to give it a shot so I was too. Teaching continues to change and expand me like nothing else. The students this spring experimented and stretched, were open and willing and supported each other, I loved being part of it.

charming assemblage figure

diorama detail - antique bottle with lichen

squam diorama figure

diorama detail

Gathering things for this class is an adventure and I love having permission to roam around and acquire lots of lovely old things to share. Things I feel some spirit in. And there is also so much to find in that giant oak forest.  After class I like to wander around and look for the intersection of real and make believe that intrigues me so much.

tiny rag doll in the forest

a little hand stitched toadstool in a big forest

P S – I’ll be back at Squam this fall and I’m in the planning stages for 2019 workshops now and will be headed South for the first time. I’m rolling ideas around for that – what would you like Southern friends?

an anniversary, getting deeply organized and lovely things made by customers

sewing projects made from ann wood handmade patterns

It’s March and there is so much to celebrate.  The mushroom print pattern and kit are in the shop and it is the12th anniversary of this experiment. To mark the occasion I’ve shared some lovely things made from my patterns by customers, but first I want to talk to you about storage.

My place is small and I’ve got a lot of fabric. It is mostly in one big (ikea) shelf stored in cardboard file boxes. The storage shelf had to be taken apart after the big crash and I never got it back in shape.  Besides being depressing to look at it had also become a giant time waster. I pulled it all out and thought about it. The first thing I did was toss the lids. I don’t need them and the boxes fit perfectly without them, like drawers.

ikea shelves and file boxes for fabric

Most of the labels got lost in all the moving around. I’ve tried a bunch of stuff, hang tags, clothespins, writing on the box with chalk and have not been thrilled with any of it.  I was going to use chalkboard stickers this time but remembered  something I bought years ago and never used,  little metal book plate labels from Martha Stewart.

marth steart book plate labels for my fabric boxes

They are perfect. How much joy can a fancy box label bring? So much. They are just right and  feel so official. I googled them and you can still find them in lots of places including Staples. It’s such a big improvement over the chaos I’ve been working with and looking at.

customer images

tiny rag doll

The doll above is made from the tiny rag doll pattern with wonderful added details and modifications to her wardrobe by Annette (@nessienews). I love everything about her. I want to follow her and spy on her adventures in the forest. 

One of the biggest and best decisions I made in my 12 years of experimenting here was to share patterns. It was such a leap and required and requires a giant amount of learning.  It has turned my experiment into an almost rational enterprise that continues to grow and I continue to be interested in it and happy in the process of creating the patterns and kits (there are lots more coming).  And I love seeing what you make.  I selected a few other customer images to share here and If you like you can see more and share your own on instagram using #annwoodhandmade

And you’ll  find others under: #annwood  #tinyragdoll  #mrsocks  #annwoodpatterns

stitched mushrooms

mr. socks tiny cat ragdoll

handmade goat doll

mr. socks and a little owl

little felt boat and mouse pirate

tiny rag doll

hand stitched toadstools

tiny rag doll

As always, thanks so much for showing up,
ann

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.

the somewhat weekly newsletter

5 things that are bringing me joy, boats and a goat

a boston fern and a handmade goat

5 simple things,  that made me happy this week:

sewing in bed

1. Sewing in bed. It’s become a regular thing in the morning. I sew by hand for an hour or so and drink lots of coffee.

2. Getting rid of stuff. Lightening my load.  I spent a whole day this week making space and letting go of things.  I plan to do more this weekend. The spring cleaner in me has awakened early this year.

a boston fern and a handmade goat

3. A boston fern. I’ve been walking by it in the supermarket for weeks, watching it get sadder and sadder. I could not take it anymore and shelled out the $12.99 and brought it home. I did not have high hopes for it but it has made a marvelous recovery. I love plants and I’m happy I did this fern a solid, wish I had done it sooner.

handmade goat in gingham with felt horns

stiched goat with embroidered features

 

get the goat sewing pattern

4. Finishing stuff.  All of a sudden a bunch of things I’ve been working on forever are almost done. I spent the morning (in bed) finishing this little goat, stitching sail edges and adding patches and details to owl captains.

hand stitched sails

owls made from scraps

little owl pattern

 

get the little owl sewing pattern

I’ll take the official photos of the ships with their little owl captains next week. They just need flags and wind in their sails. Do you need wind in your  sails? Check out this video – it’s super easy to do.paper mache ships with owl captains

I’ll take the official photos of the ships next week. They just need flags and wind in to their sails.

cordless iron

5. And finally this old iron. So much joy. I have never felt like this about an iron before. It has been a bad year for irons, this is my fourth and I love it. It was free, a serendipitous meeting, and I never would have chosen a cordless iron but it turns out I love the cordlessness. And it gives excellent steam and the surface of the plate is beautiful, it glides.

What little thing made you happy this week? Do you love your iron? What are you making? Do you sew in bed?

the somewhat weekly newsletter

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.


book give away : stitch illo – upper case encyclopedia of inspiration

ann wood : stitch - illo

The winner is  – number 330 – there will be an email coming your way shortly Annie L!

