when life gives you lemons make tiny needle books and herb markers

a very small cotton needlebook with a haret in the center - there is a needle with green thread in it wrapped in a criss cross fashion

And also maybe a sad bulb… 

let’s start with the needle book

It’s super small, just 2 and ½ by 3 inches. And it’s made with template C and the heart from the free needle book tutorial. A couple details are different from the pattern:

  1. I added a layer of cotton batting in the heart and rectangle.
  1. Instead of the loop closure  I used a string with fringed ends. It’s tied around the button and long on one end for wrapping. 

It was fun to make and the size is sweet but most importantly it helped me bust out of inertia. 

Usually, in the early summer, I take a little  time off to travel or just mess around in the garden and swim. This year, instead of that, I got super sick and did a lot of tedious website maintenance work…  Finding my energy and focus on the other side of that and getting back into a working/creative rhythm has been tough. I’ve been firmly stuck in the doldrums, not even a whisper of a breeze to push me out.

a mini cloth gook fastened with a red string

 In a doldrum emergency like this the question to ask myself is : what would I be willing to do. Not what should I do, but what might I possibly, actually, maybe be able to get myself to do.  For me the answer was a tiny needle book. And twig herb markers.

 If you don’t see the video click here.

The little book would make a great gift and I might make a couple for the shop (I’m still in a tiny needle book making place). You can check out the book in the video above. The thread wrapped needle detail is a simple thing that makes it feel extra special.

making stick herb markers

Every year I mean to make them and don’t. They’re super quick and easy, just twigs with the bark shaved off and a fine sharpie. Mine are kind of a mess but that’s in keeping with the current theme here. I love them.  

The tiny projects did the trick, somewhere between the needle book and the twig markers  there was a glimmer of motivation and momentum. The wheels are turning again and I’m nurturing that precious momentum

blulb stitched form cotton with a green sprout and sad stitched face

Let’s talk about this guy. He was a bonus project for the zoom botanical class.  I’m considering a sewing pattern or mini class for him.  

How is your summer? Have you hit the doldrums? What’s on your worktable? Do you need a sad bulb in your life? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Lynn Nudd

    Good to have you back, Ann! Really been missing your letters. Hope you’re back in full good health and the creative juices are really flowing. And yes, I really do need a sad bulb!
    All good wishes from Shropshire, England.

    • Rosalind Healy

      Ooo hello. I’m in Shropshire too. Love Ann and all she makes. X

  2. Your newsletters are always a bliss and a breeze to keep navigating through the doldrums. Thank you for all the inspiration!! Would love a sad bulb pattern/tutorial❤️

  3. I’m sorry that you have been sick. Glad you are finding your way back to yourself. I get stuck every so often and it is discouraging. I was so looking forward to having some free time to be creative when school finally ended (I’m a teacher) but the day after school got out last month my husband had a heart attack. He is doing better now but was home for several weeks and my days were full of his recovery. I’m so wanting to get back to working with my hands but also need a nudge! A sad bulb would be great! I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.

  4. Lori Brechlin

    Always enjoy your postings! A few minor bumps but no full-blown doldrums to speak about 🙂
    {that little needlebook is precious, as is sad bulb!}
    Blessed be,

  5. Asking the right question is the key to busting out! You did it! Love the little needle book. It’s exactly all it needs to be. And the herb markers are, too. Thank you. Happy momentum!

    • Thanks Jana! You’re so right, it’s all about the question!

  6. Oh Ann, I love your honesty and your little projects. Doldrums here, too. I work many hours in the garden, always therapeutic and satisfying, but I don’t seem to have the creative juices or discipline to do much of anything else. So glad you’re feeling better. xoxox

  7. Bay Le Sage

    Hi Ann,
    So glad to hear that you’re feeling better. I too have been really ill. I’m just getting back to the 100 day stitch book. What a blessing that project had been to my state of mind! I’m teaching a friend to stitch and the tiny needle book will be a perfect first project. Thank you

    • Yes, pretty please, it’s super cute… <3
      I also like the needle book, I might give it a try. 🙂

  8. I just love the needle book-I need to remind myself often that when I am feeling in a slump with my creative work it’s alright to just do something easy or something I want to do. It’s that balance that can be hard to come by. So happy you found your way with your needle book which is lovely. I love the herb markers as well and just may need some for my garden.

  9. Jill R Ruskamp

    Oh the little sad bulb just pulls at your heart! I need just the opposite, a happy bulb to keep me from feeling that way,ha! I’m so sorry you have been sick. I hope your momentum builds!!

  10. Bay Le Sage

    And yes, I do need a sad little bulb in my life, please!

