so long 2017, mending sleeves and bold moves

ann wood : mending

Everything feels slow and still and there is lots to think about so I am mending. I love to mend, I love the thrift and economy and the meandering pace of it. I love how it looks and what it means, these are badges that tell you something about me.

ann wood : mending

contemporary holly hobby

While I patch my sleeves and collars and knees I’m thinking about the year past and my plans for the next. I’ve got big scary plans and I’ll tell you about them in a minute.  First I want to tell you a painful lesson I learned about attention.

A few years ago I sort of learned to ride a motorcycle.  Slow in the driveway. I was bad at it.  The most serious problem I had was driving into things: trees, houses, people etc. I googled the problem and found an answer, the fix was remarkably simple and easy:

To not look where I did not want to go.

I was so afraid of driving into the tree, the person, the house etc. that I focused on them and they pulled me like a magnet.  The result was awkward and painful. When I only looked where I wanted to go it was like magic.

Starting now I’m keeping my big plans in front of me. Looking where I want to go. Making myself focus on the big scary things I want to accomplish in 2018.  Everyday.  Keeping the big stuff in front and working backwards from there. The little stuff will align because it must.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s next.  Feeling around for it for a while.  This will be a year of change for me.  I want it to be and I want to make sure my plans don’t evaporate in distractions and busyness.  I’m going to give myself very clear, consistent and simple messages about what is important:

write the book

paint the paintings

move north

Pick yours and we will talk more about it next week.

I’ll leave you with one success and one failure from 2017.  First the success. The most popular pattern this year was the tiny rag doll and that is a happy and unexpected thing.  I love the idea of lots and lots these tiny bundled up ladies in the world.

tiny rag dolls

The failure was falling out of my sketchbook habit mid year.  I miss it and feel the lack of it in all my work.  I’ll resume my small, daily squares this  Sunday.

Thanks for showing up and I wish you a beautiful new year,


  1. Thanks for the post! I also shall try and focus on the big goal!

  2. How I love your posts, every line of them… every time. Even if I didn’t write it here before, staying silent, impressed, delighted, amused, touched. Wishing a bright new year from Quebec(Canada), a wonderful year, no matter which scary changes to come you have on your mind.
    By the way, I have a pile of clothes waiting… It’ll we a mending evening. 🙂

  3. Dear Anne,
    Move north, it’s your destiny. To me, it seems a perfect fit for you. Your future will be lovely. Wishing you blessings and good heath.
    Christine Bopp

  4. I’m darning socks 🙂 but there’s mending to do over the weekend. Reading this post makes me feel so content, simpatico ❤
    I love your rag dolls and am hoping this year gives you many opportunities to sketch, and that you won’t feel bad on days that you don’t. Sometimes a full stop from even our most wonderful practices can feed our creativity. Mahalo nui for all the beauty you’ve shared this year. It has been a joy to my soul.

  5. Such sweet little rag dolls…it’s a pleasant thought indeed to think of these little figures scattered across the continents…

    Embroidering, creating allows me time to reflect and weigh and find myself each day…I hope to get my (first) book published this year, though in my heart the chances are slim…

    No matter! I write what I love…and I love what I write, regardless what the world may think. Happy New Year and new beginnings, Ann!

  6. “When I only looked where I wanted to go it was like magic..”

    Lovely and to the point. I will put this quote up in my studio.
    I just received “Stichillo” for xmas and loved finding your work there. I took your class in Owl Making at the Sweet Paul NYC Event. (which was pretty fabulous) – Now that I see your more feathery ones, with legs! I May have to update mine!

    My Best, Melissa

  7. Ann…..I am one of the many who made tiny rag dolls so popular. She was hard to resist. With your lovely patterns, you have brought me back to the joys of simple hand stitching. I didn’t even know I missed it until I started tiny rag doll. Thanks so much for your lovely inspiring posts which are like little email presents. Happy New Year to you and all the best in the coming year!

  8. Catherine Wood Flavin

    Mending? I could use some direction with that. I have a pair of jeans that I love, however, they are ripped in some really bad places. Love the tree!! Moving north?! The suite will be ready, one day. My wish for 2018 is a roof.

