RaNae Merrill Studio

Quilts. Music, Food. NYC…. and more

Harlem Grown makes a quilted “garden”


My new friend Tori Gilbert asked me to help create a quilt project for kids at Harlem Grown, a volunteer organization that teaches children about healthy living through urban gardening. Today was the day and here’s the result!

When Tori told me we would have one hour with about 10 kids aged 6 to 10 and she wanted them to make a quilt I knew we would have to design and prepare the project well. Continue reading “Harlem Grown makes a quilted “garden””

Valentine’s Day – Wings of Love pattern


Each Valentine’s Day since I wrote my first book, Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts, I’ve thought about doing a spiral heart block. Finally this year I sat down the other night and did it. It turned out even better than I had hoped (IMHO). So here, in honor of Valentine’s Day (and a few days early, in case you want to sew it in time for the day) is the pattern:

Wings of Love Spiral Heart Pattern

If you make it, post a photo with #wingsoflovequilt.

I’m going to be at The Fabric Nook in Granby, Colorado from 2:00 to 5:00 on Valentine’s Day (2017) sewing the sample. If you’re in the neighborhood drop by!

As it turns out, I slept quite comfortably with the alligator

This week I spent a couple of nights at the home of my friend Janellea MacBeth. As usually happens when I visit quilting friends, I had a bed covered with a stack of handmade quilts. I was snuggly and warm, but the first night I didn’t sleep as well as I do at home because I missed having my body pillow up against my back.

The next day I asked Jan if she had a couple more pillows I could use as a body pillow. Instead, she offered me a life-size plush alligator! As it turns out, that night I slept quite comfortably with the alligator. And as a bonus, we now have a fun joke to share between us. (And now with you.) Continue reading “As it turns out, I slept quite comfortably with the alligator”

Borrowing and Lending Courage

This week I’m in Winter Park, Colorado for a well-earned of week of skiing. I learned to ski just a few years ago, as an adult, at an age when you’re not “supposed” to learn to do crazy things like fling yourself down a mountainside on a couple of skinny little boards. Learning to ski was scary but exhilarating.

When I was in music school, I had a violinist friend who had five daughters, all of whom became professional string players. She said something to me once that I have never forgotten: “Always play with people who are better than you.” Of course, this would challenge me to become good enough to play with them at the same time that I learned from them. Continue reading “Borrowing and Lending Courage”

Use a Measuring Goal

Goals give me stress.

All the books say “Give yourself a deadline” and “Set smaller interim goals.” The problem is, often I don’t know how much time or effort it’s going to take to reach the goal, so really my goal is just a stab in the dark, which is pretty much useless. I have Absolutely No Idea How To Get It Done On Time. If the time is too short, I end up working day and night and hate that I have no life. If the time is too long, I put it off until the time is too short. Continue reading “Use a Measuring Goal”

Comparison, Gratitude and a Movie

Soon Thanksgiving dinner will be done and it will be time to snuggle up in your favorite quilt on the couch with a holiday movie before the holiday shopping frenzy begins.  It’s a Wonderful Life or Home Alone are traditional choices, but my vote goes to My Life as a Dog. Not a Christmas-themed movie, but since the holiday is Thanksgiving, I think it fits the bill nicely. Continue reading “Comparison, Gratitude and a Movie”

Practice Makes Perfect-[ly Wrong]


Earlier this year, after a break of 20+ years, I returned to teaching piano. I have just a few students, and I’m enjoying them so much! Working with them has helped me look at teaching quilting in new ways.

Let me tell you about Hank. He came to me with a Clementi Sonatina. Even though he had practiced it for two years, he still could not play it without dozens of stops and starts all the way through. The problem wasn’t that he wasn’t good enough to play it. The problem was that he didn’t know how to practice to get it consistent and flowing.

If you’ve been trying to learn to do machine quilting you might recognize this problem. You know what the patterns are supposed to look like. Maybe you can even draw them. But you can’t quilt them so they look consistent and flowing. Continue reading “Practice Makes Perfect-[ly Wrong]”

Pray with your hands


A little over 15 years ago, in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks, I made this quilt. The design was one I had seen on a 15th century Tibetan altar cloth in an Asian art show a few weeks earlier. Something about the colors and the simple design of that piece really stuck in my mind. In the stressful, fearful days that followed 9/11, I decided to make a quilt like that altar cloth. I was literally praying with my hands. Continue reading “Pray with your hands”

Making the Bed

sails-waves-use-this-8-96-jpgToday I’m turning my new book over to the designer. The house looks like a hurricane hit. The camera is on top of the ladder, the tripod is in the corner by the end table. There is a large stack of quilts lying between sheets in the middle of the living room waiting to be photographed. Stacks of mail languish on the kitchen counter and the front hall chest. Shipping boxes are stacked in a corner of the bedroom. Several drawers in my studio won’t even close.

But in the midst of all this, my bed is made, topped with one of my favorite quilts and matching pillowcases. Continue reading “Making the Bed”

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