Dedicated to my sister Linda, who loves all creatures, large and small.

From brambles and thickets

humble faces emerge

in witness of moonbeams

this deep forest night.

In silence they gather

creatures large and small

a summit of peace

in the full moon’s glow.

Detail from Moonbeams, 2021 (87 x 106″)
Cotton fabric, machine pieced, machine and hand quilted
by Sharon Carrier

(All photos in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)

A Rising Star

Today I’m thinking about transitions, those in-between times that can be both unsettling and energizing.

I worked in higher education most of my life, and for many years I oversaw the annual rite of passage known as commencement. An overall celebratory event, this occasion proved bittersweet for graduates as they hugged friends goodbye before leaving, with hope and diploma in hand, for promising opportunities ahead. Commencements, like weddings and retirement parties, help us to adjust to our changing identities: student to graduate, single to married, professional to retired.

Among Covid’s many ravages have been the cancelled ceremonies that mark our social transitions. My niece Gillian graduated from college this past spring, and like so many others she was denied a traditional commencement experience. I’m glad that I had been making a quilt for her to mark her accomplishment.

In honor of our shared Irish heritage, I designed an Irish chain pattern with a star motif in light blues and whites. I envisioned keeping it light and dreamy, almost cloudlike. I had it quilted in an overall design of sweeping curls and loops. At a family gathering in late July, I presented it to her.

Gillian heads to New York this August to work in the media industry. A rising star in her field, she will continue to shine.

(All photos in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)


It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.

Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder, 1965

When I began this particular quilt adventure back in September of 2020, I didn’t know where it would lead me. But isn’t that why we willingly set out on a new adventure? For the fun of seeing new things and then seeing things in a new way?

I chose Melanie Traylor’s (@southerncharmquilts) Anthologie quilt pattern for its creative possibilities and “anything goes” bohemian style. The design has an organic feel that allowed me to grow my quilt from the ground up, literally!

For the inspiration collage (below), I experimented with raw-edge applique to create a meadow humming with life: birds nesting, butterflies flitting, and flowers blooming.

Detail from Reverence, June 2021 (67.5″ x 83.5″)
Cotton fabric, machine pieced and quilted by Sharon Carrier
Anthologie pattern by @southerncharmquilts

Moving higher up the quilt were blocks resembling flowers. For me, they became ideal locations for a hummingbird feeding on nectar and for bees collecting pollen.

Seasons change and bring a multitude of colors to our days and months, but in the night sky, stars and planets across distant galaxies radiate their own special glow from their unique positions in the cosmos. I expressed these thoughts in the borders and upper tiers.

My quilt, which I named Reverence, speaks to the interdependence of all living things. Systems thinker Meg Wheatley writes, “We know from science that nothing in the universe exists as an isolated or independent entity” (Leadership and the New Science, 1992).

Reverence also suggests an act of humility and respect. According to Rachel Carson, who inspired the modern environmentalist movement, “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction” (Silent Spring, 1962).

(All photos in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)

Orchard Pathways

Detail from Orchard Pathways, 2021 (42″ x 61.5″”)
Cotton fabric, machine pieced, hand quilted
Sharon Carrier

Come run with me on rutted dirt roads past farmhouse, barn, and zigzag fence.

Turn with me down winding trails through flowering fields and grasses green.

Walk with me on orchard pathways with saplings arranged in neat, hopeful rows.

Smell the dark earth where infant seeds sleep, wistfully dreaming about blue skies.

Taste the river, its clear water flowing, separating seeds and sending roots down.

Feel the waves of heat that beckon tender shoots to rise and tendrils to climb.

Smell the petals of blooming flowers, their sweet fragrance adrift in dusk’s amber light.

Feel the winds that one day will rush past grandiose trees with limbs stretching wide.

Stroll with me on pathways and trails and familiar dirt roads that lead us back home.

(All photographs in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)

These Truths

These Truths, 2020 (59″ x 59″)
Cotton fabric, machine pieced, machine and hand quilted
Sharon Carrier

I designed These Truths during the summer of 2020 when George Floyd’s senseless death replayed on cable news. The officer’s knee pressed against Floyd’s neck became emblematic of America’s painful perpetuation of racial injustices.

Floyd’s invocation of his deceased mother and his unheeded pleas–“I can’t breathe”– gave new life to Black Lives Matter. In a global pandemic, multiracial protestors filled streets to demand a reckoning, and voters responded with their ballots. It was as if the experiences of Black and Brown people finally got imprinted on America’s White conscience.

While making These Truths, I felt the weight of history–the pain and perseverance of individuals with skin tones different than mine. I learned about American abolitionists Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman and other women activists of the Civil Rights Movement including Ella Baker, Daisy Bates, Septima Poinsette Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Height, Diane Nash, and Jo Ann Robinson. I internalized their legacies and questioned my own.

With the promise of new leadership under President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, “equality” and “justice for all” have a chance of becoming more than democratic ideals. They must become our truth.

