Friday, April 29, 2016

Are you a collector?

Well, that is a silly question. Quilters collect fabric ... even though that stash is multiplying in dark places. And, we seem to be collecting all kinds of tools to make our work more convenient, faster, and up-to-date. I have a quilting friend with an amazing collection of thimbles.

A few weeks ago I worked with Boy Scouts at a "Merit badge day".

In the morning I worked with young scouts that had to pass off knot tying and other basic skills such as plant identification...
But in the afternoon I held a class for the "Collections" merit badge.

Sure, I collect postage stamps and coins but they have badges of their own. The collections is for anything else and I have as much fun as the scouts learning about the kinds of things they collect.

Of course there are sports cards or sports team items, but there are always other interesting things and it is really neat to hear about how those collections got started and have grown. Some probably have great value and others have memories of places they have visited and lived over their short lives.

Not too long ago, I saw a post by my blogging friend, Debbie showing a small but lovely collection of cats.

Well, I really don't collect cats. I do have quite an owl collection but very few have been added by me.

Long ago the step tansu, here in my greenhouse holding plants, was on the landing of our home. People coming into the entryway might look at a ceramic cat on one of the steps and think ... Oh, a cat!... Julie collects cats.

Well, in those days my kids were also bringing home strays ... and I'll admit I brought one home too so, the house did have cats  (and dogs too).

Well, the next visit might include a gifted cat.

(Since the owl collection was in the restroom, those were seen even more and owls began to fly in too.)
by now too many to count.

Today when I was watering my collection of plants and taking down my laundry, I glanced around and began to wonder how many cats I actually had collected.

Some of those have stayed on the steps and are watching over my cacti which are going into blooming mode.

There seem to be a few birds mixed into the equation as well. (are they in danger of multiplying?)

(and there is a hand-carved mouse peeping down from the top step)

A sleeping cat is taking up a lot of room on a side table

and another bird rests on his tummy.

Two more cats rest on the floor at the foot of that table and in front of the sliding door.

And, if I had not been looking for cats, I would have missed this cactus which has begun to bloom in front of the west-side doors.

Only those cats had noticed and they were good at keeping the secret.

The spiky little cactus seems to be sending it's flower spikes over for those two cats to enjoy.

Those will probably begin to bloom this weekend.

And here is another flower spike that recently appeared.

I was gifted part of a cactus collection a few months ago from a friend who's wife had been an avid collector of cacti from South Africa.

I have no knowledge about these varieties and all my books only cover those from South America and  U.S. south.

Therefore, I have no idea what to expect or even how to care for them.
Since they had been sitting outside from the time the owner passed away last year, I guess they are able to thrive on neglect ... don't mind a very hot or very cold greenhouse ... and can go without water for a week of scout camp.

So ... along with the cats, it seems I am collecting varieties of plants.
And... when I came down to my laptop, what should I see but a cat on the windowsill and one on top of the hutch ... and a cat bank ... Oh my, I think my collections are taking over!

Better get back to quilting!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Plan as you go .....?

This is the fabric I selected for the nine-patch border.

It is darker than the small sashing but has some of the same blue ... kind of an all-over non-directional print that will be easy to join at the corners.

Following some good advice, I took the quilt in progress up and laid it out on the bed to see how much I might need to add to make it fit well.

It will probably not need much of a border for that bed other than to make it look finished.

The quilt itself has piecing that is one or two, inch blocks and the small nine-patches are three inches.
I will have to think about the quilting as part of the plan. The stitching won't really show against this print so making a wide border that needs lots of quilting doesn't make much sense unless I needed the quilt to be much bigger.

Laid out here is three inches and I could make it four inches.  it might be a bit difficult to mark a fancy quilt pattern on this print but I could do something simple like hearts or a zig-zag. I could probably squeeze out another one-inch strip of that light blue print for an outer border ... with a lot of piecing ... (those scraps have no particular plan to fill).

And ... talk about "Plan as you go" ..
Maybe all my quilts could have that name.

While looking through my kid-friendly bin, I found a pack of already cut hexagons left over from an I Spy quilt.

I have made three of these, two for family and one as a baby quilt for the friend who is getting the just finished baby quilt. I don't remember which these were left over from as I think one was a bigger size cut.
Anyway, I decided these will go well with the left-over fabric from the last quilt. I like to have some take-along work so have begun to sew these into larger hexagon blocks.

I could keep these as is and add yellow triangles in between if I need to make it bigger. I still have no idea how big the pieces I have will make it. (that would involve more math than I am capable of).

I certainly have enough kid-friendly prints to cut more and my templates were in the baggy with the pieces.

I could also just add a section between each of the big pieces in the end, keeping it take along work for a longer time.

