Friday, March 24, 2017

scissors are busy, needles are not

For once we  had a sunny morning without blustery winds.

Along our morning walk, Nikko and I stopped to pull a bag of weeds.

Long ago, our area had rows and rows of police barracks. surrounded by fields.

Then the barracks were torn down and in their place were built rows and rows of apartment buildings.

These days, the families have moved out of the apartments and they are being torn down. You can hear the crashing and banging of the workers as they fall into rubble.

I asked someone in the neighborhood what they are going to put in that space and they said new apartments.

When the first apartments were built, my father-in-law petitioned to have the leftover fields turned into a park.
Though the park was planted with nice golf green style grass, no one seems to have ever bothered to pull weeds. They mow them down twice a year but that is all. The weeds coming up now are easy to see because the grass is still brown. Most of those weeds are perenials,  coming up year after year  ... like dandelions ... and spread by the wind.

On the mornings I don't have school, I carry a larger-than-usual bag and Nikko and I collect weeds before they have a chance to go to seed. Today we got a good collection. I think Nikko is thinking, "That's enough already! Time to get my breakfast is past!"
The soil was damp from recent rain so we got lots of those long tap-roots. Nothing succeeds like success so it is hard to stop.

On Wednesday as I was leaving school, two teachers told me they are expecting. One was a teacher I had made a quilt for and she said ... "oh, you don't have to make me another quilt, I can pass the one you made to the new baby". I think that was the wrong thing to say to me. I was lucky to get nice clothing passed down from my cousins as I was growing up, but I also had to pass favourite things down to my sisters and then watch them get destroyed. At least favourite things given my kids, like quilts, and Halloween costumes, were saved and given to my kids for the grandkids to enjoy.

Well, I liked the pattern of the last I-Spy quilt and it was fairly quick and easy to assemble so today I dug through my box of "kid-friendly" fabrics and marked and cut a pile of five-inch blocks ... about 65 of them, and also a pile of four-inch blocks. I have been given some strips of fabric that may have been intended for some machine piecing project and I think next I will measure and mark those to use as sashing. I like to make a quilt with someone specific in mind but I think I can get the centers made and then have time to put something special into the borders.

Well, no rush but piecing makes good take-along work and soon there will be some ready to go.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Two items to check off the list.

Sunday, after the first service, the choir presented the signed quilt to the new father-to-be.

Nick is a fellow tenor and his baby is expected this week. He was playing I-Spy before the quilt was unfolded. I'm sure the quilt will be enjoyed.

Choir members signed the hand prints and added their good wishes.

Without returning home, I went to the Tokyo American Club, the sponsors of our Cub pack, to await the arrival of the awesome adult leaders coming to set up for our pinewood derby.

With a new track and all aspects unfamiliar to everyone, we somehow managed to pull off the event.

My car was used to test the track and the first two runs it flew off the track. Luckily, most of the bumps in the tracks could be adjusted and at the end, volunteering parents moved in to hold down the offending segments.
I couldn't help thinking of the "old days" when we had a wooden track. Somewhere along the line we were able to add a finish gate to make judging more accurate. The new tracks have had problems with where tracks are joined, needing greater technical skills and time to set up. Sometimes "new" is not all that much better.

Some of the technical details did not like the computer we were using and so not all went smoothly but the crew was able to make do.

My little car ran in the open competition.

This section of the race was designed to give adults and siblings a chance to make a car and join in the fun.

This year, there were only three entries and other than my Shooting Star, the other two were made by scout sisters.

One of the girls made a very nice decoration on the block as it came from the box. As it turned out, after adding the wheels, the car was way overweight.

Though one of the fathers tried to cut off some wood on the underside, we just didn't have the tools. I decided to let the rules be bent so the car could run as is.

Not surprisingly, that car came in first in the open but it wasn't that much faster than my star.
I recalled sitting on the sidelines of all the scout events my brothers took part in under my dad's leadership and cheered along with those sisters at the results.

Here is the picture one of the mothers sent.

Do they look happy?

I think nearly every scout went home with some kind of award for their hard work, thanks to the time and efforts of all those parents.

And.... I might add ... they stayed to clean up and put things away. The room was cleaner than when we arrived (including the graphite corner) and we finished before the scheduled ending time.

Monday was a holiday ... the vernal equinox ... but the homeless got their onigiei with a bit of help from a friend who joined me at the pick-up spot. Our school had a regular day ... except I did notice a few more fathers coming for pick-up after school. Next week will be our "spring break" and if I was looking forward to some spare time, my calendar is filling up those blank spaces.
We shall see how much gets checked off the next list .........