(All photographs in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)

(I appreciate quilt holder and organizer/activist Chelsea Carrier’s assistance with this post.)


It was a trip like no other. Just me and my daughter for three weeks in Portugal, Madrid, Barcelona, and the southern region of France known as Provence. I can’t describe our entire journey, so I’ll offer a glimpse of Provence, which had been a dream destination of mine until, together, we made it a reality in 2017.

Just as I had imagined, Provence holds a magical quality. From hills dotted with charming villages to city centers featuring broad avenues and upscale shops, Provence offers Old World charm and artistic refinement.

Lavender fields are plentiful in the countryside of Provence.
Mont Sainte-Victoire was a favorite subject for Cezanne. We also visited his perfectly preserved studio.
Van Gogh lived for a time in Arles, where he painted the night sky and street lights reflecting on the Rhone River.
Aix-en-Provence is famous for its many fountains.
Visual treasures awaited us around every corner.

We used almost every mode of travel on our trip, but explored each destination primarily on foot. I don’t think I’ve walked as much in my life! But every step was worth it, especially at the end of each day when we typically would climb up several flights of stairs–usually made of stone–to unwind in our comfy accommodations with great food and drink and stunning views!

As planners, my daughter and I mapped out each action-packed day in advance. In addition to museums, historical sites, and a few guided tours, we left plenty of time to wander.

In open-air markets we bought hand-crafted earrings and mused over odd antiquities. You might guess that I was drawn to the wide assortment of fabrics. The textiles of Provence reflect the variety and character of the region with their rich Mediterranean colors and traditional motifs and borders.

It was a hard choice, but I finally selected several gorgeous fabrics in yellows and blues for a quilt (or two). How could I resist?

As I reflect on this trip of a lifetime, I’m glad we didn’t wait for some better time to go. “Don’t postpone joy,” my daughter likes to say, and she’s right.

We have wonderful memories and photos, and–before too long–we’ll have a finished quilt to remind us of our travels and, of course, the joies de la vie!

(All photos in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)


Detail from Elements, 2018 (32 1/2″ x 26″)
Reverse appliqué and machine quilted
Sharon Carrier

Mighty ocean waves crash forward

with rhythmic predictability,

and hefty winds howl with disregard.

In defiance, we put up thin wooden fences

to hold blowing sand grains in place and

erect stilt houses to outsmart surging tides.

While these powerful forces threaten to overtake us,

we tenderly embrace our fragile existence and hope

that we and this place can grow old together,

with gurgling tidal currents and

dancing sea foam at our feet.

(All photographs in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)

My Corner of the Universe

My Corner of the Universe, 2018 – Sharon Carrier
82″ x 92” – machine pieced, free-motion quilted

Like cosmic explorers gliding into another world, we gently land under a canopy of stars and audaciously stake our claim here—at the edge of everything.

Down the way, at the intersection where sunrises and sunsets cross, fellow travelers ebb and flow with the seasons.

We stay—along with wild horses, deer, and coyote—to ride out epic fall storms and chilling winter blasts.

Just when we’ve had enough, spring returns to open delicate flowers and to warm our hearts.

Then summer rushes in to play, running down sun-drenched beaches and swimming in whirling ocean waters.

Ironically, this otherworldly place, forever in motion, evokes a quiet stillness, anchored in tranquility.

(All photographs in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)

Home and Wanderlust

Years ago our family’s garage housed a series of bird nests. A missing plexiglass window in the garage door allowed the birds to enter and exit as they pleased. Each spring the birds nested on top of the garage opener and tossed twigs on our car below.

We could hear the babies chirp and see their parents flying back and forth to feed them. The fledglings eventually spilled out of the nest, flapping and flailing across the concrete floor, making their way into the world beyond the nest.

Maybe it’s this pandemic we’re living through that has me thinking about staying home versus traveling to new places. Don’t get me wrong, I love my creative time at home (and I am extremely thankful to have one), but I also enjoy a good adventure!

My quests do not always work out well. Other times they do, like the time my husband and I went to Ireland and discovered my Irish family roots. Perhaps it’s biological, this wanderlust that drives us beyond the safety of the familiar and known to the exciting unknown.

With teenage exuberance and curiosity, my once-upon-a-time-long-long-ago boyfriend and I defied a “no trespassing” sign to take a shortcut through private property.

I crouched under the barbed-wire fence above while he held down the bottom wire for me to step over. Suddenly he lost his grip, and the lower wire sprang up, striking my ankle. Although I didn’t see the barb that gouged me, I did see—much to my horror—a great amount of blood covering my foot. Lesson learned: no shortcuts! I still have the scar, but definitely not the boyfriend.

My children’s favorite bedtime story was The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I loved reading Potter’s beautifully illustrated stories that bring you into the imaginary world of Peter, his siblings, and widowed mother who live in a cozy home complete with an oven and other human conveniences. Peter’s mother makes sure her bunnies have good meals and proper clothes to wear. She forbids Peter from going into Mr. McGregor’s garden (where bad things would surely happen), but he and his cousin Benjamin Bunny can’t help themselves. They escape to the garden where mischief ensues.

