Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Filling in the blanks


I guess I could be quilting the outer sashing by now, but I decided to go back and fill in the areas not covered with the feathers.

It probably isn't needed but I think the extra quilting adds a bit more balance,

The areas next to the border were a bit smaller than those along the sides so I modified the simple pattern to just a wee bit smaller ... template B.
It isn't taking long so maybe I can begin the outer sashing by tomorrow.


I turned the template as needed to fill in the areas that had been left between the feathers.


This busy print does not show the quilting well but I still think having those areas filled is more satisfying.









Last night I had to get up and run through the house shutting windows because a sudden thunder storm came through.

Today I had to go open them all again as it is a lovely sunny day.

Here in this picture, among the pink-headed knotweed, is a flower I found blooming at my last house.
The "lawn" was planted with "dragon's beard", not really a grass but a nice green-all-year ground cover that is popular in Tokyo gardens.

It spreads by roots or rhizomes and never needs cutting. Among that "grass" were a few flowers popping up. The leaves are the same size as the grass though they are bulbs and die back during the winter. There purplish-blue flowers are such pretty half-day wonders and the seeds I brought and planted have multiplied over the years.

BUT, if one wants to enjoy them ... one needs to get out early. By noon they are curling up and by evening they are in a tight knob at the tip of the stem. Those will dry and open like a cup full of tiny black seeds ... not unlike poppies.

Luckily, they don't all bloom at once so each morning different ones appear and we can enjoy them for a few weeks in spring.

I have not found this flower in any of my wildflower books, but even without a name, it is a pretty addition to the plants along the wall.

It seems there will be plenty of seeds to spread and I have a few ideas of where they might look good in the future.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The feathers are flying



Well, here is the pattern I drafted to fill the triangular parts of the border. It doesn't show up very well against the print but I think it will work out OK.

I wonder if I need a small bit of quilting in the open area on the sides.
I rather like quilting feathers because I can use a very long piece of thread and do not have to stop as often. I have two triangles quilted already and am finding the best way to order the sewing so that it goes quickly. Of course,being along the edge makes it a bit easier to handle too.

We live in a "NO MAN'S LAND".

I was communicating with my blogging friend, Cassandra, who has been tidying up her place and getting rid of things and organizing others.

I, too, have been sorting and trying to get rid of stuff that is taking up space and am stuck on three items.

One is the infant seat I picked up at the church's flea market. Another is a dead computer of my husband's that is blocking my cupboard door. And another is a dead printer my husband has piled in front of the computer making it impossible to open the cupboard at all.

I remember back in the stone ages, the first TV that entered our house was something my kid brother picked up on the curb. It had caught fire and was waiting for the trash collectors. He brought it home and restored it and my mother allowed it to stay.

What you see in this picture, sitting in front of my tricycle and Paul's red bike, is an old TV with a note attached. About a month ago, a shopping cart appeared in this area. It was soon followed by the TV. Finally, the apartment owner took the shopping cart to the main street and found a store it might belong to but the TV is altogether another story.

These days, when you buy an electrical appliance in Tokyo, added on to the price is the cost of disposal. This TV, like our old computer and printer were purchased too long ago.
There is a system to pay to dispose of large items.You pay for a ticket to stick on the item and call the gomi place and they will come and pick it up. Of course you cannot set a bed or sofa out on the street so you need to be home when the truck arrives. (and if you live on a street like mine that is too narrow for the truck, you have to lug it to the place the truck waits ... and I have done that with a lounge chair while two big hefty guys stood and watched my struggle).

BUT ... the TV cannot be trashed... even though it was dumped by an unknown person.You can't pay to have it removed. SO ... my husband calls our local Ku office to get the city to remove it. They come out for a look, BUT ... our street is really just an ally and this TV is setting on "private property" because, until this tiny narrow street is turned into a wide street that cars can come down, it is a no-man's-land and doesn't belong to our Ku.

This lane was a dirt path fifty years ago and now it is paved. the street in front of the light pole has curbing and a drainage system but our side of the pole where the TV sits is only a part of "Greater Tokyo" where no one is responsible because it is surrounded by Nerima-Ku.

