Sunday, September 15, 2019

Big stitching has begun

Yesterday I stopped at the local shop and bought white and navy sashiko thread.

Today I finished all the small area quilting and decided to start the big stitch to see how it shows up.

Though this is rather simple, I think it will be a lot easier than trying to mark a design on these busy prints.

The white sewline pencil shows up on all of the dark prints and maybe half of the light ones.

I may have to go shopping for a new ChakoAce in blue or purple ink.
The purple is easier to see but the ink disappears with time ... which is extremely short when there is a lot of humidity. The blue, I can remove with a paintbrush dipped in water.

I still have time to think about how I am going to manage marking the border.

Today is a holiday ... Respect for the aged day. As last year, I began the day delivering onigiri to the homeless. After a break during the hot summer, the homeless guys greeted me most warmly. Many asking me about Nikko, who was waiting in the car as I don't think she would be able to handle two flights of stairs.

The day is gray and rainy and I am rather glad to spend it quilting. My boss is now having her baby and it will be November before I am back to school. Last year I worked on this holiday and even though it was a day for the elderly, there was no chance of sitting on the train either into town or back. These days it would be even harder to get a seat. The trains are beginning to open up the space near the doors and they are doing it by removing "Silver Seats" which are intended for seniors and handicapped or expectant mothers.

Up until now, there have been 8 seats (four on each side) at the ends of each car. Recently the newer cars have just six at one end and three at the other ... making room for baby carts or wheelchairs. In addition, they have moved the hand grips up near the ceiling, out of reach of the majority of elderly people. Even my gorilla arms are not long enough to get a tight hold. Even with 8 seats, the chances of sitting were quite slim as the seats went to the youngest and most aggressive. Then, they pull out their cell phones so as not to see the elderly standing in front. I have often wondered if they have any idea that some day they might be elderly themselves.

From tomorrow, things get hectic so it is good to zone-out on the sofa with a quilt in my lap. Only competition for sitting is piles of sorted fabric and a box of sewing equipment.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Lost in the garden

The in-the-ditch quilting has been finished and now the focus is on quilting within the blocks.

This quilt will be a gift to the mother of a friend for whom I made a baby quilt.
When the mother saw that quilt, she said she had always wanted to have a quilt, and since I had lots of floral prints recently "gifted", and I had wanted to try out the same pattern that I used with the black and white quilts, I thought this would be a good way to thank her for all her wonderful son has contributed to our church family.

Once I began quilting in the smaller sections of each block, I am seeing that with these busy prints, the quilting hardly shows at all.
It will not show on the back either as that is a busy floral print.

I plan to continue what I have started, but am now thinking that using the "big-stitch" quilting that I did on those black and white quilts would show up better.

Maybe I can use white pearl cotton or sashiko thread as before with white on the darker areas and possibly navy blue on the light prints.

With "big-stitch" quilting, it is rather difficult to do fancy work so probably I would just use the outline stitches half an inch inside the seams.

I am thinking of doing the border with the linked hearts that I just used  on the last baby quilt. They showed up fairly well on that busy print, and that would add a bit more "real" quilting.
Do you think it is OK to combine the two styles? Or, should I just do it all in regular quilting whether it shows or not?

Well, I have a bit of time to think it over.....

Monday, September 2, 2019


This morning the mouse watched the last stitch go into the border of the mandela.

Next I will have to decide on the binding.

I really don't want to spend money so I will have to dig out something from my collection of leftovers.

Red, yellow, grey,...
I may have some rainbow bias left over.

I also took the flower quilt up to the sauna in the upstairs apartment and pin-basted it after piecing the batting.

I was thinking of thread basting it but that would take several more hours and I need to go to get dog food before the rest of my Tuesday schedule hits the fan.
As it is, there is construction going on in my neighborhood and if I take the car as usual, I will need to drag the heavy bag back from the parking area because there is no room for cars to pass to get to my house ... so, I will take the train and a roller-bag as the walking distance is about the same.

I am enjoying these volunteers blooming along the base of my garden wall.

These come up from bulbs and do not produce seeds. The flowers last a few days.

The yellow ones are a bit smaller and also come from bulbs.

You can see the seed pods with three pockets of ripening seeds.

These both begin blooming toward the end of summer and thrive on neglect ... my favorite kind of garden flower.
Maybe some member of the lily family?

Guess I should take some time to go through all my plant books. After all, I have enough of them!

Hoping now for a few cooler days  so I can get that quilt in the hoop and begin to quilt that fabric garden.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Look what flew in

The last critter has now joined the medicine wheel and I am currently adding Celtic knots. I think these will work well with my mandela. No connection with Native American themes, but being a Scouter, I have always been working with knots, teaching knots and braiding the right knot for the right purpose.

