Thursday, September 22, 2016

Plan "B"? If it works, it is the right way!

After going through all the possible marking tools in my collection, (none of them showing among the blue flower print) I decided to quilt the outer border from the back.

It is still a bit hard to mark in an oval hoop but at least I can see the lines once they are drawn.

When I turn it back to the front, the quilting hardly shows and the stitches ... when you can find them ... are small and even enough.

Rain yesterday. Rain today. Rain predicted for tomorrow. Camp-out postponed. The time I thought would be spent prepping crafts for the camp-out was put to testing my template.

I drew the plan on graph paper and traced it to a thin tracing paper, then cut the strip and laminated it. It was not hard to cut out and is easier to find than just using the clear plastic I can buy at the stationary store.

The spider lilies outside my gate are opening but if you want to see REAL pictures of the season's beauty,

Take a look at here at Tanya's Blog.

They make my flowers look like a wimpy bunch of wanna-be's.

Next in season will be the sweet olive ... kinmoksei.
I see the tiny buds beginning to form in the twigs and branches. Usually those are not noticed until they burst into bloom, filling the air with perfume.

OK, enough of this!
Back to the second side of the border.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Autumn has arrived ... I think

When we first moved back to the Nerima home, I brought with me some spider lily bulbs moved from former gardens.
At that time there was little space in our over-grown flower bed and some of those bulbs I planted in a neighbouring weed bed.  Each year they increase and get more showy.

This is how they looked yesterday at 6:30 am on my way to school.

After a summer of very hot sauna weather, it suddenly became cooler.
Monday night I pulled out a quilt to sleep under after a summer of either nothing or a thin gauzy wrap.

Tuesday evening I added a light down comforter.

I can't believe the sudden change. It is in keeping with the spider lilies that sneak up before the leaves and then pop open shouting "Surprise"!

Though the pink ones have had their day and faded, the red ones among the azalea bushes on the east side of the house are showing their best features.

This is a very narrow space for a garden between the street and our pink house shown behind.

Though I bemoan the lack of garden space, I find it amazing how much can be crammed into what I do have.

This month has been rain, rain, and more rain.

The garden is happier than it has ever been but I am getting a bit tired of toting umbrellas with me whenever I go out and wet feet. (My boots caused blisters in my ankles the first time out and when I tried zori, I ended up with blisters where the thongs rubbed when wet. Now my shoes are waiting for a sunny day to be hung on the gate to dry.

This week I finished the inner border on the nine-patch.

I have a little in-the-ditch quilting to go before I experiment with marking the blue flowered border.

The border is about five inches wide and I am thinking of a lattice-style cable which should be easy to draft and place, lined up with the outer nine-patches.

As a plan "B" I might be able to mark it on the back and quilt from the reverse side.

I have a few other projects nagging me from the sidelines but, though there is no rush to get this quilt done, I really don't like to have too many things going at once. The rest of my life is rather like running in all directions at once so I prefer to keep my home projects a bit more under control.

I just had to add this last picture.

Every year, one of the homes along my walk through the neighbourhood to the train station, plants mini-tomatoes in their flower bed by their front gate.

As I pass by, I watch those little tomatoes form and change from little green balls to bright red fruit just asking to be tasted.

Then, they get older and split and fall apart and not one seems to have been tasted.
It puzzles me why they bother to plant the tomatoes year after year if they don't intend to pick them.

Last year there was a huge clump of crab-grass coming up through the pavement right in the center of their gate. After walking past it for months and seeing it stepped on, then going to seed, I finally pulled it up as I passed... confessions of a weed-a-holic? I wonder how big a garden I would need to keep me focused on my own space and leave other people's gardens out of mind.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Set your goals and shoot high

It has been a while since my last post.

Sometimes life gets in the way.

Last Friday was my first pack meeting of the school year.  With the large turnover of people in the Tokyo area, we say goodbye to cubs and parents and leaders every spring. Our first meeting is run with crossed fingers, wondering how many new families will show up ...
How many new youth ... will anyone step forward to fill the leader gaps?

So ... the plan was, I take over the kids and the parents meet with the committee and leaders to go over all that "stuff" ... fees, schedules, uniforms, books, activities, recruiting, etc.

So ... I had the kids sit in a circle in one corner of the room and gave the other half to the adults.
We went over the 12 points of the Scout Law and how we might apply them to our little project ... just things like "helpful" (some things may take four hands),  "courteous" ( do we snatch the scissors away from the guy next to us or might we say, can I use those when you are through?) Thrifty? well, this is a recycle project. Clean, yes, in the end there we must leave the room cleaner than we found it.

I had prepared the milk cartons, cutting, folding, and taping the box and punching holes in the needed places. The kids could choose a box, a colored rubber band and a skinny tan rubber band, a toothpick, a plastic spoon, and a set if chopsticks.