  11. So sorry to hear you were sick, here I was thinking you were off having a fun Summer. I have been wavering between the doldrums and lack of inertia for a few weeks now. I had been riding the wave after the 100 day book, really digging into the daily practice. But I have also been sick and getting back to it can be a challenge. Thanks for sharing Jude Hill with us. Funny, I use your blog for that same kind of grounding and focus. It’s good to have an arsenal of inspiration though, she’s a fantastic addition. I’m pulling myself out with hexies and an assignment in the form of a group project. The overwhelm and the knowledge that I will never get all the ideas out of my head and into the world can be stifling. Thanks for all you do.

  12. So happy to have your post arrive in my inbox!
    I can imagine about 5 of those sweet sad bulbs in a dish on the counter, with one of them smiling!
    Excited to get a pattern etc.
    Hugs from Eugene, Oregon USA!

  13. Ah … every early spring I am in the doldrums and usually surface once everything greens up. This year I am struggling to escape. It has been months since I made anything. What am I willing to do might be a wise question to ask myself. I may find a breeze to refill my sails. Thank you.

  14. Deb Hatfield

    Sorry to hear you have been poorly Ann. Tiny steps are the steps that count when you feel stuck so well done! The sticks are great and I am deffo going to give them a go! I am gardening, decorating, working full time so have some crotchet on the go. Stay strong – All will be well x

  15. June Winters

    Glad you are feeling better Ann. Love your projects so much! I have my 100 day Stitch book in the Livingroom bookshelf and it’s lovely to see. Have your mushroom pattern which I want to do after I finish my “Book of homes”. Think of how many types of homes there are; will make a good book I think. Tall homes, tree homes, cottages, caves, bird houses and nests too. You inspire my creativity and for that I thank you!

  16. Pat Roeder

    Sorry you have been ill, but glad you’re feeling better. I’ve been having a challenging several months and couldn’t seem to accomplish anything, but now working on your mushrooms! I’m now officially hooked on them. Trying wool felt next. Keep feeling stronger so you can keep inspiring us!

  17. nancy cloos babin

    Ann: i hate to think of you being that sick and then weak in min d and body following. you bring so much joy to my life. i am hoping you will continue to fell better until you are back to your normal self. love from here, nancy cloos babin Woods Hole, MA

  18. Judy Klem

    I love the question “What am I willing to do?”. It’s a perfect way to begin moving when it’s dark and gloomy inside one’s head. Especially if the physical body is worn out too. Know that all of your fans and followers are sending positive vibes and love.
    The needle book and garden markers are wonderful. I’m basting hexies again. They are so doable and portable so I can get some sun shine. Hang in there Sweetie! All shall be well

  19. I think I identify a little too closely to the sad bulb; it has been a tough go for so many this season. It’s good to know you are feeling better and finding inspiration in small ways. Asking “What am I willing to do?” offers a gentle approach to doing. Thank you for sharing. Oh, and yes, I would love a sad bulb pattern!

  20. What a sweet little bulb! He definitely needs my company nestled along side my work. We will smile at each other and find comfort. Thank you Ann for your inspirations and look forward to many more HAPPY PROJECTS!

  21. Mary Park

    So glad you are on the mend, sometimes when you have a hard time getting your physical energy back, it’s the same with your creative energy, the little needle book is a great start, absolutely beautiful, glad you are feeling better

  22. Oh, sad/tired bulb guy, I feel you!
    Glad you’re on the mend!

  23. I am so happy for you to have found your way out of your doldrums. I myself have had a bit of a creative block and would rather work on weeding the garden and flowerbeds then sew. (Which is very unlike me). I finally have gotten back into my stitch work with a few small American flag ornies that look adorable in a wooden bowl. Welcome back to your creative side!

  24. I love your newsletters Ann. Tempted to make some tiny needle cases, they are very sweet.

    Definitely need a sad bulb in my life……how could I not smile looking at that little face.

    Thank you for all the lovely things you share. x

  25. Angela S

    Ann, I so very much hope that you are fully recovered, and that sad bulb seems like a good sign actually. And yes to a mini-class!

  26. Jaye Franchell

    Love the little needle book! Just what I needed to lift my spirits today. : )
    Your newsletters are so very welcome – bringing that cozy, comforting feeling. Going to get my fabric out and make a few little books…
    Be well!! And a thousand thank-yous from 103 degree heat in New Mexico. : )
    Jaye F.

