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: Goodreads.com

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

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!

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!


Postscript

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

Thriftbooks.com

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

Thriftbooks.com

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

Thriftbooks.com

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
Thriftbooks.com

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 

Studio

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…

THE OLD STUDIO (IN A SMALL BEDROOM)

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.

THE NEW STUDIO (IN THE FORMER MASTER BEDROOM)

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!

Papercrafting

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!


Fabric Scraps Obsession, What's on the Design Wall

“Sewing-Block” Resolved by Sewing a Block!

My sewing “mojo” was hiding somewhere for a while and I had little desire to sew. I had a “sewing-block“. Turns out the best way to resolve it was to sew a block!

I’ve been distracted from time in my sewing studio by some recent travel, visits from out of town friends, and a couple challenging recent life events. A couple days ago I knew I needed to get my back to sewing (as there is just so much fun stuff to be made) and decided returning to working on my Tula Pink City Sampler (100 Modern Quilt Blocks) would be a good place to start.

I love this book!

So I made block number 31 (I’ve already made blocks 1 – 30, see post What’s On the Design Wall: Not Losing Momentum):

got the ball rolling…

Once you get started up sewing again, things get rolling, and I was able to make also blocks 32 – 40 over the next several days (my sewing was “un-blocked”!):

10 block recently completed

Today while taking photos for this post, I discovered I did not like the gray “frame” in one of the blocks (too overpowering):

see block with red arrow

So I redid it this morning with a red “frame”:

New block frame

Now I have 40 blocks out of 100 now complete!

Only 60 more to go (oh my…)

Not sure why my photos came out so dark from my design wall, I guess it was the lighting in my sewing studio this morning.

I am enjoying working from my piles of scraps selected for the 100 block sampler, and I’ve decided to just keep the piles out until I finish all 100 blocks.

I’ve been making a bunch of small scraps while cutting the fabrics for the 6.5 inch by 6.5 inch blocks and I plan to stuff pincushions like I did in this post – Stuffing it the Eco-conscious Way!

I plan to continue working on the blocks for the sampler and maybe whipping out a pincushion or two between sets of blocks if my tiny pile of scraps gets larger than my little basket for tiny scraps.

Life in B&W, Outside Adventures!

Seven Falls in B&W

This is just a quick follow up to Mike the Miniature Schnauzer’s guest blog post: Guest Blog Post: How to Completely Terrify Your Miniature Schnauzer.

What he didn’t share was that I took several cool (well I think they are cool) photos in B&W while we were on hike, as did my partner John. I thought I would share some of my favorites from this amazing hike (despite what Mike says in his post linked above!):

I guess the park had this sign to really discourage you from going off the trail:

I ALWAYS want to protect the privacy of snakes!

Knit and Crochet Away!

Update on the Latest Granny Square Blanket

Howdy, this post is a follow up to the post What’s on the “Design Carpet”: Update on Granny Square Blanket.

I’ve completed crocheting a 100 granny square blocks! Here they are in piles based on yarn combinations:

You will notice I do not have an even distribution of color combinations. That is because the blanket is very “scrappy” as it is made from a collection of coordinating thrift store yarns. I had similar but not exact colors and varying amounts of each color.

After sorting piles it was time to do the daunting task of laying it out on the “design carpet” of my living room.

My eyes were crossing as I tried to find a way not to have the same (or similar) squares touch each other but after a while I gave up and said “good enough” and settled on the layout above.

Mike the Miniature Schnauzer tried to distract me while I was sorting and laying out the squares, with his cuteness:

So I decided it was time for him to try on a granny square hat:

I am going to join the granny squares with brown yarn to make a lattice between the squares and then finish off the blanket with a green border, and perhaps a rust border too. We’ll see how it evolves, but first I have to put on a YouTube video on how to join the granny square blocks again (I forgot what I did on my first granny square blanket – Attack of the Giant Granny Square Blanket).

But before I work on joining the squares, I had to organize them into the layout I decided in someway, as I could not just leave them out on the “design carpet”.

So I figured out putting them in piles, with the top of the pile being the first square on the left for each row; and then numbering the rows. Here are the piles laid out:

As you can see in the images above, I ran a piece of yarn through each pile, so they did not get separated/out of order if a pile accidentally got knocked over.

I’ve been traveling a lot lately with my partner John going on his business trips with him and since I actually finished these 100 blocks a couple weeks ago now (so behind on blogging) and I can’t take all of them with me when traveling to start joining them into a blanket, I’ve started another granny square block series to work on while traveling!

I seem to be a little obsessed with making granny squares, they are the perfect portable travel project!

Guest Blogger, Outside Adventures!

Guest Blog Post: How to Completely Terrify Your Miniature Schnauzer

Well it’s time for one of her guest bloggers to step in, as Tierney has disappeared from the blogging world for some time now due to “Hooman Life Distractions“.

I recently learned us dogs are supposed to refer to our Humans as “Hoomans” courtesy of looking at too many dog postings on Instagram. I guess they feel dogs are not very literate? Nah, I am going to keep called them “Humans”, as you can see I am literate enough to write guest blog posts.

In case you have not guessed it, this is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer here to fill in for Tierney and do a blog post.

