Sampler Quilts, What's on the Design Wall

And then there were 70…

Here is an update on the Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks I’ve been working on since February.

I now have 70 blocks done, 15 more blocks since my previous post What’s On The Design Wall: Over 50% Done! . So I am 70% done (well if you do not count sewing all the blocks together, making the backing, and putting on the binding after I have it professionally long-arm quilted, ha!).

I am getting some use out of the Ring Light I bought last year and figured out (sort of) how to use it photograph these blocks on my design wall late at night when I didn’t have any natural light available.

I continue to enjoy “shopping” for fabrics in my pile-o-fabric-scraps, now sorted by color, to make each block:

If you are just joining us (and you are really bored and need posts to read, ha!) here are the previous posts on the evolution of this quilt:

Preparing for Quilt Retreat

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On

What’s On the Design Wall: Not Losing Momentum 

“Sewing-Block” Resolved by Sewing a Block! 

What’s On The Design Wall: Over 50% Done! 

I’ve been thinking about the layout of the final quilt top. There are many ideas in the back of the book – Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks, but I am thinking perhaps of a Dear Jane Quilt setting and looking at ideas such as those I found on this link – Dear Jane Quilt Inspiration. Another thought is just sewing all the blocks together without any type of sashing/setting. But I’ll revisit these ideas once I’ve finished all 100 blocks!

I am now cutting the next batch of 15 blocks and looking forward to getting to 85!

A Crafter's Life

On Grief

When coming up for a title for this post, I was thinking of my SA-based long time blogging buddy (and very talented textile artist), Mariss of Fabrications, who titles her posts “On…”.

So this post is “On” grief.

As many of you know I am a widow and lost my partner of many years back in 2018. In the earlier days of my grief I read books such as Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (see post New Library Stack and Option B) and Resilience by Eric Greitens (see post Soup’s On), as I tried to navigate my new reality, but in general I have avoided books that primarily focus on grief and grieving.

That was until recently, now over 3 years since my loss, when I decided to read It’s OK That You’re Not Okay: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine.

image credit:

I finished like book nearly 2 months ago and I am still thinking about it.

The book’s audience appears to be those with a new major loss in their life; and focuses on life shattering losses such as the death of a life partner or a child. It provides a different way of looking at grief and grieving from a therapist who lost her husband (she apologizes in the book to all her former clients who were grieving and how she counseled them before she experienced her own loss); as well as provides tools for grieving people to help their loved ones support them better during their grieving. It even has a whole chapter for those who are trying to support someone in their life who is grieving.

One of the greatest lessons or perhaps greatest insights I got from this book is: You cannot take away someone’s pain who is grieving, it is theirs that they must bear – all you can try to do is to ease their suffering (or at least not add to their suffering with things you do or say).

Here are a couple quotes from the book to share more of the author’s insights as a widow and a grief counselor/therapist:

The reality of grief is far different from what others see from the outside. There is pain in this world that you can’t be cheered out of. You don’t need solutions. You don’t need to move on from your grief. You need someone to see your grief, to acknowledge it. You need someone to hold your hands while you stand there in blinking horror, staring at the hole that was your life. Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

When you try to take someone’s pain away from them, you don’t make it better. You just tell them it’s not OK to talk about their pain.

We need to talk about the hierarchy of grief. You hear it all the time—no grief is worse than any other. I don’t think that’s one bit true. There is a hierarchy of grief. Divorce is not the same as the death of a partner. Death of a grandparent is not the same as the death of a child. Losing your job is not the same as losing a limb.

The cult of positivity we have does everyone a disservice. It leads us to believe we’re more in charge of the world than we are, and holds us responsible for every pain and heartbreak we endure. It sets up a one-false-move world, in which we must be careful not to upset the gods, or karma, or our bodies with our thoughts and intentions.

Acknowledgment–being seen and heard and witnessed inside the truth about one’s own life–is the only real medicine of grief.

These quotes above are only the tip of the iceberg of all the wisdom and “truth-bombs” that the author drops in this book.