Friday, March 17, 2017

Catching up

Sometimes it seems the faster I run, the behinder I get.

It seems every weekend I have to pick and choose my priorities and something is bound to get left in the dust. Today there is a boy scout Merit Badge day, and probably the first one in years I have missed. That is also doubled up with a outdoor leader training that I have also declined to help on.

I don't know who is going to do the nature section of that training but the materials I have assembled over nearly 40 years would not work at the chosen location. In addition, the training which is supposed to include an overnight has been shortened to part of one day. How can we teach scouts to go by the rules when leaders (and the executive in charge) are cutting corners? Yes, he gets more "trained leaders" to his credit but... which comes to merit badge requirements ... where a scout is expected to "tell" or "explain", the leader does the talking and signs the kid off.

Anyway, Sunday afternoon and evening I have a pinewood derby to manage ... with a new track and inexperienced leaders. I think for one weekend, that is enough. And ... next weekend is the district pinewood derby but since the "Gate List" is closed (as it is on a military facility) none of the civilian packs will be able to attend ... they need to know the names and details of attendees (winners) 60 days out... before we even run our own pack events.

So ... besides whittling my derby car, what have I been up to?

Blue and White

At the end of each teaching day, I walk downhill to the train station at 
"the Ju-ban"

That is, as in Azabu-juban.

Along the way I often have stopped at the shop. Blue and White, 
not so much as to shop but to have a bit of a visit and look around.

This little shop with it's charmingly decorated show window has been an icon in the area for many years.

Recently, the "Peacock" grocery store on the property was taken out of the building and new shops were put in.

Amy Kato, who owns the Blue and White was told ... after all these years ... that her shop does not meet building standards and was to be torn down so she had to move. 

As I have said, that shop is an icon of the area  ... so where was she to move too? Well, the shop closed and the building was torn down ... but a sign on the fence declares it will re-open in April on the second floor of the renovated building. I do not know all the details but I hope they will get a show window and be visible still to passers by.

I have known Amy since the early 70's as her husband and mine worked at the same company. I wish I could afford a big bouquet of flowers for the opening, but when life gives you scraps, you make quilts instead. 

Thus two mug rugs ... hoping they can use them for their tea or coffee or even a glass of celebratory wine. 

For Amy, a tai, or sea bream, regarded as a celebratory fish and is often served at ceremonious occasions. In the upper corner, a birds-in-the-air block representing the new location on the second floor, and in the lower corner below the waves are a daruma wishing good fortune ... always rising from a fall ... a good luck cat, (I think those are coins it is tossing), and a mallet of good fortune. Amy's shop is known to hold lessons in sashiko but since I have never taken any, ordinary quilting will have to do.

For her assistant, I can see her jumping up from her work ... done in bits and pieces ... while greeting friends (often with a hug in my case). Over the years bits and pieces of yukata fabric from the shop have gone into ASIJ quilts and also my stash, so her little mat will get a selection. 
For some reason I had trouble making the binding behave but at least I had enough to bind two 8x11 inch mats. 

As for mola, it is now creeping along at a turtle's pace. Under the green is a lighter green ... kind of reverse of the regular molas that usually put the lighter colors on top.

I'm not at all certain where I am going with this and maybe that is why it is moving so slowly.
My original drawing crawled off to some unknown place.
In most cases when this happens, the minute I go to the trouble of doing a task over, the original reappears. BUT, this time it seems to be gone for good ... along with the color plan. This is definitely not what I had in mind at the beginning, but now I hate to start over once more.  I guess if this is a learning experience, I should be happy ... that is ...  if I really have learned how NOT to make mistakes.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Girl's Day

Tanya's post reminded me that today is the day.

This table runner is too narrow to protect my coffee table so has found a place on the sliding door.

Actually it might make a nice hanging for a tokonoma ... if I had one...
Even my wall space is limited.

I take no credit other than the quilting as it is made from a printed panel.

The other day I finished off turning the yellow borders on my first Mola attempt.

Though I went about it the wrong way, in the end, I don't think it would have worked any better the "right" way.

Now that sun will sit staring at me while I try something else and think how I might be able to put it to use.

Last night I sketched out something more to try.

This is a design I drew long ago to use on my ceremonial medicine pouch ...

The two animals representing my spirit helpers ...

The turtle from my childhood, and the owl now present.

I am thinking of trying using a wider selection of color this time.

Maybe I can find a use on some of my ceremonial regalia ... though the colors in the first piece don't really go with white, blue and brown.

Tokyo Dome part 3

Looking through my downloads from the quilt show, I find many pictures of quilts I have yet to share.

