Thursday, October 20, 2016

Take-along work

This weekend will be our annual "Choir Retreat".  Twice a year the choir presents a musical sermon, once at the beginning of Advent and again during the Lenten season.  Each fall the choir gathers at a retreat in Gotemba in the foothills of Mt. Fuji to polish our delivery of the chosen piece.

This year we are working on John Rutter's "Magnificat". We have sung this several times in the past so, to some long-time choir members, it is a familiar piece ... something like re-visiting an old friend.
Of course ours is the church of the revolving door and the choir has some new members to whom this is a new challenge. Even for the old hands, we need to coordinate and balance our presentation.

Therefore it will be three days  ... well, for some two or even one day of work ... but also fun and fellowship. For those staying overnight there will be wine and laughter.

This time I will ride with friends instead of driving so I had two things to prepare. First was easy. Just to pack up food to go with Nikko on her trip to the "Athletic Dog Club" where she will be heading tomorrow morning. Second was to pull out some scraps to sew together.

I should be working on my daughter, Norie's, poncho but I have yet to figure out how to make one that will meet her desired idea and my skills.

I have also been tasked with a gift for the Women's Conference speaker. The theme is something like weaving together our stories and those of women in the bible. I have several ideas for blocks that seem to weave fabrics together. I have not seen any panel I might use so thought this block might be interesting to try. I may have to coordinate my scraps a bit better but by the end of the trip I will know if I want to continue in this mode. I like that block so whatever happens, they will be put to use.

The weather is cooling off a bit and fall is working it's way in.

Goldenrod is blooming in the local weed patch.
I have been told this plant has invaded from North America by way of used railroad ties.

It is not as invasive here as many other weeds and in small amounts it is colorful and brings  back memories of times past.

It also lasts longer than other autumn flowers that are here and gone in a week.

 In the park the Beauty berries are bowing down
along the pathway.

I have a small bush in my garden but should probably move it to a planter so it can be moved into a sunnier location.

That bush carries memories of a dear friend and needs
better exposure.

The local persimmons have begun to ripen.

Depending on the variety, they are ready to eat at different times. I have already had some from a friend's garden.

The ones two houses down are ripe and being attacked by birds. Three or four were squished on the street and impossible to sweep up.

Another tree in the area has fruit so high up, only the birds will be able to access them.

Some varieties hang on until all the leaves have fallen and make a striking picture on the otherwise bare branches against the bright blue sky.

Hopefully the foot hills of Fuji will have beauty to share. Since I will be missing a Cub Scout Camping event that got moved to this weekend, I am hoping the weather will cooperate as well for my cub families who are going there.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Done at last

Not a very bright picture as the sun was still behind the buildings this morning. Maybe I will try again later in the week. I began this as part of the "Nine Patch Adventure" on the "Celebrate Hand Quilting" facebook page.  Maybe back in November of last year.

Finished last night, October 1st, the size is 71 inches by 88 inches and I was hoping to use up lots of two-inch blocks in my scrap tin. Looking at my tin now, I have hardly made a dent in the stash.

This is a detail of all that blue quilting.

I don't think it did much to hide the variety of white and off-white fabrics.

The quilting in the blue border hardly shows at all ...

... but if you look closely you could find a few rather long stitches that were accidents when I was trying to pass the needle through to the next row instead of stopping and starting over.

Anyway, a man riding by on a fast horse would probably miss those bloopers.

Thursday the tiny flowers on the kinmokusei (sweet olive) burst in bloom throughout the neighbourhood.

I had passed this small potted tree on Wednesday and seen the tiny buds looking like pimples on the branches and wondered when they would bloom.

Usually it is the sweet smell that gets you to look up into the trees but this year ... maybe because of the rainy summer or heat ?? the trees have out-done their usual performance and if a flower that tiny could be termed "showy", they have made the grade. So ... fall marches in, bit by bit. Happy October!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Plan "B"? If it works, it is the right way!