Janine Vangool (upper case magazine) makes beautiful things. I’m happy to be included in the latest volume of her Encyclopedia of Inspiration series – Stitch-Illo. It’s a collection of artists who tell stories through stitch work.

ann wood : stitch - illo

The stories I tell with the things I make are sometimes very direct –  like little birds who camp and put on plays.

More often I think of them as little mysteries – open ended questions – magical possibilities – ships that might float right in your window like a moth or a bit of dandelion fluff. Creatures whose expression and body language imply a history – a world of their own.

textile art owls

It’s a big book – and there is a huge variety of techniques and of the ways narratives are used by the 46 artists featured.  There are several pages devoted to each and 600 color photos, some of my favorite artists are included- like Adriana Torres.

stitch illo : adriana torres

I’m also discovering beautiful work that’s brand new to me.

stitch illo : julie van wezemael

And here’s the fun part – I have one to give away. Everybody is welcome and I’ll make it super easy – just pick a number between one and five hundred and leave it in the comments. I’ll announce a winner next Thursday.

*Update –  Comments are closed now – I’ll announce the winner (chosen by random number generation) and the winner will be announced later today.

lovely feature in Maries Ideer magazine

an wood

Welcome,  good people of Denmark!  I had an intriguing conversation with writer Katrine Sivkær Pettersen around Christmas last year  and the resulting article appears in the March / April edition of Maries Ideer Magazine. We talked a lot about creativity, imagination and papermache – 3 of my favorite subjects and there are lots of photos.

annwood : maries ideer magazine

A side benefit of photographing my place for an article is that I have to spiff it up pretty thoroughly  – nothing like a credible threat for motivation – and the resulting tidyness has  pretty much stuck.  There are a few photos from the December shoot below.

ann wood : studio

ann wood : studio

an wood

ann wood : studio

The photo above looks like I have ghosts floating around doesn’t it? I would not be surprised – or it might be a smudged  lens filter….. Probably ghosts.

annwood : maries ideer magazine

And there is a tutorial! For a little paper mache boat – just big enough for a tiny rag doll.  It’s all in Danish but each step is illustrated with a photo so I think you could accomplish it without understanding the text.  I’m not sure where it might be available in the US  – but I will inquire and update here.

spectacular cloth – 18th century textiles

vermeer yellow textiles

crimson antique textiles

Can you imagine – the hands that wove and embroidered them, the rooms they decorated and moved through?  I am mesmerized by these textiles – most from the 1700’s – the vermeer yellow velvets below are 17th or 18th century – the goldenrod piece with gold lame roses is French 19th century.

vermeer yellow textiles

 antique textiles

antique blue textiles

The colors are intense and I wish you could feel the texture – the weaves are thick and tight. I wondered if they would be sewable and they are – amazing. They came as a complete surprise –  I have remarkably good luck in the fabric department  – this was an incredibly generous gift from Trish Allen  of Trouvais  – a collector’s shop of rare and special early textiles – lovely, inspiring treasures – the antique ballet costumes – oh my.

18th century textiles

The box has been here for weeks and I take them all out and look at them almost everyday.  I only photographed a few things today – I might show you some more tomorrow – along with a new creature I’m working on. I started my first project today – a french blue songbird made from an embroidered 18th century silk.  Next will be mosquitos and I think something botanical.

And speaking of songbirds – a new crew of Fortuny birds – here they are discussing some important songbird issues.

fortuny songbirds

fortuny songbirds

advanced beginner : ten years of blogging

paper birds 2006

songbirds 20016

Ten Years!

This February marks the ten year anniversary of my blog. 10 years of trying stuff and sharing it.

Posting my efforts and experiments has made me braver and continues to help me push myself to keep moving, take chances, and get over myself. And I love having a record – evidence of small consistent effort over a long period of time, evidence of growth, a catalog of moments and sensations I would have forgotten. It is also a catalog of missteps. I looked through the entire blog over the last couple days – I never have before – and a lot of it makes me cringe. Not even just the really old stuff. There is a shocking amount of things I felt good about at the time that I see now as terribly flawed or awkward. Part of me wants to edit that all out but that is not the spirit of this effort – the spirit of this effort is reaching and sometimes reaching is flawed and awkward. In all of it that is what means the most to me – I tried stuff and I will continue to try stuff and share it. I’m deeply motivated by the idea that my best work is always ahead of me – I feel like I’ve barely gotten started.

To mark the occasion I chose a photo from each year to share in this post – some are images I loved, or times when I felt like I got somewhere new and some are just little moments I’m glad were preserved. Some of the images remind me of collaborators I was lucky to have and people who have been showing up here for the entire ten years – I am truly touched and grateful for that.

Beginning with 2006 – paper birds.

paper birds 2006

2007  –  the ginger rose

the ginger rose 2007

2008 – snapshots from Camp Wapameo for Birds

camp wapameo (for birds) 2008

2009 – diorama/illustration – theater

diorama 2009

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