Monday, October 18, 2021

Big girl quilt. Three corners done



Last week on Tuesday, I began the challenge of the hibiscus applique for the corner blocks of Maile's Morning Star quilt. 

The yukata fabric she likes, is not a solid, but a directional print. I wanted the print to go in the direction toward the star center, which meant it could not be made in one piece, folded and cut.

The center leaves and one flower went on first, then the other flowers were cut singularly in the direction of the print and sewed separately in position. Using navy thread on a navy background, trying to see both thread and fine white lines marking the turn edges is a real challenge.  The first corner was finished on Wednesday night and sewed to the star points on Thursday.

The second block was finished on Friday, and I took this picture to send to Maile and son Jon.  I will be needing a plan for the triangles once the corners are done. The challenge is getting the stripes to radiate in the right direction. Jon has sent a few sketches of possible solutions.


Today the third corner block was finished and assembled. One more to go, and I can get serious about the triangles. I will have to add borders to make this a double bed size. I have a variety of yukata fabrics. I might have enough of a stripe for an inner or outer border and am thinking of making blocks in a variety of blue and white fabrics. This is definitely a plan-as-you-go project.

I may have to do the quilting within the flowers with pearl cotton for the lines to show and I have no idea what color thread the echo quilting should be. It will also be a challenge to find space large enough to lay this out. Buying batting is also becoming a problem.  Maybe I should just celebrate today's progress and let the rest see what happens down the road.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Nothing to do with my quilts

When we first got our last dog, Nikko, we were living in Suginami-ku, not too far from Wadabori Park. Each morning I would take Nikko to the park for a playdate with friends. There was a wide open space which the city planted with nice grass and then put a rope around so no one would walk on it. The first time an area was cleared and planted, I watched weeds come up through the new grass until they were knee high, then the rope was removed and the weeds were mowed down. It would not be too long before that process was done again, as old homes were removed after flooding from the river.

From then on, while Nikko was running and playing with other dogs, I climbed over the rope and began filling a bag with weeds as they came up. It was simple to spot the weeds and, as they were young, they were easy to pull. Even after moving away, when I pass that area of the park, the grass is strong and the weeds are few.


Returning to the Nerima area, there was no place for dogs to play, but each day Nikko got long walks through the area. 

Several blocks from where I live, there is a "high end" area on the other side of the street. The houses there are big with gardens and streets wider than where I live. This park borders the high end from my area, and has a path through to the area behind. 

As you can see in this picture I took with Flat Stanley, who was visiting earlier in the year, there is an area that used to be a pond.

Water ran from the top of the hill, seen through the opening in the building, down to the pond near the street. The stepping stones and sculpture were in the water. I don't know when the park was made, probably the early 1970s, but by 1973, the water had been turned off. It now sits under the pond with several open grates, and breeds mosquitoes to the point this might be re-named Mosquito Park


 As for how the park is used, construction workers and truck drivers using the toilet in the building are the most often guests. From time to time, people take a shortcut to the back street, and sometimes workmen sit on the stone seats to have a smoke... and toss their cigarette butts and trash on the ground. A few times kids walking past with their mothers run to play on the stones in the dry pond.

As for me, I use the back fence from time to time to hang a quilt for a photo opp.

Two guys come around once or twice a week to rake the leaves, and twice a year or so, to weed-whack. That is about the time when the weeds are knee high and the seeds on them are ripe. I couldn't figure out why a park in such a high end area could be allowed to go to such decay, so I began walking Nikko through the park. I would carry a bag to pick up her poop, and then fill the bag up with weeds I pulled.


The front entrance had knee-high weeds and an area where the neighborhood left their trash for pickup 4 times a week. the area without weeds was mostly bare dirt and rocks. A few years ago, a new apartment was built next to the park, and the trash pickup area was moved leaving the bare ground to weed takeover.

Even after Nikko went to doggy-heaven, I have been going to the park one morning a week to pull the weeds. I started with the front along the street, and have worked my way to the back.


Finally, the area is looking a lot better. Now, this section is all covered with the good grass. 

I brought my cub scouts here in the winter when the grass is brown and the weeds are young and green and easy to pull. For their community service project they did a remarkable job and this area has thick grass now with very few weeds.

I might add that about three years earlier, you couldn't even see that manhole cover behind the bag because of the weeds.


This part facing the road is now without knee high weeds. The people living across the street from this entrance have come into the park many times to comment on the improvement and thank me.

Now, I am moving on to the area where the round seats have been sitting among weeds.

The wonderful thing about this good grass is, once it is given a chance, it is quite good to send out runners.