After going through all the possible marking tools in my collection, (none of them showing among the blue flower print) I decided to quilt the outer border from the back.

It is still a bit hard to mark in an oval hoop but at least I can see the lines once they are drawn.

When I turn it back to the front, the quilting hardly shows and the stitches ... when you can find them ... are small and even enough.

Rain yesterday. Rain today. Rain predicted for tomorrow. Camp-out postponed. The time I thought would be spent prepping crafts for the camp-out was put to testing my template.

I drew the plan on graph paper and traced it to a thin tracing paper, then cut the strip and laminated it. It was not hard to cut out and is easier to find than just using the clear plastic I can buy at the stationary store.

The spider lilies outside my gate are opening but if you want to see REAL pictures of the season's beauty,

Take a look at here at Tanya's Blog.

They make my flowers look like a wimpy bunch of wanna-be's.

Next in season will be the sweet olive ... kinmoksei.
I see the tiny buds beginning to form in the twigs and branches. Usually those are not noticed until they burst into bloom, filling the air with perfume.

OK, enough of this!
Back to the second side of the border.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Autumn has arrived ... I think

When we first moved back to the Nerima home, I brought with me some spider lily bulbs moved from former gardens.
At that time there was little space in our over-grown flower bed and some of those bulbs I planted in a neighbouring weed bed.  Each year they increase and get more showy.

This is how they looked yesterday at 6:30 am on my way to school.

After a summer of very hot sauna weather, it suddenly became cooler.
Monday night I pulled out a quilt to sleep under after a summer of either nothing or a thin gauzy wrap.

Tuesday evening I added a light down comforter.

I can't believe the sudden change. It is in keeping with the spider lilies that sneak up before the leaves and then pop open shouting "Surprise"!

Though the pink ones have had their day and faded, the red ones among the azalea bushes on the east side of the house are showing their best features.

This is a very narrow space for a garden between the street and our pink house shown behind.

Though I bemoan the lack of garden space, I find it amazing how much can be crammed into what I do have.

This month has been rain, rain, and more rain.

The garden is happier than it has ever been but I am getting a bit tired of toting umbrellas with me whenever I go out and wet feet. (My boots caused blisters in my ankles the first time out and when I tried zori, I ended up with blisters where the thongs rubbed when wet. Now my shoes are waiting for a sunny day to be hung on the gate to dry.

This week I finished the inner border on the nine-patch.

I have a little in-the-ditch quilting to go before I experiment with marking the blue flowered border.

The border is about five inches wide and I am thinking of a lattice-style cable which should be easy to draft and place, lined up with the outer nine-patches.

As a plan "B" I might be able to mark it on the back and quilt from the reverse side.

I have a few other projects nagging me from the sidelines but, though there is no rush to get this quilt done, I really don't like to have too many things going at once. The rest of my life is rather like running in all directions at once so I prefer to keep my home projects a bit more under control.

I just had to add this last picture.

Every year, one of the homes along my walk through the neighbourhood to the train station, plants mini-tomatoes in their flower bed by their front gate.

As I pass by, I watch those little tomatoes form and change from little green balls to bright red fruit just asking to be tasted.

Then, they get older and split and fall apart and not one seems to have been tasted.
It puzzles me why they bother to plant the tomatoes year after year if they don't intend to pick them.

Last year there was a huge clump of crab-grass coming up through the pavement right in the center of their gate. After walking past it for months and seeing it stepped on, then going to seed, I finally pulled it up as I passed... confessions of a weed-a-holic? I wonder how big a garden I would need to keep me focused on my own space and leave other people's gardens out of mind.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Set your goals and shoot high

It has been a while since my last post.

Sometimes life gets in the way.

Last Friday was my first pack meeting of the school year.  With the large turnover of people in the Tokyo area, we say goodbye to cubs and parents and leaders every spring. Our first meeting is run with crossed fingers, wondering how many new families will show up ...
How many new youth ... will anyone step forward to fill the leader gaps?

