extreme mending, sledding lambs and the 100 day project

patched and mended sleeves

Extreme mending, that’s what happens when you can’t let go. I can’t let go of this giant flannel shirt. I got it for a quarter at the Herkimer NY Goodwill in 2010. I started mending it a couple years ago, mostly just worn edges. Last winter it had some major sleeve blowouts and other serious issues. It was barely a shirt anymore but I remain too attached to part with it. I spent my 3 hour train ride to Vermont (more on that in a minute) stabilizing it. And now I’m plugging leaks. Besides my ridiculous attachment to it I like the process of this kind of meandering mending. And I like the result, the unexpected layers and combinations that turn up.

I’m mending my linen smock too where I have worn it thin, keeping it mostly pale. I’ll never part with it either and it will eventually be all patches. I’m good with that.

pale patches on a linen smock

100 days of creativity

The Hundred Day Project starts on Tuesday April 2. It’s a free art project that takes place online. Every spring, people all around the world commit to 100 days of creativity. Are you participating? I sort of am. I do a little painting or drawing everyday anyway so I think that counts. All you need to do is commit to a project (big or small or very small) and tag your instagram posts with #The100DayProject. You can do anything, You could mend something if you like.

This blog started with a similar experiment. It was a little different, I committed to making 100 cardboard horses. I made one Monday through Friday and gave myself the weekend off.  Much like my daily practice now, somedays I loved it and some days I most certainly did not. But I know now I need it.

If you decide to participate I can offer you some of what I’ve learned:

* Be realistic about time. The amount of time you commit can be very small and still have lots of benefits.

* Have a plan for the bad days, a minimal but acceptable effort. And accept the bad days. Everybody will have lots of them. I have some very bad days and post some real stinkers.

* It’s helpful to do it around the same time everyday. Your subconscious gets on board after a while and shows up with ideas.

* Think of it as an opportunity to listen to yourself and maybe get glimpses into your singular and powerful imagination that you would not otherwise get. Plus new instagram friends.

And if you feel like making your daily art a cardboard horse feel free – there is a whole tutorial here. And as an added bonus when you’re done you have a stampede.

Back to Vermont.

I took the train up to Warm Brook Barn in Vermont to teach at their Maple Harvest retreat with French General. The group was lovely and intensely creative. We made silk necklaces, talismans, beeswax candles, wax seals and lambs in pants. There was a beautiful snowstorm of almost exactly the right duration and intensity and It was all generally a blast. And I loved exploring all the fabulous details of the old houses.

fabulous dresser at warmbook barn

PS- If you’d like to make a little sled it’s super easy – I found a tutorial here.

And PPS – A rare occurrence – I’m usually like a ninja, a lamb in pants making stealthy ninja. I was captured in the wild in Vermont, caught in the act, sneaking up on a sledding lamb in pants for a photo.

caught in the act


  1. Kim Shepherd

    The lamb in pants looks like he’s loving every minute on his sled ❤️

  2. I love seeing a middle aged lamb in pants woman in the snow. It makes me feel almost normal. I also love seeing what you wear because you seems to have a great style.

  3. Ann, I love your style so much! A couple years ago all three of my kids were home for a snow day and we all made some of your fabulous painted horses. They all hang in a herd behind my long arm and are one of the first pieces of art folks see when they come to my studio. Thank you for that memory and thank you for sharing.

  4. Laurel Deville

    One day towards the end of January I learned how to make an origami star. The following day I thought I’d see if I could remember how to do it without looking, I did it and a little voice in my head said “why not make one every day for a year?” so I am. No idea what I’m going to do with 365 paper stars but I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

    • Tara Challman

      I saw a Christmas tree with hundreds of little handmade white paper stars, and white lights, one time. I thought it was the most beautiful tree 🙂

  5. I have a shirt I Shibboried dyed about 10 plus years ago that I can’t let go off and have been mending with colorful patches. So I related to your 25 cent shirt that you keep mending. Something are just worth keeping.