At the start of reading this book, I connected with many of the painful ways (causing more suffering) that some people in my life tried to support me during my early days of my loss. But as I got further into the book I thought about how they were doing the best they could with no personal experience in such a loss.

And I thought about the absolute disaster I was in the past in supporting people in my life who experienced such devastating loss, before I experienced such loss myself.

I thought in particular about a boss a used to have in the early 2000s who was an awesome leader, fun to work with and supportive. Then she suddenly lost her husband of 30+ years to a motorcycle accident. He was her best friend and they were inseparable. He was a long time motorcycle enthusiast and hit a random patch of gravel at high speed and was killed.

She was out of work for about a month and when she returned she was a completely different person. We (her staff) had pulled together money and sent flowers and a card, etc. and for some reason thought she would be okay when she returned after a month off, even if she was sad at times as expected.

Instead she was unable to focus at work, apparently heavily medicated (whether doctor prescribed or “recreational”) and pretty much non functional. This went on for months and finally she was convinced to step down from her position and let someone else take her job.

I am so sad that I was one of the staff members who was impatient with her, especially after a couple of months since her loss. It was like I expected her to “be over it”. I wish I could go back in time and hug her and apologize for how I just did not understand.

Fast forward to 2018 and my loss. I actually thought about her (after not thinking of her for years) about a month after my husband died. It was like “I get it!”

Although I did not use much medication (though in retrospect I would not have minded be numbed out of my mind for a while in the early days) to help me cope, I struggled focusing at my job or even caring about my job. I hid it and tried to be the same as I was but ultimately, when you lose the person who is your whole life, everything else seems so unimportant and meaningless.

Around the first anniversary of my husband’s passing, I had a colleague confront me about not getting an important project done on time, and all I could think is “but I am still alive a year after losing everything”. I tried to explain I was struggling with the 1 year anniversary but she did not get it, she was still annoyed.

I cannot fault her lack of empathy as I was guilty of such lack of empathy myself before experience such loss.

I feel redeemed though in my failures of supporting grieving people (I am skipping a couple other stories of how I was not the most helpful when people in my life loss their spouses before I experienced it myself) as I had an amazing experience connecting with a former neighbor who lost her husband last May. I feel so lucky to have been able to be there for her and listen to her journey, and share whatever she wanted to know about my journey as a widow.

It felt like I was paying it forward in honor of those who truly helped me in my journey, and continue to help me.

One of the most powerful concepts I gained from reading It’s OK That You’re Not Okay: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand is:

Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.

I’ve come to accept that I will carry this grief with me the rest of my life. And that is okay. There is still much joy, happiness, and peace to still have in this life, even with grief by my side.

Feature image – Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash 

Life in B&W, tierneytravels

Rancho Bernardo in Black and White

We went to San Diego, California in October 2021 for a conference that my partner John was speaking at and stayed at the lovely Rancho Bernardo Inn/Resort.

I came across photos from this trip in my online photo album and realized I never blogged about it (wait – did it really happen if there is no blog post?!?!? ha!). Next post I’ll share color photos and an overview about the trip (including stopping by Eleanor Burns’ Quilt in a Day) but for now here are some photos I took in B&W during my stay.

I like to pretend I am a photographer and do B&W photoshoots (see my blog post category Life in B&W  if you want to see more of my delusional photography…)

Fabric Scraps Obsession, What's on the Design Wall

Scraphenge is Done and Hung

Here is a follow up on two posts about a freeform log cabin quilt I’ve been working on using Northcott’s Stonehenge fabric line scraps, that I named “Scraphenge”:

What’s On The Design Wall: Stonehenge Scrappy Freeform Log Cabin

What’s On the Design Wall: “Scraphenge”

Well Scraphenge is “done and hung“! I received it back from the longarm quilter last week (I used Missouri Star Quilting Company longarm quilting services).

I decided instead of a binding to put a “facing” on the quilt since I was going to hang it on the wall:

Instead of the cumbersome method I’ve used to put a facing on in the past, which I learned from an art quilting book, I searched YouTube to see if there was an easier method and voilà I found one:

And it worked perfectly! It was much easier than the previous method I was using!

