Monday, November 12, 2018

The test is over

Sunday evening I finished turning the binding on the single black and white quilt. I was hoping for a bit of sunshine for taking a picture, as I plan to give this to my friend and pastor this evening.
Alas, Monday was on and off rain, and rain is predicted for today too. I decided to take quilt and camera to the park while on Nikko's morning walk and see if I could get at least one picture before the rain begins again.


This was my first test of sashiko "big stitch" on a quilt. The batting is #60 thinsulate but it looks as puffy as the #80. I decided to go with puffy rather than quilt inside the larger areas. Thinsulate is good in that it will not shift, even when loosely quilted and with much use.  The border is just quilted in diagonal rows on the white. All the blocks are quilted in the ditch first. The rather busy prints didn't show the big stitches so much but I think I am satisfied with the all-over effect.

Now, the next task will be to lay out Kai's big-boy quilt and get it basted so I can begin quilting that.
It is 8 blocks by 10 blocks with a larger wave print in the border. Getting the seam allowances to lie in the right direction and line up the backing in a small space is going to be the first challenge. If only I didn't have to travel to church in such a crowded train, I could take it there and use the floor in the fellowship hall... since I have to go there anyway tonight.

Anyway, time to stop dithering and come up with a plan... At least the test worked out and I found a purpose for the extra blocks caused by my poor math.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A new challenge


A while ago, my good quilting friend, Kuraishi-sensei, Told me she would be holding a quilt show at a garden gallery in the town of Ichikawa, where she lives.

She said the gallery was large and asked if she could hang my "Lucy Boston" quilts there.

I quickly added a hanging sleeve and sent the quilts off to her. Her next request was for me to give a gallery talk.  Hmmmm. I'm not very fond of talking in front of groups, but I agreed to take on the challenge.

This past weekend, Friday and Saturday afternoons, I went to this lovely place. I was joined by lovely people, and the talk was far from scary. After all, quilters are a class above.






This is a view from the lobby with friends arriving.

Isn't that a beautiful garden!

Though early Saturday morning I was awakened by the sound of rain, (and a scout hike had been cancelled because of a forecast of rain), by the time I arrived around lunch time, the sun was out and the day was not too hot or humid.

The trees are not yet in autumn color, but I think with a year of strange weather, they are a bit confused. Maple leaves are dropping without bothering to turn color.

My talk was about my quilting history...

How I first met up with the Lucy Boston "Patchwork of Crosses" at the Festival UK '98
while piping to attract customers, and sketched notes on the pattern, wanting to try it out.

At Saturday's show, I was honored to meet the quilt reporter who had gone to the UK, and met with Lucy Boston in her Manor house, and arranged for the quilts in that show.

I talked about my first meetings of Lucy Boston through her children's books, as a children's librarian. Then details I had learned since about her life.

I could talk about the pattern and the way hexagons can be fussy-cut without having to worry about the grain of the fabric... and the variety that can be used when cutting stripes. I had some left-over blocks I could pass around for them to see and I could show the tenugui on the back of the small quilt.

On Saturday, I was joined by my daughter, Norie, and Leia, plus Leia's other grandmother and a lovely neighbor.

We are standing next to a display of some vintage quilts that Kuraishi-sensei had brought back from her time in the states.

I am wearing a coat I had made at one of my friend's classes.
It is reversible black with a brown owl on the inside and Ainu pattern on the brown side.
















With family in front of the vintage quilts....












Here with Kurishi-sensei, who also put my talk into more understandable Japanese...
standing to the right, and two of her friends.











and here I am with my little cameraman, standing outside the garden gates.

It was quite a busy week, and finished off with visitors to our church ... the participants of Asian Rural Institute, who spent the weekend and shared their life of training with us on Sunday, ending in a pot-luck lunch.

The evening held a birthday party at a charming Indian restaurant in my neighborhood with my wonderful SIL and a "Son on loan" added to the family.