When we lived in Suginami-Ku, I used to run Nikko to the park along the river every morning. I was often surprised to see piles of trash ... furniture, appliances, bedding, all kinds of junk ... dumped along the edge of the park. (in the dark of night)

I am feeling great sympathy for those dumpers. Just think ... if I am moving house, I would not be there to wait weeks for the paid gomi truck to show up. If I had a job, I wouldn't be able to be there either. And if the stuff was electronic and old, no one would take it. We can't even move that TV to the larger street because the Ku office took a photograph of it sitting in this no-man's land. AND, this may not be the end because someone has figured out a place to dump their un-wanted stuff, Maybe the shopping cart was the first test.

Now, if I could take a saw and cut the unwanted stuff into smaller pieces, I might be able to slip it little-by-little into the un-burnable trash that is collected once a month... maybe hide it in a broken flowerpot ... I really would like to get my clean tablecloth out of the cupboard and change the runner on my coffee table (that has been there since Christmas)!!


Blocks all quilted


All the blocks for my quilter's book club quilt are quilted and the labels are on the back of each block with the name of the book, the author, and the block plus any other information.

I finished off a spool of thread.
750 yards ...at 36 inches per yard and around six stitches to the inch, I figure that is around 162,000 stitches.

I had to stop at the local button shop and buy another spool of thread.

Now the time has come to figure out a quilt pattern for the green border triangles.

I am tending toward a feather design. 
Someone suggested quilting on the flower print but looking it over it would be hard to figure out what part of that busy print to feature.

If I can find a section of design on the pickle fabric I might be able to make it into an enlarged quilt pattern. But that might be just a lot too busy and wouldn't show up enough on the print to make it worth my while. Well, I have to put some quilting in that area so may as well get started.

These beautiful flowers came from Norie and Leia for Mother's day.
Those pretty little blue flowers seem so happy in a symphony of pink.
On days like this I wish I had a lovely tokonoma to display them in.



Yesterday I went off to a quilt show at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi. No pictures were allowed but it was a very inspiring show.

I had received some free tickets but had no friends to go with.
As it happened, while I was trying to figure out how to get from the train station a ways off, I met another older woman doing the same ... both of us having taken advantage of the "senior pass" that brought us to a less convenient station.

As we walked and talked and found our way, I asked her if she planned to attend the show. Yes, later she was going to meet a friend and go together. I was so happy the extra free tickets would not go to waste.  I am pleased to say I walked through the area of shops around the show area and resisted buying anything.
I already have enough fabric to last several lifetimes, I'm sure.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Digital challenges = quilting time


The inner border is now quilted. I only chose a simple pattern I had made into a template about thirty years ago. It was just the right size for a two-inch sashing. I had cut it out of light plastic and glued sandpaper to the back, making it easy to trace around last week when I had floor space.


I decided to work on the blocks in the order that I had made them. This block is "Prairie Queen", made for the Persian Pickle Club.

I cut a small pickle design to trace for the inner area and put question marks into the corner triangles. (the story ends with a question remaining).



A Single Thread was the quilt idea I used to tie the area around the spools together and fill the larger spaces.

It is also the name of the book.








The only large spaces were inside the dark area on this "Garden Path" block.

I quilted in a small flower with leaves but I think that was really too detailed a design to do in such a small space and probably wasn't needed,

This is the block for The Quilter's Apprentice.

 I decided to make a small label for the back side of each block with the name of the book, author and anything else I might want to remember.



I found a light floral print in my stash that might look better than plain muslin.
The only possible problem is that I only have enough for 16 labels and there are 17 book blocks.

I'm sure by the time I get to the last book I will come up with a plan.
I had been dreading the next down-load from my camera, as the last one down-loaded all the pictures stored on the chip.  Well, I decided to try anyway ... at least I would know what to expect in the future.  Sorry to say, the computer did not recognize all the thousands of pictures it had put into the file last time and I had to wait while the computer made a whole new file just to get these four pictures.

Of course it took a lot of time ... but during that time I finished the block for Alice's Tulips. It didn't need any additional quilting as there were no large empty spaces but I appliqued a ladybug over a small cut on one of tulips and added the label to the back. I also deleted all the duplicate files in my pictures ... since it doesn't seem to matter to the computer whether I have them or not. Maybe I need to get another chip to use in my camera when I plan to delete them anyway... or maybe the computer will go back to it's former pattern of selecting only new pictures ???? Who knows? Not me!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Problem solved ... kinda maybe


After a frustrating week, I was beginning to think I would never be able to post new pictures again. Oh, there were new pictures in my camera, alright.

