Sunday, August 28, 2011

I think I'm done

Even using rather small stitches, this did not take long to quilt. I had planned to do some quilting in the border but one inch is rather narrow to do anything fancy so maybe I can leave it as is.

As I expected, the blocks were easy to sew together since the points of the stars didn't come all the way to the edges. In cutting the pieces there was a bit of waste but this is a pattern I will try again in the coming days. (thank you Jan Marie) I am hoping that Yuzawaya, the place I bought the small packet of fabric, might still have a few of these sets of fabric. I didn't save the selvage but I noticed it is made in Japan and "antique" which I take to mean a reproduction print.
As cotton goes, it was very fine and easy to both sew and quilt.

This afternoon there was a big Ceremony for the Scouts of Kanagawa in a Yokohama park along the waterfront. They were looking for some high mucky-mucks from the BSA and somehow I ended up on the guest list. I was very happy to see that not only some Scouts, but also leaders were wearing the handicraft neckerchief slides made a few weeks ago on the foot of Mt Fuji. Although there was a slight breeze off the water, it was a very hot afternoon and a long ceremony. I understand the Crown Prince was to put in an appearance later on but my little group decided to fore go any more ceremony and check out some edibles in Chinatown nearby.

Tomorrow I need to remember to put a label on the runner ... something I always forget to do. Then I may take on a little challenge as Laura Lochore at Quokka Quilts is putting together "Mug Rugs of the World" and looking for a mug rug that represents Japan. I have never made a mug rug but I have a few patterns and a lot of Japanese fabric I might use. So... what says "Japan"? An origami crane? A torii gate? Mt Fuji? Maybe I'll have to make more than one.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Running with an idea

I may have mentioned this before, but Japan has two seasons in the year for giving gifts. One is in the summer during Obon which has just ended. The other is at Year's end. It is a time to thank the people who are big in your life.

At least in the past, it was a time when companies gave big bonuses. I do not know how things are now because teachers never get bonuses then or now but they do sometimes get gifts. Many years ago I had two English students who were doctors and they were very kind to share goodies from their gift stash because they got so many gifts of food that it would likely spoil before they could consume it all.

This summer I received a surprise. It was a gift of nuts and dried fruit from my daughter's Mother-in-law. I know her husband is retired and not getting a bonus to spend on gifts yet she picked out and sent something she KNEW I would love. Well, I have no money to spend on gifts either but I thought I could at least make something for her so I asked my daughter to find out what kind of space she might have for a runner and what colors she likes.

This weekend, my daughter brought me the above picture of the "geta bako" (shoe cupboard) in their entryway. The dimensions are 39cm by 119cm but I see by the picture that the beautiful wood is left to show. I love that turquoise glazed vase which my daughter says is a permanent fixture.

A plan had already been in my head. I have been watching the progress of Jan, the Cherry Red Quilter, on some star blocks she has been making. I like the fact that the points don't come to the edge of the block. I knew I was going to have to draft a block and make some and this is as good a time as any.

These blocks are six inches so the total now is 12x18 inches. I could add an inch of sashing and not be too big but I rather like the blocks touching each other. I will dig into my stash and perhaps add a small border. Brown and blue is perhaps my favorite combination and I may even have a border print I could add to each end.
As I work on this I am celebrating the joy of an extended family. Like me, my children have selected wonderful in-laws. My other great joy is my blogging family that never ceases to encourage and inspire. (thanks Jan)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The banner is hung and the continuing saga of the bias tape

With several weeks to go until "rally Day", this year's banner has been hung in the church entry-way. Last year's banner has been moved to the right side of the double doors. You can see by my smile that I am glad.

Today, on my way home from church, I
stopped at the store with the rotten bias tape and this is my report.

Finding a clerk, I showed and explained the problem with the tape. The clerk asked me if I had the sales slip. well, no, how long does one need to keep those slips? I told her that though I had purchased the tape a number of years ago, the store sticker was still on each package along with the bar-code.
She asked me to wait and went off to the office. A while later, she came back carrying the damaged tape and told me I had made the purchase five years ago. I responded, yes, I said I had purchased the tape a while ago and was that tape only expected to last a few years? I told her I had a quilt made over a hundred years ago by my Great Grandmother and the bias binding was still in good condition. I wondered what was the life expectancy of the products they sold.

