the creative sprint : progress on the naked rag doll pattern

snow day in brooklyn

I had such a nice day today. And I wasn’t planning on it, I was planning on having a lousy day. The snow helped – it’s the delightful kind, mostly because there hasn’t been much of it this year and I don’t have to go anywhere or shovel it. I didn’t have any spectacular reason for a lousy day – just frustrated with my pace. Feeling a little stuck on a couple projects.

I am determined to increase productivity this year – in part by being very clear with myself on what that is. It is not busyness, it is not planning, it is not “research” (AKA the internet), it is not perfecting, it is getting things across the finish line: publishing, shipping, completing.  All those other things are sneaky – and they trick me into feeling productive when I’m really not.  To break the inertia I applied a tried and true method – making a big, messy sprint towards the finish line. Deciding, just for today, to pick up the pace – bypass the over thinker within and make stuff. Jump right over details I’m struggling with and surge ahead. Try stuff.  In the simplest and I think most accurate terms:

Going forward instead of in circles.

prototyping the naked doll

I’m very prone to getting stuck in sewing pattern prototype creation – it’s so different from making a one- off. The rule for the day was – I’m not going to re-draw her face endlessly anymore – making minute adjustments to scale etc. I’m going to pick one and go with it.  I’m not going to try another different hair style or silhouette. I’m going to make a doll.

rag doll progress

naked rag doll pattern progress

Because I’m still who I am I can review, revise and refine tomorrow after a full day of rapid prototyping. It always works – the faster physical pace helps shift energy and lifts some brain fog. I can always make a much more reasonable and clear assessment at the end of a sprint day. The “experimental phase” of a project can be a dangerously sticky place – it almost always is for me.

If there is something you’re stuck on, if you are lingering in thinking about possibilities give it a try – for a day or even for an hour – the very least you will get is new information.


  1. Peggy Flynn

    brilliant , I totally get what you are saying,and good for you for sharing.We can get so stuck in the “maybe” phase, but the doing brings the flow.
    Constantly inspired by you!

  2. Tara Challman

    I have the same “stuck” place. I try to re-invent everything, constantly… when I should just get to work and get something done.
    I am glad that you got through your snow day. Your doll is wonderful! (she may need a shawl if you put her next to the window 😉 she might get a bit chilly!)

  3. I understand the wheel spin of over-thinking; and spending WAY too much time ‘researching’ on the internet. Sitting down with my hooks and yarn and just making is much more satisfying, and productive!

    The doll on your work table is luminously lovely…sew on!



  4. Judy Carlson

    Oh yes… over thinking. Maybe this, maybe that or hmmm? So I set it aside and start working on something else until I figure it out. Another UFO. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. “Just get it done.” Very helpful!

  5. Sonia simpson

    Oh my I know exactly what you mean my degree tutor called it being too precious
    In life drawing class we had to screw up our paper stamp on it a bit then start drawing!
    I also get the distraction part if I put as many hours into research as creating I’d be living under a ton of dolls
    I think working organically and just doing it is a great idea. We are creative we can solve any problems along the way and we can always refine if necessary. Another thought while reading your post about the faces. You are creating the perfect face for your ascetics and others might prefer a face that you don’t think is absolutely perfect. Although I think perfection is something we never really achieve do we!

  6. Dear Ann, I have a question. I’m at the very beginning, I wanna make my first bird and I have, maybe a very stupid, question – how do you add legs to a bird’s body? I know how to make them, but I have no idea how to attach them to the body. If you can help me – I’m waiting for your answer!

    With love, Meg

    • Hi Meg,

      For the little birds I poke a tiny hole with an exact knife – put a little glue on the leg and stick it in – and – since I cover the legs with glitter I add a little glitter around the edge. The whole process is illustrated in excruciating detail in the little bird sewing pattern. Good luck with your bird!

  7. Sage advice indeed. When I am undecided on a small detail or just where to go next, I often just stop to think, and more often than not, never go back to finish. I have just recently learned to forge ahead and just finish something remembering that it is not the last one I will ever make. On another note, you have a lovely home. It looks most comfortable, in a warm and inviting sort of “sit here” kind of way.

    • Hi Scotti – I relate to the need to remind oneself it is not the one and only. And thank you – it is a cozy place to sew.

  8. Hazel Vicary

    What good advice – I tend to think things into complete oblivion and then sit feeling awash with discontent, yet when I just get on with it, it usually works – more or less . I know this and still fall into the same old trap. Anyway, you sound like you are feeling better after your winter ailment, I do hope so….

    • Hi Hazel – thank you – I am feeling much better after weeks of being sick. And you’re right – it is a trap- a hazard that’s always there that we are never done dealing with.

  9. We just discovered your work online, via Pinterest, and it got us over to your website and blog.
    Just wanted to say we love what you are doing and how beautifully you are sharing what you do with others.
    Thank you for being you.

  10. Great post, I couldn’t agree more. However following such a mantra is a different thing! I feel like I’m in Groundhog Day; sitting thinking, procrastinating and then feeling guilty and annoyed that I haven’t achieved or created anything. I must grab your advice with both hands and move forward. Thank you x

    • Hi Toosh – true – it’s the doing that’s the hard part – I’ll post a little follow up on the blog tonight on a couple things I’ve had good luck with.

  11. Dear Ann:

    As with any creative endeavor, taking that first step is always the most difficult part.

    As a dear friend, mentor and teacher was fond of saying, “you don’t need to know everything before you get started, you just need to start!”

    Best advice I’ve ever gotten.

  12. Dear Ann,

    I have enjoyed following your creations since my family purchased Claude in 2007. Since then they have purchased for me Rodrigo, Skipper, Queenie, a green imperial spider, and my latest. Sveen, the mosquito.

    My daughter and son-in-law made me a boat for Mother’s Day shortly after they purchased Claude. I would like to send you pictures but not sure how to do so. They were both grad students and money was tight.

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