Here to fill in (though it takes away from my nap time)

If you are new to this blog, I fill in from time to time and here are a couple samplings of my previous posts:

Guest Blogger: What Happens at Dog Camp, Stays at Dog Camp

Guest Blogger: Happy in My Box

Guest Blogger: Obsession with Making Crocheted Dishcloths

Once you recover your awe from the brilliant writing by a 12 year old Miniature Schnauzer in the links above, you can continue on with this post.

I am not sure if my Humans Tierney and her partner John will like this post, because I am going to tell you of how they attempted to COMPLETELY TERRIFY me by taking me on a day trip to Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, Colorado and making a death-defying vertical climb up the scariest stairs I’ve ever seen, with me in a backpack!

Here we are at Seven Falls before the terror started:

When I thought it was just a fun day out with the Humans…

Seven Falls, according to the Broadmoor’s website (yes Miniature Schnauzers are capable of online research, duh) Colorado Springs Seven Falls, is Colorado’s most majestic waterfall.

The only waterfall in the state on National Geographic’s list of International Waterfalls, and often called “The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado,” Seven Falls is situated in a 1,250-foot-wall box canyon between the towering Pillars of Hercules. Take in stunning valleys, striking rock formations and golden prairies as you climb the challenging 224 steps to the hiking trails and the banks of glistening streams that feed the falls, and its 181-foot drop of falling water.

Did you notice the phrase in the quote above: “as you climb the challenging 224 steps…”? To me it seemed like they were climbing 224,000 steps to get to the top as I was looking our the backpack on the back of John’s back.

Here is the photo my Human Tierney took (she caught the photo during a moment that I had turned my head to take a break from the terror I was looking at below):

Why are they making me endure this? I was perfectly happy looking at the scenery from ground level

Oh! My Human Tierney just walked in while I am working on this post, and is now insisting that I share more photos from this day trip to show the climb was worth it.

My guest blog post writing is being interrupted by an irritating Human

Although I don’t agree, here are a bunch of random photos from our day trip to Seven Falls. Just know the photos I like the best are the one’s taken on the ground before the crazy climb, even if the Humans think the climb was worth it!

All I see when I look at these photos are rocks, rocks and more rocks. But the Humans seem to enjoy the scenery in Colorado.

Here is the scenery I really enjoyed: after we climbed back down the 224 steps (and the Humans’ legs were like jello), we found a nice place to have a picnic before heading home:

Now we are talking about beautiful scenery!

And here I am trying to convince the Humans that I’ve earned a sampling of their food:

Me, me, me, me, me!

So that’s the end of my story, here I am putting the finishing touches on this guest blog post:

I know I can edit this post better than my Human Tierney does her posts…

You will hear from my Human Tierney again after she catches up reading her blogging buddies posts (and she’s let them go too long without reading). Hope she gets her act together!

tierneytravels

California State Railroad Museum and Some More Lab Love

Back in November 2021, John and I visited our friends who live outside of Sacramento, California. I have a couple post from that visit – Loved (or mugged) by a Lab and Exploring My Inner Ansel Adams (Lake Tahoe). Here is more on that visit.

CALIFORNIA STATE RAILROAD MUSEUM

I love trains! When I was a kid we had an awesome old train set, courtesy of my paternal grandfather, that my parents would put around the Christmas tree each year. For a while I collected model trains and I’ve always loved riding on trains whether short distance or longer distances (for example see post – Train Ride to Glenwood Springs, CO and More – Part IV).

So I was over the moon when our friends set up a trip to the California State Railroad Museum. I am not sure how long we spent in the museum (time ceased to exist while I was in there) but I remember them telling me: “Tierney we have to go now, we have other things to do…”

I took SO MANY PHOTOS of course, but alas it was quite dark in the museum so the photos are not my best. We began our time in the museum with a tour from a retired railroad man (the museum was staff with retired railroad people, likely volunteers) and then each wandered off on our own because there was so much to see.

Here is a sampling of some of the zillion photos I took:

Upstairs there was an amazing display of toy trains (oh my heart) – a family had donated their father’s extensive toy train collection, it was mind blowing!

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know I like to pretend I am a real photographer and take photos in B&W. Here are a couple of the B&W photos I took inside the museum:

Of course none of my photos do justice on how awesome the museum is to visit in person!

SOME MORE LAB LOVE

It was great to visit our friends and one of the best part of the visit was to spend time with my “dog goddaughter” Riley, the chocolate lab supreme!

Here is Riley and I in April 2019 when I first met her and we fell in love (they had just adopted her):

Riley and her Godmother 🙂

And here she is in November 2021 in all her grown up cuteness:

In case you need a smile, see above 🙂

Knit and Crochet Away!

What’s on the “Design Carpet”: Update on Granny Square Blanket

Here is an update on the second granny square blanket I am working on (the first post on it was in January – Granny Squaring Again!).

The weather has been weird in the Denver Metro area. We get teased with Spring with 60 degree Celsius days, and then the next day it is 20 degrees Celsius and a blizzard! I’ve been spending some of those blizzard days staying warm with a cup of tea and crocheting granny squares for my second granny square blanket.

Notice artificial sunflower in the background reminding me warm weather will return someday
Stack of granny square blocks on the blocking board John made me

I completed 63 granny square squares so it was time to lay out what I’ve made so far on the “Design Carpet” so I could decide how many more I need to make for a decent sized blanket:

Getting ready to lay out on the “Design Carpet”…
On the “Design Carpet”

I decided to make the blanket 10 x 10, which is a 100 blocks, so I needed 37 more blocks.