Well, the clerk told me to wait again and disappeared back to the office. When she finally returned she was carrying four new packages of binding. I had seriously thought of asking for navy blue instead of black but in the end I was feeling a bit sorry for the poor woman having to deal with this unsatisfied customer, and a foreigner, at that. Now I am wondering if I should keep this binding for five years before I use it to make sure that it, too, will not deteriorate. I am hoping the tape will be returned to the manufacturer so they can fix the problem. One good side was that, although the price of the binding has gone up since I bought those packages, the store did not make me pay the difference.

Two wins in one day. AND ... although my poor computer has died at last ... taking my photos along with it, I am working on a substitute that has all different programs, a different keyboard arrangement, and does not speak my language, my husband was able to figure out how to download the picture and store it where I could find it.

Now, I was almost tempted to take a break from blogging and learn the language until I saw him struggling by trial and error to make this computer do his bidding. I think this computer does not speak English or Japanese as much as it speaks computerese.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back from camp

I thought my blogging friends would like to see a view of Mt Fuji. From the forested camp grounds it is not too easy to get a view.

The winter is the very best time for viewing Mt Fuji, when the days are clear. At that time it can even be seen from Tokyo.

In Summer, the air is so humid and low clouds sit in the foothills. To get a view, the best time is at sunrise and the view of a "Red Fuji", reflecting the morning sun is quite famous. BUT, You had better find a high place above the surrounding forest and be there just as the sun begins to rise. As you can see, the moon has not yet set and the clouds are beginning to creep up from the valley floor.

So, for my blogging friends, Nikko and I set off in the early morning to catch you all a view. We reached the high spot just as the sun was rising but the clouds were too and the view did not last very long.

When we returned to our campsite, the sun was working its way through the mist of morning and the air was beginning to heat up.

Camp was fun with Scouts from BSA, Taiwan, and Nagoya. There were young Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Venture Scouts.

I was asked to do a craft. The Camp's symbol is an Owl so I had the Scouts make owl neckerchief slides out of wood picked up in the surrounding forest.

I had a number of samples but the kids were quite quick to jump in and do their own thing. Some of the kids even returned another day to try making more, bringing twigs from the camping area.

I cut the larger slices of wood but let the kids cut their own eye pieces and bamboo for the back ring.

They sanded and glued and varnished and came up with not only owls but a few other animals as well.

Even leaders caught the creative bug and were making their own. I was especially happy to see that because it meant they were not interfering with what the kids were doing.

Many were surprised that a craft could be done without great expense by using what is available in nature and that the kids could use sharp saws and knives following my safety instructions. (in my rather crude Japanese, I might add.)

Now it is just over five months since the earthquake and tsunami. It is the season of Obon, when it is the Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of ancestors. It is travel time back to one's home town and the roads resembled parking lots. Because of the early rise for picture taking, I was able to get my gear stowed and be on the road to beat the rush. I found Tokyo just as hot and humid as when I left but Papa was glad to have Nikko back and my toe was glad to leave the shoes in the entry-way.

The banner will get a sash for hanging and I can get on to other things once Vacation Bible School is over. Yea!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

All done but the shouting

The only thing left to do on the banner is to add the sleeves for hanging and assemble some dowels. Now I can go off to camp tomorrow without worrying about when I can finish.

The photo will be used to put on the cover of the booklet that tells about the various ministries at Tokyo Union Church. My husband is in charge of getting the booklet together and I was sure that there would be lots of pressure to get this done well before the actual due date.

I want to thank everyone who suggested the black. I think it was a good choice too. I used sashiko thread for the tower parts and have new respect for those who do this. Making large even stitches is not all that easy. Also one can not use such long pieces of thread as I like.

I ran into the strangest problem when putting on the bias binding. I used a commercial binding because I happened to have some on hand and it would take less time than cutting up the small amount of fabric in my stash.

After sewing three sides by hand, I needed to splice another piece. When it was added, I found that not only that piece but the one I had sewed already, were completely disintegrated and the whole thing ripped off. Luckily I had the package with the name of the store on it so I can take it back when I return from camp.

However, my plan to get this finished had gone "awa". This morning my husband ... hoping to see a finish almost as much as I ... went to the local "button store" (that is what a shop selling fabric in small amounts, notions, yarn, and the like is called in Japan) and tried to buy a similar bias.

The shopkeeper was very surprised. She said there are only two makers of bias in Japan and that one is the best maker so she only buys that product for sale. My husband showed her the two packages and how badly they ripped whichever way they were pulled. She said something must have gone wrong with that lot. She took out a package from her shelf and pulled very hard on it but it did not rip. Therefore, my husband brought home new bias and the banner is all but done.