With the crowds of viewers, taking pictures of those where pictures were allowed was quite a challenge.

It has already been mentioned that the only section where the quilter's names were printed in other than Japanese, was that of the "sensei" or teachers.
And, because of poor lighting, and a strange choice of background, pictures left much to be desired.

"It Always Begins with Hexagon"

created by Yoshiko Fujita.

The printed wall design hardly does anything to show off the borders and actually hides the pale prints the quilter used.

The upper half is lit by the spotlights at the very top of the stadium but the wooden supports of the dividing walls cause shadows on most of the quilts that do not have their own spotlight.

Just as one had the quilt positioned into the camera's frame,

along came more viewers.

Even by the time these ladies moved out of the frame, more heads and shoulders and elbows had moved in.

The aisles were quite narrow so to fit in one whole quilt, it was necessary to stand against the opposite wall.
I never did get back to take a picture of this lovely quilt.

Hukuko Tanaka

created this quilt using tiny pieces ... maybe just a centimetre square.

"FuKuMi" is the title.

On the right is a sign with title, quilter's name, and a description given by the quilter.

I would have liked to be able to read what she was thinking as she put these little blocks together.

I think something like a field of flowers....

 Here is a close-up of all those tiny pieces.

Emiko Toda Loeb always has a double-sided quilt in the show

and the people making the display create a window opening so viewers can enjoy both sides.

This one is called "Dreaming of Beautiful Villages"

this is the reverse side of that quilt.

... a bit better lit but not as striking color as in real life.

This one is called,

Good Morning!
Under the Olive Tree

Quilter's name is

Sachiko Yoshida

This uses lots of floral prints.

This quilt, a little better lit, is by

Keiko Goke


Flowers for Everyone's Heart"

"WA - Japan"

By Yoshiko Katagiri has lots of colorful appliqued flowers. The daek areas are quilted in concentric circles looking like water on a pond.

This is another colorful one.


by Yoshiko Kurihara

Even with the crossing shadows, it is good viewing.

Here is a close up section of another very detailed quilt made by

Michiko Shima

called "On the Wind".

It seems to be using lots of kimono fabric.

A month having passed, I have forgotten which quilts Tanya and Queenie have shown.

I do know that their pictures are much better than mine.
I should probably go back and see what might have been left un-shown .  There care still a post's worth in my camera

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Finished with time to spare

The quilting was just a simple heart in each square and I finished on Sunday. I had planned to purchase binding on my way home from school Monday, but it was beginning to rain and I had not gone out in the morning with my umbrella.  Tuesday Nikko and I walked one station over to the local shop and I picked out some pink binding that matched the color of the blossoms.

This afternoon I finished turning the binding and tonight I will take the quilt to choir and turn it over to the choir president. The idea is to  have the choir members sign on the hand prints. I have signed mine ... a left hand of course.

The batting I used is #60  Thinsulate. It doesn't really need a lot of quilting to keep it from shifting as I think it is intended to be used in clothing.

I placed the blocks facing up and down, left and right, so that there would be no top or bottom other than how the quilt is used. I also hope it will be used to play "I Spy", as words are the most important thing you can give a child. (and this child will be in a bi-lingual home.) There are plenty of items that might be counted too so I hope it will add a bit of fun.

This week as I sat beside four non-sleepers during "nap-time" I couldn't help recalling my own childhood. Our school used woven straw mats instead of the cushions these kids have and no blankets for covering... and certainly there were no cuddly stuffed animals, but I am sure I was a non-sleeper too. I remember being placed in the cloak-room where I wouldn't disturb others.  No cloak room in our school but I'll bet those kids would have had fun counting cats or frogs or stars or bunnies or just hunting for items. I remember being separated from my twin at home and being entertained by the quilt on my parent's bed ... following the rows of stitches with my finger and finding and counting matching fabrics.

And ... now that this project is done, I am getting excited about the next thing on my list ... the belated Christmas present for my dear #3 daughter! Time to go up and sort scraps again and hope to find the items I need.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The quickie quilt

I decided to let the backing decide the size of the quilt. It is now 43inches by 55 inches. Probably will be large enough to use for some time.

I alternated dark and light prints and turned them in all directions so there will not be a top or bottom.
I needed to add two more inches to the quilt so as not to waste the backing. The only green I had that matched the flowers on the print was short ... actually a left-over from one of my first quilts. I just added floral cornerstones between the strips so they are rather random in placement.

