Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Has the rain stopped yet?

Sitting on the sofa listening to rain pitter-pattering on the range hood outside ... suddenly it seemed to have stopped. Oh goody, I can go up and hang my laundry...

Well, don't assume that no pitter-patter means it has stopped, it just has turned to snow ... and since I took this picture on my front step, the snow is coming down heavier.

At least it gives me something to show other than more of the same blocks that I have completed since the last post. A day like this will add more to the pile 'cause I'm not going anywhere!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Playing with scraps

It's nice to have a bit of take-along work, and I'm surprised how much can be done on train rides if I can grab a seat. Of course I carry something to read in case I have to stand. the danger of reading while sitting was something I experienced Wednesday, by falling asleep, only to be awakened by the conductor at the end of the line. At least I am within two stops of that station but still a bit embarrassing...
Thursday evening I finished up the last of the prepared pieced squares. I wanted to lay it out to see the overall effect, as I had the feeling that using squares and strips in the "crumb" blocks might look more boring than those more random bits one can get from adding odd pieces by machine.

I sorted the pieced blocks a bit to get variety of color and shape of pieces used, but arranging this layout was just random and seems to work.

I have not done the math to see how large a quilt I can get, but this much only removed the first 6 inches from over a meter of fabric. With rain falling outside and no meeting to attend, I might see even a bit more progress.

Monday, March 12, 2018

How about a challenge?

Well, I really don't need a challenge. I have enough stuff on my to-do list.

There is the "Cathedral Window" challenge with Carin and Tanya, which I am still thinking about.
Having made one very large cathedral window quilt in my past, it will not be as much a challenge of doing something new as figuring out what to make of something that is sure to turn out heavy.

Then, there is the challenge of making the big-boy quilt for my third grandson. I have been gathering black and white fabrics, which was his choice, but coming up with a plan that will fit the fabrics I now have .... So, it is still on hold...

Now there is another challenge in the picture.

My Left-handed quilting friend has been playing around with "crumb" quilts. One was set in black and another in cheddar, and now there is a challenge to try other backgrounds to see how they work.

Without the use of a machine, I do not save odd scraps, but cut them into the largest size block I can make and put it into a tin or box. anything smaller than one inch square (+ a quarter-inch seam allowance) I throw out.

I therefore have lots of marked and cut pieces that can be used in something like this project/challenge ... the most plentiful bits being the one, two, and three inch segments.
I am not sure these fit the title of "crumb" but they can be easily sewed into three-inch blocks ... and that can be done on train rides and down-time.

In fact, I have a whole bunch of three inch pieced squares that were left over from the "bento-box" runners made last year.

Note one zip-lock of 1 x 2, and another of 1 x 3, and a whole big box of marked 1-inch bits.

Does this look like a challenge or just a good way to clear out scraps?

I don't want to have to buy any fabric and have a few bigger pieces of solids that have gathered over the years. I thought of using the blue-grey piece but have not yet measured what I have, and not sure if it would make a quilt of a usable size.
Probably I could get a table runner out of what I have.

Looking through my piles I found the mottled purple-ish black. There seems to be a bit more of that. Of course, Brown is my favorite but I have plans for the large piece in my stash. I might want to decide just how big a quilt I would like to make.

Usually I make quilts with a purpose. If I made this on into a bed-size quilt, I'm not sure who might want it. If I make it into a table runner, maybe I have enough of the grey and by the time I get it done, I could clear the junk off my table so I could replace the Christmas/New years runner that is still on the table. Of course, the original purpose of quilted runners was more to protect the wood from the white rings created by glasses of ice water left sitting ... a problem I no longer have. But ... then again, Maybe if I had a new runner, I might refrain from piling junk on the table ... hmmm,

On the other hand, maybe I could raffle off a bed quilt to make money for the homeless meals...
Meanwhile, it is rather fun to just be making little blocks and possibly seeing some of these cut bits decrease in number ....

If you like challenges, you might go to my side bar and check out what the left-handed world has to offer.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A touch of spring ... and a finish

On Sunday it seemed that Spring
was just around the corner ... sun and balmy weather ...

That was all the plum tree needed to burst into bloom.

Well, Monday turned blustery and the cold rains returned. If my cell phone is telling the truth, it will be Saturday before the sun returns.

