Monday, April 29, 2013

Block 11, a star of a star

 If I don't say who this block represents, I wonder how many people can figure it out.

In the center is a red work bird reading a book. It might be a diary or recipe book. Then again, it might be a story book or some poetry. I will leave it up to the observer because any of those could be right.

The inner star has stars and wood.

The outer star is "pickle" fabric.
I wanted to make a connection between this block and the "Quilter's Book Club" for which I am using some of this same fabric.

Have you figured it out yet?
This blogger has made blocks to go with a diary. She has made a calendar quilt of those darling red work birds.
She often gives a recipe to go with the post. Sometimes, even some poetry.

She is also the leader of the Quilter's book club, where we enjoy and discuss a different book each month and make a block to represent that book.

If you have not guessed yet, go to A Starwood Quilter and get to know Susan Phillips. Although we have never met in person, we have had many exchanges and I look on her as a true friend. When I think back on my childhood schooling, I wonder how having such a teacher as Susan, might have changed my life or at least made those school days a whole lot happier. There are some lucky kids out there and the blogging world is a better place too.

Thanks Susan, you are a star of a star!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Small finishes

My small quilt group met today. I lugged my + and x quilt on train and bus and now have only about an hours worth of quilting before the binding can be put on. Between yesterday's train rides into town for choir practice  and today, I completed the points on another star.

Here is Lis's block with points. I had pulled out about ten different fall leaf prints but after trying several, kept coming back to the blue background.

Maybe cherry blossoms and fall leaves look a bit strange together but It was under the cherry trees last year that I walked and talked with Lis.

My other small finish was this quilt block I made for my April Quilters Book Club story.

I decided on this "Garden Path" for several reasons. I have chosen two dark "pickle" fabrics to use in each block. That has made my first blocks a bit on the dark side. I thought adding some floral prints, even two inch squares and half squares, would brighten up the block a bit more.

The book is "The Quilter's Apprentice" by Jennifer Chiaverini. At the end of the story, it is in the garden, that Sarah's husband Matt had so beautifully restored, where Sylvia and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Emberly, begin their reconciliation.. Now I am hoping to get the next book so I will be ready for May's reading.

This will probably be all the progress for a few days. I am off to the woods to camp with the boys. (and possibly teach them something about plants in the area). The train ride will be several hours each way and I have no sewing left to take ... and my book is finished ... well, I do have a book I can take. (and of course, the brain is in motion).
Have a nice weekend. I know I will.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Two more stars

Nothing like crummy weather to keep me sewing.
Teresa at Stitchin' Friends is not a frequent blogger and when I asked her about her likes, she responded, "I don't know". So... my friend ... you get my choice.

I have noticed that Teresa likes some of the same things that attract me.

She likes to have things organized.
She likes to work steadily on one project at a time.

She has made several of these twisted pinwheels, the latest a whole quilt. I have also made a few pieces in this pattern but it always drives me a bit crazy. Even so, I decided to put together a four inch block with these colors which she used most recently.

I cut some points to use but then, decided they weren't all that complimentary so this is what I ended up with ...

Well, Teresa used brown too but her border was a very fancy "snail's trail".

Other things we like in common are the heart table runner and the Lucy Boston quilt with crosses made of hexagons.
(I m slightly ahead of her on this one because I have already done that one twice.

If you visit Teresa's blog, be sure to look back through her posts to see her entry in the Houston Quilt Show. "Circus Stars" was a "Featured Quilt".
Also check out what she is putting together now!

My number ten friend also makes me smile just thinking of her' Nadine at Friendship Threads not only quilts, but crochets and knits. It's nice to have all those warm things because she tells me she is a "Winter Girl".

I went through my scrap bins and found lots of snowflake prints.

I also decided on a basket because that is what Nadine is working on at this time.

Is a basket of snow enough?

Well, I found some more in other colors but rather liked the pick of these three that represent the colors of the Belgium flag, which is where Nadine lives.

