Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Taking a quilting and blogging break

Tonight I leave for a week of Scouting.

The owl quilt will not be going. I may or may not have free time to work on it, but I don't think is is worth the risk. The information we have been given is that there is no electricity in the campsites.
Certainly quilting is not an activity to be done by flashlight in the evenings.

The area has had torrential rains for the past two weeks. It is a land-fill along the coast of South-western Honshu, and we have been told to bring boots and rain gear and expect mud.

The other item staying home will be my laptop. Certainly I will not do any blogging. I have been to other Jamborees where they had a computer center set up and the waiting lines for using the connections were around the block. I can read my e-mail on my "smart phone" (if I can find a place where it can be charged) I have packed a multiple outlet and my charger if I can find an outlet somewhere. (8 years ago, there were outlets in the bathroom for hair dryers and those were all taken up by cell phones).

August 4th, Paul and I celebrate our 50th year of marriage. 16 of those years, I have been away at a Jamboree for the occasion and many other ones, he has been away. I can only remember celebrating out 25th and that was because the kids made it special. It is possible we have spent fewer of those occasions together than apart. Today I heard him complain that I would be away and was a bit surprised he even remembered.  Now I am feeling a bit sad and guilty.

One thing I will not miss is the crashing and shaking still going on. We had a break yesterday because of rain and thunder storms. (well, I did. Nikko has not been happy with either choice).

On a positive note, one old guy living in the apartment  to the North of the activity, thinks that there will be a house built instead of apartments or multiple houses because he saw  a lady taking measurements to figure out where to park a car.

That sounds hopeful. The street is too small for cars to pass or turn around. When I need to put gear into my car, I have to either back in or back out. A garage or parking space at the corner of the property might make it possible to pull in and back into a turn to go out.

Tonight's trip will be by bus to the airport, where I hope to find a chair where I can sit until the group shows up in the early morning. The people who make up flight schedules don't seem to pay much attention to train and bus schedules. maybe they think those who can afford to fly, can also afford a hotel at the airport.

I'll miss all those posts coming my way ... BUT ... I will have plenty to keep myself entertained when I return.  ... and ... I will be looking forward with much anticipation.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Coming up with a plan

The owl quilt is making slow progress.

First, I decided to add the binding so that when I get as much done ... even while travelling ... as I can, it will be suitable to pass to my grandson.

I thought long and hard about quilting in the 6-inch border. I doubt a cable would not show up in the bamboo and would be difficult to mark. Instead, I decided that I will quilt the fabric design along some of the bamboo and leaves.

Along some of the edges, I quilted bamboo leaves into the sky area.

I will probably add more to some of the areas that need filling.

some of the open areas got quilted leaves

It is a bit hard to see but there are leaves over the tree branch too. I used colored thread for quilted leaves and white for the bamboo leaves.

Here is a view of the tenugui on the back.

I have decided while I am at the family reunion, I will have all the relatives sign their names on their animal.

Leia was the first to add her name yesterday.

She had her choice of lots of mice.

Her Papa added a note to his signature.

I think this will be a lot of fun and I hope I will have enough time to put in enough quilting.

As I quilted today, the house was shaking as the wreckers worked on the neighbor's house. I remember when the path between us was un-paved and one could feel the drunk husbands staggering past in the late evening, by the shaking of the ground. With a strip of asphalt o top it has been some time since the house shook other than real earthquakes.

8:am to 5:pm ... loud crashing and shaking. I rather imagine it is going to take several more days before the job is done.

The view around noon from our gate.

The truck getting loaded up.

Measuring takes place every day.

I wonder what they are planning .......
Time will tell.

The neighbor to the north came out and cleaned out his little hole. See it right below our potted Bay leaf tree?

With all the dirt being tossed around, it was filled again by evening.
I am hoping that this neighbor will be the key to keeping construction within the zoning laws ... however, you can see the apartment building to his north-west side. Fifty years ago, that was a field with a huge weeping willow in the middle. My now gone neighbor used to go in every winter and cut off all the hanging branches. I was surprised because those long willow branches were so graceful and swayed with the slightest breeze, making you feel cool on the hottest of days. When I asked her why she cut them all off, she claimed they looked like ghosts. Maybe she was glad to see the apartment take its place. At least the apartment owner allows me to park my bike there behind the light pole. One step forward and I hope there won't be too many steps back.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A sad and troubling time ahead

The current events have nothing to do with quilting but everything to do with life on our block.

Tuesday, in the poring rain, a man came to the door while I was babysitting my granddaughter.
He brought a notice that tomorrow he would begin to tear down the house across the "street".