I also realized I need some additional combinations to keep the blanket visually interesting. It is made from thrifted acrylic yarn (I paid one dollar or less for each skein) and I worked with what I had so it is very “scrappy”.

Here are the combinations I have so far:

Since taking these photos, I’ve started working on new combinations and here are some of the centers I’ve made:

Making centers (lower middle of image) for 37 additional blocks..

I still haven’t decided what color I am going to set the blocks in (like a sashing crocheted between them) but I am still leaning towards brown. I made sure not to make the outer color of any blocks brown so they will not blend into the setting yarn color and look smaller than the other blocks.

I just love working on these little crochet squares and it is mindless perfect crafting for in front of the TV in the evening or even sitting around visiting with friends.

Quilt Retreats, tierneytravels

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part VI: Missouri Quilt Museum

This is my last installment in my series of posts about my trip to Quilt Town, USA to attend a Missouri Star Quilt Company (also known as “MSQC”) quilt retreat with my long time quilting friends.

If you are just joining us, here are the 5 previous posts in the series:

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part II: Quilt Town, USA 

MSQC Retreat Part III: Inside the Shops

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part IV: Greatest Fabric Scrap Sale of All Time 

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part V: The Retreat Center Experience

Included in our MSQC retreat was a trip to the Missouri Quilt Museum (which is housed in an old school), and this post will share photos from that visit! There was so much to see, I’ve curated my photos to just share my favorite exhibits at the museum.

MINIATURE QUILTS

When we first entered the museum, we spent a bit of time in the Miniature Quilt Exhibit! The work that went into these tiny doll size quilts was amazing!

The photos above has a lap size quilt on the wall and to the right of it, the miniature version of that quilt!

FULL SIZE ANTIQUE QUILTS

There were many antique full sized quilts displayed around the museum, here are a couple samples:

ANTIQUE SEWING MACHINES

There were endless examples of antique sewing machines. I especially got a kick of the antique Bernina sewing machine.

TOY SEWING MACHINES

Even more amazing that the exhibits of antique sewing machines, was the exhibit of TOY SEWING MACHINES!

NATIONAL QUILT MUSEUM GALLERY

The also had a gallery of quilts on loan from the National Quilt Museum:

Here are a couple of my favorites from those quilts. The second one has dogs incorporated into the trees in the quilts, so look carefully.

COOL “MODERN” QUILTS

They also had some cool “Modern” style quilts on display include the head of Albert Einstein, a quilt made entirely from fabric selvages, and an amazing denim quilt:

It was amazing, strange and interesting to see such a jam packed museum of quilting history in a small town!

Thanks for joining me on the six part series about my visit to Quilt Town, USA!

What's on the Design Wall

What’s On the Design Wall: Not Losing Momentum

A quick follow up to the post MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On.

At the quilt retreat I attended a couple weeks ago, I completed the first 20 blocks for the Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks quilt:

Well last weekend, I did not want to lose the momentum on working towards completing the 100 blocks for the sampler quilt, so I made 10 more blocks:

This time I didn’t make the pieces for each block into little packets like I did for the retreat:

But I did pre-cut several blocks at a time before taking the pieces for 3 – 4 blocks to my sewing machine to piece together.

I had so much fun listening to music and sewing the next 10 blocks in the series.

I mainly worked from a pile of coordinated scraps I bought years ago from the Stitchin’ Post quilt shop in Sisters, Oregon:

It is fun to just riffle through the pile, coordinating fabrics for each block.

I thought about getting 10 more done, but it seems 10 at a time is enough in one sitting!

Here are the 30 blocks I’ve pieced to date up on my design wall – only 70 more to go!

To close this post here is a sweet card I came across that I sent recently to a friend. Hope it gives you are smile like it gave me:

Quilt Retreats, tierneytravels

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part V: The Retreat Center Experience

Time to continue my series of posts on my trip to Quilt Town, USA to attend a Missouri Star Quilt Company (also known as “MSQC”) quilt retreat with my long time quilting friends.

If you are just joining us, here are the previous four posts in the series:

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part II: Quilt Town, USA 

MSQC Retreat Part III: Inside the Shops

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part IV: Greatest Fabric Scrap Sale of All Time 

Now to share with you what it was like to attend the retreat at MSQC and stay at the retreat center.

The retreat center, known as the Sewing Center is in the middle of downtown Hamilton, MO and is an old building converted to the retreat center and accommodations. I have photos below but if you want to see the official photos/info here is the link from the MSQC website – Sewing Center.

Here is the retreat sewing area:

Our group of 6 sat by the front windows. Here are photos of our assigned sewing area for our group when we arrived, and then when we got settled in!

We rented BabyLock Sewing machines from MSQC for the retreat since we were all flying in from various places across the country (Denver, CO; Seattle, WA; New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Sacramento, CA) and did not want to deal with lugging our sewing machines to the retreat via airplane.

The retreat center sewing area has a large kitchen and a snack table area. The photos below include the snack table at the beginning of the retreat. I should have taken a photo a couple days in as it was packed with all the snacks quilters brought and put out to share.

Our meals were served at the kitchen and they were nothing to write home about, but they were okay. They did have some great desserts a couple of dinners. But here is an example of one of the meals:

You could also go out to eat at various restaurants around town. We went out a couple times to eat, and several of my quilting friends discovered an amazing Mexican restaurant in town.