The process was ... break chopsticks in two.
choose the one with the widest top and tape the colored rubber band to the wide end with the yellow tape. ... Tape the plastic spoon to the other end of that chopstick and then pull the end of the colored band through the hole on the end of the box. (I brought a crochet hook to use if it was needed) ...Put the toothpick through the end of the colored rubber band that had been pulled through, pull it tight and tape the toothpick in place.
The second thin rubber band was used to lash the first chopstick (spoon face down) to the first one that was half-way through the holes at the forward end.
Then the second chopstick was pushed through the other side and adjustments were made in position and length of the spoon-stick below the lashing.

I had brought pom-poms for the kids to practice shooting their catapult as they finished while I helped those who needed help with the lashing or adjusting.
When everyone had finished, I called everyone back to the circle and we discussed how we could use these creations to make a game that would be fun for everyone. (we had three sisters joining the activity, one of them a three-year-old ... who actually did a good job of keeping up).

Our second set of ammunition was mini marshmallows. When the parents were finished, we formed our closing circle, and because we pass a squeeze around the circle, the catapults were placed by the owner's feet while the reflection and announcements were finished. (We managed to fill the empty positions with new leaders stepping up) The reward for following these instructions was a hand full of mini-marshmallows to take home (or eat as the case may be).

With the prep-work, teaching, meetings, and plenty else going on, not a lot of quilting got done.

Nikko and I had to go off to the little fabric store near the far station to get more blue thread just to finish the inner triangles.

The other day I finished the round and since I had all that new thread, I decided on blue for the outer triangles.

I have to say, having quilted so many of these triangles already, the speed has picked up considerably.

I mark two or three at a time and then move the hoop to the next set. I am using a pen with ink that disappears with water, but in this humidity, it often fades before I get to the spot.

The outer border will be quilted with white. I am hoping by the time I get there I will have figured out a good way to mark the floral with the pattern I have in mind.

Red Spider lilies are one of the harbingers of autumn.
They come up before the leaves and are hardly noticed until they burst in joyous bloom along the borders of rice paddies and forests.

I was surprised to walk around the back street and see these pale pink lilies blooming in the raised bed between our house and the street.

Maybe they wanted to get their show time before the red ones take over.
I glanced in the front pot to see if I might have missed them coming, but they have yet to even poke up through the soil.                                

 Early morning onigiri delivery has begun with my delivery on Monday. Nikko was glad to greet and be greeted by her Shibuya friends. Work is stacking up for the rest of the week. My son has been working out the mailbox issues. Mr Google is still in battle gear but I have not thrown out yahoo so who knows when the next challenge will appear.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Blue or white? What do you think?

With a seemingly constant parade of typhoons coming through, the rain has managed to collect in multiple spots and has become breeding grounds for hoards of mosquitoes.

Unlike the blood-sucking helicopters of Minnesota, Japanese mosquitoes are very tiny. If you can keep from scratching a new bite, it quickly goes away but that is easier said than done.

During summer camp, I was asked to teach the insect study merit badge and one of the requirements was to raise an insect from larvae to adult. In a weeks time, the only insect I can think of is a mosquito and I had scouts running through the woods, scooping in puddles for wigglers.

Well, how long does it take to raise a mosquito?
On my table I have a cup of water with a paintbrush standing in it. I am using a purple Chako Ace pen to mark the blocks for quilting. The purple ink will disappear with time (especially in Tokyo humidity) but a swipe with the wet brush will make it go faster.

Sunday morning, when I dipped the brush in the cup, there was a wiggler in the water. I decided to leave it and see how long it would take to reach adulthood. In three days it shed it's skin and the fourth day it flew out in my face when I removed the cloth on top. By now it has probably bitten me more than once and laid eggs in some other container.

I see beautiful pictures on blogs of people's porches and decks, set with comfy chairs and tables. Well, no room on this tiny property, but even if there was, who would want to sit out and feed those little buggers. Not me!

So .... keeping inside with a few mosquitoes was the best plan of the week and now the center area of the nine-patch is all quilted and I am thinking of how to do the inner border.

I came up with this design which I have drawn on using the marking pen. I think it fits with the rest of the quilting and won't be too fussy to do. (I really don't like a lot of stopping and starting.

At this point, I am thinking of using the blue thread on the inner triangle and white on the outer one. I will probably quilt a simple cable in the outer blue border because I don't think anything fussy will show in the print.

I would really like to quilt both triangles while they are in the hoop so that when I work my way back to where I started, that inner border will be done. So ... I sit and ponder ... all blue? or blue and white?
My blue thread is almost gone.
My purpose for using the blue was to calm the variety of whites .
The whites in the border are all the same fabric.
Guess I'll take Nikko for a walk while I think this over ... not that I haven't had weeks to mull the next step. What do you think?