My neighbor and I both gave birth to daughters on the same day over 45 years ago and have been friends since then. In February she was hospitalized and since being released, has gone to live with her daughter. During that time I have been taking care of her beautiful garden.

Many pictures of my quilted runners and banners have been taken hanging from her gate, now ripped off the posts and leaning against the front window.

I asked the man about the garden and he said everything goes ... the whole lot will be cleared.

I went out in the rain annd brought the potted plants I had been tending over to my garden.
(Though I hardly have room for anything more).

When my daughter returned from her work, we both went out again in the rain and removed some choice plants for her to take back to her yard.

Early yesterday morning, there was the beeping of a truck backing down the side ally and then the sound of a chain saw. Down came the beautiful tree full of kumquats, the gardenia bushes, and the trees and hedges.

Then men began tossing furniture and belongings into the dump truck that had backed in.  Later in the day, my daughter and her husband went into the house and rescued some more treasures from the trash dump. I couldn't bring myself to enter but I saw kimono boxes and bedding and all kinds of things that could have been given to the Salvation Army store or Goodwill. My daughter saw old family pictures being junked. They saved some shoji that could be used. some antique tables and vases and a hibachi as well as kitchen items our son-on-loan can use in his new apartment.  Today the men were back tossing belongings into the dump truck from the windows. Now I hear the sound of crashing walls and am rather glad I will be away at the Jamboree when the garden goes.

What I fear, is another construction like the most recent one on the corner of our street. One house of similar size was taken down and three houses were built on that lot. Those houses are all three stories tall and would block the last of the light to our home were they built on the west , two or three meters away from out gate.

Here is a sample. House #1 is on the corner. House #2 is to the right,

Note the space between the two houses. It might be 30 inches at the widest . The red fence id ine foot wide.

Here is house #3. That space between is also about a foot at the widest. there are windows along those walls but all are with shutters closed. Not much of a view, I would say.

These houses face a street wide enough for a car so include a parking area under a second floor over-hang.

I don't know what might happen on our tiny street. I don't know what would be worse, three or four houses like this, or a huge four-story apartment building like we already have across the street to the east.

Here is Leia with a treasure she picked up before it headed to the land-fill.

Well, it is a bit big for a five-year-old... even one fast-growing girl with one wiggly tooth. With her Papa's help, she got in some road time.

We will have a few treasures to remember our dear friend but right now, I am feeling more than a little bit sad.

Quilt stuff tomorrow.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In the hoop!

My rule #1, If it works, it is the right way.

Since my schedule is tight, I really need to keep this going if I am going to take it to Oregon finished.

In the old days, there was a problem with batting shifting and the need for rather close stitching.

I think the "Thinsulate" batting I have used is really intended for use in clothing and I have never seen evidence of it shifting or pilling no matter how often it is washed.

The owl is a combination of two inch squares and half squares so I used a variety of in-the-ditch quilting. No matter how carefully I ironed and placed the batting, there were still some seams that flipped over. As much as possible, I use a sweep of the needle to right the direction but there are a few that just had to be quilted as they were.

After quilting the owl, I quilted the kanji for Ryden's name, and starting there, have quilted all the appliqued leaves up the right side and am moving down the left.

There will remain several large areas at least six inches across that will need some quilting. My plan is to quilt in leaves. Most likely I will use large compound leaves over the tree branch and behind some of the other leaves.

So far I have used white thread and am toying with the idea of quilting those leaves in fall colors. I still have time to decide and I know white will show up just as well.

Mr owl is relaxing on the sofa, waiting for me to get back to work.

It is a very hot humid day ... not ideal quilting weather ... and more of the same is in the offing. Seven more leaves to quilt and then I will move on to the next problem.

I still am thinking about how I am going to quilt the borders.

In my flower bed, the last of the lilies has begun to bloom.

The garden shop has a "point card" that gets stamped when you purchase something. That is common at many stores in Japan.
(the fabric store gives a discount to card holders, the pet store gives extra points on two days a month ... "1 1 or Wan wan day" (that is what dogs say when they bark) and "2 2 day Nya nya day" (cat language) and those points can be used to purchase something when they reach a certain amount.

The garden shop points have to be used within a certain time limit or they are lost. One October I was buying potting soil or some such thing and my card was filled up. Having lost the credit on an earlier card, I looked around as I was leaving and happened to see a rack with packs of lily bulbs.
I decided then and there to buy five bulbs while I had the chance as a birthday present to myself.

Those bulbs have been giving me pleasure ever since. They have an order of appearance and this purple one is always the last to bloom. It only has a few blooms but it makes up for that in sheer beauty. They don't mind the heat. They thrive on neglect. Who could ask for a better present ... even if I had to buy them for myself1

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Biting the bullet

Yesterday I began piecing the tenugui for the back of the owl quilt.

