rowing out of the doldrums with a doll every day

For the next few days anyway.
Doldrums. Who ever invented the word deserves a prize. It sounds like what it is, what it feels like: a warm inertia, an unpleasant stillness, listlessness. Apparently I am not a summer person –  productivity wise anyway – I always find myself here mid July-ish.

Or maybe it’s coincidental. The mid summer almost always finds me working on larger – longer term projects – christmas – workshops for the fall etc. Projects that it can be hard to feel progress on.
And sometimes the stagnated feeling means I need a break. Not this time though – this is a restless stuckness. So I am busting out. Rowing hard until I can catch a breeze and some beautiful momentum. For the next few days I’m making – starting and finishing – a doll everyday. Experiments and some of the usual suspects like mr. socks and tiny rag doll. It’s the kind of sewing I feel like doing, the kind of thinking I’m in the mood for.

nora : hand stitched doll

elegant rag doll sewing pattern


I began today with Nora. A mysterious dark eyed girl. Im still deciding on her  degree of anatomical accuracy and outfit.  I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon and evening finishing her.

Get the elegant rag doll pattern here.

nora : hand stitched doll

Working on shorter term projects gives me a sense of forward motion and satisfaction. I can feel the shape of the day again. Hopefully I can bring some of that energy into the larger projects in a couple days.




  1. Audrey Stilling

    The doll you show looks like she could use some rowing out too. I love her face.

    • So funny – she is a little disgruntled. She doesn’t like humidity either.

  2. Nora appears to be from a murder mystery. Dark eyes…ochi chorniye. Love getting your blog posts in my inbox. Beautiful work!

    • Thanks Carlene! And ichi chorine for sure – that’s perfect.

  3. I had the word doldrums on my mind just the other day! Not so fond of summer, either. I think it’s uncomfortable for introverts. Thanks for your post- helps to know I’m not alone.

    • I think you are right – and I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this too.

  4. What a perfect way to deal with the doldrums. I understand. Midsummer kinda does it to me too.
    I just may join you with a doll a day since I do have your tiny rag doll pattern and haven’t yet finished one!

    • Oh! I hope you do. I’m having fun- and coming up with all sorts of ideas.

    • Thanks Carole. I’m all about the little shoes. Even the naked dolls get slippers.

  5. Lydia Lavoie

    Love your old fashioned simple faced dolls

    • Thanks Lydia – I like simple features – I try to make them as spare as possible. And I love the super simple faces Jess Brown uses for her rag dolls.

  6. I totally understand the doldrums, been there for quite a while, haven’t worked on anything, yet I’m restless. love your dolls

    • Oh boy – if you are restless you gotta just dive in. Commit to an hour. You will feel so much better.

    • Thanks Evelyn – I’m an expert at getting stuck so I’ve become an expert at getting unstuck too!

  7. Oh yes, the summer listlessness, I’m feeling it as well. Perhaps smaller daily projects are the answer, will give it a try, thank you. Nora is lovely!

  8. I agree that doldrums is like emotional onomatopoeia. My youngest is named Nora and she is the exact opposite of your beautiful mysterious doll, ha! She’s a grinning giggler. 🙂

    • Hi Jill – emotional onomatopoeia is perfect. I love onomatopoeias – drizzle – is one of my favorites.

  9. I can relate! I want to be creating – not wheel spinning! Maybe I need to follow your idea… There is a tiny bunny I have been thinking about!

  10. What kind of thread are you using? It looks like American Thread Company’s Kismet. Gorgeous colors.

    • Hi Monica – I don’t know – great colors though. I found a huge box of thread on the sidewalk in Brooklyn about ten years ago.

  11. Will you be conducting any doll workshops in the fall?
    I am so inspired by your work. Am attempting a ‘Improvisational Doll’ of my own based on your posts. Great fun but would love to attend a class.
    Thank you,

    • Hi Maria, – I hope so – I’d love to do a couple – one on each coast.

  12. A perfect post for a perfectly horrible season IMHO. I just moved back to the midwest after an absence of 40 years. Love the prairie; hate the summer humidity and oppressive heat. Hand sewing small things is also my consolation.

    • So funny that so many summer hating hand sewers are turning up. Maybe we should all move to Oregon.

  13. There is something about making a doll; invested with a personality and a bit of your soul. It is my favorite making, and always gives me a lift.

    Love Nora, sexy and smart like Nora Charles 🙂



  14. Theresa L. Ryan

    Side-eye Nora. She’s looking at all those summer-loving people, silently judging.

  15. Hi Ann, love getting your newsletters! I’m practicing my hand stitching by using your hexie ideas. Haven’t made dolls in years, but kinda feel one coming on!
    You’re awesome!

  16. Sand Miller

    Thank you for the free chicken pattern. So cute. I love all your emails. Thanks again. SM

  17. ‘Nette

    Hi Ann! Think the summer heat and humidity does us all in! I personally love the summer, but the last few years I really hate the heat. I totally understand your “In the mood” status…. I’ve been quite stagnant on any craft projects till just a few weeks ago… decided I was “in the mood” to do some cross stitch instead of any big sewing projects. Figured it would be nice to sit outside if possible and work on something that doesn’t take forever to finish. I have completed 2 patterns so far. Keeps my hands busy and my mind focused on something other than the virus. Love your Lady Doll Nora, her hair is FAB!!! Look forward to your emails and what you are creating. Have a Safe and MARVELOUS DAY!❤️

  18. Deb Schieve

    I am a summer lover, can’t get enough of the heat and humidity. Dreading the chill of fall and winter. But I still have doldrums with sadness about the world. Thanks for your lovely posts.

Comments are closed.