BUT ... the system I had been using to download them to the computer had disappeared ... or hiding ... or gone into stealth mode.

Even the sign-in when I opened the computer had changed. THEN ...
about Sunday, when I opened my laptop, I got the sign-in format I had been expecting ... well ... once, but before I could get my camera and see if the download function had reappeared, I had to shut the laptop and go somewhere. When I returned ... the earlier format welcomed the opening.

Well. there still might be hope ... so I decided to see just how long the hold-out might happen. Oh, a couple of times I did get the format I was looking for but it was a part-time thing.

 Well, I had other things to do ...


Camping with the Cub Scouts, for example...

I had the fun of leading the nature hike.
We did an alphabet scavenger hunt (6 one-hour hikes) and two groups managed to find a full alphabet in creative ways. The items had to be in nature and able to see or hear and identify.

Usually on these events I do the crafts but the projects (which you can see in the hands of the boys) was "Light Sabers" which quickly turned into weaponry. With a light stick inserted, they could even  whack each other in the dark of night. No thanks, I'll go with nature study or nature crafts. Nikko said she could do without the whacking too, even if she was not the whackee.

Friday, the new Friday group met at a home with a huge (to me) open space of wood flooring. I was so happy to lay out my quilt, which was now quilted in the ditch on all the blocks, and mark the sashing for quilting.

Now the quilting is more than half done in the sashing. See what can happen when I am avoiding my laptop? Once I get that done. I will think about what I want to do in the larger areas. (Well, I am thinking now but haven't made any decisions).


I think it was Tanya who suggested I just turn off the computer and leave it a while. I don't know if that did the trick but...
Finally, yesterday the old format returned on a regular basis so I decided that if it was still that way today, I would try the camera download.

Well, what I got was not exactly what I expected.

(That is the "kinda maybe" part)
Usually the computer recognizes those shots that have already been downloaded ... but this time it re-downloaded EVERYTHING in the camera.
I really don't need a thousand duplicates taking up storage space ... and I sure don't need to thumb through all those tiny pictures looking for what I want ... but hey, at least I can add them to a post.

So, now you can see my big Orchid cactus flower as the pot sits on my stair steps. I'm glad I didn't miss all three flowers as they open at night and only last two days.

My marked quilt is on the big floor (with no dog hair) and yesterday Norie, Hiro, and Leia stopped by to celebrate their anniversary and borrow my van for a trip. I hope they go safely and have fun. This is "Golden Week" and the traffic is bound to be awful. The flowers on the bureau were a gift from the rice store lady. I just had to admire her beautiful garden while I was using her room for basting, and knowing how much I love the flowers, she has brought me several donations.

This little iris-like flower was also a gift.

She thought I might like to plant it in the weed lot I am taking care of, but I would feel so bad if someone was to break off the flowers the way the tulips were destroyed.

I divided them into two pots and will see where they do well by moving them around the garden.

Today this friend came again with two more of my favorite plants ... lily of the valley and something called "shiran" in Japanese. It is kind of a wild orchid. Those will soon find their way into my shady garden plot.
I am sure she didn't find it easy pulling out these tuberous roots but I feel so blessed to have such a friend who knows how much I love those flowers and shares hers with me.

The time has come to make a quilted object for her. One more thing to think about while I sew.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Computer blues

Interesting things are happening daily and progress has been made on my projects ... that  is the good part.
The frustrating part is something going on with my laptop. It is always stuff that happens while I am not looking and without my even knowing.

Mister Google and Mister Windows (I'm sure those are men-types because women usually ask before they mess with other people's lives) Well, they go and make CHANGES!
I never know what I am going to find when I open the lid of my laptop.

I suspected something was up when I opened the lid and went to log in. A few months ago while I was sleeping, changes were made to the screen I see when I lift the lid. Suddenly there was a printed keyboard and a cursor to move across the screen. Well, in a way it was handy because I could log in in the dark without turning on a light to see the keyboard.