When it was all together, I found the backing was rather larger, meaning some of the animal towels might have to be cut too much.
Since I really wanted all the animals to be displayed, I went up to my stash and found some rust fabric left from a quilt I made many years ago for my #2 daughter.

I cut some two and a half inch strips and added a frame to the top.

Tomorrow, after church, I have a Cub Scout outing to the subway museum so probably I wouldn't have enough time to do basting even if I could locate some space. I decided to bite the bullet and move furniture to clear a space in my livingroom.

The space was rather tight and it meant I had to crawl on top of the work. It made me appreciate the women doing the ASIJ quilt, taping the flimsy to the island of tables, spreading the batting, and putting the last layer in place ... then everyone grabs needle and thread and that quilt is basted in no time.

I used Thinsulate 60 loft  and pieced two sections from the bolt.

I rolled it and spread it gradually, making sure the seams were lying flat. That is the hardest part and I am never really satisfied. I have thought the only way to get it all the way I want is to baste every seam in the right direction.

I began pining from the top border, then I flipped it over and made more adjustments, and flipped it back. I really don't think it would have helped to baste with thread because crawling back and forth across it was counter productive.

I will need to use a hoop for quilting unless I baste it with the hoop on, which I might want to do for the borders,.

Now it is bed time but I have managed to quilt the owl's tummy from bill to toes.

The squares are two inches and with this kind of batting, the combination of diagonal and in-the-ditch will be enough.

I'm glad to have the quilting underway but it sure is HOT sitting with this on my lap.

Meanwhile, the next lilies are beginning to bloom.

Are these what they call "Tiger Lilies"?
Instead of seed pods, they have lots of mini-bulbs developing in the leaf axis.

These lilies are large and white.

And the pineapple lily has begun to flower.

I love to watch this plant change day-by-day.

Too bad computers don't come with smell. The last of the gardenias are finishing up their spring blooms.

I'm sure you could find our gate, even if you were blind, just by the smell. The only care they really need is watching out for caterpillars about the time the buds come out.

This year, only one bud was chewed and I never did find the culprit.

My monstera-leaf philodendron couldn't take the heat in the greenhouse where we sleep. Yesterday I brought them down to the first floor and, though some of the leaves are dying, the plants have perked up  and may survive.

The cacti are all quite happy. Tomorrow is supposed to be very hot too and it's almost here. Wish there was a way to save the heat until mid-winter.

backing for Mr. Owl

After finishing the applique, I spread the owl quilt on the double bed in the loft. There really is no place in this house I can spread it out and I wanted to chose some tenugui for the backing.

Even though this quilt is intended for a single bed, I couldn't lay it our all flat.

The room is up under the roof so it is not a place to stand up and take pictures.

I dug through the collection of zodiac animals and pulled out one with all 12 animals and then one of each.

Now I am still sewing them together and I hope the size will be at least as big as the top so I don't have to add borders.  It was a bit difficult to judge with everything draped on the bed.

I have no idea where I can do the basting. I may have to go begging at the rice store again or possibly drag it ti church on Sunday and see if I can find an empty room in the afternoon.
Oh, how I wish there was floor space here without moving all the furniture out of the room (to say nothing of the dog hair)

The days here are very hot and humid.  While sitting and sewing, it felt like a waterfall was running down my back. I can't even guess how many gallons of water I have swallowed each day and it feels more like I have been swimming in it. The thought of sitting and quilting with a nice snugly quilt on my lap does not have much appeal. However, it is my own fault for not having begun sooner.

And here is the little guy, waiting patiently for his quilt.

Well, if it is this hot there, he will probably be glad to wait!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

NHK Partnership Quilt Block

One of the few blogging friends I have had the pleasure of meeting in person is "Queenie".

Each year she contributes a block to the "Partnership Quilts" that are shown at the Tokyo Dome quilt show in January.

Now, she didn't exactly challenge me ... or even twist my arm ... but suggested I might want to give it a try. She not only sent me the details, but let me know the scheduled viewing of the NHK TV
show about the project.

The topic for the coming show is "flowers" and the presentation was by Kathy Nakajima, a quilter well known in Japan for her Hawaiian quilts and patterns. Kathy happens to be a quilter I admire because her quilts are always made by hand.

Of course I love flowers so this was a hard one to pass up. The blocks are due by the end of August and will then be assembled into quilts. I think Queenie has all the information on her blog if you go to the NHK link there.

I decided if I was going to do this, I'd better do it now while I am still thinking about it ...  and before I get too busy .... and to take a break from cutting leaves for the owl quilt. This was made using centimeters which I have never tried. Luckily, my graph paper is in half-cm. squares so once I had an idea of what I wanted to do, all I had to do was draw it out in full size. Since my father was a hybridizer of roses, roses it had to be!