We also discovered a brewery in town, Levi Garrison & Sons Brewery and several of my quilting friends and I had a nice pint while chatting with the wonderful bartender who told us stories from her life and town history.

The brewery did not serve food, so we picked up food at a local eatery and brought it in to have with our pint.

In addition to a couple meals out and a visit to the local brewery, we also had a delicious ice cream treat at the local sweet shop one day!

It was like 17 or 19 degrees Fahrenheit outside, but it is never too cold out for ice cream! (We did eat it inside the sweet shop before re-bundling up to go back to the retreat center).

The sleeping accommodations at the retreat were upstairs. The twin beds had very comfortable mattresses. The main challenge was you had to like going up and down stairs – lots of stairs. (The retreat center did have a stair lift in the back in case you were “differently abled” and needed assistance to get upstairs).

I thought it was funny they had a chair on the landing of the first flight of stairs, in case you needed a break.

They also had a seating area at the top of the stairs when you finished your second flight of stairs to get to your room:

The bathrooms were lined up dorm style – they had plenty and they had decent showers (but no soap, you had to bring your own soap):

Here is an example of one of the rooms, it is the room I stayed in:

Here are a couple more photos of the upstairs sleeping accommodations areas:

One evening we were treated to a glorious sunset outside our window of the retreat center:

Everyone was out taking photos and of course it was cooler than my photos show.

During the retreat, we would periodically head over to the Main Shop and put stuff in our boxes to be shipped home. As I mentioned in previous posts in this series, they provide free shipping (of unlimited boxes) of whatever you purchase and any projects you worked on during the retreat, to retreat attendees.

I’ll close this post with a picture of me, taken by my friend Kathy, as I am leaving the retreat to take the shuttle back to Kansas City, Missouri to fly home:

Fabric Scraps Obsession, Quilt Retreats, Quilt Shop Tours, tierneytravels

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part IV: Greatest Fabric Scrap Sale of All Time

This post continues my series of posts on my trip to Quilt Town, USA to attend a Missouri Star Quilt Company (also known as “MSQC”) quilt retreat with my long time quilting friends. The previous three previous posts in the series are:

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part II: Quilt Town, USA 

MSQC Retreat Part III: Inside the Shops

First of all, do not judge. I have a fetish for fabric scraps – ha! Okay that sounds a wee bit weird, but I would rather make things from fabric scraps than cut into yardage. I only buy fabric by the yard when I absolutely have to or the fabric is so amazing I cannot leave it in the shop (and it looks at me with puppy eyes saying “Tierney take me home…”).

So when I heard that while I was at the MSQC week long retreat there was a “Scrap Bag Sale” at the Penny’s Quilt Shop I shivered with excitement.

This not my first rodeo as they say, I’ve been to lots of fabric scrap sales where you fill a bag for a specific price, with as much fabric scraps as you can fit in (and yeah, I am ALWAYS up to the challenge to see how much I can fit in the bag they provide without it breaking).

But, I’ve NEVER been to a “scrap bag” sale where 1 yard, 2 yard, and even 3 yard pieces are considered scraps!!! Yes there were a couple pieces here and there that you might call “scraps” – like quarter and half yard pieces, but most of what was in their bins were larger pieces that I definitely would not classify as “scraps”.

What I heard from another quilter during the feeding frenzy (photo below) was that Missouri Star will pull pieces off the bolt that are 3 yards or less and put them away for the scrap sale.

Oh my.

What you are about to see was what could be considered a “super spreader event” as no one was wearing masks, but luckily the pandemic is tapering down in my part of the world.

Here is the FEEDING FRENZY:

And yes I was right in the middle of it. I stepped out to take photos.

Actually everyone was so patient, thoughtful and kind. It was the nicest frenzy you could imagine. Quilters would yell out what they were looking for and we would pull for them and toss to them what they were looking for. I got so much Kaffe Fassett fabric this way from the bins.

Also people would take a break from being in the bins and make way for other quilters waiting in queue. Actually you had to take a break for a while as it was sort of exhausting sifting through all those yard pieces of fabric and a bit claustrophobic.

You also needed a break to stuff your bag!

Besides finding AMAZING top quality quilting fabric (of like every fabric line you could imagine) one of the most fun parts of the whole experience was laughing with everyone there as you tried to stuff your bag as full as possible.

Here were the early stages of packing bags with “scraps”:

Notice how no fabric is reaching over the top of the bags.

Here is my pile of bags starting to grow (I did stop at 4 but later got one more) as I left them among the pile of coats (it was getting warm from all those people foraging through all those bins of fabric):

Then we heard that the shop did not really care how full you got the bag as long as all fabric was “touching” the inside of the bag. So things got creative…

Here are a series of photos on my quilting friends and I engaging in “creative scrap bag stuffing“:

We were laughing so hard! It got to be a real game of “what else can we fit in there?

Here are a couple of my long time quilting friends and I resting after our scrap foraging. We were exhausted but happy! (Note, not all our group attended the scrap sale, some were back at the Retreat Center being productive working on their projects!)

And here I am with another expression of “pure joy” like in the previous post (and note it was not just because of the amazing deals but that I was hanging out with friends, lol):

When we returned to the Retreat Center, Jessica, one of the Retreat Coordinators, challenged us to see how much yardage we had inside one of our bags.

One person had 27 yards of fabric inside ONE of their scraps bag. Yes that was 27 yards of fabric for $10.95! Most people had between 20 and 26 yards of fabric packed into ONE scrap bag.