I also had to add a few XOXOXO
because in the past blogging years, I have received so many of these from Nadine.

My next victim ... er... subject is Susan Phillips. I could just make a star out of a wood print (I even know where to find that fabric in my collection) but This one will take a lot more thought because four inches will never say it all!

Monday, April 22, 2013

two more blocks become stars

A Sunday trip into town is a good time to make progress, but only if you plan ahead.
Saturday evening I cut a few more triangles for turning my little friend blocks into stars.

I pulled out a few water prints from my stash to see if there might be something to add to the lake, but when I compared them to the block, they looked more like a stormy sea than that placid scene on Marlene's header.

I had a strip left over from my grandson's "big boy" quilt and the batik looked almost like water drops on a lake. I decided on more trees around the lake and am satisfied with the result.

I had cut enough for three stars but decided to tackle the hardest one first.

(Not that it was so difficult to sew together, it's just that I had to pin the fabrics in place so I would get them where I wanted them before losing all the pins).

I was happy to find more sparkly fabric, blue, gold, olive and hearts all have some glittery print.

Then I went back to my stitchery book and hunted up a few stitches that were within my limited ability.

I am working on a new block now but I still have one more set of points to add on my next train trip. I find it interesting that these friends of mine have managed to stretch my limits in new directions with absolutely no effort on their part. Bur then, I think that is a part of what friendship is all about.

I also still have one more edge to quilt on my + and x quilt before I can add the binding. The weekend was quite cold but today the sun has come out to remind me that if I don't get that done, it will be way too hot to hold on my lap before much longer.

Wishing you, too, a happy and fruitful week.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Followers become stars

Well, I have a ton more respect for Cynthia since trying my hand at sashiko. Perhaps I should go to her for a few lessons.

I have to admit that four inches is a bit small for all these stitch patterns. One strand of embroidery floss was a too fine so I went with a  number 16 silk thread that comes wrapped on a card.
Perhaps I would have done better to use quilting thread and a finer needle.

There were lots of patterns I wanted to try but they were difficult to draft in such a small size.

I also began adding the points to some of the blocks.

I tried adding some designs in the star points but I am not sure any of what I drafted will be added.

A fan shape fit but was too small to make it work.

A dragonfly might work and I gave up on the linked plovers and the wave design.

I may just call it quits while I am ahead. If you want to see really lovely sashiko, check out Cynthia's blog.

I have to add that Cynthia is a personal friend, living here in Tokyo. She has helped greatly with two of the ASIJ auction quilts.

I hope the blessing that is her friendship will continue even after she returns to the States.

Here are a few more points I have added to turn my followers into stars.

Linda loves blue and yellow

Cheryl gets another teapot and  more color.

My left-handed guru gets a bit more Japanese fabric

And, Susan 's has a bit more of the print used in the lucky block.

The other three finished blocks are still in the thinking process. Even with the size having moved from four inches to eight, this will never be enough for a quilt, so I will move on down my list.I think there are a few more followers out there who have not let me know what they would like on their blocks......

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Follower's block, lucky seven

I am really enjoying the time it takes to think of my blogging friends. The next person on my list does not have a blog so I can not go there to spy on her likes and dislikes, or send the rest of you there for a visit.

Susan has something in common with me. Both of us left our homes to marry someone and move to the other side of the world. I went west and ended up in the far east. She went east and ended up in Dubai. I looked through my block books, hoping to find an interesting block that represented east and west. Not finding one that spoke to me of Susan, I picked something else.

This block is called "Lucky Block".
I thought it was appropriate because I was lucky to meet Susan earlier this year. Not only that,  she was lucky to win a trip to the Tokyo Dome Quilt Show, coming all the way from Dubai to Tokyo.

We spent a day together, and at one shop we both bought a pack of the same fabric, a selection of warm browns from light to dark.

I decided to use some of these in the block for her and added a camellia print as the sasanqua were blooming at that time of year.

I will continue to think of her often and our short time together. I also have developed great respect for all the bloggers out there making those "Dear Jane" quilts with hundreds of little blocks. Trying to get all those little pieces into one four-inch block is not an easy task!