So here is the quilt hung in the hallway next to the entryway to our home. I took a couple different photos as due to the stairways to upstairs and the basement it was challenging to photograph the quilt straight on:

Here is a close up of the quilting:

I love seeing the quilt as I descend the stairs from upstairs to the main floor:

The cool thing about this quilt is most of the quilt top is made from Stonehenge fabric scraps that friends have given me and some Stonehenge fabric scraps I had from a quilt I made. So the quilt top was primarily made from stuff that would have ended up in a landfill. I LOVE SCRAP QUILTS!

They are very happy recycling!

Sampler Quilts, What's on the Design Wall

What’s On The Design Wall: Over 50% Done!

Here’s an update on the Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks I’ve been working on since February.

In case you want to see my journey on this quilt to date, here are the other related posts:

Preparing for Quilt Retreat

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On

What’s On the Design Wall: Not Losing Momentum 

“Sewing-Block” Resolved by Sewing a Block! 

So my update is that I’ve finished 52 blocks!

In my previous post at the end of April, “Sewing-Block” Resolved by Sewing a Block!, I had completed 40 blocks. Recently I completed 12 more blocks:

I discovered while working on these 12 blocks that my current system of organization for the fabric scrap collection selected for this quilt did not work. My system was a haphazard pile:

So I spent the time organizing all the scraps selected for this project into piles of color. Now that I have a bigger studio now (see my post A “New” Studio ), I can leave these piles out on the table in my studio until I complete the quilt:

It might still look like a hot mess to you, but for me I can now “shop” by color and pattern easier.

Plus by organizing these piles I got to refresh my memory of what I have to work with; and got some ideas on how to use some of the multicolored fabrics at the top of the photo in future blocks I’ll be making for this sampler quilt.

48 more to go!


I actually cut fabric for 15 blocks but I was only up to completing 12 blocks by last night (the deadline I gave myself so I could write this post):

But then this morning I had some renewed energy and completed the 3 additional blocks to bring my total to 15 completed since my previous post on this quilt:

So here are 55 blocks now completed! (Only 45 to go now…)

Books, Music, Podcasts, Guest Blogger

Guest Blog Post: 5 Novels that Feature Arts and Crafts

I’ve decided to discontinue “other human” (so this does not include Mike the Miniature Schnauzer or the tierneycreates Beastie, ha) guest blog posts, as I want to just create content for my blog on my own (or content “channeled” me by Mike or the tierneycreates Beastie of course).

However the talented Rose Atkinson-Carter offered a couple weeks ago before I made this decision, to write an article related to two things I know many of you love: reading and crafting. Please see the bottom of this post for information on the London-based author of this guest post.

5 Novels that Feature Arts and Crafts

If you’ve ever tried looking for books about arts and crafts, the results are awash with innumerable ‘how to’ pamphlets, or nonfiction texts about artists and their work. While there’s nothing wrong with a good crafting guide, it’s nice to mix things up every so often. That’s why I’ve taken it into my own hands to curate a list of the best arts and crafts inspired novels. 

If you’re struggling to find something artsy for your reading list, stick around for a few books you’ll definitely want to pin to your reading list. 

The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier

Penguin Random House image

The Lady and the Unicorn is a historical fiction novel based around real works of art — six medieval tapestries made to form one large piece, thought to originate in Medieval Belgium — from which the author extrapolates a complex and affecting literary tapestry of love, lust, and betrayal. Though the narrative hails from seven different narrators’ points of view, the tapestries’ begins with budding nobleman Jean Le Viste, who commissions a tapestry to artist Nicolas Des Innocents, expecting him to depict bloody battles and passionate soldiers. However, after Le Viste’s wife (and Nicholas’s muse) throws down the artistic gauntlet, the artists desires lead him in another direction — to wax poetic about seductive flowers, unicorns, and numerous women.