There are a number of runners now passing over the paving blocks or even over the curb into the pond or street.

Yesterday I grabbed this chunk of grass that is along the curb for relocation.

I have to choose my timing well because the guys with the stiff bamboo brooms can sweep out newly planted runners, but the weather reports for today were all RAIN, and I was pretty sure that would give those new runners a good start.








The clump is a bit hard to see under the dirt, but I am looking forward to my next trip through the area. 

This spot has had only weeds as long as I have been coming here. 


Between here and the street, the new runners are making their way.










My only task now is to collect those nasty little weeds so they won't compete with the runners.

These weeds spread by root and wind-borne seeds, but they are easy to pull while young.  You can see the runners shooting out in all directions, and soon this bare spot will be looking nice. 

The bag that delivered onigiri to the homeless on Monday morning is now sitting next to my gate waiting to go to the corner for pickup tomorrow, Too bad I have no space for a compost pile.

One of my childhood jobs was pulling weeds. (My dad had two huge compost piles) I have been teased a lot by friends, as I can hardly walk past a weed without wanting to reach down and pull it out. 
Last winter on a nature hike, one of my cub scouts was pointing out weeds he noticed along the way. 

Could it be another weed-a-holic in the making? Too bad those paid "gardeners" were not in my scout group as youth.





One down... still some to go


 I really hate deadlines!

This is probably one of my least favorite banners.

I was out of thin batting and used some that had been "gifted" to me long ago. It was something like cotton felt and made the quilting a lot harder than the light thinsulate I am used to. 

I had planned to quilt open hands in the lower section, but gave up because the stitching was too much of a challenge.

The "committee"picked the theme and offered words for the pie shapes and I skipped the ones like eat, sleep, surf, and zoom. In all, I see this more as a "feel good" rather than a commitment. I think next year I will do the banner first and give it to the committee to deal with rather than the other way around.

I delivered it to the church Wednesday when I went to help with onigiri making.


Here is more from the "Pin Cushion" show.

Ueno-san is seen standing beside one of her quilts that was first shown at the Tokyo Dome.

It sure was nice to be able to take pictures without working around crowds.






Here you can get an idea of the space and the excellent lighting.


I think the displayed quilts may have been friends and fellow teachers and students of Izumi Takamori, who put the show together.





There were several displays of bags. The large bag in the middle was made by Ueno-san. 

She is really a specialist in bags, and teaches the craft.

You can see on the wall behind the Christmas tree, the white tiger, made by Takamori-san. 

I spent a lot of time trying to find the site, and that tiger on a poster rescued me from more walking. The real thing is quite amazing.



How's this for an image of Mt Fuji?




maybe getting ready for Christmas?







More bags

A quilting display and some large quilts on the wall.








This quilt was made by a group.














I THINK THIS ALSO WAS A GROUP PIECE.

And another shot of the hall. Look at those clean floors! Wish my own house looked so neat and tidy,






I had hoped to take pictures with my cell phone, but that morning it was completely dead with a black screen. I had plugged it into charge all night,  but was having trouble with charging. Just as I was heading out the door, it made a little tune and began to charge, so I left it home on the table and took my old camera. 

I decided with some afternoon still open, i would go to the apple store and buy a new charging cord. Oh my, lots of waiting in line, but finally got a little box with the cord... then got home to find there was nothing to connect it to the outlet. Grrr. Well, yesterday, being in town near tha same store, I waited in another long line to buy the plug. Finally, I showed the apple people my cell phone so they could see what type it was, and they sold me a little white box with the plug-in. BUT... when I got home and wrestled the box open, it was the wrong opening to fit the cord. Looks like I am going to have to make one more trip before I can get my phone to charge without problems. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Escape!

Three works in progress wanting my attention. The anniversary banner can be moved until next year if needed, The big girl quilt is waiting for me to find matching fabric, enough to make the side triangles for the star. I really don't want to buy any more and am still sorting through dark blue scraps, wondering how close is close enough. The third project is the stewardship banner. Since the rest of the members of committee don't sew, they seem to think it can be thrown together in a matter of days. Still waiting on the committee for input, I decided to escape.

Last Saturday I met up with Cynthia Nanto of wabi-sabi quilts, to check out the spinoff from the Tokyo Dome show. What a lot of walking just to get inside! There were a few exhibits from assorted well known craft people. Knit and crochet, embroidery, boro, Kathy Nakajima's quilts, and the partnership quilts to which Cynthia and I and friends had contributed blocks. It took a lot of hunting before we found Cynthia's block. Then, looked through the rest on display, finding nothing familiar, and then coming back along the display wall to find my cardinal in the same quilt as Cynthia's.  I had left my dead cell phone at home, but Cynthia got some nice pictures. We split up for half an hour to check out the many crowded shops, and came back together for a little snack before parting.