Cheers, my friend. When you begin a blog, I will become a loyal follower.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"No-man's-land" belongs to my neighbor

It has been 48 years since we moved from our tiny walk-up to this site. When we came, the house was a duplex and we lived in the back half that opened onto a dirt alley.

Over the years, the neighborhood has changed a lot. When our landlord died, the family sold the house to pay the inheritance tax and since we had been renting the place since it was built, we had first dibs. It was before the "bubble" and seemed like a good investment at the time, so we bought it, paid the other renters to move out, and re-built on the site four very small apartments and a section for our parents ... or as it turned out ... Mother and sister ... to live.

Re-building meant losing a few meters on each side to be saved for widening the road but we knew the people in the neighborhood and liked our quiet walkers-only street.

Many people have left over the years and houses to the East and South have been replaced by tall sun-blocking apartments.

The picture here is the quilt my mother made for my #1 son. He is expecting a son of his own this summer and I wanted him to have his baby quilt but it was in very sad condition. I began working on replacing the quilting a while ago and my daughter saw it and said she would like to make a gift of her time and talent to the new baby, so she took the project home and replaced the stitching and re-did some of the embroidery where  it was worn. This week I replaced the binding which was shredded. It is now ready to make the trip to Oregon.

Here it is hanging in the shade on the wall of the neighbor to the South.  Sometimes I hang smaller items on the gate of my neighbor to the west. At last out narrow dirt path has been "paved" ... that is, covered more or less with a layer of asphalt. We still have no drainage, thus a lake when it rains, and, since the surfacing is rather spotty, we have pretty little flowers growing along the base of our wall.

We lived in a few other rental spots when the family was large but now that the value is about equal to what we owe the bank, and with my mother-in-law no longer living, we have moved back.

I am happy with this status and It will probably remain this way through my lifetime, due to our neighbors to the North. As long as they do not rebuild, they will not lose a meter of their property along the back alley and it will not be turned into a road.

How can I know they will not rebuild? THEIR PROPERTY is very IMPORTANT!!! I don't think they would dare lose even one inch. When we rebuilt, they were very unhappy because they wished to purchase that property to expand their area. They were so unhappy that they came into the construction site at night and measured every inch to make sure we were not making the place any bigger than allowed. They made us put up tall barriers on our balcony so no one could look over into their garden and they placed boards with nails poking up through them along the top of the wall facing our house so no one might climb over the high walls.

Over the years, the old man of the family who harassed the whole neighborhood died and things calmed down a wee bit. I placed fruit on the nail spikes for the birds in winter. I took down part of the barriers on the balcony to let in a bit of light and air. (I do not spend much time peering into their garden). A few years ago I pulled off the last of those rotten boards with rusty nails and tossed them in the trash.

When the earthquake came, many of these block walls suffered. It is common knowledge that in a quake, you are to stay away from walls like these. This wall also moved a few inches to the West and lost a lot of the stucco from the surface.

Earlier this year, the wall underwent rehab and got a new face and coat of paint. Well, they didn't make it straight and the corner facing our entryway was left as is.

Well, it is not our wall but it is what we see each time we step out the door so I tried to hide some of it with ivy. Every so often, the neighbor ... now the son of that old guy ... comes over and pulls all the ivy off his wall, leaving it in a heap by our door. Another thing I have done is put a beautiful spider plant on the top corner so it would hang down and soften that ugly surface. I hung a few planters and usually have something in bloom most of the year.

Here is the beautiful garden wall for the rest of the world to see.

Peeping over the top are flowering quince, Many kinds of camellia, a persimmon tree, and a lovely crepe myrtle.
They are quite beautiful and also quite messy, and since this is the back alley, not a place where they sweep. In fact, 99% of what I sweep up in front of me house has either blown or floated down-hill from outside their wall.

I really don't care. It is nice to have such a beautiful garden right next door.
But now, the story gets very strange. . .