Monday am: rolled around as usual with onigiri delivery and school. A lovely orange canary is now getting used to the old cage in the window. 

And, as of today, the super busy month of October has reached an end ... and I am now celebrating my 18th birthday. Going back to my childhood from 50, this time I'm going to get it right!
The first of the black and white quilts is in the hoop and testing the pattern for quilting. The November calendar page is beginning to fill up ... but not so crazy as October, so the quilt may make progress. (and I might have something to show).

Monday, October 22, 2018

One busy week over ...

And another one begun....

Saturday, while on our choir retreat, the banner got it's hanging sleeves.

Monday morning, I got one picture in the sunny park before leaving for school.

Now, my cameras are all in retirement mode.
The Cannon Power shot opens up but then says "lens error - restart camera" .

The Nikon coolpix does nothing when I press the "on" button ... even after re-charging the battery.

The Cannon IXY shows nothing on the screen when I turn it on.

Well, the camera on my cell phone works. I can send a picture to my computer, but can't find it when it gets there.

So, at school yesterday, I got some help from the teacher I work with. I sent her the picture from my cell phone, and she sent it to my e-mail address. Finally, I was able to locate it for a post. It does seem like a long way around, just to get a picture I can use. Is there a way of printing pictures from an I-Phone? Technology is slowly driving me nuts! Just about the time I get things figured out, it all changes.

Saturday morning, Mt Fuji was just peeking out among the clouds ...
which soon took over and turned into rain ...

But Sunday morning, a new fresh cap of snow, made Fuji a real eye-catcher.
After the sauna-summer, the cool air was quite refreshing.
The cooler air has come to Tokyo too. In fact, today is a down-jacket day. I wonder if we are jumping from summer right into winter .
The dogwood trees have turned color, but to dark red with no bright colors. The maples are dropping a few brown leaves, but those left on the tree are still quite green.

Other than bright orange persimmons on the local trees, one would hardly know that October is almost over.

This will be a big weekend for me.

I am preparing for a gallery talk to give on Friday and Saturday at my friend, Kuraishi-sensei's quilt show.

With the banner out of the way, I need to get back to those two black and white quilts. The big one for Kai needs to be laid out with batting and backing and basted. That will certainly not end up as take-along work.
The single one still needs a border to be measured and cut and sewed in place. (Maybe today???)

Then here is a new baby coming in December needing a quilt.  I have a number of ideas in my head but not much started.

Happily, Nikko had the attention Of Norie and Leia during my weekend away. I returned to a plentiful covering of her hair covering the carpet and stairs and drifting across the wood flooring and wafting into the corners. I guess that is where I will begin my day.

Oh, the last picture ... After the weekend before, leading environmental studies and a brotherhood walk through the woods, I was carrying a big stick and batting down webs covering the trail ...though I did bring a few home in my hair. It was nice in Gotemba to view the work of these spiders with the sun coming through and being able to leave them doing their job of catching mosquitoes and other annoying bugs. I'm all for work that STAYS done!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Grabbing bits of time


What a week!
and it isn't over yet!

Monday, between early rise for rice delivery and school, I had to visit an unknown health center in Minato-ku to get an x-ray (to prove to the school that I don't have TB).
That meant riding the packed train during rush-hour ... not the best way to start the day!
Along the way afterwards to school, I stopped at the home of a friend who had some blue and white yukata fabric needing a new home.

Well, how could I turn down that opportunity.

Had I known the size and weight of the bag she had packed for me, I would have taken a roller-bag!
Travel for me, to school and home, went suddenly to a snail's pace (but worth the effort I am sure.)

Tuesday morning I had to run out early again for an interview/talk about the changes that have taken place in Tokyo and Japan since the earlier olympics.
All that was filmed for a movie. I was so fortunate the church let us use one of the small meeting rooms in the newly renovated fellowship hall.

I often notice the changes taking place from those early days ... things that never seem to change, and things you thought never would... The gentleman doing the project was warm and friendly and fun to talk to, and certainly opened my mind to even more stories of my time here.