One of the attendees actually ironed and folded her finds (show off, ha!):

I did not. I took all my scraps from the sale to the Main Shop for packaging up to send home to me! As I mentioned in the first post in this series (I think), MSQC will ship whatever you bought or worked on for FREE to you if you are attending a retreat so you don’t have to figure out how to get it home. (Yes they are encouraging attendees to shop to their heart’s content).

So, a couple days after I returned home from the retreat I received two boxes in the mail:

And here are the “scraps” I got from the sale:

I won’t tell you the total amount of fabric, because I did not even count the yardage.

I just ironed the fabric and incorporated it into my stash…while giggling…

Quilt Retreats, Quilt Shop Tours, tierneytravels

MSQC Retreat Part III: Inside the Shops

So I downloaded 81 photos for this post from my Amazon Photos (I backup all my photos to Amazon Prime Photos) account, and then I realized that is ridiculous!

This post continues my series of posts on my trip to Quilt Town, USA to attend a Missouri Star Quilt Company (also known as “MSQC”) quilt retreat with my long time quilting friends.

The first two posts in the series are:

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part II: Quilt Town, USA 

I tried to make the first post in the series about what I worked on during the retreat, trying to make you think I was oh so productive during the retreat.

Actually I spent a lot of time with my friends wandering around the 13 specialty quilt shops they have in the town (if you’d like to see the full list see this link – MSQC Quilt Shops), in addition to the non quilting shops (like the yarn shop)! Here are some photos from those wanderings.

…and there might have been some purchasing involved…

FIRST STOP: THE MAIN SHOP

Our first stop was the Main Shop where we picked up our badges that got scanned with every purchase.

The Main Shop has numerous little “vignettes” previews of each of the 12 other shops, which are specialty quilting/craft supply shops, so you can see a sampling of what you might find in each shop. Here is a vignette of the Modern Shop inside the Main Shop as an example:

The second day of the quilt retreat, they sent us on a scavenger hunt to see all the shops and get a little treat/prize at each shop. Some of the photos below are from the scavenger hunt on the second day and some of from our first day wandering (as soon as we got into town, our feet hit the pavement to shop!)

Me on the scavenger hunt with my friends, yes that is the look of pure joy 🙂

They gave us cool bags as part of the scavenger hunt, at one of the shops, to hold our goodies from the scavenger hunt.

THE YARN SHOP – ONE BIG HAPPY YARN CO.

A couple photos from inside the yarn shop. I was well behaved as I have a decent stash of yarn and I am not a proficient knitter or crocheter (I get by), but it was fun to look!

Yes are you into the fiber arts, I bet those photos above were “yarn porn”, at least they were for me!

BATIK BOUTIQUE

Now pretend you hear the below statement read by Rod Serling writer/narrator for the classic TV series – The Twilight Zone…

Imagine if you will, a quilt shop, that only has batik fabrics…in every color and style you can imagine…

Here are photos from our wander around “The Batik Zone“!

I just realized, it would be too much to share photos from every shop so I will just stick to some of my favorites.

MAN’S LAND

They had an area connected to the Machine Shed shop called Man’s Land where husband’s could hang out while their wives went crazy shopping around Quilt Town, USA!

Here are some photos from Man’s Land. It was quite cozy, but no they did not serve any “adult beverages” there, even though it looks like it would be a nice comfy pub to hang out in!

THE MACHINE SHOP

The Machine Shop connected to Man’s Land was a cool shop where you could buy sewing supplies. Here are some photos from that shop:

PENNY’S QUILT SHOP

One of my favorite shops was Penny’s Quilt Shop, which was the old JCPenney’s Department Store (Hamilton, Missouri is the birthplace of James Cash Penney who founded J.C. Penney Company) into a quilt shop.

This quilt shop specializes in solids and blenders, and here are some photos from that shop:

It is also the shop that on Thursday of the retreat had the Scrap Sale, so I spent extra time in this shop. I share more about the dream Scrap Sale in another post in this series.

FLORALS

The most beautiful and serene shop (in my opinion) was the Florals quilt shop. The photos I share below do not do justice to how lovely this shop was decorated.

Here is my friend Judy making some yummy selections in the shop:

Thanks goodness I had recently re-organized my fabric stash at home and gave myself a limited budget for shopping (as I do not really need anymore fabric), otherwise I would have gotten in my trouble in this shop!

MODERN

I have so many photos that I had to cut it off somewhere so the Modern Shop is the last shop I will share photos of from our wander. As the name implies it was filled with “modern” fabrics with lines such as Cotton + Steel, Ruby Star Society, Riley Blake, etc.

Hope you enjoyed virtually wandering about some of the shops with me (or you are now really tired and need a nap).

Next post I will talk about the amazing Scrap Sale and the “aftermath” when my boxes of my purchases arrived home post retreat!

Knit and Crochet Away!

A Hat for John

I am planning to continue my series of posts on the quilt retreat I attended at the Missouri Star Quilt Company but I thought I would throw in a quick post to show a hat I knitted for my partner John.

It’s the first hat I made him. He asked for a gray hat and I thought I was knitting him a gray hat but a couple rows into knitting it and finally in direct sunlight with the yarn, I discovered the yarn was actually dark green with grayish undertones. (Oh I better explain – it was yarn someone gifted me – a beautiful soft nubby wool – and pulled it out of my stash in a semi-dark room).