The sweet daphne is also blooming.

I guess the two birthdays are now official.

There are several all white daphne bushes in this plot but they have yet to open ... maybe because they have no birthdays to celebrate.

Anyway, between these two bloomers, the air is sweetly scented. I could walk down the street with my eyes shut and know when I have reached home.

Benefits of cold rainy days ... the next I-Spy is now finished, quilted, bound, and labeled.  It turned out 46" x 56.5 inches or 177cm. x 144cm. I think a useful size.

If the sun comes out on Saturday as predicted, I will try to get a better picture before I pass it to it's new owner on Sunday.

Interestingly, the backing is a rather fine stripe that was given me by a friend. I rather hesitate to use fabrics that might show off my crooked quilting, but this one turned out with all the rows of in-the-ditch stitching matching the stripes ... more luck than planning ... but pleasing to me.

SO.... Time to plan the next baby quilt. The lid on my "kid-friendly"prints bin is still too tight for comfort and the babies keep arriving. With a cathedral window challenge on the horizon, I am wondering what kind of I-Spy I could make with that setting....

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Next on the list

Last night I put the final stitches into the next "I-Spy" quilt.
This one for a little baby boy.

I took this picture in the park during Nikko's morning walk.

Then I dug through the stash and found some fabric that will work on the back, pieced it, and then pin-basted it.

Now the quilting has begun, starting in the middle and working out in all directions.

Once I got to the borders it was a bit too large for take-along work. Hopefully I will have enough home time the next few weeks to get this finished up.
The center block area is all in-the-ditch and I may put a cable in the two-inch grey border ... then maybe quilt the parking lots in the border fabric.

Last week was over-busy and Friday was spent meeting the English class of some friends. Saturday was the wake for a good Scouting friend. I was pleased to see much of the scouting community stepping up to help with many of the duties. After the main service, the scouts and leaders linked arms in the hall to sing "Scout Vespers". It was quite a moving end to the ceremony.

Sunday after church I had to gather things together for my Cub pack's pinewood derby. I did not have a car to race because we were short kits this year, but I was busy helping the scouts adjust the weight and add graphite to their cars.
Some of the track was missing and, because we had booked the activity room and set the date, we decided to make do as best as possible. With the help of duct tape and the wonderful parents and leaders, we were able to pull off the event ... even without the computerised gates. What a relief, as the date to submit the winners names to the district event was the next day.

Monday began with my usual rice delivery and school. As I was going up the very long escalator at the train station, their was a loud noise in the neighboring down escalator, and everyone looked to that side to see a huge hard case suitcase sliding down the moving steps, picking up speed as it went.
At the bottom it hit a lady from behind and wiped her off her feet. Two people waiting on the up-side rushed over to grab her up before she got caught in the stairs at the bottom. Then two guards rushed in.
The young man owner of the bag, who had been too busy on his cell phone to hang on to the bag, rode slowly down and was talking with the group as I got off at the top. It was a very scary event that has stayed with me ever since. I remember when Ken was just a little boy, he got too close to the edge of the stairs, and the escalator grabbed his shoe, pulling it off his foot (Luckily) and grinding it up in the stairs. I also remember a little boy in the hospital who had lost fingers in an escalator. That is not a place one would fall casually.
Even more scary, was on the three more sections going up, I saw two bags with young people not holding them ... one with a girl turned around talking to someone behind her, and another young man on his device. Neither was as big as the one that came careening down the steps, but still....

The days are still cold. Rain over the last week finally removed the last of the dirty snow drifts.

The plum is in no hurry but a few brave buds have defied the cold and are beginning to open.

Today is the birthday of my third daughter.
We didn't have a chance to get together other than last Saturday at the wake.

The Sweet Daphne planted for her seems to be thinking about opening ...but taking it's time in tune with the plum.

I did see a few bushes in bloom in gardens that get full days of sun.

Tomorrow begins another month.
Friday I have a quilt group meeting so my work can go with me.

The busy days help me to appreciate the down time.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

I'm back ... more or less

Yesterday was my first daughter's birthday.

When she was born, we planted this plum tree in celebration, and usually we enjoy her birthday along with the blooms at the South-west corner of our house.

Not only have we had the construction during the last few years of three-story buildings blocking all the sun in the neighborhood, but this winter has brought record cold to the area.