My take-along work stayed in my bag, and when I returned home in the afternoon, I basted the letters on to the banner before setting out to an evening meeting back at the church.

Wednesday, I finished appliquéing the  letters in place ... right through the batting to the backing, so I will not need to quilt around them. Needing some background quilting, I just added rays to the borders.
I had bought some buttons for the eyes that seemed just perfect. Black, round with a low rise ... but, now they just seem too large when put in place, so I hope I can find something similar but smaller. The shop had some that were very round and intended to be used for eyes, but I think I will have to take the banner there and see how they look before spending any more money.

The binding will be next, then the hanging sleeve at top and bottom. There is still a little time left ... but ... teacher/boss passed me her work coveralls on Monday with a big hole needing mending. This is the third time to repair that same suit, and I tease her that she seems to be running through barbed-wire when I'm not there.  Then, my fellow choir member passed me his winter pajamas that need some elastic.
Meanwhile, tomorrow I leave for the Choir retreat in Gotemba. There will be lots of practice on pieces for "Choir Sunday" and some special music group. The site is the YMCA, and has a lovely view of Mt Fuji ... which I have been told has a cap of snow already. (after such a hot summer, the snow comes much earlier than usual) As long as it is at the top of Fuji, and not in my garden, I can take the unusual weather.

I will take the banner to work on during down-time. Guess  will have to be careful not to spill wine on it during our evening activities. Hopefully it will be finished by the time our Stewardship campaign begins in November.

Yesterday morning, on Nikko's walk, as usual I go through the park.
I pick up the poop in a bag and fill the bag with weeds ... usually the ones that are developing flowers and will soon be spitting out seeds.

The house next to the park has a beautiful garden, so the lady is glad to see those weeds along her fence being removed, and she called to me and handed me this big bunch of "hototogisu".

This plant is named after the Japanese Little Cuckoo, small, shy, hiding in the woods. The English name is Hairy Toad Lily.

Anyway, I had to come home and find a few more vases, as this made two large flower arrangements and one vase was holding Tuesday's flowers. I have a few of these growing in my garden, but they did not do well this year because of a bug attack . I have never picked them to enjoy in my home but the vase sitting on my coffee table reminds me how much I look forward to their blooms ... and again how grateful I am for kinda and friendly neighbors.

Monday, October 15, 2018

What would you do?

This morning, when I returned home from an early walk with Nikko,
this is what I found on my front door!


It was still quite early, and not many people were out.
No one walking on my tiny back street.

Who put these here? And how can I ever thank them?
I quickly pulled out a container and arranged them  before leaving for my morning appointment.
I can only thank God for the friends I have been given,
but there is someone unknown whom I also wish I could thank.



Not knowing what else to do, 
I hung this sign on my gate.


What would anyone do?

When I step out my front door, I am stepping into a world of friends. 
I placed the flowers in my genkan, where I will be reminded each time I step out, or even walk past to the stairs or the "little room" that I must be grateful for all my friends.

My blogging friends,
new friends, old friends,
scouting friends, quilting friends, choir and church friends,
and even stealth friends, I love you all! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Banner time


For the past seven years, I have been making banners to hang in the church during the season of stewardship commitments.

Many of these past banners are still hanging in the halls, the stairs, and the entryway.

So .... no surprise, the time had come for me to come up with another banner for this fall.

The design was made by one of the youth at the church. The Theme is ... Serve the Lord with Gladness.

I can't say I am very excited with the design, but she has re-done it a few times and it was accepted by the committee.

I really didn't want to make an all white banner, and after giving it some thought, I went out on Monday and bought some fabric dye.

After making a test piece, and thinking about it for a day, I decided to tie-dye the background.

Not a terrific job, but better than a solid white.

Yesterday I traced the sections on to the fabric and pinned them in position.

Worrying about the pins falling out while I worked, I then basted all the bits and pieces in place.
By evening, I had sewed the face, hair, and t-shirt to the background.

