A Lit Up Life List, Rediscovering Crafting and Never Following the Recipe

REAL-LIFE-INTERVIEW_CARRIE_MERRELLWho are you, sister? Tell us a little about yourself. Hi, I’m Carrie Merrell! I live in Sunnyvale, California with my husband and two year old son, Luke. I’m a stay at home mom and I write modern geometric patchwork quilting patterns + ebooks. I never follow a recipe exactly when I’m cooking and I never follow a pattern exactly when I’m sewing so I include lots and lots of options to help quilters understand what changes they can make to the pattern and how they can make them.

Let’s do some one word answers. Ready, set, go!

Morning Drink? Coffee
Indulgence? Massages
Lusting after? A hot tub (which is totally not practical with a toddler)
Spirit Animal? Raven
Head Space? Learning
Heart Space? Sweet
Bloom of Choice? Orchids
Turn-on? Supportiveness
Go-to Gemstone? Ruby
Celebrity Icon? Kate Middleton
Favorite compliment? Creative

What does practicing joy mean to you? Enjoying how I spend my time. Figuring out how to fix and work around “mistakes”.

Biggest life lesson you’ve learned lately? The other day I was showing off a bag I made to some of the ladies in my yoga class. One lady was super impressed that I had made it. Another asked her if she did any crafty stuff. The first said yes but her stuff doesn’t come out looking like you can buy in a store. And then I proceeded to point out all the mistakes and things I’d do differently next time.

Stop doing that.

Take compliments and give myself more credit for my skills and the quality of my work.

What’s your definition of success? Being able to provide for myself and my family financially in a way that is time independent. That is not tied to hours or deadlines. I don’t ever want to set an alarm clock again and I need to be able to take a nap just about every day. I want to be able to work on my quilt patterns when it feels good to me, make something that I’m super proud of, and make money doing that.

Name 3 things from your Life List that light you up!

So I have a note in Evernote called “life list” that I haven’t updated since 2011. Wow is it cool to look back at that. Some things are old hat now. Have a baby? Been there, done that.

Three things that are still sparking as awesome must dos are:

Own a home
Develop a taste for wine
See the Northern Lights

What do you do when life gets messy? Reset myself with a nap or an early bedtime, shower, do a little angry house cleaning. When all else fails, I turn to giant paragraphs of word vomit to my Elevate sisters. Or I just have a meltdown and cry it out.


3 songs, 3 Books, 3 Instagram Accounts


“Cecilia and the Satellite” by Andrew McMahon
“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
“Sugar” by Maroon 5


The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson



What has been your favorite journey? My career + being an adult + cancer + finding Molly + how I ended up feeling good about being exactly like my mom.

I majored in graphic design in college and during that time I worked as an intern at Readymade magazine where in addition to my graphic design for and general intern duties, I developed small craft tutorials for the magazine. I have published craft tutorials in Readymade and Beadwork (same publisher as Readymade) magazines.

And then I got very busy with being an adult and working and not having very much disposable income and crafting fell by the wayside.

I started out working in the printing industry doing design and prepress mostly for food packaging and then spent some time working at BlogHer before quitting my job in December 2011 to become a stay at home fiance (which eventually turned into stay at home wife and now stay at home mom).

In March 2012 I had finished my list of all the things I wanted to do after I quit my job and then I had my full blown quarter life crisis so I started Molly’s Joy Equation. Molly had a little hit replyand tell me why you’re here thing and this is exactly what I wrote back to her:

“I’m here because I’ll be turning 28 in April and two years ago I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that made me totally reconsider who I was and what I was doing and I quit my job in December because I just didn’t feel like it was getting me anywhere and now I feel like I’m barely even keeping up with the day to day stuff I need to do. Basically I’m feeling lost and like I’m not making any progress in life so I’m hoping to figure out what I want to do with myself and gain some focus and direction.”

The Joy Equation got me thinking about what I loved doing with my spare time as a kid. The answer was crafting. That year I set a goal for myself to do a different type of craft each month for the whole year. I don’t think I actually met that goal but it ignited a fire.

In March 2013, I was wrapping up my new craft every month project and my goal for that particular month was to make a quilt. It was love at first quilt. Quilting is the perfect crafty medium for the bold, geometric design style I developed as a graphic designer.

And then in March 2014, I had a baby and felt like I basically had to start from scratch figuring out what I was doing with my life.

I did Elevate in 2015 which really helped me dig in and figure out how I could do basically the exact same thing my mom did—leave job, have kid, write and publish craft patterns from home as a career—in a way that felt good and right to me.

In October 2015, I launched my first quilting ebook and my second ebook is launching March 31st.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? This advice wasn’t given to me personally, it was in a blog post I read, but it really transformed my thinking on perfectionism and opened up new worlds of joy for me.

“At this point, you can decide how much of a perfectionist you want to be. If you carefully measured and sewed, all your points will line up perfectly. If you didn’t, they won’t. Decide how much you want this to bother you and move on.”

Source: http://eliseblaha.typepad.com/golden/2012/09/how-to-make-a-triangle-quilt.html


Word of the Year? Tend
Book That Made a Difference: The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte
Currently Obsessed: Mumm Napa Brut Rose
Can’t Live Without: My Kindle Voyage


Wanna connect more with Carrie? Easy!

Visit her website, carrieactually.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest




Real Talk
In real time

Inner truth + outer alignment = unapologetic joy

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Real Talk
In real time

Inner truth + outer alignment = unapologetic joy

Get my weekly-ish love notes to help you reclaim an intimate, honest + joyful relationship with yourself, for the good of all.