Although no snow is seen in downtown areas, piles of dirty icy snow still remain within sight of my front gate. Yesterday I took my shovel out to chop up a number of ice patches pressed by car tires two weeks ago and still slippery for walkers.

In a few more weeks it will be my third daughter's birthday and her Sweet Daphne buds are formed and seem to be watching the plum for clues to open.

Last week, though I took a bit of time off to recover from my cold, the days got jammed with the usual activities. Choir practice went on longer than usual on Thursday night ... trying to polish up our performance for Saturday but with only half the participants there.

Friday I was to go to a quilt meeting, but I also had to prepare for my Cub Scout pack meeting so there was no time to enjoy my quilting friends. As it was, our pack meeting went on very long because we were doing a "rough-cut" day for the coming pinewood derby.  When I was down on the floor trying to replace a broken blade on the electric saw, I took off my glasses to get my face closer to the lower parts of the saw, and then smashed the frames getting back up. The blade was fixed but the saw gave up five minutes later so all cutting from then on had to be done by hand.

It was midnight by the time I got home and there was a request for the choir members to show up Saturday by 11:am ... though the program was scheduled from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. I gave up on dinner and went right to bed after walking the dog. Morning... walk the dog, grab a banana, and get out the door.

The concert went well and a great time was had by all, but I think my part was the worst I have ever done since we began practicing a few months ago. By the time of the performance I had used up most of my high notes and was getting two notes for the price of one ... neither perfect.

Sunday I was handed a sewing project for a home decorator. Oh my, very heavy canvass it was ...
I had a communications meeting that went on and on into the afternoon, and finally excused myself so I could go and find a glasses store. The one in my neighborhood had closed. I went to Ikebukuro where I had purchased the last pair and that shop had closed. I found the police box and they told me there was a shop on the other side of the station. Not easy finding places when you are too nearsighted to read the signs, but finally I found the shop. they no longer carried my old frames but could find a very expensive pair that would take my lenses. Luckily I did not have to order new lenses and wait more days. Also, luckily I had the money I had been advanced for the sewing job.

Then... rush home, grab the dog and take the car to the pet store to buy dog food ... being all out. It was wan-wan day (11) when I can get extra points on my card for purchases ... meaning a free bag of food several times a year. After waiting in the street for half an hour because the parking lot was full, I decided since I was already blocking the lane along with a long row of waiting cars, I drove up to the entrance and put on my flashers, dashed in and they knew what I wanted, grabbed the big bag of kibble and was out the door in no time.

That was it for what was left of Sunday. Monday mornings I am out the door for onigiri delivery by 4:am.
Sadly, one of the homeless I have been serving over the years had died during the weekend. Strangely, I had had a dream about him that night.
Well, then off to school.

Getting home at dinner time, I thought since I had to turn in the sewing project the next day, I had better get to it. I ended up basting the seams because that canvass was very thick and could not take pins.

Next morning I brought down my sewing machine and began setting it up. All the pieces had been basted and were ready for sewing but my machine just would not cooperate and jammed after only two or three stitches every time. Finally, the clock said it was after noon and I did not know if I could ever get the machine working. I decided if I didn't start sewing the project by hand, there would not be enough time to finish.

It was a simple curtain, long and narrow with a hanging sleeve at the top and hemmed at the bottom. Luckily I finished it all by 5:00pm, just in time to get into town and meet up with the decorator before my regular Tuesday night meeting. I still had one more drape to finish and I did that one by hand too, finishing yesterday. It will be passed off on Sunday. I still don't know how to get the machine working and I hesitate to put it back in its box in a non-working state.

My frustration level with machines has hit an all-time high. Even my computer has taken a turn for the worse, when I try to open my email, I get the message "Network connection timed out. Please try again". "Try again" has no meaning so all I can do is shut the computer off and re-start it many times a day. This began ever since I was forced to take the "New Yahoo" I sure do wish those yahoo and google guys would find something else to mess with rather than messing with things that aren't broke!

Next post will be quilt show stuff. I am hoping to collect the names of those wonderfully creative quilters whose work I photographed.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Taking a bit of "down time"

It's cold out here, Mom, could you step out and remove the ice from my drink? Pretty please?