Today I finished sewing down the parts.

Then I went through my stash and found a light floral print that I thought might work for the backing.

When I laid it out, I discovered that it was lined with white cotton, probably once used as a curtain.
I un-sewed the seams and plucked out the threads, and ironed the piece. Well, I then began thinking it might show through in the light areas because I was only using #40 thinsulate which I often use for table runners.

So ... I went back to the white lining and picked that apart to use instead.

Laying everything on the floor, I pin-basted the layers. Then I decided it would work better to just baste the whole banner. That way I can use a hoop ...  or not ... as I want ... and depending where I carry this for work.

Now the quilting of the figure has begun.

After this is done I may need to add some embroidery.
Last of all, I will add the message and any other embellishments.

The design changed a bit since last week when I picked up the copy. I have not yet decided the color of the letters or what I might quilt into the background.
Sunday I have a communications meeting and might get some feedback from that group.

I have so many other things on my calendar, that I am glad to get this thing moving forward,

The size, like the former banners is 28"x38" so I just might be able to carry it with me for take-along work.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Strange culture


At least three times a week, I take the train to and from Omotesando station...
For church, meetings, choir practice, and the first Saturday in the month for "Saturday Night Out"program.

The last few weeks, the B3 basement passage has been crammed with young people standing along the wall.

At times it got so tight that those trying to pass through were like fish swimming upstream. Finally, the station sent an attendant to stand toward the end of the line with a microphone, asking those young people to move over and let people pass.

This past week, a rope had been installed outside the yellow strip to keep the crowd back. You may notice that those people all have cell phones and are taking pictures.

This mother and son have jumped the rope to get a close-up picture.


Last week, I stopped and asked the guard what was going on.

Apparently, these large photos are of members of some pop group....

Hmmm, If you can't mob the real thing, large photos are the next best ????








At the end of the line ... checking  that we got the best pictures.


I Talked with the guard again yesterday and he said it is the last day.

I guess that is why the crowd is less than the last few weeks.







And, in case you are wondering,  I grabbed a picture in the very-early-morning on my way to practice for a special group singing in the first service.

Can you imagine the lure of these seven members of a group? Would you want a quick selfie standing between them? The older I get, it seems, the more out of touch I become.
Think of all the quilting I could get done  instead of hanging out in the halls of Omotesando-station!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Where does time go?

The passing typhoon seems to have snatched up time and run off with it ... as I can't seem to find any to spare.

Last Sunday was an early start for choir practice.
I was also scheduled for a Stewardship committee meeting at the same time, but since usually I am the only tenor at practices ... with maybe one or two showing up to sing without having gone over their part, I need to know my part well so I won't be thrown off by strange notes attacking my ears.

In the end, I did not dilly-dally around afterwards, but thought I'd better get home before the rain began.  I'm glad I did.

Sleeping in the greenhouse up on the roof, the night was full of blowing and rattling sounds.
At 12:30 I got up to make the rounds and check on all the windows and plants, and though I lay back down on my futon, I could not make it back to sleep.

By 4:am, when I had to leave for onigiri delivery, the wind had let up a bit. Two doors down the street the sweet-smelling Osmonthus flowers were swimming in a puddle. These had only just opened a few days ago so had not gotten much air time.
I removed the leaves blocking the sewer lid to drain the lake but the flowers still clutter the path today.

My trip into town was about as usual. There were a few more large trucks on the road that had probably waited for the wind to die down a bit before taking to the highway, and were working their way into town. One traffic light on a long arm with a large location sign hanging below had blown to the north and was facing the sidewalk on the opposite corner.

There are many large trees along that ring-road, but other than blowing leaves, they remained in good shape. When I finally reached the avenue that runs past the church, the streets were covered in trash.
I guess that had been set out the day before for an early pick-up, and scattered all over. The tall Keyaki trees were all standing. I saw a few small potted trees had blown over, and as I neared Shibuya for delivery, there were two trees fallen across the road and the workers were already diverting the traffic and cutting up the tree. The roots were in the air and it was a good-sized tree that was across four of the six lanes. I heard there were two more trees down on another road leading into the area. There was no trouble finding takers for the rice-balls, most in their usual places.