  6. Rosemary B

    Oh Ann…. Firstly, I love the photos with you in them. You are beautiful.
    I feel like we could be kindred spirits. I have a few pair of jeans, and also some white levi’s that I mend and hold together. I can not wear them to some places. I do patch the white ones in various white fabrics, pretty ones only, and once I did accidentally wear them to my dad’s retirement palace, Ashby Ponds.
    I love card board. Sometimes I write my email address and phone number on pieces of cardboard (for example, 3M had a huge sectioned box) at Target and they call me when they are ready to toss the display. Right now, that one sits in the family room and serves as a “doll house” for the stuffed bunnies and the grand daughters (x4) fluffy visitors. Hubbs loves playing house with the grand girls too.
    Life changes all around us because it must. We still hold tightly to the things that make us ourselves. I am 64, my daddy is 95, funny, he says I have never changed. At present I am a quilt making maniac, but I did take about 12 years of figure skating in my 40’s – to heal from the loss of my oldest sister (smoking). I hope you have a happy wonderful week-end. Thank you so much for sharing your horses pattern. I will print it and save it for my growing brilliant grand girlies.

  7. Catherine Wood Flavin

    The shirt reminds me of the pants that you had when you were little. Started off as jeans, transitioned to shorts and then patchwork shorts with a hint of denim. I believe the final disposition was a shoulder bag.

    The lamb is amazing! I hope that you saved some horses for my museum

    • Ha! You are so right. I loved those. Becky did most of the patching, remember the calico flowers? And it did end up as a bag. I do indeed have some horses from the original 100 saved for you.

  8. Maureen Willetts

    Fantastic, really enjoy reading your emails. Very inspiring and would you believe….I’ve started making up Christmas presents already, not going to be caught out this year. Also love your patching up, something I enjoy too, and funny enough so do the grandchildren like me patching their stuff too. I’ve made a few of your needle cases, if I pass them on to the girls maybe they will do their own mending now. You never know!
    Thank you and hope you carry on for ever.

  9. I always love your work, the sledding lamb is too adorable! On the topic of ‘extreme mending’ – I have a long white Lord & Taylor nightgown that is heavenly to sleep in on hot summer nights in Texas. I bought it a thrift shop for maybe $1. It started getting holes in it a few years ago but I couldn’t bear to let it go. I’ve been patching it with little pieces of vintage hankies (that are a similar weight fabric). It may also end up being all patches, but I’ll keep the L&T label 🙂 Happy April!

  10. I love all your work, and look forward to the newsletter dropping into my inbox. I have joined the 100 Day project (sketching and stitching), but can’t upload images on my Instagram account – as I use my laptop, and it won’t let me (the photos on there were uploaded by my daughter, but she’s a busy mum of 3 – I can’t expect her to upload on a daily basis). I’m uploading on my personal page on Facebook, and have applied to join the group. I’m also part of the Stop & Sketch project (three of us running it), which was inspired by the Brooklyn Arts Library – and the project will be exhibited during The Abergavenny Arts Festival in June. Thank you for posting about the 100 day project. The two will work well together – I hope! Happy stitching and sketching! Your posts are pure inspiration. 🙂

  11. Six months ago I planned to give myself more time for craft. The plan was to finish patchworks, master papier mâché and make your boats. Three writing projects then came out of nowhere (just like red London Buses). Making had to be put on hold and instead I read your website, all the posts, starting at the beginning. It was fun, fascinating and immensely encouraging – thank you. The Hundred Day Project has come at just the right moment; I’m going to make 100 boats and end up with a fleet. There, I’ve said it. I don’t do Instagram (my phone is probably worth money as an archaeological specimen) so I’m going to post each day on my website (there, I’ve said that too). Thank you for sharing your very wonderful and inspiring life.

  12. I’m very bad at challenges…I’ve tried inktober and huevember and failed at both. Also, I don’t find them very fun or useful in my case, as I create every day anyway! But I can see how for some people can be very inspiring.
    Your shirt will be evolving and will be different at every new mend and in the end it will be like a totally new shirt!

  13. oh my, how i love seeing the linen smock be patched! i can’t wait until it’s all patches… i need to start wearing mine every day so they get some holes!

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