I thought I had had enough walking for the day, but getting home and seeing there was a bit more to the day, I took my cell phone and walked into Nerima to visit the AU store, hoping maybe they could find the problem and get it to work. Oh No... You have to take it to the Apple store! Just because they sold me the phone does not mean they carry batteries and cords and things like that. 

Nearest apple store was in Shibuya near the church. Well, it isn't closed yet and I really need the phone in case of an emergency, so I headed off. two trains away to the apple store. Of course one had to wait in a line outside the store. Then the guy came over to see what I wanted ... tried to check ... needed a password, oops, I left my computer notebook at home. Tried two passwords, and then had to change that password again. Then he wanted a credit card. oops .. no one I could use there, so finally I was lead to the basement where there was a lovely English-speaking young lady who helped sort everything out. In the end, I didn't need a battery but I bought a new cord. Of course when I got home and opened the box, there was no little cube to plug into the electric socket. AND... by then, the trains were too crammed to get a seat!

After taking a week to recover, I was invited to another show. The first part of the exhibit were these picture quilts made by quilters from France, New Zealand, and Japan. This exhibit travels around the world and had just come to Japan. 

Usually it is shown at the Yokohama quilt show, and when that was cancelled, at the Tokyo Dome. Now that those two no longer exist, It was in the "Pin Cushion" show, and I had been invited by Ueno-san who is part of that group. We were lucky to get to meet up there, as she had to travel from out of town and the location was new to me.

It was so nice to see the display with the descriptions both in English and Japanese. Other quilt shows might learn a lesson from that.






 

Here is a picture of my friend with her picture representing Rio.







There were a number of different countries represented in the hangings. Here are some more...It seems Hokkaido was one of the topics.






I was particularly impressed with the way this quilter made the reflection in the water look so real.
Does this look like Hokkaido? The quilter managed to get hold of quite a few Japanese fabrics.


You can see there is a lot more of this show to display, but I had better stop here for now and get back to my stitching. 
There was a lot of walking and the three trains I had to take to home were packed ... even on a Saturday.
No chance of getting to sit, even in the seats reserved for the elderly. At least my recovery day can be spent stitching.Tomorrow starts a new week, out at 4:am for onigiri delivery. Boredom is not a problem!


Monday, September 6, 2021

On the way

 


The star points are ready for the next step.


Since the needed end result is for a double bed, I am planning to divide the work into segments before assembling.


The plan is to make Hawaiian blocks in a hibiscus design for the four corner blocks, and an altered Hawaiian design for the four triangles.





A while ago, I laid out this star with different fabrics in the corners and sent it off for my granddaughter to look over and think about which of the assorted blues she liked for the main background. 

She liked the medium dark blue to set off the stars.

And... she liked the yukata fabric that I had used in one of the triangles.

That could be a good choice because I have plenty of that fabric, but it might be tricky to use, because, as you may notice, the batik design is made up of stripes. 
Hawaiian applique is usually solid colors, and I am not sure about making a design divided in quarters would balance.

On the other hand, it might be possible to rotate the direction of the print on each block so the direction echos the points of the stars. I do rather like the subtle contrast of the two choices,

Of course the quilt is going to need some borders where there will be an opportunity to repeat some of the center fabrics ... and possibly add a few more. I have no shortage of blue and white yukata fabrics.



My second challenge is another stool I was able to locate on the top of a dusty closet shelf.

You may notice the legs have pegs inserted into the frame. That should make them a bit more difficult to take apart and fix.

I plan to engage my son-in-law who is very good at solving fix-it problems ... at least with my rotting door frame and leaking roof.





This was the second stool made and the colors seem to be less faded. Probably from lying safely on the dark dusty shelf.

Looking back, I wonder where I found all that time to come up with the two designs and spend stitching with a variety of thread. 

I think I just drew the outlines on the canvass with a pen.


With Blogger no longer sending comments to my email inbox, I am sorry if I miss responding to some friends.

I can return to my dashboard, but how far back do I need to check and how do I know which ones I have responded to?  Back in the old days, we looked forward to changes, as most often, those changes were improvements and made life simpler. These days I have become more and more frustrated with changes ... the new washing machine with a lint trap that never gets any lint and the cycle that ties everything in one big knot. And Mr. Google who waits until you get everything figured out and them changes everything. What ever happened to that rule ... "If it ain't broke, don't fix it ! " ???


