Monday, December 27, 2010

A wish fulfilled

For many years I have been wishing for an oval hoop but had not seen one for sale in years. When daughter Marie asked me what I wanted for Christmas, the first thing that came to my mind was an oval hoop, never thinking she might find one. Today the postman rang the bell with a big box in his arms, the hoop had arrived. (actually that was not all there was in the box and there were TWO hoops!)
So, why did I want the oval hoop? With a round hoop I can get the same length of work space but it also puts that area farther away to the center of the hoop. Also I had to keep moving the hoop as I worked. With this I could fit the whole space I was working on into the hoop at once. I was worried about the harp strings because I used metalic thread and didn't want the hoop to break it by accident. Now hands and harp can be outlined in embroidery without moving the hoop or endangering the strings. I am SO HAPPY!
Thank you my Dear Marie!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not-too-slow progress

This is the progress so far on the banner. The outer border was pieced from scraps today and sewed in place.
The total size is 90 x 46 inches so next I will have to find something I can piece for the backing. I already know I have nothing that size and I have no money to spend on such.

I am hoping to get that and the basting done tomorrow. I have half a day of Scout activities but a long train ride there and back that I might use to piece the back. Since it is a national holiday the trains will not be as crowded as usual and maybe I can sit. An hour or so each way might get a lot done. Finding room to baste might be more of a problem.

I have posted more details on the Slow Poke Quilters blog site. I think you can get there by clicking the logo on my blog. I wish I had just a bit more computer skill but that is coming along slower than my quilting.

Thanks to everyone for the feedback.
I think once I get this together with the black embroidery and quilting it will work not only for the Conference but as a companion to last year's banner.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Crafty Christmas

This post is, in part, for my youngest son who has begun to create things with his own children. Having been the youngest in line with many of these projects, he was trying to remember how we went about it and all the stuff we made.

I come from a generation that, when we wanted something, figured out how to make it ourselves.
I remember seeing beautiful manger scenes and wishing to own one. Having no money for other than a cheap plastic one, the whole family set about creating our own DIY set.

The figures are made from bottles covered in paper mache and decorated with string, beads, lace or ribbon etc. Covered with gesso and painted with acrylic.

You can probably recognize the woostershire bottle shepherd, pill bottle angel, toilet paper roll animals and egg carton sheep or crib. They have become battered and worn over the years but are fun to set out each year and remember those years when Mom and six kids made one heck of a mess while stirring the creative pot.

When I first came to Japan I expected this to be a place where one could buy beautiful Christmas decorations. I was, therefore, very much surprised to find the lovely made-in-Japan things sold in the states were only export items and could not be found anywhere on the domestic market.
For a few years we made decorations from egg cartons. Glued together and decorated with string and beads, painted with gesso and gold paint and antiqued with ink. It is possible to get quite a variety using different parts of the carton.

Lest you think I am the crafty person in my family, these decorations have been added each year from my sister's greetings. Coming flat inthe envelope with instructions as needed, they are truly works of art.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Plan "C" or "D" or ?

The sheep continue to gather at David's feet and some are heading for the hillside. (Thank you Marlene, they were right where you sent me.)
Now, for the border blocks... It was very difficult to draft a 12 inch block using the printed Psalm fabric. It seems I will have to set the print at an angle to the left and right of the picture.
These will be separated by a two-inch black sashing. My thinking is to use scraps of the fabric used in the picture. (Greens, brown, rust, gold, blue and light color of sheep)
In the first two blocks I put the light colors forming a cross but now I am thinking this is a very strong shape. I do not plan to take these two out and do them over but am wondering if the other blocks might look better with darker colors above and below the print blocks. I was hoping to get more of a star effect but this is as close as I could come.
I could introduce other colors just to be used in the border or pull some left-overs from the companion banner. This is not a commisioned job and I do not want to spend any money, my time is enough, but I would like to make it worthy of display at the retreat.
Do I sound like I am asking for advice AGAIN? Well, yes, it is true my virtual quilt circle!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Contest anyone?

I put my table runner into the Quilting Bloggers weekly theme contest.
I know for a fact that all you guys have gorgeous runners because I have seen them!
So... why did I bother? Actually I doubt I will get even one vote unless I vote for myself but I really wanted to see how hard it was to enter something.
Since it is so easy that I could figure it out, why don't you blogging buddies put yours there???
If not, go vote for mine, Ha, Ha!! (at least it is an original and no money was spent on fabric!)
I've already won ... one free runner :>)

Lost sheep

Anyone seen some sheep? David is now on duty with nothing to do. The strings on the harp will get put in during quilting.
I looked at Google images for pictures of sheep but none I could find were in positions I wanted. Some need to be gathered at his feet and some will be milling around on the hillside behind. This is very much make-it-up-as-you-go.
I can't help thinking how much easier this might be if I had some kind of fusable web and could just arrange and iron it all together and then take out a machine and stitch some fancy stitches at all the joinings.
As it is, I want to make it a bit of stained glass but I think sewing bias over all these seems might be a little too much. Another Idea I have is to embroider around the patches with black thread. Any ideas out there?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hard work has begun

In March 2004, a group of mothers joined efforts to create a quilt for the silent auction at The American School in Japan's spring "Gala".
That quilt and others can be found in the postings for each year.

This is more a group of willing hands than a group of quilters but each year we have been able to make a beautiful quilt that none of us could have completed in that time...if ever...on our own. It has also been one of the hottest items of the silent auction.

This year we have decided on a replay (with some changes) of our first quilt. Choosing a Japanese theme and using Japanese fabrics creates a lovely reminder for a family's years lived in Japan.
Last week we cut and marked the pieces for these kimono/yukata blocks. Saturday at the school's festival we began working on the piecing and along with today's few hours of work
have made a good bit of progress.
These blocks will be set on point with a dark blue block between in a checkerboard fashion. The blue blocks will be quilted with Kamon or Japanese family crests. Of the 36 blocks needed to make a queen-sized bed cover, you can see that we are pretty far along. Probably next week we will begin marking the crest designs before assembling the top.
The mothers, who have now learned how to sew the patches together, will also help in the assembly and quilting.
Although I hardly need another project to keep myself busy, I enjoy this process greatly. The volunteers are all of my daughters' generation and with my own daughters being so far away, these women fill a great gap. With some I know their children through substitute teaching or Scouting. Each year we welcome new-comers to life in Tokyo and say farewell to others. We learn what's up at school and where to buy needed or missed items in this city. We hear of their travels and our lives expand as well. In the process we create a one-of-a-kind piece that will bring joy to some lucky bidder. What could be more fun than that?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

a run to a runner

You Bloggers and your ideas, now you've done it!
First I had to get rid of my valentine runner in October by making something for the fall. Now I need something for the holidays!
While I was picking out prints for the Advent calendar a few weeks ago, I pulled out a few three inch squares to make a runner for the coffee table.
Since this is all left-over stuff I pieced the batting out of scraps I had on hand and they were all a bit puffier than I would have liked, requiring a bit more quilting (so the coffee cups won't tip over). Actually, this is one big mug rug since I can't seem to get my husband to use a coaster or a saucer.
I tried quilting the tree shapes with some glittery thread. That required larger stitches than I am used to doing which was a challenge. I was hoping taking the picture outside would show those sparkles but anyway you can see my tiny garden bed and the last of the lantana.
Am I doomed to make another runner after the holidays?