So ... the plan was, I take over the kids and the parents meet with the committee and leaders to go over all that "stuff" ... fees, schedules, uniforms, books, activities, recruiting, etc.

So ... I had the kids sit in a circle in one corner of the room and gave the other half to the adults.
We went over the 12 points of the Scout Law and how we might apply them to our little project ... just things like "helpful" (some things may take four hands),  "courteous" ( do we snatch the scissors away from the guy next to us or might we say, can I use those when you are through?) Thrifty? well, this is a recycle project. Clean, yes, in the end there we must leave the room cleaner than we found it.

I had prepared the milk cartons, cutting, folding, and taping the box and punching holes in the needed places. The kids could choose a box, a colored rubber band and a skinny tan rubber band, a toothpick, a plastic spoon, and a set if chopsticks.

The process was ... break chopsticks in two.
choose the one with the widest top and tape the colored rubber band to the wide end with the yellow tape. ... Tape the plastic spoon to the other end of that chopstick and then pull the end of the colored band through the hole on the end of the box. (I brought a crochet hook to use if it was needed) ...Put the toothpick through the end of the colored rubber band that had been pulled through, pull it tight and tape the toothpick in place.
The second thin rubber band was used to lash the first chopstick (spoon face down) to the first one that was half-way through the holes at the forward end.
Then the second chopstick was pushed through the other side and adjustments were made in position and length of the spoon-stick below the lashing.

I had brought pom-poms for the kids to practice shooting their catapult as they finished while I helped those who needed help with the lashing or adjusting.
When everyone had finished, I called everyone back to the circle and we discussed how we could use these creations to make a game that would be fun for everyone. (we had three sisters joining the activity, one of them a three-year-old ... who actually did a good job of keeping up).

Our second set of ammunition was mini marshmallows. When the parents were finished, we formed our closing circle, and because we pass a squeeze around the circle, the catapults were placed by the owner's feet while the reflection and announcements were finished. (We managed to fill the empty positions with new leaders stepping up) The reward for following these instructions was a hand full of mini-marshmallows to take home (or eat as the case may be).

With the prep-work, teaching, meetings, and plenty else going on, not a lot of quilting got done.

Nikko and I had to go off to the little fabric store near the far station to get more blue thread just to finish the inner triangles.

The other day I finished the round and since I had all that new thread, I decided on blue for the outer triangles.

I have to say, having quilted so many of these triangles already, the speed has picked up considerably.

I mark two or three at a time and then move the hoop to the next set. I am using a pen with ink that disappears with water, but in this humidity, it often fades before I get to the spot.

The outer border will be quilted with white. I am hoping by the time I get there I will have figured out a good way to mark the floral with the pattern I have in mind.

Red Spider lilies are one of the harbingers of autumn.
They come up before the leaves and are hardly noticed until they burst in joyous bloom along the borders of rice paddies and forests.

I was surprised to walk around the back street and see these pale pink lilies blooming in the raised bed between our house and the street.

Maybe they wanted to get their show time before the red ones take over.
I glanced in the front pot to see if I might have missed them coming, but they have yet to even poke up through the soil.                                  

 Early morning onigiri delivery has begun with my delivery on Monday. Nikko was glad to greet and be greeted by her Shibuya friends. Work is stacking up for the rest of the week. My son has been working out the mailbox issues. Mr Google is still in battle gear but I have not thrown out yahoo so who knows when the next challenge will appear.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Blue or white? What do you think?

With a seemingly constant parade of typhoons coming through, the rain has managed to collect in multiple spots and has become breeding grounds for hoards of mosquitoes.

Unlike the blood-sucking helicopters of Minnesota, Japanese mosquitoes are very tiny. If you can keep from scratching a new bite, it quickly goes away but that is easier said than done.

During summer camp, I was asked to teach the insect study merit badge and one of the requirements was to raise an insect from larvae to adult. In a weeks time, the only insect I can think of is a mosquito and I had scouts running through the woods, scooping in puddles for wigglers.