Of course the purpose of these knots is to fill  border space, but I like the meaning they represent, eternity, loyalty, faith, friendship, love, and the interconnection of life and our place within the universe. I think that is also fitting with a meditative mandela, so I have been drafting a few knots to fit the spaces on the inner border.
There may be a trinity shaped knot to fill the corner spaces.

I'm not sure where this will end up, but I am enjoying the journey....

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Not there yet, but on the way...

I finally went to the local store and could not find any thread I thought would work, so I went back through my pearl cotton collection and pulled out something else. As it turned out, it seems to show up across the colored sections, but I did not have enough to finish the four outer rounds of the labyrinth.  On Tuesday, I made a trip into town to see if I could buy more. The shop didn't have the brand or color of what I was using but I did find something close, and to tell the truth, I can't tell where one left off and the other began.

So... now the labyrinth is overlaid on the medicine wheel. I wanted to  buy shell buttons, and that shop had some beautiful ones, but they were VERY expensive ... over a dollar per button, so I held off on that purchase.

Now I have begun embroidering the animals of the four directions in each corner.

The bear for the North,


                                                       The mouse for the South,

and the Eagle for the East.

I still have the owl to work on. I am just embroidering them by quilting with regular black thread.

I'm planning to quilt in the plain areas of the corners but have yet to come up with a design.

I am wondering how adding something Japanese, as many of those have meanings ... like the karakusa that symbolizes longevity and prosperity due to its continual growth. I will have to do a bit of research before I get to that part.
The owl is waiting in line to be stitched.

Meanwhile, dog care has been cutting into my usual schedule. We are both lucky that we are still on a summer schedule and "business trips" and sleep are somewhat negotiable. The weather is weird and the only thing I can say about it is, if you don't like it, wait a few minutes and it will change. The problem is carrying an umbrella which chases the rain away, but leaving it at home and getting dumped on. Dressing for a walk in a sauna and going into a store where you have to grab stuff quickly and get out before your brain freezes over. Ah, well, better to focus on a bit of hand work.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Trying to get my act together

The color for the underworld is green. I dug through a number of greens to use on the backing. I ended up using the one on top of the leaf-print. It has an interesting texture looking like grass.

I drew the four animals in their corners and will see what I can do with thread.

After basting the layers, I looked through my thread collection and found some thread that might work, but not sure there is enough on the card for all I need to do. Well, I decided to walk to the next station where there is a small fabric and stitchery shop. I had held off because they are usually closed on Thursday for part of the day and I thought Friday would be safe. Wrong! They are closed for the week. Maybe Obon holiday ... there was a note pasted to the shutter.
I walked around the neighborhood but there are no other shops ... even the department store ... that have thread or other supplies ... except for the 100 yen store, and not much of a choice there either.

So ... I guess this will be on hold for a few days until I find the kind of thread I envision. I could work on the animals, but was hoping to get the center done first. I also want to find 16 pearl buttons to place at each of the points.

The size is 24 inches square. I kind of wish I had  square table that it could fit. It is a bit too large for a pillow. I could make a hanging, but there is an extreme shortage of wall space in this house

Birding tomorrow with the scouts ... Choir begins on Sunday after a short summer break. One of these days I will get my act together....

Friday, August 16, 2019

Baby steps

Staying at home for a day ... except dog walking and street sweeping ... provides time for other things. My mandela now had a background, though it is not really of the fabric I liked best.

I really do NOT want to buy any more fabric, and the blue I liked best was not big enough to make a background, even if I cut the size. So ... this is the blue I selected. Blue sky in the day, and stars at night.

Next I am planning to put the animals in each corner. Mouse for South (the yellow), Bear in the North, Eagle in the East, and Owl in the west.  Between native tribes, a variety of animals are used with different meanings, but these are the ones that have meaning to me.

The mouse looks closely at things and sees the detail (and I was born in that year)
The eagle soars on high and sees the whole picture, giving a wide perspective.
The bear could be a polar bear or a brown bear. They are prepared to sleep through the winter.
The owl is my spirit helper, guarding me throughout the night.

I have found animal prints I can use in my stash, but all my owl prints are rather comical, so I am now pondering if I should use them or piece something. Maybe if I spent some time cleaning up the mess I have made with all the measuring and re-measuring and pulling out fabrics, the ideas in my head would become clearer.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Not a lot of progress

Last week was Vacation Bible School and I survived as leader of the games. Though the booklet gives a choice of three games each day to fit the theme, most of those involved either water or a large outdoor space. For example, one game involved tossing a beach ball into the air and doing a challenge like "do a pushup and stand back up", Because a ceiling limited how high the ball could be tossed, I bought a variety of balls and some feathers. Then I let the kids come up with a challenge and indicate which item to toss in the air. I think it was more fun than what was in the plan.