Now, to get this laid out and basted ... Maybe I should go early to choir and use the floor at church.
I am already in trouble at school because a "needle" or maybe a pin... was found on the library floor. I was asked by the art teacher to prepare some materials for a class that involved sewing thin gauzy fabric into larger pieces and asked to take it to the library when the kids were using the art room....
however, the pins I used were safety pins.  I think the needle came from one of those airline kits and there may have been pins in that pack but I never took them out. Nevertheless, I was seen sewing in the library and the art teacher verified that I used the library to sew something. Anyway, we shall see what happens on Monday. My pins have big colorful heads that are easy to spot when dropped. Maybe I should take them along to compare.

The weekend is drawing near and there is an awful lot on my plate before Monday comes around.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What are shoe boxes for?

Sometimes you find the perfect place for sorting your scraps. It may be a tin or a buckle-box of even one once intended for shoes.

When my quilting ends up with small scraps, rather than putting them back in boxes by color, I cut them into the largest square size they will fit. I used to make only squares but with a good box of one-inch squares, I began to cut one-inch strips into 1 x 2, 3, 4, 5, or even six inch lengths. Those go into baggies and live in the shoe box.

Last night I took my baby quilt idea to choir and ran it by the head honchos. The proposal was approved and it will not be too hard to do as most of the pieces are living in a box or tin.

I have more than enough kid-friendly prints and am arranging them in an alternate dark-light pattern.

I am turning them left and right and up and down so that there will be no "right" way to use the quilt.

The 1 x 5 inch strips are going between like a kind of sashing and those one-inch with kid-friendly prints fit where the sashing joins the next block.

Since this will be from the choir, they wanted a place to sign their wishes and names. I have just enough of the hand-print fabric I used in a baby quilt a little over a year ago for my fellow teachers to sign.

If I add two inch border, the quilt will be about 41 x 47 or longer if I have time to add more rows.
There is enough variety in some of these fabrics to make an I-Spy quilt.

What do you think is a good size to end up with? The quilt I made for my first grandson was 51"x 63" and that was too small to use on his bed when he moved to a bunk... thus a few years ago I began the tradition of a big-boy quilt. Other grandkids got bigger quilts but since they are rather babyish in design, they are gradually being replaced with something more mature in design.

I did make a big I-Spy quilt for the family that seems to be used for guests or on the sofa so I guess one can always play I-Spy even as grown-ups. I never know how or if a quilt will be used. The quilts my mother made for my kids got a lot of use except the first one that was crib-sized.
Well, I have plenty of time putting the blocks together before I have to gather opinions and decide on the border.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tokyo Dome spin-off

In one of Tanya's earlier posts, she introduced Fumiko Nakayama with some lovely pictures.

Nakayama-sensei is known for her Mola-style quilting.

Though from, I believe, Kyoto, her classes are taught around Japan and I met some of her deshi from both Kobe and Tokyo.

Several "Sensei" had special booths to show off their work and meet up with quilters curious about learning more.

 This was the quilt made by Nakayama-sensei in the exhibit set aside for teachers.

Title, "Flower the Macrocosm"

This is not a small wall quilt but quite large and full of colorful detail.

It has already been mentioned that the wallpaper in this section and the lighting with shadows did not set off the quilts to their best.

This quilt missed the shadow problem but the wallpaper hardly does much to set it off. Still, a lovely colorful piece of work!

In her booth, Sensei had several copies of books she had written on Mola and some demonstration pieces.
There was also a shop selling her things in the area where all the shops were located...
Among them fabrics and kits with instructions...
Not cheap!

Her demonstration piece showed the layers basted and then cut and needle turned.

As Tanya has mentioned, the three of us decided on a challenge of trying Mola and making something using that technique.

We had gone by the shop and looked over the kits, then decided to go it alone.

Now, do I think I can figure out how to do something like this?

I thought I might have a magazine or two with Mola designs for inspiration but I am yet to find them on my shelf and anything I could locate was all in Japanese.

Guess I really am on my own.

Well, I drew up a plan and traced it onto a piece of navy scrap fabric.
Then I made a sandwich like the one I had seen and basted it together.

Well, this is what I came up with...

On Tuesday afternoon, a day before the closing, I went back to the Tokyo Dome to see if I could get a few pictures without waiting for the crowds to move.

I stopped off at Nakayama-sansei's booth to ask her how to turn that yellow into borders, showing the red underneath.

Kindly, she did nor say, "you stupid fool, you are doing this all wrong!"
but she pulled out fabric and scissors and thread, giving me a one-on-one demonstration of putting the under fabric on first and turning that, then putting the top fabric in place and turning the top fabric, leaving a nice neat frame in each space.

She did not tell me to go and buy something from her shop and read the instructions but patiently showed me how I should have done it.