A few weeks ago, on a Sunday morning when we were not home, the neighbor came over and cut all the ivy off about four inches above the ground.

He also removed the plants from the top of the wall.

Some of the ivy died back but now it seems it will recover. I put the plants back up because no one had made any effort to come 'round and sweep, so I didn't think they would even notice a flowerpot.

Wrong! Flower pots set onto the sidewalk. And what is even more strange is the "hole".

Right at the corner of the wall is this square hole. I think at one time it contained a wooden fence post, now rotted and gone. It fills with dirt washed down the river each time it rains and I thought it might look a bit prettier with a few flowers so I planted a few bulbs of small flowers. They are only a few inches high and not messy at all. They grow along the same wall up the street and look very pretty.

Then one morning, about a week ago, my husband came home and the neighbor was doing something there with a shovel. When I looked next, the hole was all cleaned out. It has filled up again twice since then ... each time it blows or rains it catches whatever is along the wall. BUT NOW the guy who never sweeps is fixated on that hole. If he had spoken I might have told him not to worry, that I wouldn't waste any more bulbs on that spot.

The weird part of the story is that the whole length of the wall along their house is covered in weeds that have never been touched.

My husband is scratching his head over this, wondering what is going on.

The only thing I can think of is a dog, using that spot to mark his territory. Surely, you never know what you will find when you step out my front door.

And ... on the ironing board is my second block for the Quilter's Book Club.
I wanted to make something to represent "A Single Thread" by Marie Bostwick and thought the four spools could represent the main characters with a thread coming from each and joining into one. I'm not sure how to make them one in the center but the basic block is done.

Now I am in planning mode for this month's book, The Quilter's Apprentice, bu Jennifer Chiaverini. I had read this once before and am surprised at how much I have forgotten of the story.

I am trying to put a piece of my "pickle" fabric into each block but it is a hard set of colors to work with. I have no idea where that fabric came from. I'm certain I didn't buy it but there is a big piece of the smaller print if I can only fit it in somewhere. Nothing like a challenge to keep your brain in action!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Follower's block 6

Sitting next to my computer, on the top of my thread stand, is this charming card made by "Queenie".

Note the eyes ... watching me make the next "followers block" and you can imagine why it has taken me so long.

Queenie is a master of needlework. You can check out her blog and see for yourself .

Queenie lives in the area and I have been fortunate to meet her in person twice. She is also a friend of Lis of Piece'n Peace, who I also met a year ago. How interesting that two out of those blocks have more of a connection than just comments on a post.

After struggling for several weeks, I have come to the conclusion I will never be satisfied with whatever I come up with.

I wanted something with sparkle but finding cotton  was a challenge and I didn't think sequins and beads would work on a bed cover.
I wanted something with a Japanese touch but was not so happy with the center piece once it was in place.
I thought the spool fabric had meaning but the color is not so stunning.
I added Queenie's initials but that print, although a good size, is too light in color. Then I spent a number of fruitless hours searching for a piece of blue fabric printed with little flags, When it turned up, there was no flag of Sweden.

Ah well, when all you have is lemons ... make lemonade! So I added a bit of flawed stitchery. If you want the real thing, you will have to visit Queenie. She is a great person to get to know. She is a font of knowledge  and generous in sharing it with others.
Though the block is not so hot, it will be enough to remind me of the warmth and sparkle of this friend.

AND... for those of you who wonder about my caterpillar pinewood derby car, It hit a snag in the track twice and flipped. The second flip broke out the wheel, which went sailing across the room. My competitors were quite happy to see it eliminated. It made the District races one car shorter, and it has been added to the inventory of "cars from the past" on my Scouting blog.
Many of my former cars have been on exhibit at the National Jamboree the last few Jambos, but this year there will be no Boys' Life Whittlers at the new site. I will be curious to see what the future will bring as the site gets further developed.

The + and X block quilt has only a tiny bit more to go before adding the binding. Now as I work, I will be thinking of the next block of my blogging friends.