A few years ago, our choir-room chairs were changed from folding ones to some rigid stacking ones.

At that time, the shape of the raised ridge along the front, hit my legs at a place that made it hard for me to sit longer than five or so minutes. To fix the problem, I made a cushion for my chair.

Ever since then, the choir president has been asking, "Where is my cushion?"

Finally I asked her what colors she wanted, and I have to say, fuchsia and yellow were not easy to find among music prints.

Last Wednesday I finished the assembling and embroidered her initial in the center, and passed the cushion to her during the Thursday evening practice.

As she and her husband are both string players, I thought this bit of fabric worked well for the backing.

I think she took it home rather than placed it on her choir chair, but she was happy and said she was only joking about getting one.

This sixteen inch "Swoon" block I found on several blogs long ago and made a sketch on graph paper so the pattern was easy to draft.

There are a lot of set-in seams which take time and patience and the zipper was set in by hand.

The weekend included the Women's Conference, and with snow still falling on Friday morning, we took the train instead of driving. Too bad I had not prepared handwork for the train because the ride was long. Unfortunately, my sore throat turned into a cough and my voice was rather shot.

I started my regular week with onigiri delivery and school but now I am taking some down time, hoping my voice will recover in time for the Saturday valentine concert. I tried singing along with yutube and can get all my notes but the trick will be not to break into coughing.

I have yet to post on the Tokyo Dome show but both Tanya and Carin have made a number of lovely posts. I am thinking of going to their posts and eliminating duplicate pictures from my camera to see what I might have beyond what they have shown. For me, there is still the challenge of giving credit to those creative quilters whose names were printed only in Kanji. Only the "Teacher's" quilts had Roman letters included. This year I did not bother to fill out a questionnaire, as it appears  it is never read other than to get your address for sending you advertisements.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Tokyo Dome show has begun!

Prepare for a string of posts .....

I would not have thought of attending that big quilt show on the opening day. I knew there would be thousands of people cramming every open space ... BUT ... Quilting has as much to do with friends as it does with quilts.

Long ago I joined a group of quilters .. The Tokyo International Quilters ... it was in the days of many ex-pats temporarily assigned to Tokyo and it was a group of the revolving door. We celebrated new members coming in and were saddened by their departure. I think the average assignment was about three years but there were always members coming and going.

Yesterday, my trip to the show was focused on a visit with a former member, now from Texas. Ah, how the years flew away, and we were back to those good old days. Another long-term member, Kuraishi-sensei, set up the meeting over lunch in the coffee shop ... ah, friendship and coffee ... what could be better?

It was a good thing I left home early because though the line to buy tickets was short, the line to get into the stadium went almost the entire way around the building. It must have taken close to an hour to get in, but a lucky thing is that quilters are friendly and I could get to visit with those in line (even in my miserable Japanese).

 After lunch, the three of us wandered around the show, looking at interesting areas that Sensei lead us to and gave an insider's view.

Our last visit was to the partnership quilt #8, where I got to see my Ohio cardinal guarding his nest at the top of the quilt.

Even though the blocks were made smaller this year, there were still 60 finished quilts.

A number had blocks that were all the same except for fabric choices.

I think the quilter that joins with NHK on this activity, issues a selection of patterns for those who need an idea.

After looking at many of the quilts, it seems this one containing my block got the most creative donations.

Next to Mr. cardinal is a patterned block

but those surrounding ones are original ideas of the quilters.

Panda with bamboo (it may be a tree of life for the panda, but bamboo is a grass)

The woodpecker...

This rabbit by the stump gazing at the sprout coming from that stump and the roots below...

And, how about these trees?

Or the squirrel gathering acorns?

A tree with a swing

a Twitter shaped bird ...

a pink squirrel ...

There were lots of apples but this one was made of hexagons.

These cats were so cute framing that sprout.

More creative apples and trees.

That one on the bottom has a tree house at the top of the ladder.

There were a few of these cat blocks that had been arranged in circles on a few quilts.

The giraffe is one of a kind

not sure about the footprint ...

I have to admit, though I hardly ever win anything... I had to buy a raffle ticket for this one. And my friend, Linda bought one too.

My usual camera suddenly stopped working after the snow day and the alternative camera battery was not charged and soon gave up.

Saturday will be another chance. Along with the friendship worth cancelling my english class, I will get another chance at picture taking.