There were a bunch of issues I was not overly happy with because my screen became a touch screen suddenly and I spent a frustrating week and a long hour or so on the phone with my son in DC, solving the cursor issue.
Meanwhile, Mr. Google keeps messing with my blog settings and even a temporary fix of the no-reply setting has gone back to no-reply. ... and that is still a problem I can't seem to handle ... it is even more strange because I m no-reply to some blogs and not others. Maybe it is a fight between Mr. Google and Mr. Bloglovin. Certainly I was never asked my desires.

Now the problem has changed while I was out camping with the boys. (Maybe Mr.Windows is jealous of time spent with other male types?) Well, when I returned to download my pictures ... NOTHING WORKS! I opened the laptop and, to me surprise, the log-in had changed back to the original style.  Oh boy, something was up but I could go with that. Then ...  plugged in my camera and usually it is a simple thing ... the computer pops up an icon and when I click that, I get a list of cameras to pick from and a choice ...one of which is to download the latest pictures.

Nope! That icon is gone. It can't be located anywhere I can find. SO....I guess until I can find a guru or Mr. Windows makes the next change,  will not have any new pictures to share.

So I report... My cactus has bloomed gloriously. (But my husband broke two antique candle holders taking pictures of it.) That'll teach me not to bring my pretty plants down to the bureau.
My quilt is all quilted in the ditch except the outside sashing which I will hold off until the triangle areas are done. Now I am looking for ideas to use in the larger spaces on the blocks and the sashing.
I may go back to each book and see if the story suggests ideas.

Meanwhile ... I am wondering what other frustrations this computer will add to my days.
None of my friends my age have computers. I guess if you have managed around 80 years without them, you may not think they are going to add any more to your life.
While my kids were in school, the computer program was added and I was the one in the family to insist we move with the times rather than be left behind. I'm glad they all graduated before computers were required ... a certain type that connected to the school and had to be carried back and forth.(no more homework to be eaten by the dog) I wonder who solves the problems for the kids. Maybe that is why they all need to have a particular type of computer so everyone's changes hit at the same time and the school guru knows how to fix everything.

Oh well, this is enough to dump on my blogging friends without pictures. Having a computer was my choice. Little did I know how much of my quilting time might be taken up trying to figure stuff out!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I almost missed it!

I often get distracted and miss things.

Already this month, I missed the day the vet comes to a local park and you can take your dog for her yearly shot and get new tags for the year for her to wear.
There are other shot opportunities in other parks but not as close to home ... and I can't read where to go.

Well, I have been distracted up in my little greenhouse by this orchid cactus. Last year was the first time it bloomed and this year I have been excited watching these buds get bigger and bigger by the day... kind of hoping it will not decide to open on  a day I am camping with the scouts....

Well, Yesterday the wash had to be done and hung in the greenhouse. Among all the stuff arranged on the bar and clippies, I noticed one of my "regulars" blooming quietly on the step-tansu.

Six lovely flowers ... and I had been so busy watching the big one, I hadn't even noticed this one had buds!

Then I started checking around the room and saw buds forming on a number of plants.

They are not in their usual order of blooming.

The Easter cactus has not even begun to set buds.

The two spiny ones that are always first to bloom are still thinking things over.






My little tea-cup cactus has lots of flower spikes and it is about on time ... but I had moved it to a different location where it gets a bit less sun than other years.



Once the laundry is hung, you really can't see much of the plants...

but today the sun was out and it looked like the day was going to warm up.

The stuff hanging from yesterday was still damp so I opened the windows to the south so it wouldn't get too hot and to let in some fresh air.

And there, sitting at the corner of my roof, just inside the railing, an orchid in full bloom.

There are plenty of buds yet to open and I am thinking I really should bring this downstairs and set it where we can enjoy it.
Of course, the roof is the only place that gets sun so it might not be too happy on my table.

If you want something that thrives on neglect ... this is it!

I can't even squeeze out into this space to pull out the weeds.
It gets water when it rains.
It gets snow in winter and plenty of heat in summer.




And quilting can't be done on the train rides but after finishing the basting on Monday, I started with the center block and have managed to put the in-the-ditch quilting in four blocks.

My plan is to go back and add quilting in the sashing and larger areas.

I still have not picked a pattern

The batting is thinsulate #60 and really doesn't need a lot of close quilting to hold it in place.

