Sunday, September 15, 2013

Monday musings

This summer, at our family reunion, I was greeted by a bed with a quilt. Yes, it seems all the beds had real quilts on them.

The piecing seemed to be very accurate but the quilting... that was another story, this quilt was made in China and the stitches were not quite toe-grabbers, but only two, or at the most, three stitches to the inch.

This morning as I read the most recent post on Marjorie's blog, I thought about the value placed on hand quilting. Indeed, this comes to mind when the women of Tohoku wish to make something they might sell.

I can't help wondering how the quilters were paid for this work ... by hour? or by finished piece?... Is that why the stitches are so large, just to finish up as quickly as possible?

I was once asked to quilt a single-sized child's quilt for a friend. I did keep a record of time spent and quickly figured that no one could afford to pay a quilter by the hour (and I am rather faster at quilting than some). Instead I asked for an OTT light, and let the friend decide the size. It was a good deal because I am still enjoying that floor lamp and would not have been able to have it sent overseas, as she did. I wonder how my blogging quilters would figure out a fair price for something they have made. Do machine quilters charge by time spent?

Today is a National Holiday, Respect for the Aged day.
The other afternoon, a lady from the neighborhood association came to our door bearing a gift of special rice for my husband and me.

Note the festive wrapping.

These packages were made at a local store just for this "festive" occasion.

And here is what was in that wooden box. (actually, there were two boxes, one for each of us ... but neither of us could eat that much in one sitting)

The rice contains red beans and toasted sesame seeds. This is something one eats on auspicious occasions.

I am not all that sure that getting old is something to celebrate unless one considers the alternative.

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, my husband turned the food item into a meal.

The little blue-lidded bottle contains more of the sesame seed and salt.

We celebrated last night because today my husband is off to a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Asian Rural Institute. I left him at Shibuya station at the finish of our rice delivery run. No, those homeless didn't get the fancy rice, though there are probably a few who are older than we.

One more musing to share, is something that greeted me as I walked to Friday's Scout meeting.

Here is a view of the Tokyo Tower.
The sidewalk was obstructed with young people with cameras and cell phones, taking pictures.

There seems to be great excitement over selection of Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. I remember well, the last Olympics held here in Tokyo. My husband was on the Olympic Organizing Committee. It was a time of great excitement. Now, however, not everyone is thrilled.

The newspapers are full of the designs and plans for facilities, new stadiums, an orgy of infrastructure investment, around 400 billion yen to be spent on Olympics related facilities, including the athlete's village and media centers. A new Olympic stadium will be built in an area where some 200 households, where a third of the residents are 70 years old or older, will have to move somewhere else. Meanwhile, two and a half years after the quake and tsunami, about 290,000 people are still living in temporary housing and no move has been made on re-building.

Since the majority of those people are elderly, I can't help wondering if the government is just waiting for them to die off and solve the problem. Meanwhile taxes and postage are scheduled to go up. Will the Olympic boom bring employment to the elderly and homeless? I seriously doubt it.

I guess it is time to get back to quilting.


  1. it seems no-one will pay the true amount for what quilting is worth ... what a shame a beautiful quilt should be spoilt in such a way ... and that the true worth of people does not seem to be honoured either x never mind we are still here to bemoan the situation and as you say... its better than the alternative xx keep smiling x hope husband has a safe journey x

  2. It is impossible to get paid for the time and love that goes into a quilt. There are a select few who get high prices but you have to find the right market. I prefer to make them for myself and as gifts, I think quilts are priceless;)

    That is a shame that there are so many still without homes, it is hard when you have a higher concentration of people in one area. Here they have converted a lot of the old navy housing into low income and they built more, so we have a lot of places for the elderly, but it seems more low income from the cities are moving into our area.


  3. Interesting post! Long-arm quilters in my area are charging by the square inch--around 2-3 cents psi. I like the deal you made. I'll bet you've enjoyed that OTT light for more hours than it took you to earn it. I hope they're also building some lovely housing for the older residents. One would think that would fit into the large budget.

  4. It is almost impossible to charge for the time we spend. A good job should pay 20.00 an hour - to make a living - and no one will pay that much for hand quilting - I've heard the comment, but it's just hand quilting. I'd like to sit them down with a needle, thread and thimble and let them see how long they would want to do that for pennies an hour.

    I made a queen sized quilt for my cousin in Newport, OR - I designed each pictorial block - the center was a large porthole with the Newport bridge hand appliqued in the center. The blocks were all hand appliqued, hand embroidered and designed by me. I spent 1 1/2 YEARS making that quilt - including the hand quilting. My cousin paid for the materials and I made it for her because I wanted to. Someone asked if I would make them a quilt just like that and I said - sure - for 8,500.00 - and they said "seriously" - and I replied "8,500.00 seriously". I didn't really want to make another quilt like that one for my cousin - but if paid enough I would tackle it - needless to say - they didn't order a quilt, which was fine with me, I didn't need the money, and I didn't need the time spent on another quilt.

    That is so sad about the elderly going without permanent housing and the waste of the Olympic buildings. I've seen past Olympic sites, even very, very recent ones, that have gone completely to ruin from disuse - just discarded completely - what a waste of time and money.

  5. Like Nifty Quilts - longarm quilters in my area charge by the square inch. The last time I checked - the going rate was 2 cents per square inch for a standard all-over type quilting - and 3 cents per square inch for custom quilting. One longarm quilter also charged 8 cents per linear inch to sew on the binding. It has been a while - so the prices have probably gone up since last I checked - ;))

    As far as the Olympics and the planned construction are concerned - it seems to me to be a serious case of misplaced priorities. I would think that taking care of the elderly and the earthquake and tsunami victims would rank higher than it apparently does. Providing permanent and affordable housing for them should outrank providing temporary housing and facilities for a one-time event. But then again - it's probably just me - ;))

  6. I am most worried that the toe catcher quilts are made by small children or women who are being exploited by money making people...
    Quilting is probably seen as 'granny craft' and so enjoyable to do, a proper salary is not needed, on the contrary a tailor's work is highly valued as professional. It's like cooking, done at home by Mum it is taken for granted, done in a restaurant by Dad, the Master Chef, people are willing to queue up and pay anything...
    Congratulations on being old, ha, ha. You are the youngest 'oldie' I know but I am glad you got the rice gift. In Shinagawa the 'oldies' in my family gota box of 'kastella'.
    I am not interested in sport but I have hopes that the OS will energize Japan and Japanese economy. With more money in circulation, more tax revenues, public fascilities and infra structure will be built that we can all make use of.
    To rebuild Tohoku, I think some of the red tape has to be cut first, then decisions can be made and permission to build given....

  7. I gave up the idea to be paid by the hour. No one wants to pay the price. I'm just happy to get paid for the cost of fabric and supplies. The long-arm quilters have the right idea to charge by the square inch.
    Businesses and government officials always welcome the Olympics with open arms saying it will be good for their economy. You really have to wonder who's economy they are talking about when they are pushing the elders out of their homes and many are living in temp housing.

  8. I know that Amish quilters charge so much per inch of thread that they use. My friend loved to piece but did not like to quilt so she had the Amish do it. She loved the finished work and enjoyed meeting with her Amish friends during those times.

    Enjoy my friend!

  9. I figured I'd rival my grandmother in hand quilting a long time ago. OK, I did. But then I decided I really preferred spending my time doing hand appliqué instead (there just aren't enough hours in the day) it's machine quilting for me.
    best, nadia