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

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!


*learn about the stitch book challenge here



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.


  1. Ah Lynda Barry, I fell in love with her work when I lived in Chicago and found her cartoon in the Reader. I might have to check out tailgate book. Congrats on the day bed! I’m off to start page one, so excited to see what magic I discover.

    • Good luck with your page Heather! Lynda Barry somehow got past me until a couple years ago – such a treasure.

  2. Shortly after our puppy dog, Harmony, passed away, an owl sat on the rooftop directly across from the balcony where she loved to spend her time. We heard the owl every night for a few weeks and then only on occasion. Always dark enough, I couldn’t quite see it, but it brought me peace. Harmony was a wise, old-soul and lived only 10 months and was my stitching buddy. Owls and stitching bring me joy.

  3. I have seen several great horned owls, the best being a family of 5 owls (parents and offspring). I live in the west so they are easier to spot in solitary trees. Same with eagles, hawks, osprey, etc. I have only ever seen one Baltimore Oriole. Probably more in the east.

  4. Maaike Jansen

    I started this year. when I saw your 100 day stitchbook. I am now totaly doing the slow stitching and enjoy and relax with it. thank you for inspiring me.

  5. Karen Engelbretson

    Hi Ann, Thank you for your constant inspiration! I’m happy to hear you saw a great horned owl. My favorite sighting is shortly after my mother died and we went to our place in the woods for a picnic in the snow and a walk on the ice. As we’re leaving a great horned owl flew over and in front of the car, its wings the width of the road, until it lifted up and became part of the forest. The owls are probably just listening and watching for prey, but I like to imagine they’re so much more.

  6. Roxanne Derheim

    This will be my first time doing the book. Excited to start, try, and learn. This project, and your leadership of it, is speaking to my soul!

  7. Enjoyed reading about the things that bring you joy! Also, love your great hand lettering at the beginning. 🙂

  8. Amysue Chase

    So excited.
    The last time I saw a GHO was in Florida, at Disney-in the wild, not a zoo animal. We were walking along one of the animal trails in animal kingdom when I saw a lot of bird poop on the path in front of me (always look up into tree above because the culprit is often hanging out), looked up and there he was!! As people kept walking and looked strangely at me I spent a few happy minutes observing. A Disney zoo employee actually was dispatched to keep an eye out so humans didn’t attempt interaction.

  9. Where do I find your instructions for making the pages for the book. You gave them one time but I have misplaced them. Thank you.

  10. Day one? I must have started early, and already have seven or so pages done, or in the midst of the doing. Just what I have needed–thank you for the inspiration and company.

  11. Nancy Lallman

    The first time I saw a Great Horned Owl in our neighborhood (we’d lived here 20 yrs) was early evening of the day of my mother in law’s funeral. She loved owls and had a water color painting of a Great Horned Owl in her bathroom.
    It sat high in the neighbors pine tree, watching us sit on the deck for a long time. I knew it was her – which was so awesome.

  12. Rhoda Pollard

    Congrats on seeing the owl!! Nature is so inspirational! Started my little book. So many ideas have been running through my head, so I just looked in my desk drawer and took out the samples that I stitched in 2018 when I took the class on my machine’s feet and started there! (Yes, I still have them) So satisfying to have no specific plan or instructions! Thanks for this opportunity!

  13. Grace Lombardo

    For the past week a great horned owl has been calling from the large group of pine trees behind out house. It’s a lovely sound in our suburban neighborhood. I saw one once in the early morning during a pre sunrise run.

  14. We have a great horned owl couple who live in o broken huge willow tree by our creek…well Mom owl lives there and Dad lives in a great evergreen nearby…they call to eachother every night. Soon there will be little white faces peeking out and we eagerly wait to see them! Each year there are three babies! We love listening and watching them!

  15. I just had a dream about a great horned owl a few nights ago I was following it through the woods. I was on a little bit of a personal journey sometime last year and owls were showing up in dreams for months. This great horned owl dream sighting felt appropriate for the time I’m in now, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m hearing about your sighing as I embark on this stitch (intuition) challenge for the first time!

  16. I am starting your 100 days of slow stitching a fabric book. This is really exciting.
    I’m going to go figurative as I don’t enjoy abstract so much, but without patterns. Just drawing the shapes on my background fabric.

  17. I also get excited about planners! Is the one you use really $58? I was ready to try that one until I saw the price…

    • Right? So pricey. You can get it from Japan and the price is less but with shipping I think it works out to about the same. I balked at the price at first too but things that are with me and used everyday I want to love. The paper in this thing is delicious.

Comments are closed.