  9. Ann Donnell

    I have enjoyed so much being a voyeur of sorts into your world. You have inspired and delighted me and my little part of the universe. I have been challenged by you whether you meant to or not. I thank you.
    This year has been one of many lessons, most not easy but all necessary. Thank you for the lessons 2017 now move along. This great universe is so vast with a kazillion different people with a kazillion different talents and I wanted to make sure you knew that I appreciate your sharing of your gifts. It has helped so much. May you soar where you aim and rest when you need to reflect in 2018. Ann in California

  10. Shell Kennedy

    ~ Hello Ann, I have read your blog for eons, …and perhaps have not posted much to let you know how much its all meant to me. A LOT. ~ I LOVE it all. The art, the sewing, the characters, the paintings, the photos , and the soup recipes !! ~ Its all been filling my bucket of reading about the creative process. * I was so HAPPY that you were a teacher at SQUAM. I wished to go, but it wasn’t in my cards as yet. * I like your focus ideas in this post & … “What if I could do anything?” * I’m excited about your “move north” b/c I have Maine as my dream, to live by the sea, which requires a giant leap of faith & financial success & pixie dust !! ~ also, I loVe your “write the book” b/c I have a zillion children’s books just waiting patiently tapping their toes, for me to get organized. I’ve had health cancer issues, which have slogged me down, … but if not NOW for change, … WHEN? as far as getting to Maine. ~ I’ve enjoyed your writing immensely, … your honesty about the creative process. I LOVE the tiny rag doll & the little sheep dolls. I like the story of how you had left the tiny satchel & went back & found it !! That made my day !! ~ All the best to you. Shell ~

  11. Hi Ann, I’d like to hear more about your plans to move north. I’m headed north as well, to VT where I can be away from the city life. I recently made the tiny sailboats from your free patern, thank you for sharing it.

  12. I found your blog this year, Ann! And have loved every moment of wandering through the posts, snagging patterns, heading to my studio totally inspired. I, too, am closing out a wonderful year and creating 2018. Can’t wait to watch how yours unfolds!
    Happy New Year, Everyone!

  13. Hello from ”above the arctic circle”…maybe you did not mean quite this north, but it is lovely up here even with only couple of hours daylight during this time of year. I love your work, your blog. Thank you for writing. All the best to your goals, to your destination.

  14. Simone de Klerk

    Beautiful and touching read! Lots to learn from. And a reminder for my own goals I want to set and hold on to.
    Gelukkig nieuwjaar en de beste focused wensen voor 2018!

  15. Ann, thank you for this wonderful post, and all of your wonderful posts – in my crowded inbox with countless thousands of unread emails I always open yours – they make my heart smile – thank you.

    Happy 2018 from England, I look forward to reading your next thoughts a very great deal.

    Happy new year also to all of your readers that see this comment – kindred souls in a big challenging world…

    Kind wishes

    Claire x

  16. stacey vadaj

    the patches are beautiful, i look forward to the book and where north are you thinking of moving? my husband and i are looking to move somewhere around lake george or into vermont once we both retire (we’re in ohio now).

  17. Diva Odete Kreszl

    I absolutely love the patches and mending, slow stitching is such a meditative practice with beautiful results! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I too am being pulled into a year of big changes and instead of focusing on where I don’t want to go I shall follow your advice and aim towards my dreams! Happy New Year!!!

  18. A happy new year to you.
    You said it correctly, that busy-ness can get in the way and “derail” many a good plan. As the last year truly got the better of me, I vow to make myself less busy this year. For me creativity can not thrive in chaos. ~ A book is also on my list this year (or at least to get one started – there – I said it our loud, step one) ~ I also wrote my “winter version of ” What if I could do anything “. – Thank you for that.
    Wishing you . . . all dreams come true.

  19. Anne Marie Kristensen

    Hello- writing from Denmark.
    I love to read your blogposts, always full of funny things, lovely things an so on.
    I especially love your ships. They are so beautiful. I bought your patterns and made ships!! And then I made my own model, inspired by yours and now I make them in felt. I am a feltmaker, so therefore…felt.I actually made your big ship in felt. I wish you a happy new year and hopefully all your plans will come true.Anne Marie

  20. kat scanlan

    I so love the metaphor! Unbeknownst to even myself, I think this is what I have started doing. Now that you’ve defined it for me, I will continue. It’s the best approach I’ve had spelled out for me in some time. And I also plan to mend – I love the look and I love the love that goes into a favorite item – it takes on a life of its own, it holds you, it comforts you. Blessings for the New Year and your plans and navigation. x

  21. Love the mending and patching. I want that very outfit!! Thank you for being you. Happy 2018

  22. Maureen Willetts

    A very happy new year to you and enjoy whatever you do.
    Thank you for everything, you’ve kept me busy…….made 20 woebegone pines, so far 2 tiny rag dolls and one or two boats and many things inspired by you.
    Please keep it coming. God Bless. Maureen