I have to admit I am quite impressed with the lesson I got and the patient friendly way it was delivered.

But, now I have a piece of yellow sun and I do not want to take it out and start over so....

Last night, after a busy day at school, with the cold wind rattling the windows,
I curled up on the sofa and attacked the problem head-on the "wrong" way.

With the navy stitches already in place, there isn't much room to turn the yellow under ... but there really isn't a very wide strip of yellow to begin with. The yellow rays are only about 3/8 of an inch in width.

I think I will have a bit of fun along with the frustration.

Meanwhile, the table runner for the conference speaker is now in the hands of it's new owner.

I finished off the spare pieces for a runner, now on my coffee table.

(being motivated to remove the Christmas/New Years one still in that spot).

As I was  thinking of my Mola and the Christmas present for Norie yet to begin and a whittling project I wanted to start this month ...

along comes the news that a member of our church choir is expecting a baby in MARCH!

Not a lot of time ... and I need to make a baby quilt for all the choir to sign.

Last night ... among other things ... I dug into my kid-friendly prints and pulled out a pile of pre-cut blocks.
Today I laid them out on the dog hair covered carpet and played around with possible arrangements for an I-Spy quilt ... (no time to gather alphabet  prints .. though mola letters might give me more experience.

Tonight I will present my plan to the choir president.

Here's to all my friends who use those things called "Patterns"!
My quilting seems to be just like my life... a bit backward, and definitely "Plan as you go".

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tokyo Dome show part 2

Often we go to a quilt show with an agenda. It might be to meet friends or view particular exhibits or even find a hard-to-get item in one of the shops.

After finding our partnership blocks and those of our friends in one of those 63 quilts,

we ended up near the center area where the next of my agenda items were to be found.

Chikako Ueno has been a friend over a number of years. We first met at the Yokohama Quilt show which no longer exists ... but when it comes to quilters and friendship, those go on regardless.

Ueno-san always has something to enter in the show and this year she entered one of her wonderfully creative bags and a framed quilt. Since Ueno-san comes from out of town, it was not possible to make our schedules meet up this year as in other years but I couldn't miss  viewing her bag.

And, here is her framed quilt right around the corner from the bag display.

What a lot of work must have gone into this small quilt!

There are areas that seem like MOLA techniques and that is something I plan to cover in a later post.

There were quite a few framed quilts in the exhibit and the following were some that caught my eye.

This was one of the prize winners.

There is a lot of embroidery setting these flowers off.

With my in-house translator gone, I am not able to give credit to these, and I have had issues over the years  with the lack of even a simple English name.

This year I included the display information with these quilts so at least those quilters can get some credit for their hard work and creative ideas.

This turtle was another prize winner.

It also has rather a Mola look but certainly not as detailed as Ueno-san's fish.

What is it about kids and dinosaurs?

In our pre-school library, the shelf of dinosaur books is the most stirred area each time I go in to get the shelves in order.

This was a bit larger than many other framed quilts but it also contained a lot of small pieces.

As you may note by the plaque, it too was a prize winner.

And, here is another winner.

Colorful and charming.

How about this gathering of pigs?

Or this awesome piece of whole-cloth quilting.

Here are the three winner bags.

I think bags are very much personal things and it would be hard to make any judgement.

There was a really cute bag that has already been shown (Tanya's post?)It was a whole bag of cats.

I often think of making a bag to suit my needs. It would need lots of different sized compartments ...
Probably inside so not showing. It would need an open pocket for my train pass with a ring to clip the chain on. It would need a zipper that can open right or left. And NO VELCRO!!!

It would probably need a strap that could be lengthened to go over the shoulder but able to be shortened to carry over the arm or even by hand... and since I often have pinched nerves from a crooked spine, it might be nice if it could double as a waist-pack.

The closest I have ever come to making a bag like that was a needle point bag made back in the late 1950's that was stolen on a trip to NY. I have two quilted carrying bags but they are both showing wear after years of use.

Among the stalls at the quilt show, there were many selling bits and parts for bag-makers.

The show ended Wednesday but there are still many pictures to show so, for us bloggers, it will last a bit longer. Be sure to check out Taniwa and Queenie as I will be off for the weekend to the Women's Conference. I will be hoping to see a few finished beginner quilt projects and maybe win a convert or two to the quilting world. The prep-work for the classes is almost done. The last thing in the plan was to iron the folds out of the cut fabrics but my iron died without warning.  No shops selling irons in my area so it may be some time before it can be replaced. (and I will be picky because I need one that can be used left-handed).
Last item on the list is pack up my bag with class items and clothing and to cut a few scraps to sew on the ride there and back.