Monday, August 30, 2021

needlepoint

 LOOOOONG Ago... in the early 1960s, I enjoyed doing needlepoint. My first project was a handbag that was just the size and shape I needed. It went with me when I travelled from Canada to Scotland, through Great Britain and through Europe the summer of 1961, only to be stolen in New York on my way back to Ohio.


My next project was this stool cover. I finished it sometime in 1963, as it was one of the items that came with me to my new home in Tokyo. 



The wooden frame was something I assembled from a kit, bought at a hardware store in Cleveland.

Over many years, the puffiness of the filling has become tired, and the colors are less bright.


I have never had a problem sitting on my knees, but, over the years, it assisted visitors coming to a home without tables and chairs.

As life went to fewer activities  on the floor, it became a foot stool.

Then I got a rocker with its own footstool and later Paul got a massage chair and this stool was somewhat demoted to an accessory.


It was still part of the family, but often considered something to be used when the shorter member of the family needed to reach something on a high shelf.

That member, not having a good sense of balance, somehow managed to break off the legs of the stool, and knowing it had somewhat of a value to the person who made  it, took it off to someone to "fix".

Now, how did I find out? You have only to look at the two legs turned in the wrong direction. Of course It can still be used as a footstool, but probably not very secure for sitting on.  No longer worthy of taking up space in our tiny livingroom,  it has wandered to assorted locations where it only gathers dust and is forgotten.




Most handy and least likely to be damaged is this test model I made for cub scouts to build at a pack meeting. 

The design is easy to assemble, even for younger scouts, and very sturdy. It can take all the abuse a stool gets in daily life, and I have little concern with chips and scratches.

Yet... my old needlepoint stool calls out for a few more years in the picture. I wonder if the legs can be turned back or if it might be used as is.

What would you do?

Monday, August 23, 2021

Half a star

 After making three "Big Boy" quilts to replace single bed size baby quilts made long ago, I have started on the first of the "Big Girl" quilts. Maile is at the top of the list, and her request has changed with time. After seeing a Morning Star quilt made years ago, she said she wanted one of those. 

I dug out my collection of yukata fabrics, and, not using a sewing machine, I have begun marking and cutting diamond blocks to assemble in star points. Now, half of the points are together and I can get an  idea of how this will look.

I have yet to decide on the background . I am thinking of Hawaiian style blocks with hibiscus flowers. Since it will be a double bed size, I plan to put some of these fabrics in the border as well.  Hopefully I will get a bit of input as to the main colors. I could stick with blue and white ... dark on light or light on dark. or I could add a third color. I may assemble this as a quilt-as-you-go to make it a bit easier to quilt. 

Hopefully, by the time I get to the quilting stage, the sauna weather will have ended. 



Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Small finishes


 July 15th, 16th, and 18th saw finishes. The small one I intend to give to a neighbor next time I see her, The bento box on the left will wait to be snatched up, and the long runner is now waiting to take its place on my daughter's entryway shoe cupboard. 

I realized I never posted a picture of the finished kotatsu cover. 


I had to take a picture of it laid out on the floor because it is way too big and heavy to hang on the park fence. I turned the flannel backing to the front for binding. I'm not sure if my daughter will want more quilting, but I really like it the way it is, so soft and cuddly.  The batting is thinsulate #80 and even with light quilting, it is not going to shift. This is about 88" square.

I have a number of other things on my list. My next in line granddaughter is ready for her "big girl" quilt. I have been short on gifted items to the kids. Thinking of a pieced shoulder bag for Marie, and Ken would like a king size quilt with a blue and white Japanese style design. I have lots of ideas for these ... so why am I playing around with little scrappy things. I guess it is just because I like to have something finished that doesn't take forever. The heat and humidity have been a great deterrent too. The rain did bring two cool days on Monday and Tuesday, but morning wind blew all the clouds away and the hot sun took over.

The anniversary banner is laid out with paper for sketching. Now waiting for the days to cool off a bit so I won't drip sweat all over the layout. Taking it all one day at a time...

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Playing with leftovers

 Planning is underway for the anniversary banner, and I am looking at the small pieced blocks that were replaced with color-coordinated ones.  There are not enough to make anything big ... though I have plenty of scraps that I could use to make more... It might be fun to just put a few together that I could use as gifts for friends. Hmmm. I wonder what might be a useful gift.