Well, how long does it take to raise a mosquito?
On my table I have a cup of water with a paintbrush standing in it. I am using a purple Chako Ace pen to mark the blocks for quilting. The purple ink will disappear with time (especially in Tokyo humidity) but a swipe with the wet brush will make it go faster.

Sunday morning, when I dipped the brush in the cup, there was a wiggler in the water. I decided to leave it and see how long it would take to reach adulthood. In three days it shed it's skin and the fourth day it flew out in my face when I removed the cloth on top. By now it has probably bitten me more than once and laid eggs in some other container.

I see beautiful pictures on blogs of people's porches and decks, set with comfy chairs and tables. Well, no room on this tiny property, but even if there was, who would want to sit out and feed those little buggers. Not me!

So .... keeping inside with a few mosquitoes was the best plan of the week and now the center area of the nine-patch is all quilted and I am thinking of how to do the inner border.

I came up with this design which I have drawn on using the marking pen. I think it fits with the rest of the quilting and won't be too fussy to do. (I really don't like a lot of stopping and starting.

At this point, I am thinking of using the blue thread on the inner triangle and white on the outer one. I will probably quilt a simple cable in the outer blue border because I don't think anything fussy will show in the print.

I would really like to quilt both triangles while they are in the hoop so that when I work my way back to where I started, that inner border will be done. So ... I sit and ponder ... all blue? or blue and white?
My blue thread is almost gone.
My purpose for using the blue was to calm the variety of whites .
The whites in the border are all the same fabric.
Guess I'll take Nikko for a walk while I think this over ... not that I haven't had weeks to mull the next step. What do you think?

Monday, August 29, 2016

How to avoid wet feet

Two quilt shows in one month!

the first one was at Odakyu Department Store in Machida.

Being near my daughter's home, we agreed to meet up with both daughter and granddaughter and Norie's Mother-in-law.

Though I took my camera, no photographs were allowed. These quilts were not all new but the works of a number of " Top Quilters" ... which, in Japan, usually are teachers with many followers or "deshi".

The second show was held at Ikebukuro Seibu Department Store. ( the end of one train line that runs from my area into town).

This was the 13th of these shows and it, too was the work of 100 "Top Quilters".

Again there were some quilts I have seen before in other shows, but is was a nice show with a variety of quilts ... the majority hand quilted.

Again no photos other than one small section showing things quilters had created for keeping their tools in order.

There were special pocketed bags for carrying the goodies and storing them.

There were small wall quilts with the display and a roped off area for viewers so as not to get too close.

Of course, though there was a small sign on the wall at each display, the writing was small and one might need a telephoto lens or binoculars to see who made the display and what the comments said.

Between my chatelaine and my thread racks I probably don't need to copy any of these ideas but it was nice to see I am not the only organization freak.

Maybe I need to coordinate my carrying bag with my quilts.

Well, everything I make ends up scrappy so perhaps I am coordinated.

Here we have some nice restful tones.

Seen anything yet that inspires you to get more organized?

Here are some small hangings that suggest seasons in Japan.

Most are summer with fireflies and flowers but I do see an autumn pumpkin and some hina dolls.

No way to make out the sign on the wall.

I guess as an owl-lover I should add this one too.

I have a printed panel with almost this same design only all in blue prints.

One of these days I have planned to turn it into a table runner but If I had wall space, this might also be an alternative.

There were lots of small shops at both shows and it was fun to wander around and check out the goodies for sale. I did see some things I wished I owned but actually do not need or even have room for.

I visited this show at the end of a very busy week with school starting up, there were all kinds of teacher meetings and lots of prep work.

My nine-patch quilting was limited to just one or two blocks a day and some days I half slept as I sat with the hoop in my lap.

Friday I finished off all the quilting around the small nine-patch areas. My next move was to quilt in the ditch around all the remaining two-inch blocks down to the first inner border.

From Yesterday I decided on a design to use in the inner blocks.