Each year I admire those partnership quilts. There are many, many of them and I always wondered the story behind them. Next time I see them, I will be looking for my block and knowing ... the rest of the story!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Adding color

Well, there is some small progress. Ryden's kanji has been added. It was not an easy task and I felt it might have been better to quilt it in or paint it on with a brush and quilt around it.

I have sewed four leaves in place and pinned on a few more. I am planning to quilt some leaves into the background as well. I'm not sure of the spacing as they look a bit too spread out. I think I will have to just go to bed and look at it again in the morning.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

I can't say I am a big fan of pink ... but this seems to be the time of year to celebrate pink blooms.

The last flower in a hanging pot. It waited until all the others were finished so it could get all the attention.

Another hanging pot has petunias.

My mother loved petunias, and in those days you had to pick off the sticky finished flowers to keep them blooming.
(And, that was my job).

These days there are wonderful varieties that bloom all summer with total neglect. I'm certain my mother would have had them in all the borders around the garden.

Here are a few that came up from some free seeds. This hanging pot is on the back wall.

The pink lilies are putting on a final show.

I think yellow will be the next to bloom.

And, though closer to red than pink, one small geranium flower.

This plant is five years in the same spot and blooms all year around. It did have a rather tough winter and  is just now getting it's act together. It shares the planter with a pink and white variety which is also taking a break.

The "rainy season" continues with a little shower here and there and tons of moisture hanging in the air. The downstairs is rather dark, even with the lights on and not the best for applique.

Yesterday I took my work up to my greenhouse on the roof. There was a nice breeze from time to time and the light was much better. If only that room didn't get so hot in mid-summer.  By evening it has cooled off some and not too bad for sleeping with one light cover.

I leave the owl to contemplate the flora. By now he may be totally confused finding leaf varieties that are not bamboo and come from all different places in Japan and the U.S.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Quilters" Book club update

For once, I was able to finish reading our monthly selection during the month. Of course, since I owned the book and had read it once before, that was easy to do. Now I am waiting for the next book to arrive by post so I thought it time to come up with a block.

The Lover's Knot, by Clare O'Donohue was our book for June. With a block name for the title, I went searching for something to represent the book and came up with many blocks and block variations by that name. Most of them were in just two colors and I have only a small amount of my "feature fabric", a dark paisley print. I want to include a bit in each block and I also want to add a bit of color since what I can pull from that fabric is rather dark red, green, blue. brown and black.

I found this version of lover's knot in The Quilter's Album of Blocks & Borders, by Jinny Beyer. and liked the fact it used more than two fabrics.

Interestingly, her illustration also included paisley print. The pattern was for a 9 inch block but it was not too hard to take a 12 x 12 piece of paper, divide it into thirds and, using a compass, come up with a template.

I can't say I am fond of piecing curved seams. but they didn't come out too badly. Those points were a challenge to iron though and I might not want to quilt through them.

I was going to use the floral tan I had used in the tulip block. Then I picked out a yellowish tan for the center. so went with a yellowish paisley print instead.
As I was putting the blocks together, though, my husband, who never pays any attention to what I am working on unless it is in his way, commented that the red-on-red fabric looked better.

I went with the red but thought the floral tan might have been better. To the right is what I first chose.
In some ways I kind of like that better, but I do like the touch of warmth the red adds and I am not going to un-sew and re-sew those curved pieces!

Next on the agenda is adding Kanji to the owl quilt.
Here is the Kanji selected for Ryden.

The upper ideograph is "trustworthiness" or dependability or reliability.

It is the first character used for male members of the Genji clan.

the second character "den" was taken from an uncle who was a famous movie actor, so it carries on the re-cycling tradition in our family.
The character means "passing on" as in communicate or even passing on a legacy.

On the left are the characters as they might be written in daily life. The middle writing is in "Samurai style" and the third on the right is more "Kabuki style". For applique, the third might be a bit easier to do but with a family history of the samurai, I will go with the center plan.

And in my little garden, with the orange and yellow lilies finished, the pink are having their time poking on front of the new maple and gardenias.

Every time I looked at my cell phone for the past two weeks, it reported the weather to be "showers"  ... the picture of a cloud with water drops spattering on the screen
and a wiper swishing across. Well, Mr.Google makes an interesting application but the only rain is just hanging in the air and would more appropriately be termed "humidity".

I also notice with the arrival of July, my blog list is still up and running ... or am I speaking too soon?
Time will tell on many things. Mr. Google, you are entertaining, if nothing more. (and I prefer that to screwing up my computer life).