I guess I have plenty of time to figure out what I am going to do in the larger spaces and those big green triangles joining the blocks together. I may go back and re-visit the books for additional ideas.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Let the quilting begin!


After laying out all the border options on the floor of the fellowship hall on Sunday, I decided those colorful scraps were more of a distraction than an addition. I stopped at Yuzawaya on the way home and purchased a very small amount of blue to complete the border.

As it turned out, I could buy the fabric in 10 cm. sections so 30 cm. was more than enough and a 20% coupon made it even cheaper. (actually I paid more for two batteries for my flashlight at the next stop).

I don't know why the picture turns out so washed out but the results are satisfying enough.

Today I borrowed the tatami room of my friend at the rice store and basted everything together. Because of the generosity of another friend, I had enough muslin to make a backing. (She was responsible for the green fabric as well). I think this is the first time for me to make a quilt with a light solid fabric backing, I usually select a small print to hide my uneven stitching. Does that mean I have to do a better job of quilting? Anyway, I am all fired up and ready to get started. It is raining and blowing outside so this will be the perfect day to sit in my chair and stitch away.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Almost there


I decided to go with the green.

The blue was just too overpowering and the green contains the same blues, browns, and reds that are in the feature pickle fabric.

Now all the triangles are in place and I like the effect.

Next will be the decision on the border. I am thinking maybe a strip of the light blue with a few insets of other fabrics from the main quilt.

I am planning for a single bed size so I don't want it to go much larger.
I am thinking of two inches all around will be just about right.  have only a small amount of the blue left ... not enough to go all the way around. I have varying amounts of the other fabrics ... browns, tans, reds, etc to make it around. If I wanted all blue, I would have to buy more which is not really my plan.

The picture taken on the park fence looks a bit dull in the early morning sun, but one can get an idea of where we stand as of now.

Blue border?
That might cost a bit but it would be faster and easier to sew.

Pieced border?
It would take more time ... but time is not really the issue...
It would use up more of my scraps.
It might be complicated to arrange the blues and other fabrics so they are balanced... but I do like the prospect of using up stash ... and some of these fabrics that appear only once might like to have a friend in the border.

I could always finish it with light blue binding.

I love to get advice ... even if I can't follow it all.

Now that the rain has taken a breal, we are seeing red.


The Photinia is a favorite hedge, This is along a fence surrounding a large apartment building.
It gives a lot of privacy and lets in the air.

The shrubs at the bottom come out green and by the time the Photinia turns green, those plants will be a bright red.



The Japanese maples are all coming out flaming red.

I don't know if they are brighter in the spring or the fall ... but I think spring wins.








Even the scrubby azaleas outside the station entrance are getting into the act.

Maybe that border wants some red too?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Decisions, decisions, always decisions!


After auditioning all the material I had enough of, I found all the darker fabrics didn't work against the blocks with dark fabric along the edges.

I decided to go with a medium light blue.
It does pick up the blues used in a few blocks.

All blue seemed a bit too much, so I dug out a scrap of flower print I had used in a number of the blocks, to use as corner stones.
I thought of fussy-cutting the print to put the sunflowers in the center but there just wasn't enough of that fabric.

Now I am beginning to join the blocks nd thinking about the empty triangles.

As I do not want to spend money on more fabric, I went through my stash of pieces large enough to do the job.

My original idea was using the blue batik flowers. I have plenty of that ... actually enough for using in a whole quilt at some future date.
I like the combination of blue and brown ...
actually my favorite combination ... but when I laid it out, the blue seems to over-power the browns.

Then I tried another batik in browns.
This has a lot of the same colors and a dyed border with green leaves.
Hmmm. Not sure I like the effect,










Last but not least, I found this piece of dark green.

The amount is just enough.

It contains the same pickle-type flowers in colors found in the blocks.

It brings out the greens in a few of the blocks.

It doesn't hide the cornerstones.

As I dug through my stash,it was sitting off to the side and seemed to keep saying, "Try me, try me".  Now that I have auditioned it, I am leaning toward using it. I don't have enough blue left for a border sashing but I might be able to piece something that would work.

I often think of quilters who follow patterns or even buy kits ... hardly making any decisions of their own. How is it that everything I do seems to call for decisions at every twst of the spool????