Once it gets too big, I really can't work on it during a train ride.
(or sitting in a meeting)

Since this is for a little boy who is already about three or four months old, I don't want to dilly-dally too long. I enjoy the journey but I do have to think a bit about the destination.
(At one point I-Spy quilts become less fun).
I think by the time my kids were six months old they were using words ... some were actually using sentences by then ... so I think this planning has to get moving so I can keep moving too.

Should something begin to look like a UFO ... it is only still in the planning stage.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Progress on the fence.

Here is a picture of the progress so far, taken on Nikko's morning walk through the park on a cloudy morning. This morning I finished stitching the final light sashing. Now I will have to audition something for the outer border. I am hoping there will be something suitable in my stash.

I am thinking of something only slightly darker than the light sashing. The size at this point is 58.5 x 76.5 . Maybe the border should be just three or four inches wide ... enough for a frame. (I am open to suggestions as this is a plan-as-you-go quilt.)

I have managed to put a small dent in my one-inch stash ... the lid now shuts on the box. The two-inch box has hardly changed.

In the morning light, the variety of shades of muslin show up more than pictures taken in the sun or with a flash. It bothered me while sewing the blocks but not so much now. Maybe I am just used to the variety.  Though I am not ready to quilt it yet, I am wondering what the pattern should be. I usually just quilt in the ditch and then fill in any larger spaces. In the ditch might be stronger for all those tiny pieces.

At any rate, this will no longer be take-along work. Guess it is time to dig through my kid-friendly prints and figure out plans for another baby quilt for another church family. .... and maybe clean up the thousands of little threads sticking to the carpet, furniture, and even my clothes. I think those orts are competing with Nikko's hair in a take-over of my world.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Passing the test

I could not figure out the math to go with the borders. I just thought some of those smaller 9-patches set on point would look interesting.

I added the light blue print to separate the border a bit and will put another strip around the outside.
I like it because it can be pieced without much notice as to where the seams lie and it is neither too dark or too light.

Now that I know how many blocks to join for the top and bottom borders, I am working on the second one. They don't any touch in the same place which bothers me a little but to do that I would have had to cut different size squares and my goal was to use some of what I had already marked and cut filling my tin.

I am hoping that the side borders will work out to the right size too.

When I began this, the Celebrate Hand Quilting site was having a 9-patch challenge. I think they may have all moved on long ago as I have not seen any nine-patch posts of late.
Anyway, I am glad to have this quilt getting a bit bigger. I have not spent much time going through stash but I am thinking I might like to see an outer border ... maybe in a bit darker blue floral or all-over print and a light blue binding. I am happy to see this getting closer to single bed size. The different shades of white don't seem to make as much of a problem as I had imagined either.

Best wishes from a sunny but very blustery Tokyo!

Monday, April 11, 2016

A finish ... finally

The baby quilt is now ready and waiting for its new owner. Taking the advice from Rose Marie, I asked my daughter to bring me some Oxiclean when she came from the states. After testing it on a scrap, I rubbed it into the pen lines and let it set, then washed the quilt. Almost all the pen lines came out on the first washing and one more shot pretty well cleaned the pen off. Good call!

Aren't blogging friends the greatest?

A half-day of sun gave me a chance to take a few pictures. I ended up quilting a few cats into the larger areas and added a pale purple binding.

The backing is made of tenugui and yukata fabric (the purple floral). Since this is the year of the monkey, I added some monkey tenugui.

The red to yellow fabric I had auditioned for the side borders, ended up on the back ... as it did on big sister's quilt.

Today I added a label along the bottom. It says ... " For You Daphne. You can count leaves ... You can count cats ... Left-handed cats .. Right handed cats .. Winking cats ... and you can always count on my love."

I am pretty satisfied with the way it came out and hope it will get plenty of use before long.

Another sweet little baby has been added to our church family and I will dig in my child-friendly prints to see if I can put something together for him next. It is fun to have small projects for take-along work and my nine-patch is coming along slowly too. I wish I was better at math so I could calculate the border piecing better but the bottom strip seems to be coming out pretty close to what I had imagined ... and fabric is pretty forgiving so I think it will work. If not. I will figure out something creative for the corners and make it fit.

Yesterday was the memorial service for my husband, Paul. So many people worked behind the scenes to make it a very special occasion. The church was packed with his friends and mine as well as members. There was a lovely reception ... beautifully decorated with a cherry blossom theme, a beautiful cake, music, finger food, slide show, everything was so wonderful and I am thankful to all the friends and family who pulled it together. What a wonderful celebration of life! I took my camera with me but not even one picture ... but before I even got home, Facebook was full of posts of pictures. It is going to take me ages to thank everyone enough.