Friday, March 30, 2012

One more for the road

The bunnies will now have company on their trip to Oregon. Looking through the scrap box, I came across a few pieces large enough to cut four cats and a printed stripe that would make a nice border. The total size is
18"x 23.5", which could make a small table mat.
I had selected a pretty floral print for the background but the tan cat seemed to be hiding. Maybe that tan floral cat should have been what I changed because his orange eyes don't show so well on the print. The pink floral is on the reverse side.

The Thinsulate batting is also left-over scraps and I could just use safety pins to hold everything in place while I quilted without a hoop, making the whole thing in three days. I am usually a baste and baste again person but on this one, the only basting I did was for sewing the cats together.

My husband looked over these runners and said he wished we could keep them. He seldom pays any attention as to what I am making but had an interest in the rabbits because he was responsible for pulling out reference material for the rabbit in the moon.

Today is the last day in March and it certainly is NOT going out like a lamb! The wind is whistling and rattling the windows. I am off with my Cub Pack to the Tokyo Life Safety Learning Center. We have been instructed to bring a towel for the "rain room" and a handkerchief for the smoke filled maze. I have not been to this particular center but I'm pretty sure we will have an earthquake room and fire extinguisher practice and practice making emergency calls. Maybe some basic first aid too. By the end of the afternoon we will have met many requirements in the handbooks of every age group and be a little more PREPARED.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Runner is up and running

The rabbit runner took a trip outside to catch a bit of sun on my neighbor's gate. After I remove the dog hairs, it will be ready to hop off to Oregon . I have a wee bit of time and am thinking of making a few mug rugs or a doll quilt to send along. The rabbit in the moon helps to fill the puffy area without distracting too much. I use a light thinsulate batting and even with little quilting, it is unlikely to shift. I also added a sleeve along the top of the backing just in case someone might want to use it as other than a table runner. The dark binding helps keep those yukata fabrics organized a bit better. The work on the batik quilt is moving along slowly. I wish I could say that is because of all my tiny even stitches. All the 8-inch blocks are quilted. It seems that one 16-inch block shouldn't take any longer than four of the smaller ones but those seem to be taking three times longer. The little flowers on the border are more fun and I sometimes take a break and work on one or two of those. Maybe I should be quilting small flowers into the big blocks!

Speaking of flowers, the plum tree is finally in bloom. Only five weeks late!

Perhaps Spring is actually on its way.

And the Sweet Daphne we planter for our #3 daughter, (another February birthday) seems to just have been deferring to the "elder" sister's tree. Standing between these two flowering plants, you can shut your eyes and smell that spring is coming.

This picture really doesn't do any justice to these darling little flowers. I need to go out and get a picture when the sun is in the right place. When my orchid flower finished I took it back to my greenhouse/bedroom and today noticed a few more buds developing. The Bella palm is also full of buds and one Christmas cactus is in bloom.

All the buds I see are like promises just waiting to be fulfilled. May your promises, too, burst in glad and joyous bloom, along tomorrow's way!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Runner is hopping along

Cold, gusty, miserable weather has given me a good excuse to work on the batik quilt. At last all the 8" blocks are quilted and I am beginning the 16" ones. Nothing worth a picture... but I got some good advice from my blogging friends as how to quilt those bigger blocks. (Pictures require a certain amount of light coming through the window or a trip into the gusty outdoors).

The runner going to my Grandaughter's school fund-raiser has reaped the benefit of train rides and meetings (and a very cold, rainy, Order of the Arrow weekend. Well, I had to do something while I was drying off and warming up)! The background is now full of waves. The only things left to do are the borders, which will get some geometric design, and the moon, which is a bit large of a space to go without something quilted.

As I have mentioned, when the moon is observed in full here in Japan, one does not see a face but a rabbit pounding mochi. My husband, who has a printer attached to his computer, was kind enough to find me some pictures of that rabbit and I am thinking I will quilt it into this moon with

tan thread.

Now the sun has made an appearance so I am off to hang up the laundry before it hides it's face again. (It has been very shy this past week).

Oh yes, as for the auction quilt, it brought a hefty one million yen! At around 77 yen to the dollar that seems like a pretty good sum even to someone like me that is challenged with numbers higher than ten (well, twenty if it is summer and I can count my toes).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A finish and a new beginning

Well, Here it is, all finished with binding and a hanging sleeve (and two strong women to hold it high)! Yesterday the teem of tireless quilters met to put on the finishing touches.

Although I had trouble warming up to the quilt design, there was no issue with the quilters. What a wonderful group of mothers they are and what a joy to work with! I will miss that part of the activity more than the quilt.

Note, the final step in the project ... removing pet hair!
If I can figure out the links, you can see more of this quilt on Cynthia's blog and Tokyo Jinja

And, as for the new beginning, the plum tree has finally begun to bloom. This flower opened a little on the 11th and now a few more flowers are beginning to peep out. This is the first time that I know of in 47 years it has failed to open on February 15, the birthday of the daughter it celebrates.