Known for her previous bestselling novel The Girl With the Pearl Earring, also based on a work of art of the same name, Tracy Chevalier exceeds expectations as she breathes life into yet another mystery shrouding great works of art, turning them into the centerpiece about which every human desire orbits. Of course, this novel isn’t just concerned with desire between humans, but desire in every form — the desire to be useful, to be happy, to be inspired, and the desire to be free. This is a must-read for anyone wanting an insight into the decadent and tumultuous side of art. 

Crewel World, by Monica Ferris

Though it’s labelled a ‘cozy mystery’, be warned that this mystery opens with a tragedy: the loss of our main character Betsy’s sister, a murder that took place in her very own needlecraft shop. In spite of its ‘cozy mystery’ label, this book begins with tragedy: the murder of our main character Betsy’s sister, who died in her very own needlework shop.

Following the murder, Betsy struggles to find her feet again, recover from grief, and take over the craft shop, all while a looming police investigation puts a halt to any hope of returning to normalcy. However, as is often the case with a good mystery novel, it soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems.

As she learns the ins-and-outs of the needlecraft, Betsy realizes that the police are dragging their feet over the investigation. Is it because they don’t have a good understanding of the craft itself, or is there something darker at play behind the scenes? Either way, the aspiring detective is certainly up to the task. 

Monica Ferris’s breakout novel, Crewel World, the first in her expansive Needlecraft murder mystery series, is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat right until the end — and, as a bonus once you reach the final page, you’ll get a free embroidery pattern too!

The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton

Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with some of the world’s best editors, designers, marketers, ghostwriters, and translators. She lives in London.

If you’re looking for a novel that blends crafting inspiration with a healthy amount of creepy mystery, then you’re sure to enjoy The Miniaturist. Set in the corrupt and glamorous seventeenth century Amsterdam, the narrative follows eighteen year old Nella Oortman as she steps into the unknown — an arranged marriage with famed (and wealthy) merchant Johannes Brandt. However, the house she marries into is not warm, but rather steeped in the secrets held by the merchant’s harsh sister Marin, the servants Otto and Cornelia, and the kind-but-distant Johannes himself. 

So, where do the arts and crafts come in? Well, the clue is in the name. As a wedding gift, Johannes bestows Nella with a cabinet-sized replica of their house, which he commissions from a miniaturist. However, in the process of realizing the life-sized furnishings for the inside of the replica, packages start arriving — and peppered within what the family ordered are eerily accurate extra items. Indeed, the scenes, furnishings, and dolls are spookily true to events of the past, present, and the future. Given that, can Nella work out what’s behind this mystery all while surviving her secretive new family along the way? It’s worth finding out for yourself!

Last Wool and Testament, by Molly MacRae

Ivy McClellan is well known in the needlework community for being magically brilliant at her craft, as well as being the founder of a passionate group of needlework and fiber artists named Thank Goodness It’s Fiber, TGIF for short. Unfortunately Ivy eventually dies, leaving her shop (and the TGIF meeting place) to her beloved granddaughter, Kath Rutledge.

When Kath arrives to attend the burial, she discovers that nothing is as it was when she left — and local police officers now brutally nickname her grandmother as ‘Crazy Ivy’. The thing is: there’s been a local murder and, somehow, Ivy is the main suspect. On top of that, the title to Ivy’s house has been stolen and Kath is left with just a week to pack up and scrap together clues about what on earth happened. In the meantime, she manages to rent an apartment with an unexpected roommate — a specter — and that specter seems to be just as interested in Ivy’s case as Kath. So, if you can’t tell already, this story is sure to keep you guessing with its twists, turns, and knots, right until the very end.

How to Be Both, by Ali Smith 

Paperback How to Be Both Book

Ali Smith’s ground-breaking novel, How to Be Both, borrows from art in both its narrative as well in the very format in which it’s written. For the latter, Smith borrows from paintings fresco technique to deliver a double take in the form of a novel, starting each halve of every print edition with a completely different narrative point of view. 