He was still happy with it so I finished it for him. Here are some photos, and yes it’s my one and only hat knitting pattern I know. There might come a day in which I try a new pattern…perhaps!

In the first two images below, you can see the dark green:

Here you can see the dark green
John modeling it in light which makes it look green

But in this image below, which I guess was in a different light, it looks gray:

Now it’s a gray hat!

So it’s like I knitted him TWO HATS (ha!) – a dark green one and a gray one (smile).

I am pretty excited about the yarn I am using for the next hat I am knitting (which is for me!) and will blog about it sometime in the future.

Now I will return to reading the blog posts of the knitters I follow that are busy making quadruple layered cabled (I made that up) Fair Isle Icelandic sweaters with wool they spun and then dyed themselves…lol…

Quilt Retreats, tierneytravels

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part II: Quilt Town, USA

For Part I, see the post MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On.

In early 2018 before all of our lives would change, my quilting friends and I first discussed the idea of doing a cool “bucket list” thing: visiting the Missouri Star Quilt Company, also known as “MSQC”, in Hamilton, Missouri. It wasn’t until 2021 after a year and a half into the pandemic, we decided: “let’s do it, not just visit but attend a quilt retreat there!”. I have to thank my friend Judy (the one who got me into quilting back in 1999) for her amazing facilitation and coordination of our adventure.

If you are not a quilter, or just never heard of MSQC, there is a wonderful story behind it.

Basically a quilter moved to an economically depressed small rural town in Missouri, opened a quilt shop which evolved into a quilting empire, essentially a “Quilter’s Disneyland” and saved the town.

It’s a pretty amazing story and you can read more about how MSQC came to be on their website at this link: About Us; or read one of these stories below from other sources:

One Family Revitalizes A Small Town With, Yes, Quilts (NPR)

How Jenny Doan Created the Disneyland of Quilting (CBS News)

The Disneyland of Quilting (Forbes)

My long time quilting friends and I have ordered from the MSQC website over the years and have been familiar with their story for about six years. So it was pretty exciting when we arrived in town on the shuttle van we took from the Kansas City airport. Here is what we first saw from the shuttle van and then immediately walking around when we arrived in Hamilton, MO:

Some of the different quilt shops
The main shop building
Our retreat center
Mural on the side of the building of the retreat center
Sign about town
The iconic mural across from the retreat center

The “downtown” is filled with speciality quilting shops. Here is the map from the MSQC website page MSQC Quilt Shops:

missouriquiltco.com

There are 13 specialty quilt shops, plus a yarn shop and other little gift and boutique shops. We did a scavenger hunt the second day of the retreat which took us to all the shops (well we did explore most of them on our own the first day) as well as several local businesses.

Once you visit Hamilton, MO, you will see why it’s called Quilt Town, USA!

Well that is enough for this post (I think there will be a lot of posts in this series, ha!). Next post I will share photos from my adventures in the shops with my quilting friends.

II’ll also have a future post coming up on the Scrap Sale we attended (fill a bag for $11 to the brim with scraps…that were not really scraps – they were 1 yard to 3 yard pieces!!!); and how they will ship all your purchases (and anything else you can fit in the box they provide) home for you for free – OH TROUBLE FOR THE WALLET! (but good trouble…)

One of the wonderful signs they had in the quilt shops around town
Quilt Retreats, tierneytravels

MSQC Quilt Retreat Part I: What I Worked On

As I mentioned in the introduction in the past severals posts, I recently returned from a nearly week long quilting retreat with my long time quilting friends at the Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton Missouri. My next series of posts will be about that retreat. It was one of those “bucket list” experiences.

For this first post about the retreat, I thought I would do a follow up to my February 8, 2022 post Preparing for Quilt Retreat and show you what I actually worked on during the retreat – one thing – the first 20 blocks for the Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks quilt:

image from amazon.com

As I shared in the 02/08/2022 post Preparing for Quilt Retreat , I cut out the fabric from my scrap collection for the first 20 blocks and made them into little packets to take to the retreat:

I had so much fun at the retreat opening up each packet and working on it. Each packet was like a surprise as I forgot what specific fabrics and colors I cut for each one.

Here are the blocks in progress on the design wall I sat next to at the quilt retreat:

And here are the completed 20 blocks which took me a couple days to complete (because there was a lot of shopping and wandering around “Quilt Town USA“, but that is another post), and it was all that I worked on despite the other projects I had prepared and brought:

Now I have the blocks home and up on my design wall at home (each block measures 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches), and it will be time to try to make another 20 to get me closer to the 100 I need to complete for the quilt!

I am daydreaming about the day I complete all 100 blocks and then have to decide on my block setting options – the end of the book has so many awesome setting options!

Bags Bags Bags

Juniper Basket Finished

Before I headed out to a week long quilting retreat with my long time quilting friends at the Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton Missouri, I made a Juniper Basket to transport some of the projects I was bringing to the quilt retreat.

A group of quilting friends and I’ve been purchasing patterns by s.o.t.a.k. handmade and exchanging fabrics with each other to make her bags. The Juniper Basket was our latest group project:

image from http://www.etsy.com/shop/SotakCo

The pattern has two size options: SMALL – 9” x 7” x 6” or LARGE – 11” x 8 ½” x 7”.