My husband, looking at that rather un-impressive bloom, exclaimed we should have planted a more showy variety, maybe a light pink with double petals. Well, I told him, this one is not just for show, but produces plums (actually apricots) that are used in plum wine.

I think there is a bit of a lesson here. I have told the kids, "It isn't so much what you say, but what you do that counts". Actions speak louder than words. In this case, just looking good is fine but doing good is even better.

Could it be that the waiting has made that delicate flower even more precious?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Good things to report.

Friday was another cold rainy day but the Bible quilt class made up for that. The women were just wonderful and put up with my lousy Japanese.
Oh wish I had remembered my camera. We talked about choosing fabrics to go with the feature fabric and selected prints for two blocks, The Garden of Eden and Children of Israel. Then we took out those templates and the women traced and cut the pieces. We laid them out and with everyone' s help, the first block was finished.

While they were working I laid out the feature fabric and cut the two long borders. It was so nice to have space to lay it out and measure four or five times before cutting.

We finished up with a yummy cake our hostess had made. Then I set off to the bus stop in the wind and rain for home where I changed into my Scout uniform and picked up the second set of bags to run off to my pack meeting.

Well, I wasn't exactly running, those bags were very heavy, all kinds of tools and lead fishing weights and a small stove. We donated our pack time to adjusting the weight on each car and explaining how the derby would work Saturday so they would know what to expect. I was pleased with all they accomplished. I got a ride from one parent most of the way home so I didn't have to juggle the heavy bags and an umbrella on the return trip.

After a quakey night with wind howling and rain beating on the roof, I got up early to lug all my stuff to the car. I had one more heavy bag added to the collection so my husband and Nikko came to the car to help me. (The car is parked some distance away). Imagine my dismay to find that one of the doors had not been shut all the way and the battery was dead.) By then it was snowing big blobby wet drops into the standing water from the previous three days. The traffic was moving at a snail's pace and there was no way I could get someone with a jumper cable at that time of day.

I went back to the house and discarded as much as I could to make the load manageable and set off by train. Paul and Nikko came with me to help carry the stuff to the station. If I had arrived at that time by car, there would not have been a place to park but I had plenty of time to help get things set up. Of course, the first thing I did was to get a big paper cut on my thumb. (Now two thumbs out because I burned the other one the night before). Until the race began, I was in the pit with the graphite and wheel tuning department, a very messy job)!

My car was entered in the open competition and I stood at the end of the track calling,"Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty"! Well, that lucky cat must have been better rested than I because she came in first in each heat and won with the all-over best time. My boys had a good showing as well with my new Tiger cub taking all-over fastest and going home with a big trophy and an even bigger smile.

Last year, our Pack race was scheduled for March 11 and the earthquake cancelled that out. Another pack was scheduled two days later which also had to be cancelled. To make it to the district race, we decided to combine efforts. It worked so well we decided to do it again. We invited a Japanese Scout Pack to join as well and it was a lot of fun. We had also combined our rough-cut days giving boys two opportunities to take advantage of the power tools and adult help. The Boy Scouts were holding a merit badge day at the same location and I got a ride back to the train station. The rain has let up a bit.

Tomorrow will be another early rising for some special music at two services. The piece is a-capella and we will stand in a mixed group rather than with parts. I'm so lucky to be one of the two tenors selected as the piece is so beautiful.

Sometime before 3:30 Monday morning, I hope I can get the car battery back up. Next time I lock the door I will have to check the dashboard lights to make certain all the doors are completely shut! Last time this happened it was because the car had been borrowed and that person didn't know there might be an issue. This time I should have known better! Lesson learned.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Next projects

First, I need some take-along work. My #1 Daughter asked me to make something for her daughter's school fund-raiser. Hunting through my fabric, I found this panel with rabbits. I probably bought it several years ago to make a table runner for the rabbit year. Well that year is now gone and it won't be back for 12 more years. I may not even make it another 12 years myself so may as well use it now.

Wednesday's train ride and long District committee meeting provided time to piece a border out of yukata fabrics. Today it is basted and I began to quilt the waves on the trip to and from choir. It may seem strange to see rabbits jumping over the waves. In Japan, when you look at the face of the moon, it is not a face but a rabbit pounding mochi. In the fall during the harvest moon, it is not uncommon to see pictures of rabbits and moons and on the East coast the full moon is rising above the waves. The rabbits just come with it.
I will probably quilt a wave design in the background like I did the dragon unless I can think of something simpler.
The other project I had to get done is my pinewood derby. Each kid gets a block of wood and four wheels to make a car. Tomorrow is my pack meeting and Saturday we will race the cars. I make a car every year and challenge the dads. That way, they will let their kid make his own car and if they want to compete ... I'm the guy to beat!

This poor cat was a hurry-up job and looks like it. I tried to make a maneki nekko, a beckoning cat, ushering in good luck. (the gold piece says "fuku" or good fortune). The block of wood size and shape, and placement of the wheels determines the shape and size of the design. I had to whittle it out yesterday and get it painted today. I really needed another day to get it sanded better and the pen I used for the thin black lines was not as waterproof as it claimed because it ran all over the place when I put on the acrylic varnish. I had to re-paint the white and use a brush to re-paint the lines. Because of the rough texture it was not so neat.