When I returned home to get ready for school, I checked all the outdoor plants. Even those pots sitting along the top of the wall had remained in place. They seemed happy to have had some rain.

Monday was a very long day, and after a rather sleepless night, I was glad to get home, have dinner, walk Nikko, and hit the sack.

This week I completed the new blocks and finished the last four rows on the smaller quilt for the pastor.

This picture has the rows together and the inner-border added. Today I laid it out on the single bed and am thinking about how wide to make the outer border. Maybe a six-inch border will do.
I am not sure how this might be used, but it should make a light cover for summer or work on a large sofa. With six inches all around, it can be tucked in.

I have a lot of items on my list. Along with Kai's big-boy double-size quilt, I have a stewardship banner with only a few weeks time to do, a blue and white table runner for #2 daughter, a quilt for a coming grandchild, and a much overdue wrap for my #3 daughter. (last Christmas plan) Where in the world will I find the time!

After walking around fallen tree branches on our narrow street, Nikko and I finally went out with the cutters and chopped them into a trash bag ... now waiting for Saturday's collection. I don't know whose tree they came from because mine and the neighbor's maples are fine. Many long thin branches and one multiple branched one about six feet long.

For today, things are quiet. Hopefully I can get the stewardship banner drafted and find fabric to use.
I see there is some kind of a quilt show in Ikebukuro ... not far by train, but a bit costly, and that train ride is not free. Another typhoon is coming but probably we will only get the edge. My weather app on the cell phone says rain will begin soon. (Of course, that app is seldom right, as last night when I was walking home from choir in the rain, I pulled it out to check the prediction, and it said "partly cloudy") Maybe that was just a very low cloud?

Guess I'd better get busy because from Sunday the whole month gets crammed full of activities ... and I still have a weeks-worth of blogs to check on. Sorry if you feel ignored ....

Friday, September 28, 2018

Four down, two to go

Wow, where does time go?
Monday was my usual early morning onigiri run. Since it was a holiday, Autumnal Exuinox", traffic was less and the drive to pick up and deliver the onigiri went along quite quickly. The train to school was also less crowded and I got to sit the whole way ... very unusual. The week before was also a holiday, "Respect for the Aged" and I could sit on the way to school that day too. As I finished up a bit earlier than usual, I could sit on the way home too.

Wednesday I was expecting a visit from a friend, so daytime was spent trying to remove enough clutter that she would have a place to sit. Last of all, de-dog-hairing the carpet. If there was an award for shedding, Nikko would win it paws down. All the plucking of hair done in May and June is back in and falling out in big hunks. Each morning I sweep hair off the stairs as I come down, and when I go up to bed at night there is a pile in the corner of every step.

My friend had brought some black on white fabric with words printed in Afrikaans. Since I am using leftover blocks to make a quilt for our pastor who is from South Africa, It was a super bonus, and while here, we looked over the print and selected words to include in the blocks I will make.

From Wednesday evening, I began sewing the strips of yukata fabric together for the big quilt back.
Those are long seams, and by tonight I have completed sewing four strips. Two are left to go. They are not take-along work and I have to stop from time to time... take a break, and rethread my needle.

These days the weather has been crazy with hot and cold and off and on rain. One night I am waking up being too hot and the next getting up at two am and putting on a down vest. With a typhoon moving in, who knows what will be next.