I went back to my drawer of bias tape and found two more of the same make and age. Both of those were also deteriorated so I will have four to return to the store when I return from camp.

Those packs were not new. They had been in my drawer a few to perhaps five years but I did not expect them to rot in the package. I have not checked other packs and other colors but I do use bits from time to time and that event was totally unexpected. I am wondering if it might have something to do with the black dye. I have noticed on embroidery my mother made, more than 40 years ago, the black thread has not held up as well as the other colors. I have also noted when I hand sew with black thread, the same brand as all my other thread, that it frays out if I use as long a strand as I do white or other colors. I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience.

It has been extremely hot and humid in Tokyo. The neighborhood PA system has announced for the public to beware of heat related problems each afternoon around 2:30 and 3:00. Usually we only hear one message at 5:30PM telliing children it is time to go home.

This time tomorrow I will be at camp on the foot of Mt. Fuji. I was told I would need a jacket at night. Now, isn't that a refreshing thought!

This is the second camp this summer that I am going off in flip-flops. The toe did not heal and a week ago Monday the Dr. took an x-ray to see why and found the bone way off and too much swelling for it to even meet. It was pulled and set and treated for a week and a half with echo and electric gadgets and taped to it's neighbor. Now, in a pinch, I can put something else on for part of the day. The volcanic soil is a bit un-suited to flip-flops. Looks like big boots and bulky socks might be needed. We shall see.

This hybiscus is in the yard of a neighbor. I just had to take a picture. He has numerous varieties and this is so unusual. is other big one comes out pink in the morning and as the day goes on, the sun turns it to red. In the winter he whacks these all down to stumps but every year they return full of vigor. They will be blooming beautifully upon my return.

I hope my own plants will survive the week without me. I am almost tempted to haul them to the neighbor and beg his care. I hope all my blogging friends have a good week as well. I will surely miss you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The queen of procrastination bites the bullet

Each year, in early September, our church holds a "Rally Day". After the service, during the fellowship hour, displays of all the assorted ministries of the church are set out so members new and old can see what is going on and perhaps sign up to be part of the action. Thus, several weeks ago, the rally day committee sat down to discuss and pick out a theme. As I did last year, I will make a banner to hang in the front portico for the year.

The first discussion was the scripture. What was selected was Matthew 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also". Next, the committee wanted to include in the logo, a heart, a cross, a view of Tokyo Union Church, and the stained glass window.

The next week I brought my camera and took some pictures of the window. This window was created by Keiko Miura. She is a Christian artist from Osaka. The full window rises 21 meters and symbolizes "The descent of the Holy Spirit at the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3: 21-22)." (there used to be a baptismal font made from native stone at the foot of the window but that has since been moved)

Assembling assorted photos and sketches of the church, I worked on a logo to present to the committee and a banner design for the entryway.

To be sure, the committee has lots of opinions but they are not artists so what one brings home from meetings are just piles of words.

I made a few sketches but did not make it to the next committee meeting. The only comments came back through my husband who was there and says someone on he committee thought that more of the church building should be shown.

In my opinion, that building has a very distinct tower and anyone would know it seeing only that much. I further think the cross should be the focus rather than the building itself. This bit of a conflict causes me to procrastinate even more.

However ... deadlines weigh heavily and in another week I will be camping on Mt. Fuji with the Boy Scouts. Then comes Vacation Bible School upon return. If I don't get started this week, I will have a big rush at the last minute and THAT is something with which I do not deal well. I guess one of the best parts about getting old is that you find out how to avoid the things you absolutely hate.

Well, the window is truly beautiful and an inspiration with all the assorted blues and purples and greens. I dug out my box of batiks and started pulling out bits of fabric that were big enough to use.

I also drafted sections as seen in the window. I have it partly sewed and the rest kind of laid out. There are a few tricky places around the tower but I was more interested in getting the fabric to work. I think if I baste this stuff in place, it can travel to camp and I will have time to get it far enough along.

Shall I add black around the stained glass blocks and the heart? I will still need to add the Bible verse above and below the heart. I know that will take some time toward the end. I only hope I will not have to do a rush job and that forces me to bite the bullet now. After all, God is watching!

I am wondering what the person who wants more of the building to show will say in the end. I do know what my father would reply, "Here! Do you want the hat?" There was hardly a stampede of people rushing to volunteer for the task.