Since it was a space only two inches square, I modified the pattern I have been using in the neighbouring blocks.

I am still using the blue thread ... though I may need to buy a new spool before long.

In this photo you can see four different shades of white. Maybe the blue hides the differences a bit but it also shows up the unevenness of my stitches.

At any rate, I doubt this quilt will ever face judges in a show so it is safe.

I have just a few more of these blocks to quilt and then I have to come up with a plan for the ones next to the border.

I am thinking of a diagonal pattern to meet the corner blocks.

Then next will be the triangles in the inner boarder. Those whites are all the same but I will probably use the blue thread there ... at least to the inner border. Maybe the outer triangles could go to white because the outer boarder will be quilted with white and since the fabric pattern is busy, may not show much or at all.

My outdoor plants have been quite happy the last two weeks with lots of rain passing through. Today a typhoon was expected but, as with the last one, it seems to have brushed past our area leaving only the bordering rain and gusts. Since one of my number one hates is wet feet in wet shoes, this is a good excuse to stay inside and catch up on some quilting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The banner is done

Last night I finished turning the binding.  Looking at other banners over the years, I had made too many with white and blue so I decided to go with lavender. I think it shows off the blank person where we should view ourselves.

Today I added the sleeves and found that I had purchased extra dowels some time before. Great! I won't have to go shopping in the heat of day. The last part will be to saw off the extra length of dowel and add eye screws to the one on top. I figure ten minutes at the most including clean-up time.

Rally Day is a week from next Sunday so the deadline has been met with time to spare.

Next ... Here is a blogging issue that challenges my patience.

A while back when Google added Google plus to the blog, things began to happen that I neither like or understand. I am not now or ever will be a computer guru. I often get help from fellow bloggers and when that doesn't work, cry on the shoulder of my guru son.

The first thing that happened was that suddenly I came off as a no-reply blogger. I noticed that the same happened to many of my fellow blogging friends. It was not a huge problem because I had contacts for them. It only has consequences when I want to reply to comments of those whose e-mail address I do not know. 
Friends sent links for advice on how to fix it but the site pictures telling where to click did not match my screen. Finally, I gave in and went to Google plus. (magically fixed) At that time I began to notice that many of the no-reply were non-google addresses. Maybe a coincidence? 

Well, the next problem soon arrived. Every comment I sent off came back to my in-box saying Delivery failure as they could not accept my yahoo address. I did go back to check and indeed, the comments had gone through. Some of my blogging friends did tell me that the comment had come but not to their in-box. Looking this over again, I noticed there was a direct relationship to my yahoo e-mail address.

Well, my son looked at this a number of times and since I have a g-mail address too ( which was set up for our family blog to avoid confusion with my daughter who shares the name. I really didn't want to give in and change my e-mail address but my son gave that a try. Magic? Suddenly, the delivery failure notices stopped coming.

BUT ... now, my blogging friends are getting a message saying their comments had delivery failure because my in-box is full. That is also a bunch of baloney because when I went to check the comment section of that post, all the messages were there ... and all had arrived in my in-box.

I don't like to make judgements but it does look to me like Mr. Google is trying to undo his competition in a nasty way. All the comments who got those messages were non-google addresses. 
At first it seemed a war between yahoo and google but now it seems to be attacking other correspondence addresses. 
Some of my blogging friends have switched from blogger to other sites such as word press. It might make a bit of confusion for followers but I don't know how these things work.

I am wondering if I am the only one with these problems and it is something I am doing wrong.
I know change happens ... whether we want it or not ... but why keep fixing things that ain't broke?
I might even have more time for quilting without these frustrations!

Monday, August 15, 2016

One day's work

12 hours have passed since I set my goal for the day.

Actually, my goal was just to make progress on the quilting of the banner but at this point, I think I am done.

My major concern was that the pieced center section might not lie flat. I was thinking of quilting all the pieced segments in the ditch, but just quilting the rays from the center out, seems to have done the job.