Meanwhile, Since last week there has been a crashing and banging as the house next to the weed lot has been taken down. This seems to be the new normal for our neighborhood. Several weeks ago, it was the building across the street to the east. An old Japanese style house, it took about two weeks to remove the building and another two weeks to smash up and remove the foundation. Then there was the same going on to the north-west of my block. Now both of those are re-building , so lots of banging and hammering. To the direct south, four lots down, an apartment is going up so lots of sound from there ... other than the smashing, because that was an empty lot for the last ten years. Then, from last weekend, the building across the street to the south began coming down. My poor neighbors could barely get their cars out because of trucks blocking the way. Our lane is not intended for cars so going by the front of my house, only a small car with the mirrors turned in can fit.

Well, today, the final blocks of concrete were hauled off.

This is what Nikko and I found on our afternoon walk.

For some reason, they took out the fence between the plot and the tan house on the corner..
I was rather glad that this year I did not plant flowers along the fence because everything was ripped out.

I did go over and pick up some bulbs that had been pushed to the top of the soil. What was a triangle of stones is now bare soil and I'm wondering how much of the space the new building will take up. (and what weeds will be moving in now that the ground-cover is gone.


What you see behind the fence is actually two houses.

The shorter house has two dogs that bark every time Nikko and I walk down and around the corner to the park. Today, without a house in the way, they barked as we walked all the way around.

Can you see the space between those two houses? It is narrower than the length between my thumb and pinky...
about six to six and a half inches. I can't imagine living that close to those yappy dogs.

Usually, the space between houses is around a meter.
Our garden space is 57 inches wide, with a path to the gate, but the neighbor's house is only a foot or so from the other side of the wall. Only wide enough for cats to pass through.

The neighbor to the north has a large garden so his house is much farther away.

These are the two houses built across the lane from our house.
The space between them is less than 20 inches.

When our house was built, there was a rule about the percentage of house space one could have according to the total lot. That is why we have a tiny garden.

These days, if the rules exist, they are nor being followed.
When our house was being built, the neighbor to the north came during the night and measured everything, then objected to my third floor room, allowing us to only have one meter at the top of the stairs. The rest became a deck, and was later turned into a greenhouse. The problem is, because it was to be a covered room, the roof is flat and the water collects and sets and works its way into the walls, rotting them out.

New putty was put in this summer and so far no leaking, but the roof is metal and gets hot in summer and cold in winter and that may be why the putty is short-lived. Since there is a large hole in the floor, I can remove the temporary step and check after the rain for leaks.

Rain is predicted for the next two days so maybe I can get the last two strips sewed together ... and maybe have time to assemble the new blocks and arrange those final rows. It is probably also time to hunt up my down comforter so I don't have to go looking for warmer clothing in the middle of the night. I don't think it is time to dig out my sleeping bag as yet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Finally moving forward

I have been holding off on laying out the black and white quilt for planning the backing because the only space large enough is the second floor apartment, and with it closed up in the heat with the electricity turned off, it didn't seem like the best option.

Well, my daughter has offered that space for a friend to use during a stay in Tokyo, and I needed to get a few things done to make it liveable.  Today I took out two futons and hung them outside to air. Then I went to do some cleaning, starting with washing the floor in the loft, then the main room floor, windowsills, hall etc. I opened all the windows. Not sure the place was cooled off any but there was a slight breeze....    and as long as I was running up and down anyway, I decided to take the quilt up and lay it out and see what I could come up with for the backing.


I really like using tenugui for quilt backs and I had found these partial rolls at the Salvation Army store. They aren't black and white but indigo-dyed. If they were made into a yukata, the prints could be matched up into a picture of a dragon in the clouds. Since these are just random cuts, I needed to lay them out and come up with a plan. I didn't really want to chop up those strips any more than necessary other than to adjust the length. The center strips are from a roll representing a sumo wrestler. (the kanji is his name).

If I look at the weather report for the rest of the week and into next week, it seems a week of rain is predicted. Of course, my weather app on my cell phone is wrong more than 50% of the time. I should be glad for this day of sun ... and take every advantage I can. I can stay inside and do the sewing when the rain comes.

For now, I will hunt up bedding, electric cords, dishes and utensils, and whatever might be needed for a few weeks stay. I can't say life is dull!