  27. Rachel WILKINS

    Writing to you from Mersea Island in Essex, England – glad you’re feeling better. Your newsletters always put a smile on my face, thank you.
    A sad bulb is what I need in my life – definitely! Xxxxx

  28. Welcome back, dearest Ann!

    Glad you’re feeling better. I’ve missed you and your wonderful creativity!! You’re super inspiring. Now I want & so need to stitch a little notebook! And sad bulb ~ adorable!! Oh, can’t forget some mushrooms . Your twig markers are brilliant. x

  29. Oh Anne, you articulated so perfectly exactly how I have been feeling too – so many “should do”tasks I don’t want to do so instead I will release the obligation and just do something I WANT to do (and I am pretty sure those should dos will happen, in their time, after that). Thank you for your beautiful newsletters, which never fail to inspire – both in your art and your words.

  30. Oh, and my “yes” vote for a sad bulb pattern too!

  31. Sharon Stanley

    Oh dear. So sorry you’ve been poorly AND in doldrums. Sigh. I think we all go through a “sad bulb” time occasionally. Take more rest and you’ll soon pop back. Your newsletters are just the very best treat. Do take care.❤️

  32. Lea Vollmer

    Ugh! Being sick is always a drain – mentally, physically, artistically, emotionally – all the ally’s! I’m glad you’re feeling better. I meander in and out of the doldrums depending on what’s going on. Not having time to make/create is a guaranteed doldrum generator for me! Someone once said that if you find yourself stuck, find some little thing to do (like you did) or try something new. Doing something new often helps me get my mojo back. Funny, I just pulled the little needlebook pattern out to make one!

  33. Kathleen Crook

    Love the herb markers, I’ll make a start this week on some, love the sad bulb too

  34. Michelle Supelana-Mix

    Oh my goodness! This article showed up on my news feed this morning, and how much did I need it!! I’ve been down for nearly two weeks with back issues, and it was so affirming to hear “what am I *willing* to do” as a gentle, non-judgmental prompt for resurfacing! Thank you! I really look forward to making some of your lovely projects!

  35. Carol Mason

    Just went to see what was on the web and your little needlebook caught my eye! I’ve got 2 friends that would love those. Enjoyed your letter. Glad I found it. I’ve been in those doldrums too often lately. I actually felt good for a nice change. Glad I found your delightful place. Carol.

  36. Carol Saucier

    Lost my momentum after months of dealing with my husbands health issues. That sad little bulb would be perfect way to get me back, only with a smile.

  37. Hi Ann!
    Welcome back, I’m knee deep in it along with you. I’m trying your flies to get me out. They are just so cute. I am not the best hand stitcher, give me a machine any day. I made one and walked away. Now I’m making another…it’s helping. Love your blog and mighty.

  38. Glad to hear you’re on the mend!
    That bulb is the cutest! Would like a tutorial, please.
    Especially if there is dyeing- I’m guessing?
    Love the little needle case- my big one from your pattern
    is my constant companion, but will try some bitties as
    scrap busters/gifts.

  39. I absolutely love the needle books and plant markers! So glad you’re back at it. I definitely need a sad bulb in my life, and all of his friends!

  40. I love your work and thank you for your inspiration!
    Yes, I do need a sad bulb in my life. I’d love to make one. Will you be selling a pattern?
    I’m a quilter and have been working on a king size quilt for someone. I began in April….i should be done by now.
    Thanks again for your inspiration!

  41. Thanks for the suggestion “What am I willing to do?” – I’m feeling stuck – too many projects whirling around in my mind and too much heat has caused a paralysis – I need to just pick a project and ignore the other thoughts for now! glad you’re feeling better and more creative again!

  42. I’m very happy you’re feeling on the mend. The tiny needle book was just the thing for that 😉

    We all get down or sick some time, but most of us don’t have a world of people who miss what we do online. Take whatever time and steps you need to get back to where all is happy again.

    And about those bulbs…We definitely need sad bulbs, of all varieties! A smirky little radish tucked in with all the somber bulbs would be the topper to a wonderful project.

  43. Ann, so glad you are beginning to feel better. Thanks for the pep talk-the doldrums seem ever present these days! sad bulb would be wonderful! I LOVE all of your botanical work-I’m still enjoying my pieces we made in your Paducah class! Someone in comments here mentioned Jude Hill. I love her work too! Been following her for years also. Your work enriches my spirit-thank you for sharing it!

  44. Lillian Antoci

    Hello! Just love all your projects. I really hope you make a class or pattern for the little guy. I think he is an onion but whatever he is he is so darn cute. I must have one.

  45. Ruth Ann

    Dear Ann,
    I am sorry that you have been ill and unable to fully enjoy the summer.
    Life isn’t always fair or easy and God’s Grace seems to be the best remedy for the tough times!
    Making a special project gives us the impetus to rise above the obstacles and challenges! I love the little sad bulb but hope that he will become a happier bulb!
    Blessings and creative thoughts are coming your way!
    Ruth Ann

  46. Jeanne Crockett

    Oh, yes, please. I need a sad bulb in my life.

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