This year the contest quilts all included names in English, but alas, the other exhibits of traditional, Wa, Original design etc. were not translated. All I got for many years of filling out those questionnaires, was a pile of postcards advertising the show.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Good day to stay inside

This was the view outside my garden door this morning.

I didn't even try to open the door to access the compost pile.

It had begun snowing Monday while I was at school, and while I was washing up the paint pallets and brushes, the director came by and urged me to go home.

Well, there was still work to do and I ride a subway, now how was that going to be disturbed by snow? When I finally left, the snow was still falling and the sidewalks were quite slippery in places, especially on the downhill grade.
Luckily I made it to the station with lots of slips but no falls.

The train, about 8 levels or more below ground , was running but it seems every boss had nagged their employees to leave early. The usual sardine-can was crammed with people. In fact, at each station, more tried to shove in and the doors could hardly close over the bodies.
The only people I say sitting were young and dry and looked like they had been sitting a long time with a number sleeping. People were packed so tightly there was nothing left to hang on to.

I took Nikko on her evening walk as soon as I arrived home to save going out and getting wet all over again.

The sun came out in the morning but the snow had piled up to the point that opening the front door was like plowing the snow and even opening the front gate a challenge.

Nikko was very excited ... like a kid on a "snow day" with no school.

I fished out the shovel and cleared a path to the corner. One lady on the corner had "fixed" the problem in front of her house with hot water.

The snow was heavy and wet, and where people had walked since the evening, thick sheets of ice.

The snow was about a foot deep and broad-leaf evergreen trees had branches bending way down.

When we got to the park, I let Nikko off her leash.

She made three or four wide laps round and round the edges of the park before trotting back to continue her walk.

It is hard to believe, looking at her run, that she will be turning 15 in a few weeks.

My usual Tuesday schedule had been cancelled so I took the opportunity to work on the tree quilt for the conference.

I finished appliqueing the tree.

Then I found four prints that seemed to represent the four seasons, measured and cut some strips and sewed them on the border.

Half-way through I remembered I had wanted to put a one-inch strip of green on first for an inner border.

I thought of un-sewing what was done but as I considered that possibility, I realized that if I did, the seasonal prints would be too short to meet and I would have to come up with more solutions for the corners.
So, I left it as planned.
Now looking at it, I might have added some solid corner pieces with appliqued kanji for each season. Well, I could still do something like that for an outer border.

Nikko and I walked to the station area for a bit of shopping and there was quite a bit of shovelling going on ... as well as kids playing in the snow and an igloo near the train crossing. The crescent moon was out and now the wind is rattling the windows.

How nice to spend a day with a bit of sewing. Now I will have to prepare some material for leaves. I wonder what the members will like ... many colored solids? small prints? stripes or plaids? Something they could embroider veins or initials on? Well, I still have a little over a week to prepare...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Next on the list

  • Somehow this went to the family blog.  I guess I need to pay better attention when writing a post.
    Jan 18 at 3:29 PM

    Coming up the first weekend in February, is the Women's Conference... WOCON.

    For the last few years I have taught a quilting basics class where the participants can make a small pot holder or mug-rug and learn the basics of piecing, basting, quilting and binding.

    This year I am thinking of something like a drop-in class covering applique and needlework or simple embroidery.

    The theme is "Changing with the Seasons", and after discussions with the planners, we are thinking of having participants select fabrics for seasons they love best and applique a leaf on the tree of life.

    This is about one day's work ... but I sat through a loooong meeting last night which moved things along. I am kind of thinking of a border to represent each season.

    Today Norie took some pictures of my vest.

    Usually I wear a light down vest around the house but I think this one is a bit warmer.
    (Maybe it is all the dog hair it has picked up in the process).

    I think when time allows, I will add a bit more quilting around the owl's tail, otherwise I am satisfied.

    The thinsulate is intended for use in clothing and is what I most often use in quilts.

    It is a bit tacky but, though it makes it a bit hard to line up the front and back for basting (unless you have extra hands to place the top), For all the quilts I have used it, it never pills or shifts and washes well... even when the quilting is widely spaced.

    I once heard that 3M was going to make quilt battings but that may never have happened. I just take it off the bolt and if needed, whip the edges together to make it larger.