Monday, November 4, 2019

A bit of sun and a bit of progress

Taking advantage of some rainy days, three borders have now been added to the feed sack quilt.

Once it is ready for quilting, I plan to add a bit of embroidery to the border.

I am considering a one-inch outer border made from strips of leftover feedsack fabrics. Not quite sure if it is needed or the fabrics would be strong enough for the wear edges get.

I have also been thinking of centers for the flowers in the borders. I had thought of vintage buttons but they might get caught on things once it is on a bed.
Then I thought of making small yoyos. They were rather popular back in the days of feed sacks.

The flowers and butterflies and vines are now pinned in place on the last border.  This can be rather addictive but I will have to take a break to finish a whittling project that needs to be in the mail within a few weeks.

Cool fall days have replaced the sauna of summer ... a sudden swing from t-shirts to a down jacket.
A few more layers above the quilt on my bed ...

The last Sunday in October, I met with my scouts at the entry tori gate to the Meiji shrine.

The plan was to cover the requirements for rank advancement in the area of "Duty to God".

Luckily my assistant had printed out the requirements for different ranks so we were able to run through them all.

The requirements are written for BSA members assuming everyone has access to materials in their own language and belong to a church. My group, being from  all different countries is not likely to find a book  in their school library to read about the pilgrims.

We had to learn a song and a prayer ... fine for those with church traditions.
My goal in choosing the Meiji shrine was the long meditative walk through beautiful nature.
There were lots of tourists and worshipers too. We could talk about respect for religions other than our own and how both Shinto traditions and Buddhist traditions and holidays are part of the local culture.

We observed at least three wedding processions.

We saw children dressed in Kimono to celebrate an early "Shichi-go-san"... the 7, 5, 3, age celebration for children...

Another procession coming through the gate...

                                      A display of chrysanthemums.

                                 Another display of bonsai and mini garden layouts....

                                            Cases of Japanese sake, donated to the shrine ...

And, across from the sake,  a display of casks of wine donated by winemakers.  I guess there will be plenty to serve all those wedding guests.

It was a very long walk to the inner area and back and the kids still had plenty of energy at the end. I was glad to sign off their books after covering their remarks. (and glad to get a seat part of the way home). With so many days of rain, we were lucky to have a dry day for the outing.

Then rain set in again until Saturday when we had a weed-a-thon. Three bags of weeds now waiting for tomorrow's trash collection and multiple service hours for our unit...

Somewhere in between I fit in a birthday with a big multiple skype with my kids. I think I needed a bigger screen to get everyone in view. What a joy!

The cookie fairy showed up and put in a day of hard work ... and a few got left for me to share with friends.

And, if I needed to feel even more loved,

... look at all the flowers that joined the party...

Not much room left for meals on that table...

Well, time to wind my clock and get back to the tasks at hand.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Rainy day flowers

A week of rain means progress on the feed sack quilt border.

I wanted to use some of the smaller feed sack scraps in the quilt and I thought an applique border would be a good way to do it.

This is the first long border, now all stitched and ready to add to the quilt.

I have begun selecting flower petals for the second long border and once they are in place, I will add the vines and leaves.

The top and bottom borders will also have flowers and I am thinking of adding a butterfly to each corner. Somewhere I saw a picture of a vintage quilt with butterflies made from feed sack fabrics. I think I made a sketch of the design but have yet to find which book I sketched it in.
Well, there is still time to find it as that will come at the end of the last borders.

Tuesday, while basting flower petals, I watched the enthronement ceremony of the new emperor on TV.

It was very serious and formal, and just as the deep purple curtains of the canopied throne were being pulled apart to reveal him in all his glory, the rain that had been falling for days came to a halt.

Then, a bit later, as he unfolded and began to read the written proclamation of his ascension, the sky turned a bright blue with the sun shining through my curtains.
I heard from a friend that he had seen a rainbow along with the sun.

The rain has now returned in force, but it was nice to have an opportunity to air my bedding in the sun and hang my wash.