For one half, you might end up with a narrative beginning with Italian painter Francesco, while, for the other half, you may start the story with a teenage girl named George, and vice-versa. Either way, both are intrinsically connected to the art world (as well as each other) and invested in what it may become. The two artists’ are worlds apart: Francesco’s narrative is contemporary to the Renaissance Italy in which the painter of the same name that inspired Smith lived, whereas George serves as a teenaged 1960s counterpart. Despite the two characters’ differences, the parallels between them, the love, and the injustice they experience are striking. If you’re interested in sinking your teeth into the inner workings of artists, their muses, Renaissance Italy, and a playful narrative structure all in one — this novel is for you.

That concludes my list of the five arts and crafts influenced novels that inspired me! Whether you prefer to use a pin, pen, or paintbrush, I hope they can be a suitable muse for all of your crafty needs or, at the very least, refresh your love for the arts.

Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with some of the world’s best editors, designers, marketers, ghostwriters, and translators. She lives in London.

Feature photo credit – Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash 


A “New” Studio

A week or so ago my partner John and I came up with a crazy idea: We have a large master bedroom and only use about 1/2 of it (the other 1/2 I used for occasional yoga and daily stretches) – why don’t we switch my sewing/quilting studio to the master bedroom and we move our bedroom to a smaller guest bedroom down the hall?

Yes, we’d have to access the master bathroom through my studio but we could keep the closets the same as our clothes are inside the master bathroom in a walk in closet at one end. So all we’d have to do (well it is a BIG “ALL”) is move a couple rooms of furniture around…


First, here is what my OLD studio looked like in one of the smaller bedrooms upstairs in my house:

Here is a little video tour of my old studio I posted to Instagram last year. I uploaded it to YouTube:

As you can see I had it jammed packed with stuff, but I made it work!

So over the past 3 – 4 days, doing a little here and there and then doing some big moves, we got rooms switched around. It took another day to get art, etc. hung and finishing touches.


Here is the reveal of my NEW master bedroom tierneycreates studio:

I really like the table placed in the alcove (where I used to do yoga) with the windows on three sides. During the day it gets a lot of natural light to craft by and I have a nice view of a wooded area.

As far as our “new” small master bedroom, everything is going well so far. All our furniture fit and it feels rather cozy.

I cannot wait to get back to working on projects in my new big studio space!


Quick Cards

Well they were not so quick, actually it took me a couple hours to make 8 handmade cards.

My partner John has a new position at the company he works for and a new team that now reports to him. He thought it would be good to send them each a handwritten note and include a little coffee gift card or something. I offered to make them handmade cards.

I do love card making even if I am quite amateur at it. Here are a couple older posts on my card making activities:

Another Card Making Playdate

Card Making Playdate

Since I needed to make 8 cards and wanted to get back to my 100 Block Sampler I am working on as not to lose momentum (see post “Sewing-Block” Resolved by Sewing a Block!), I thought a quick way to make cards would be using old scrapbook papers.

I was really into scrapbooking for a brief period of time around 7 – 9 years ago. I decided – “No More Loose Photos” – and went through all my boxes of photos and basically scrapbooked my life up to around the early to mid 2010s. If the photo did not work in a scrapbook, then it was destroyed/thrown out. I really appreciated the completed scrapbooks after my husband Terry died in 2018, as when I was ready, it was a nice way to look through memories. Not sure if I could have dealt with all those loose photos in a box after his passing.

So I have a bunch of leftover 12 inch x 12 inch pretty paper collections from my scrapbooking period, even though I donated to the charity thrift shop any empty scrapbook albums as I am completely done with scrapbooking (and who has printed loose photos anymore?).

Here are the 8 cards I made with those papers:

And here is a gallery of some of the other photos I took of the cards:

I had some precut card stock which came in handy and saved time. I also used a sticker book with inspirational sayings which I put on the front of each card.

The cardstock was dark colors and John needed to write a readable note in each one to his team members, so I glued a folded white piece of paper inside each card to make it easier to write a note. The image below is an example from the previous set of cards I made in February 2021:

After making the cards, I decided it was time to deal with my ridiculous pile of scrapbook papers. Since I no longer scrapbook, I only need to keep the papers which would be useful in card making.

Here is the huge pile of scrapbook papers I weeded out – I am off this afternoon to donate them to the charity thrift shop and let someone else enjoy them!