Sometimes I think the kids could do a better job of writing that booklet than whoever came up with the original plans

The hardest part of the day was riding the sardine can into town and back each day. I had to be out of the house by 7:am, which meant it was rush-hour and no chance of sitting at all. With Nikko in a declining condition, that also meant getting up at 5:am to walk and feed her and wash down the mess in the genkan. At least tiles are easier to wash than the wooden floor, but a most days I was mopping up pee and couple of times poop... mashed down and tracked all over. One day I came down to scrub up the pee and take her for a walk, only to find a second washing needed as I was on my way out to the train. At the end of the week, Norie and Leia came and stayed over. They took Nikko to the water tap in the park for a washing. Much easier than going with her into the shower.

I have finished sewing the backing for the floral quilt and now just need a space to lay it out for basting. I could use the upstairs apartment floor, but it is way too hot with the power shut off so that project is on hold.

This week I went for the first step of a dental implant. When it was over, I went to the American Club where there was a scheduled Board of Review for an Eagle Scout rank. It was lucky I could make it because had I not gone, there wouldn't have been enough people on the board. It was 10:pm by the time I got home and I was glad to skip dinner and get a good night's sleep.

With weather just too hot and humid to do more than walk the dog, I began my challenge for next time friends meet for the quilt show. Our challenge this time is "Circle".

I am thinking of a native american mandela, or medicine wheel.
I have begun with the four colors representing directions, North, South, East, and West. In the past I have used a form of this for meditating.

I have also spent a few hours daily for sorting and ironing the "gifted" fabrics. I am about finished up with the huge pile of yellows. They had been pulled out originally to work on the sunflowers of the last two table runners.

(actually, those two runners were misplaced on the Pastor's last day and are yet to be found. I wonder if they ran off to South Africa in one of the suitcases.)

So, this is my recovery week and the schedule is more calm than usual. I kind of wish that floral quilt was basted so I could work on it. Typhoon season has arrived but not giving the Tokyo area much other than occasional showers. The garden is happy after a month of heat but it is rather annoying to have to carry an umbrella whenever I go out. ( It seems to hold off the rain but even so, I return wet and dripping from perspiration anyway.)

My Saturday english class is cancelled this week so I may go to the homeless dinner that afternoon. If Nikko is having a good day, I might take the floral quilt to baste on the floor after the meal. It has been a while between posts so it might be nice to have some progress to report.

The volunteer lilies look more like Jack's beanstalk this year.
Maybe trying to get closed to the sun.

The Maple tree leafed out red this year. What I thought was one tree with two trunks, seems to be actually two trees. I am also noticing a difference in the bark as they get older.

This past week the red leaves have been dropping. My neighbor's maple is also dropping leaves. I think many plants are confused by the mixed up weather.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

One more finish

The answer is blowin' in the wind ... And a very hot and humid wind at that.
The "Rainy Season" has been officially declared over but the choice of stepping out the door into water falling from the sky or dripping from your brow makes staying inside to work on projects much more attractive.

Monday I went shopping for some bias tape but there was nothing close to the blue-green inner border. Somehow the light purple seemed to want to do the job and the farther I went in the sewing, the more I liked that choice. The linked hearts went rather quickly and, even with the busy print , seem to show up more than expected.

The size is 54" x 57". When I make quilts to gift to babies, I never know how or if they will be used. I think the I-Spy aspect will make it fun and it is big enough to toss over a sleeping child. I still have to add a label but I have plenty of time before it needs to be presented.

Next in line will be piecing the backing for the floral quilt, then getting it basted so I can begin quilting. In the meantime ... Vacation Bible School games need to be finalized for next week and a dental implant in the line-up  following that. August is just arriving but my calendar is filling up with each day.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Done with dithering

The center hexagons and triangles are all quilted in the ditch and I have moved to the final border.

Yesterday I sorted through my collection of border stencils both purchased and home made. I had been thinking of a feathered pattern but all the ones I have were either too large or too busy.  I had a diamond cable that fit but I really had wanted more curving lines. There is also a bit of a challenge marking that wild fabric.

Finally I decided to draft some linked hearts. I cut a plastic stencil and I am now on the second side.
The disappearing ink is hard to use when it is so humid, but I can follow one line to the end of the thread and then stitch the second line, marking just a few hearts as I go along.

This takes me way back to when I was a kid, made to take a nap on my parent's bed (my twin got the bunk bed). I still remember following the quilting lines with my finger. This one would have been a winner, maybe seeing how many times I could circle the border before I was allowed to get up.

We have a bit of sun today with a lot of heat but more rain is predicted from tomorrow throughout most of next week. I have to keep moving so I don't rust and this is a great way to do it.