I am wondering how the weather went so suddenly from a sauna to sitting indoors in a light down jacket. The dogwood trees in the park are dropping bright red leaves but others have yet to turn color.

The Hototogisu, named after the spotted Little Cuckoo, has begun to bloom in the front hedge and along the garden path.

In english it is called Hairy Toad Lily. The best part of this flower, beyond its beauty, is it is fine with excess shade and thrives on neglect.

This one has come up amid the azalea bushes along the west side of the house, making up for the lack of blooms (only one flower along the whole length of hedge) this year.

Tomorrow we will fill our rainy day time with a visit from the "Cookie Fairy". The expected produce to be Halloween cookies. Whoever would have thought Japan would have embraced that holiday!!!
Certainly, it was unheard of years ago, and even when my own kids were young, we could actually enjoy a meal without having to jump up and run to the door for trick-or-treaters.

Friday, October 18, 2019

rainy day work

Between train rides into town and down time at home, the feedsack stars got joined together.

I was a bit worried I would not be able to get all those points to meet, and was even thinking of adding sashing, but this time I am satisfied with the results. Each star has two setting fabrics matching at least two of the colors in the print. Two weeks ago I laid the blocks out on the floor of the church fellowship hall before choir practice and tried to get a good balance of colors.

This is a rather dull picture taken on the park fence on a very cloudy morning. In fact, it began sprinkling as I took the quilt down and started home. Actually, the blocks look a lot brighter.

Some facebook group friends said I should finish this without a border but I am considering an applique using the leftover feedsack scraps. Maybe on a muslin solid. To my thinking, a border would hold all these randomly colorful blocks together. Somewhere I saw some simple flowers that used a variety of prints... and maybe a vine and leaves. There is no rush so I may experiment a bit before I decide. Maybe I can find some inspiration in my collection of books...

The weather predictions include more rain in the forecast. It has actually turned rather cold and I added a light down comforter to the quilt on my bed. I was rather looking forward to something between the sauna days of summer and pulling out winter sweaters.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Indoor work

When typhoons bring wind and rain, sometimes it works for the best.

In preparation for the typhoon, I checked up on my outdoor plants.

This night-blooming cereus has been producing a big bud, and since I missed the bloom on the last one, I didn't want this one ruined by wind and rain so I brought it inside and put it on the bookcase above my futon.

Lots of things were cancelled because of the looming storm, but I decided to go on with my Cub pack meeting on Friday evening. We cancelled our raingutter regatta because it needs to take place outside on the roof of the American Club and not so good in wind and rain.
The regular meeting went well with new members joining, and we ended in time for families to go home without worry of storms.

Saturday, I was to sing with a small choral group at a wedding. It was probably a good call, but sad that the wedding was postponed. I feel sorry for the family who had put so much into the planning, but I enjoyed being able to attend my English class and be nearby for any possible wind events.

As it turned out, my area was not hit hard. Lots of rain fell, and as I was taking Nikko out regularly for her business trips, I was able to clear the sewer drains to keep the walkways from becoming lakes.

The wind gusts were not so hard, but I could hear much stronger wind screaming high above. None of the plants blew off the wall. One wet dog spent her time inside.

 The night-blooming cereus rewarded me for it's rescue...

and, to tell the truth, I might have missed the bloom had it been outside.
I have to admit it was a bit hard to turn off the light and shut my eyes.

It blows my mind that a flower this lovely only opens in the dark of night and blooms for only a few hours. By morning it was a hanging finished bulb.

It causes me to wonder what beauty we miss each day because our attention is elsewhere ...
so many things that are here and gone before getting our attention...
even people who are here and gone before we really get to know them...

Morning brought bright blue skies and sun. Though many trains were not yet running, I was able to attend church, and there were enough parts in the choir to sing Monteverdi's beautiful "Beatus vir" with flute and violin joining the accompaniment.

With extra indoor time, I was able to work on this year's Stewardship banner.

The quilted words at the bottom, "Anywhere, Lord, any time, don't show up with this lighting but will be at eye level when it is hung.

This is taken from the spiritual. I added a few extra four-letter words to fill the cross.