I found this vintage Peter Rabbit fabric that someday will become a baby quilt.

When I taught humanities to college students eons ago, I introduced them to the ideas of scholar Joseph Campbell, who explained that cultures share mythical heroic archetypes whose epic journeys define and transform them. Think of The Wizard of Oz. Through her tornado-spun adventure, Dorothy overcomes her wistful longings and realizes her own agency and power. Even tattered Peter Rabbit returns from his mischievous garden escapade grateful for the love and comforts of home.

Before the coronavirus hit, my husband and I visited our daughter in Iowa. She knew it would mean a lot to me to visit the Iowa Quilt Museum, so we drove to Winterset in Madison County.

If you’ve seen the movie, you’re already familiar with the historic covered bridges there.

After our own tour of several covered bridges, we arrived at the Iowa Quilt Museum.

I highly recommend the Iowa Quilt Museum, located on the charming town square in Winterset.

It took us a couple of hours to walk through a special exhibit of magnificent quilts by Marianne Fons and Liz Porter. One particular quilt caught my eye. Its label stated that Fons gained inspiration from the medallion (or frame) quilts in the book Quilt Treasures of Great Britain.

There I am, standing in front of the British Frame Quilt by Marianne Fons and Toni Fisher.

I later bought the book (published by the Heritage Search of the Quilters’ Guild, 1995), which traces the history and scope of quilt makers in the British Isles and their extraordinary medallion quilts.

Interestingly, the Iowa Statehouse, which my husband and I later visited, has stunning floor mosaics in the medallion style.

I took this photo of the Iowa Statehouse, bathed in the golden light of the setting sun.

But I digress.

Back to the road trip. Leaving Winterset, I really enjoyed the rural landscape of barns and fields.

Perhaps due to the unusual clouds, I casually asked my Midwestern daughter about tornadoes. By this time she was already assessing the cloud formations and increasingly green sky, but didn’t share her concerns until our phones started buzzing with a tornado alert.

With no shelter in sight, I imagined the two of us, still buckled into the rental car, spinning in the air, and NOT landing in Oz!

With her ruby red slipper firmly pressed against the gas pedal, my amazing daughter confidently raced down the highway toward our exit. There’s no place like home, but THAT was a great adventure!

After returning from Iowa, I designed a new quilt top in the traditional medallion style. As soon as my backing fabric arrives by mail, I will quilt it. Thankfully, I have lots of time at home to do just that!

(All photographs in this post are mine. Please do not use them without my permission.)

Crown of Thorns

Creative ideas can flow from things we see and know, but what about things we can’t see and don’t yet know? Do they have a role to play? That’s where this story begins.

Wanting to make a contemporary medallion quilt, I started with a modern variation of a “bear paw” block. I liked the look of the spikes shooting outward like a starburst. For the fabric I chose a Kathy Deggendorfer design from her Wild by Nature collection for Maywood Studio. The orange tonal circles and dots were fun and dynamic–just what I needed for the medallion block. Things really started shaping up when I added bordering fabrics suggestive of flowering plants, river currents, and wild animals.

About this time, news broke about COVID-19. After seeing enlarged images of the spikey virus plastered across the media, I lamented, “Oh no! My quilt looks like that!” I put that unpleasant thought aside and kept going.

I auditioned several fabrics and designs for the outer border and didn’t like what I was coming up with. Who said that creativity is easy? I asked my husband for his opinion and ended up taking his suggestion. (I am really surprised he is so good at this. Years ago, I concluded that he was colorblind based on the clothes he thought matched.)

For my corner blocks, I chose purple, not thinking at the time about its symbolism in art to connote royalty, divinity, and spirituality. I then experimented with the “friendship star” block. My husband said it looked like one of those medieval weapons of war that soldiers would throw at their enemies. So much for friendship!

With the piecing completed, I started quilting straight lines through the center medallion. It didn’t look quite right until I intersected the grid with wavy lines.

Quilting my way to the outer edges, I added denser quilting in some borders and swirls in others, creating a satisfying variety of visual effects and textures.

We were now well into the Easter month and news of COVID-19’s global devastation had intensified. We all feared the worst was yet to come with a rising death toll in Italy, Spain, and now the United States.

It was during this time that I began thinking of my quilt’s central motif as a “crown of thorns.” Most people will recognize this term as an instrument of suffering in Christ’s Passion. As an art student, I had seen many paintings of crucified Jesus bearing the thorny “crown” (corona in Latin), which his tormentors had thrust upon his head to mock and torture him.

Detail from Reign of COVID-19, 2020 – Sharon Carrier

Later, I learned that virologists who studied earlier coronaviruses under a microscope had named them for their identifiable spiked projections that create a halo effect, like that of the solar corona.

I plan to keep this quilt. Besides its visual attraction, it will remind me—especially in moments of self-doubt—to trust the creative process. By persisting through each creative decision, eventually I will end up with something meaningful to me and, I hope, to others.