I think I should have made the small version but I made the large version. It was larger than I expected and a little floppier than expected, but there is plenty of room to hold stuff! It has an outside zipper as well as an inside pocket.

Here are the photos of my finished Juniper Basket (my friend Dana gave me the fabric and cord for the bag):

The thing that did not do it for me in this bag/basket were the handles on the end. It would have been more functional if they were in the middle like a tote bag. I wonder if I should try and make the smaller one and see if the side handles make more sense.

If I make another large Juniper Basket I am going to set the handles in the middle.

I was looking at the designer’s Etsy shop – SotakCo, and I see she has this tote bag, which I think I could recreate by just making larger handles and moving them to the center:

image from SotakCo Etsy Shop, Somerset Tote Bag

I do love her designs and I love that if you purchase her pattern, she licenses you to make items to sell in handmade shop situation such as an Etsy shop or at craft fairs! She really supports the small business handmade community, so I like to support her!

Guest Blogger, Shows and Exhibits

Guest Blog Post: Craft and Vendor Show Beginner’s Survival Kit

So I began February 2022 with the plan of daily blogging and I kept it up until 02/17/22 where I promptly “fell off the wagon”, ha! Life has been kind of busy and I recently returned from a nearly week long quilting retreat at the Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, MO (oh yes there will be posts about that adventure in the future!).

I have a lot of catch up reading on my blogging buddies blogs; and today I am going to share a guest blog post written by Carrie Spencer of The Spencer Adventures (see the bottom of this post for more info on Carrie). I have this fantasy that someday I will sell my handmade creations at a craft fair so this article is perfect for my daydreaming!

Craft and Vendor Show Beginner’s Survival Kit

by Carrie Spencer, The Spencers Adventures

Turning any crafting hobby into a true business takes a lot of work. If you have been honing your craft, you may wonder whether you’re ready for fairs and vendor shows. If you have a fair amount of inventory and an established brand, a craft or vendor show could be a great next step, but bear in mind that it requires more than setting up a table and taking money.

To make sure your first foray into a market goes well, here is a quick beginner’s survival guide for the show circuit.

Forming a Business

Having a side hustle is one thing, but relying on your craft as a main income requires a different approach. You need to consider taxes and liability. Some shows even require that you have a tax identification number for your application. If you haven’t formed a business yet and plan to do this full-time, this is your first step.

There are a variety of formation options, but you might consider the advantage of LLCs. Limited liability companies can protect your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other legal situation. They also offer tax benefits and less paperwork than other formations. You can even use a formation service if you are unsure about what is needed to start an LLC in your state and don’t want to deal with the paperwork details.

Creating a Display

With a formed business and accepted show applications, you can next focus on your booth display. A standard booth size is about 10 feet by 10 feet, and you need to make every inch count. Tangleweeds notes that your display is vital to drawing in potential customers and getting your products recognized. 

image from post Sewing & Stitchery Expo, tierneycreates 03/05/2018

For these reasons, you need to be strategic about your setup. Make sure there is enough space for customers to walk around and see your offerings. Use attractive signage to stand out from surrounding vendors. When customers do come in, try to engage them personally. Make your booth and brand memorable.

You can make your brand more noticeable by designing a memorable and appealing logo. Fortunately, you can create a logo for free when you use an online logo design tool. This tool allows you to browse logo templates and then customize them by adding your own images, font, and text. 

Prepping Products

According to AmeriCommerce, one of the best strategies you can use at a craft show or fair is to research your competition. Knowing who the other vendors are and what they provide can help ensure you offer a unique, high-quality and competitively priced product. 

You also want to make sure that you bring enough products to sell so that you can earn back your vendor fees and meet your sales goal. It’s wise to bring enough product to sell two or three times what your goal is. So, if you plan on selling $300 of your product, bring enough to actually sell $600 or $900 of your product.

image from post Sewing & Stitchery Expo, tierneycreates 03/05/2018

Processing Payments

The types of payments you accept can determine which customers make a purchase and which walk away empty-handed. For professional appearances, you should have a cash box on hand to accept cash payments. With the accessibility of Wi-FI, however, you should also prepare for mobile purchases.

You can use a card reader or cash app to accept payments. Make sure your customers know if you accept payment methods other than cash. If using an app, have a sign with your business’ QR code ready to scan and any relevant information. If you charge extra for credit card purchases, make sure your customers know about this in advance as well.

image from ZDnet.com

While their preparation can take a lot of effort, craft shows and markets can be successful for sellers and customers alike. With a little bit of prep work, you’ll not only survive but thrive in your first craft market experience. 

About the guest blogger author:

Carrie Spencer created The Spencers Adventures to share her family’s homesteading adventures. On the site, she shares tips on living self-sufficiently, fruit and vegetable gardening, parenting, conservation, and more. She and her wife have 3 kids, 2 dogs, 4 cats, 3 goats, 32 chickens, and a whole bunch of bees. Their goal is to live as self-sufficiently and environmentally-consciously as possible. 

Carrie has guest blogged on the tierneycreates blog in the past – see the post Fun and Educational Activities to Drive the Indoor Blues Away (Guest Blogger Post).

Creative Inspiration

Stories My Father Told Me (re-posting)

In honor of February being Black History Month (see my post Black History Month) I thought I would re-post a section of the post from April 2016 – Creative Inspiration: Stories My Father Told Me. Today, February 17th, is the 14th anniversary of his passing in 2008 and he is part of my personal “Black History” legacy.