  23. Dear Ann, I am always excited to read your blog posts and adore everything you do. I’ve been busy making a tiny doll and Mr Socks from your wonderful kits. I must say your patterns are marvellous, I am a relative beginner and am always pleased with the results.
    Wishing you all the best for the New Year, you are a real inspiration to me!
    Marilyn from the UK xx

  24. Thank you so much for all your posts, sharing your life goals and making us want to create! I’ve followed you for ages, never tire of hearing what’s on your worktable or who you have found on the web.
    I explained to my husband the other morning, while drinking tea in bed, that my metaphor for a new direction in life is to think of of life as a huge ship, turning slowly, in full sail- everything has to be in place to reach the destination – the crew, the ropes, the captain all have different roles, but slowly, slowly the ship turns. We went on a ship together (The Mercedes) and there is nothing quite like the feeling of the power of the wind in the sails. I hope your journey is calm and your metaphorical ship takes you to that final destination safely in 2018.

  25. Liz Van Buren

    Don’t change too much, Ann! Love you the way you are. My fav was Mr. Socks! I personally will not miss 2017 – such an awful year in so many ways and full of losses for me. On to 2018 and new possibilities! I enjoy your posts so much! xo from Oregon

  26. Crescent Rodgers

    Thank you for sharing you bike tips, they are so appropriate for those of us )me( who seem to find all the obstcles and just keep running into them! please note my parenthesis being backwards as an example of this- I probably should go back and correct that, but they so clearly show how my fingers/thumbs don’t always line up with my brain. Have a wonderful year /¡prospero nuevo año!

  27. Jackie Koreen

    What a help you are. I need to go help with my mom who will soon be 95 and lives near Kansas City. I’ve lived in Arizona since my son’s death 6 years ago, helping my daughter come back from wanting to die , after her brother did. Love the warmth, the sun, my job… But I need to help mom. Broke my hand, had a stroke (thank God for TPA) which put off the move, one more doctor to help with other leg, then I move back to the oppressive cold, dark, humidity in summer… But it will work out! You helped me today-a former doll maker with Virginia Robertson Osage County Quilt Factory (years ago)Thank you Jackie

  28. Barb Brandt

    I am so pleased to have “found” you and your charming creations. I enjoy the glimpses into your thoughtful, creative life and appreciate your sharing of them.

  29. You are always an inspiration! I had a lot of time off between Christmas and New Years and thought that would mean I had time to sit with my journal and plan…dream…make “resolutions”…Ha! That did NOT happen. Somehow I wound up finishing Christmas gifts (our family gathering was late, so I had time) and a bit of functional sewing…and I didn’t get to the plans and dreams stage! I love your list – how far north? And how long has that been in your mind? Because it sounds like the disaster of the ceiling may have been the push to move that up the list? As retirement looms on my horizon (still some years ahead, but in this decade) I’ve been honing in on what is important to me too – I’ve done more artwork this year but dropped behind on stitchery – somehow I want to do both! And a book? Yes, children’s stories are floating in my mind, waiting…also the illustrations. My problem is always discipline – to keep going, to do a little each day, to stay at a project and not get sidetracked by a book or a TV show or whatever. Thanks for the reminder that it is important to keep the goal in mind!! and that I’m not alone in this 🙂 And a very happy new year to you – it will be exciting to see how your dreams come true!

  30. Titi Walter


    A very happy New Year to you! Your work is such a source of inspiration, art and love for so many women around the world! I was delighted when you released the boat patterns.I didn’t make mine yet, but I surely will in 2018! Love from Titi – Brazil

  31. YES MOVE NORTH! about 100 miles or so… let me know if i can help in any way! come stay here and explore Ulster County! i know a great realtor…

  32. This is wonderful. I can tell you, I am mightily excited by the first thing on your list. I will pre-order the instant it is possible. Keep on keeping on. xoxo

  33. You have been instrumental in re-focusing my attentions. Thank you for that.
    Your passage about mending rang true and dear to me. My Mama was a fierce mender! My father loved telling the story of when I was born. In 1961 fathers waited in the waiting room. While he waited, a nurse noticed his flannel shirt had been patched. She told him “someone must love you an awful lot”.
    It was that same nurse that introduced us hours later.
    He told my Ma that she was right.
    We were all loved. You can tell by the patches. <3

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