I quilted around the figures but not inside other than the arms, and around the letters. Looking at it hanging from my curtain rod, I think that much quilting is balanced and enough. Now I have to just add the binding and the hanging sleeves at top and bottom.

As it turns out, though I measured the fabric many times, I didn't add properly and the piece is a few inches longer than I intended. That means I don't need to add a border. I am thinking of binding it with a light turquoise or pale purple. Tomorrow Nikko and I will walk to the shop near the next station and try a few colors to see what looks best.

These days, local flower shops are selling little pots with one miniature sunflower. They are so pretty but I do like the real thing a lot better.

These are growing along the fence at the kindergarten along the car street.

There must have been 15 or 20 of them growing and maybe nine or ten feet tall.
They do have some of a smaller variety too but these are the real thing.
Good thing we haven't had a typhoon go through as yet.

The day was off and on sun with a few sprinkles thrown in.

We really could use a bit of real rain.
Maybe tomorrow will deliver a bit.

Several varieties of hostas are now competing with each other, and the crape myrtle in the park is putting on a grand show.

Hibiscus flowers are in bloom around the neighbourhood...
more noticeable for their droppings. The most dramatic ones are sitting in the local flower shop, begging to be bought.

The salvias in the weed lot are wanting rain ... or I will have to carry a bucket of water to them tomorrow.

As a person who hates working to deadlines, I am feeling pretty happy to see the banner so far along and may just reward myself with a few stitches in the nine-patch before I hit the sack.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

on to the next step.

The applique is done and maybe tomorrow I will begin embroidering the details.

I can't say I am particularly fond of these characters representing members of the church.

I'm not sure what the blank one is doing but maybe the idea is to insert oneself into the circle.

Should I put a question mark there or some kind of an arrow???

The plan I was given had "Shine Together" written across the center and the various ministries listed on the outer edge.

I will put the words above and below and wondering if I should use proper alphabet or do something rather large and wonky.

I thought it might be interesting to outline the letters and then fill them in with large stitches going randomly back and forth. Then again, that may turn out to be rather time consuming

I am also thinking of adding a row of one-inch scraps in the fabrics used, at the top and bottom to make the size right and frame the hanging.

At this point my inclination is to finish it as simply as possible and quilt it with rays of the sun coming out from the middle to the border. Since someone else came up with the design, I have tried to stick to that plan as much as possible.

This is the one I made back in the fall of 2013.

That was my own design and is often hung in the entryway.

I am afraid they are going to look too much alike ... though I have to admit I like the hands better than those characters.

This one will have dark lettering and the yellow is brighter than this one that I tie-dyed.
If I had better computer skills, I could take the picture and play around with in until I found something I liked.

But, then again, I'm not all that sure I will like the results regardless.

Only two more days of VBS to go. Tomorrow's game is going to be a quieter memory game. (at least, I hope it will be quieter. Two of the five groups are really wild) I'm glad they liked the games so far but they come with no "off" button. Once they get going, the biggest job is to keep it safe and get them to stop at the end.

The news is full of commentary about the Emperor wishing to quit his job. He is only a few years older than I am and though I do not have major health problems, I am happy to have jobs to do.
At least he doesn't have to ride the mobile sardine can to get places. I am wondering if he will get any sympathy because of being "old". Certainly, though each train car has eight priority seats at each end, the only people in those seats are young ... teens ... 20s... maybe a few in their 30s. Today it was so crowded that I kept getting pushed as the train moved and the young girl next to me kept shoving me back every time my bag touched her side. Finally, with three stops left, I was able to grab a seat but then an old guy got on and of course no one stood up so I gave him my seat. The young riders were just busy sleeping or playing video games or texting . I doubt if the emperor got on, they would even notice. At least he can travel by car and doesn't even have to do the driving.
I think it will be a shock to all those entitled youth that some day they will also get old.

OK, enough complaining! I will now reward my progress with a few stitches in my nine-patch.