Stories My Father Told Me (originally posted April 2016)

My father, Raoul A. Davis, Sr. was an amazing man. He passed in 2008, and left behind a legacy of stories and inspiration.

Born of the 4th of July, he was the son of two teachers and grew up the segregated South (Charleston, West Virginia) in the 1930s. He faced many hardships and challenges but always forged ahead to achieve his goals and dreams. He was the first black to attend Kiski School in Pennsylvania, received a bachelor’s degree from Central State University, and obtained his Master’s degree from Columbia University. He also served his country in the US Army.

He served as a leader in the nonprofit sector for over 40 years. His service included working with gangs and underprivileged youth as a Social Worker in NYC; founding the Urban League of Long Island, NY; and creating the first Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival (today known as the African American Family Day Art Festival).

He retired as the Deputy Commissioner for the Office of General Services for the State of NY. In his retirement he volunteered and consulted for local nonprofits and community agencies.

His resume was impressive, but what I remember most about him is his stories.

Starting from my earliest memories as a child, I remember him telling me stories of his challenges growing up in the segregated South, stories of his athletic pursuits (he was an accomplished multi-sport athlete), stories about the intense hazing he received as the first black to attend Kiski Prep School, stories of overcoming shocking physical and psychological abuse in the US Army in the 1950 by his drill sergeant, and many other inspirational stories from his life.

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A couple of years before he passed he decided to write his autobiography and I offered to help him by transcribing his handwritten notes and pulling them into a rough draft. It was so wonderful to read the stories I knew well from hearing in my youth; and I was honored to help him with this project.

Unfortunately my father passed before finishing his autobiography. I did take what I had and make it into a book for my sister and brother (two incredible individuals who continue my father’s legacy and inspire me daily); and for his grandchildren (one of which he did not get to meet before he passed).

I am still left with all his stories in my head and in my heart, and I think I want to share them in another medium beyond the verbal and written word: in my art quilts.

One of my favorite stories that my father told me, is a story from his growing up in the segregated South and a bus ride experience that embodied his outlook on dealing with racial prejudices:

As a teenage in the 1940s, I was riding on the bus and a white guy was forced to sit next to me because no other seats were available. He turned to me and growled – “I hate you, you  #%%$%%!”  

I calmly replied to him “Well, you would like me if you got to know me”. 

We ended up having a great conversation and when we got to his bus stop, he exclaimed as he exited the bus: “Raoul, you are alright”.

My father likely did not change this man’s racist outlook on people of color, but he may have left an imprint in this man’s mind and heart to evaluate people based on their character not their color.

My father, who was also active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and fortunate to have met Martin Luther King, Jr., believed in focusing on getting to know each other as individuals and not judging an entire group or population.

He believed change came through dialogue not violence. He taught his three children to be brave, no matter what adversity life threw at them; and to as Mahatma Gandhi said:

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

Featured image credit: Wikipedia stock image

A Crafter's Life, tierneytravels

Breakfast Buffet and Confused Deer

Of all the things I took for granted that I could do “pre-pandemic”, going to a breakfast buffet was one of them. This weekend I got to eat at my first breakfast buffet since 2019 and meet some very confused deer.

My partner John and I have an obsession with historic hotels and gravitate towards staying in them. We live in the Denver Metropolitan area and we’ve even gone for a weekend to a local historic hotel in downtown Denver, just to experience it.

Colorado has some cool historic hotels and one of them that we love is The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. I stayed there for the first time in May 2021 and you can read about that visit in this post – Weekend at The Broadmoor.

Well for Valentine’s Day weekend we returned there and surprisingly they had their renown breakfast buffet at the Lake Terrace Dining Room recently reopened! It had been closed for a long time due to the pandemic of course.

I tried to remain calm and make good choices, but I was ECSTATIC to wander about a breakfast buffet. Here are some photos from the buffet (why yes, I was the idiot wandering about the food at the buffet taking photos while “oooing” and “ahhhing”...):

They had a custom omelet station as well other delights such as cheese blintzes with berry compote. There was a lot more food than what was pictured but I would have looked even more pitiful (like I am never allowed out the house) if I took pictures of all the food stations at the buffet while people were waiting to serve themselves.

Yes, I was acting like I’d never been to a buffet before, like ever. Or like I had just landed on this planet and was learning my way around…

One of the things at the buffet that made my jaw drop was their honeycomb display for the local honey that had on the smoked meat and cheese table:

Perhaps I am just being weird after losing access for a couple years to things I took for granted, but I thought this was quite the delightful (and delicious) sight! And yes the honey drizzled over the gourmet cheese and smoked meats was sublime!

Although I wanted to be very naughty, I did not return for any refills (except on tea) and here are our plates after making our way through the buffet:

After our breakfast, we wandered outside to watch ducks and geese (they also have swans living on the lake) who live at the little lake at The Broadmoor fly about.

You are going to have to trust me that is was austere and peaceful to watch them, as the photos above do not do the experience any justice.

While watching the birds, we noticed a trio of deer wandering around the cobblestone grounds near the building where we had breakfast. At first they looked like they knew where they were going as they trotted down the stairs to the paved little shopping area below on the property. However after a while they looked like their GPS directions stopped working!

They looked like confused deer:

In the image above it looks like they are saying: “I thought you knew where we turn next…”

I hope they found their way to wherever they were going!