I thought the background would be more interesting than a solid color, and in a way, represents the theme as it takes a variety of many colors to make a rainbow and a variety of talents to keep a church active.

I still need to add the hanging sleeves and buy some dowels.

I took Nikko to the park water tap and gave her a shampoo so she could dry out in the sun and washed down the genkan and entryway tiles.

Seven rows of feedsack stars are sewed together ... thanks to being able to actually sit on the train with connecting lines being down and people staying home.
And ... what should really be getting my attention? The giant spoon syndrome that had turned my livingroom into an indoor disaster. 

Monday, September 30, 2019

Another finish

Well, the border linked hearts don't really show up very well, but it is now done and bound and labeled and ready to pass to the next step on its way to Austria.

Next in line should be a stewardship banner, and I have a plan in mind, but the committee is yet to discuss let alone approve the plan. Hopefully I won't be backed into the corner at the last minute.

I am thinking of beginning to sew the feedsack blocks together. I need to make one more block and then lay them out for arrangement.

The spider lilies outside my front gate have finally bloomed. I think with so many tall buildings cutting off all but about 30 minutes of sun to the garden has made a big difference on the timing and amount of blooms my small garden produces.

Even the toad lilies are much later producing buds this year.

The weather is a wee bit cooler.
I have been leaving Nikko outside between the front door and the gate during the daytime. The space is a bit bigger than the genkan. Of course she knocks over flowerpots and tracks dirt all over, but it is easier to sweep up than the scrubbing down of the genkan tiles.

Tonight I will leave her out a bit longer until I return from church ... and see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Next ...

The big stitch is all done and next on the list is quilting the border.

I pulled out the stencil I made for the last baby quilt, but it was too large to fit this border. I really liked that design so decided to make a new stencil.

I am not sure the stitching will show at all but it showed up on the last busy print so I will keep working.

Hardest part is marking the fabric. My favorite marker is the sewline mechanical pencil but white really doesn't show up well.  The blue on blue is not so good either, though it will stay on the fabric until I put water on the lines with a paintbrush. The purple shows up the best, but because the markings disappear with time ... and the humidity speeds the time ... I have to mark as I go.

I really won't know the total results before I get to the end.

It looks like I will have a bit more time than expected this weekend because, though I had been planning to attend the choir retreat, the facility will not allow dogs ... even if they will be in a car or kennel and not go into buildings. I was planning to take Nikko and sleep with her in the van.
With her declining health, I don't want to hire a sitter and have been taking it day by day. This will be the first time for me to miss the practice and fellowship over many years, so it is a bit sad. I can practice at home and since I don't miss regular weekly practices, I should be able to learn my parts OK.

Though it is still humid, the weather is beginning to cool a bit.

  Today Nikko is enjoying a bit of outdoor time between the front door and the gate. I am trying to manage her meals and walks to reduce the number of times I have to spend scrubbing down the genkan area.

I hope by this time next week I will be looking for binding.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Big stitching has begun

Yesterday I stopped at the local shop and bought white and navy sashiko thread.

Today I finished all the small area quilting and decided to start the big stitch to see how it shows up.

Though this is rather simple, I think it will be a lot easier than trying to mark a design on these busy prints.

The white sewline pencil shows up on all of the dark prints and maybe half of the light ones.

I may have to go shopping for a new ChakoAce in blue or purple ink.
The purple is easier to see but the ink disappears with time ... which is extremely short when there is a lot of humidity. The blue, I can remove with a paintbrush dipped in water.

I still have time to think about how I am going to manage marking the border.

Today is a holiday ... Respect for the aged day. As last year, I began the day delivering onigiri to the homeless. After a break during the hot summer, the homeless guys greeted me most warmly. Many asking me about Nikko, who was waiting in the car as I don't think she would be able to handle two flights of stairs.

The day is gray and rainy and I am rather glad to spend it quilting. My boss is now having her baby and it will be November before I am back to school. Last year I worked on this holiday and even though it was a day for the elderly, there was no chance of sitting on the train either into town or back. These days it would be even harder to get a seat. The trains are beginning to open up the space near the doors and they are doing it by removing "Silver Seats" which are intended for seniors and handicapped or expectant mothers.