Not everyone has a square table. Mine is round and a long runner would not fit well.  Maybe a small runner or a large mug rug would find a use. I have one on my getabako in the genkan, and another on the shelf above my trash bins. A quilted item to set a hot tea pot along with cups and milk or sugar containers... Or a little luncheon mat...

Well, here are a few test pieces.


The one on the left is basted and ready for quilting. The floral blocks were intended to be used in the banner.  The one on the right is the "Bento box" pattern. I used some of these blocks for a gift and the rest for a long runner for my coffee table.  I have made a number of floral quarter-blocks with nothing in mind other than to use up some small scraps. 

Both of these patterns use one-inch strips. Anything smaller than a square inch , I toss in the waste bin ... though I have in the past used one-inch half-square triangles.  So... now I have a little quilting to fill my zoom time.  I don't know where these will end up, but hopefully there is someone out there who likes scraps as much as I do. I wonder if these small squares might make a quilt. In the past, I used some to make a "crumb quilt". That was snatched up by my daughter, Kimie. Then I was lucky to have a rather large piece of dark "gifted" fabric for setting the blocks. I would rather not have to buy any more fabric to use in setting blocks. 


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Bad choice

     Every fall, the tree trimmers  come to my door, wanting to prune the trees in my front border. Actually, I do not want all the buds cut off of of my lovely plum tree, so I explained to the most recent "gardner" the reason for not wanting his service at that time. 

      That was a good choice, because this past spring the plum tree was the most beautiful ever and early summer brought more plums than there have ever been. 

I sometimes get complaints from people walking by, that the branches are rather low, and someone on a bike might touch them with his head. This is not a "through street" and there is a sign behind where I was standing to take this picture saying no cars. Yes, sometimes cars do try to squeeze past this wall and the fence on the other side. Often they end up knocking leaves off the tree as they pass. I often trim the lower branches so there will be no problems, but I have been concerned about the higher branches that are against the house and touching my neighbor's roofed area, so, when the guy showed up earlier in the week, I said OK, but told him I only wanted the lower branches above the street and those against the house and neighbor's roof taken off.

     I should have stayed outside, but I was in the middle of an online meeting, and didn't get back out until much later. By that time, he was cutting back the biwa on the other side of the house. It was after he left that I went back out the front and saw the results of his work.


 

None of the branches touching the house had been trimmed and there is no longer shade over the street.


     The maple as well Is more butchered than trimmed. The branches that were ripping the second floor window screen are still there. I'm pretty sure there will be branches returning, but removing those against the house will require setting up a ladder just to reach the lower ones. there were a lot of clippings left among the plants under the trees and a few caught among the higher branches where I will need a ladder to reach, 

     The shade along the street is gone and more sun comes into the house at the heat of the day. I guess I have learned my lesson the hard way. For what I paid, I could have gone out and bought one of those long-arm shears at the end of a pole.


     This will be the next choice. I hope it will not be as bad. I have finished piecing the upper and lower parts of the banner, Before I insert the blue area, I am thinking it might be easier to add the flowers and vines and words first. Probably I need to prepare a large piece of paper with drawings of the things I need to add ... or maybe I could cut the blue to fit and then overlay it with drawings.

     I still need to come up with ideas for the border. I am thinking of including strips for those who want to sign their names. Hopefully I don't melt from the heat before this is done...





 



Thursday, July 15, 2021

Next on the list

Now that I have a bit of floor space, I decided to lay out the anniversary quilt.
On our church's 140th anniversary, I took these white strips and a sign pen to collect signatures.
I don't remember why I made some 1x4 and some 2x4.
My original thought was assembling some kind of a white trellis  with vines and flowers behind.
I was thinking of a theme... "150 Years and Still Growing"
Next year will be that anniversary, so it is about time I get this thing underway.

After making a number of random floral blocks, I noticed a similar idea on another blog with more coordinated colors in the pieced blocks.  I thought that might be a bit better and now I seem to have enough of those and I am glad I made the change. No doubt I will find another purpose for the other pieced ones. 

Most of the smaller strips are  just signed, but the larger ones have a message as well.   I decided that, on  a banner, it would be easier to read those wide ones if they were closer to the bottom border. This is the layout I came up with. the center strip will be some shade of plain blue with flowers and vines and words added.

Next task will be cutting a few more half-square triangles and going through my floral one-inch squares for the upper half layout.    I need to cut a few more inch-wide strips to balance the upper half, and I am thinking adding strips to the border for more to sign on the anniversary celebration day. 

For now, I am looking forward to the day I can begin sewing these rows together,     I have yet to sort through my solids, hoping to find a large enough strip of light blue for the center.  Time to get back to work!