Up until now, there have been 8 seats (four on each side) at the ends of each car. Recently the newer cars have just six at one end and three at the other ... making room for baby carts or wheelchairs. In addition, they have moved the hand grips up near the ceiling, out of reach of the majority of elderly people. Even my gorilla arms are not long enough to get a tight hold. Even with 8 seats, the chances of sitting were quite slim as the seats went to the youngest and most aggressive. Then, they pull out their cell phones so as not to see the elderly standing in front. I have often wondered if they have any idea that some day they might be elderly themselves.

From tomorrow, things get hectic so it is good to zone-out on the sofa with a quilt in my lap. Only competition for sitting is piles of sorted fabric and a box of sewing equipment.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Lost in the garden

The in-the-ditch quilting has been finished and now the focus is on quilting within the blocks.

This quilt will be a gift to the mother of a friend for whom I made a baby quilt.
When the mother saw that quilt, she said she had always wanted to have a quilt, and since I had lots of floral prints recently "gifted", and I had wanted to try out the same pattern that I used with the black and white quilts, I thought this would be a good way to thank her for all her wonderful son has contributed to our church family.

Once I began quilting in the smaller sections of each block, I am seeing that with these busy prints, the quilting hardly shows at all.
It will not show on the back either as that is a busy floral print.

I plan to continue what I have started, but am now thinking that using the "big-stitch" quilting that I did on those black and white quilts would show up better.

Maybe I can use white pearl cotton or sashiko thread as before with white on the darker areas and possibly navy blue on the light prints.

With "big-stitch" quilting, it is rather difficult to do fancy work so probably I would just use the outline stitches half an inch inside the seams.

I am thinking of doing the border with the linked hearts that I just used  on the last baby quilt. They showed up fairly well on that busy print, and that would add a bit more "real" quilting.
Do you think it is OK to combine the two styles? Or, should I just do it all in regular quilting whether it shows or not?

Well, I have a bit of time to think it over.....

Monday, September 2, 2019


This morning the mouse watched the last stitch go into the border of the mandela.

Next I will have to decide on the binding.

I really don't want to spend money so I will have to dig out something from my collection of leftovers.

Red, yellow, grey,...
I may have some rainbow bias left over.

I also took the flower quilt up to the sauna in the upstairs apartment and pin-basted it after piecing the batting.

I was thinking of thread basting it but that would take several more hours and I need to go to get dog food before the rest of my Tuesday schedule hits the fan.
As it is, there is construction going on in my neighborhood and if I take the car as usual, I will need to drag the heavy bag back from the parking area because there is no room for cars to pass to get to my house ... so, I will take the train and a roller-bag as the walking distance is about the same.

I am enjoying these volunteers blooming along the base of my garden wall.

These come up from bulbs and do not produce seeds. The flowers last a few days.

The yellow ones are a bit smaller and also come from bulbs.

You can see the seed pods with three pockets of ripening seeds.

These both begin blooming toward the end of summer and thrive on neglect ... my favorite kind of garden flower.
Maybe some member of the lily family?

Guess I should take some time to go through all my plant books. After all, I have enough of them!

Hoping now for a few cooler days  so I can get that quilt in the hoop and begin to quilt that fabric garden.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Look what flew in

The last critter has now joined the medicine wheel and I am currently adding Celtic knots. I think these will work well with my mandela. No connection with Native American themes, but being a Scouter, I have always been working with knots, teaching knots and braiding the right knot for the right purpose.

Of course the purpose of these knots is to fill  border space, but I like the meaning they represent, eternity, loyalty, faith, friendship, love, and the interconnection of life and our place within the universe. I think that is also fitting with a meditative mandela, so I have been drafting a few knots to fit the spaces on the inner border.
There may be a trinity shaped knot to fill the corner spaces.

I'm not sure where this will end up, but I am enjoying the journey....