Every year the kids look forward and guess what I will make for my car. I am certain they will not be as critical as I am.

Tomorrow begins my class on Bible quilts. It will be a quilt-as-you-go class with everyone participating to make a quilt . I think it will be for their Church bazaar. I had hoped to have more time to do prep work but it looks as though they will learn to trace patterns and cut for themselves. Maybe that is not so bad to learn from the very start. I bought the focus fabric and a bit if coordinated prints and solids. Two other members will bring some from their stash so it is probably a good thing we will begin everything tomorrow with the whole group. At least they will be entertained by my crummy but serviceable Japanese. I will report the results if they are not too embarrassing.

Now, before I am off to bed, I shall make two piles. One of everything I need for the quilting and one for the pack meeting that follows. Hopefully I grab the right one when I go out. The ladies might have fun with a pinewood derby but the Cubs probably wouldn't care a whole lot for quilting!

Monday, March 5, 2012

it's all over but the shouting

All that is left to do on the auction quilt is to put on the binding and hanging sleeve. My goal this past week was to finish the inside quilting and get the borders sorted out and marked. As I was working (and I am a rather fast quilter) I saw that unless I did more work on the borders than just mark them, we would need more than one day to finish.

This is a big quilt and even with ten people sitting around the edge working, we would not be likely to finish. Meanwhile, my week is so crammed with stuff that I didn't want to even THINK about the possibility of one more days work.

Sunday I came home directly from a late choir practice and worked until after midnight. I had to get up at 3:30 am Monday for rice delivery and returned home about quarter to six. Instead of going back to bed as I often do, I parked myself at the hoop and worked straight through the day, only stopping for a quick dinner in the evening. It was about 12:30 am when I finally felt the remaining work was down to the realm of possibility. Then I packed it up and hit the sack.

I had worked sections, leaving areas between so that everyone would not be working in each others laps. We had a good mix of leftys and rightys so we could pretty well all work together. The first quilter to finish her area went around with a damp cloth removing whatever marking lines remained and removing basting threads. That had been one of my concerns so I was happy to see her doing a very careful check.
I wanted to see the total result and get a picture. Lighting was not great and the binding is yet to be added but you can get a fairly good idea of the results. At the end of the afternoon when we folded the quilt to travel to the next stage for binding, I was pleased to look over the backing and see that, although many hands had done the work, there was not a glaring difference between the stitching in rows done by different people.

Usually when doing a group project I like to choose a non-directional busy print to hide any irregularities. Thus, I was a bit concerned at how visible both front and back the quilting lines would be. I am, therefore, very pleased ... not only with the completion going according to the schedule ... but that many of my worries were for nothing.

NEXT WEEK ... turn the binding, add the sleeve, and remove pet hair! It will get hung in the Early Learning Center until the Gala. (Hopefully no earthquake this year). Tonight I will go to bed early ... or at least on time!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hina Matsuri

A quick break from quilting ... for Hina Matsuri. This year I brought out the doll case with an assortment of prince and princess dolls. When the kids were young and space was not an issue, we set up an entire tiered display of all the court dolls and their trappings. With only one canine daughter in residence, and considerations of time and space, this small display seemed to fit the occasion a bit better.
Guarded by the dragon runner is the case with an assortment of doll pairs, lacquer, fabric, folded paper, and even piled stones with painted faces and clothing. In front of the vase are two carved Ainu dolls and bobble-headed ojiisan and obaasan.(I have days like that myself).

The traditional peach blossoms are barely any farther opened than those plums outside in the cold. It seems even the local flower shops couldn't coax those flowers out and farther than the weather man.

My A1 chef of a husband began preparing chirashi-zushi the night before
and made enough for me to take to a meeting in the evening. It was a bit sad with family so far away but #2 son called and in the background was the sound of a music box playing the tune of the Hina Matsuri song and the words came to my mind.

My son told us he had gone to his daughter's school and taken the main Hina dolls and explained the customs and read a story to the children. Imagine that! Little kids in far off Washington D.C. learning about Japanese customs. When I was his daughter's age we were tossing stones in a big dirt pile in someones yard saying, "Bombs over Tokyo"! I had no idea what that was all about. The Ozawa Art Gardens had the most beautiful flowers and bonsai trees and everyone was so supportive as Mr. Ozawa kept a low profile and let his wife run the shop so he wouldn't be whisked off to some detention camp. My best friend left her china dolls at my house because she was afraid that her father would smash them along with other dishes and things that said,"made in Japan" on the back.

My husband had similar play but tells stories of kindness between his own father and POWs. I think we both grew up in families where people were valued and relationships were more important than governments.

So... Happy Hina Matsuri little canine daughter. I'll bet Papa slipped you a taste of the leftover sushi. That face is just too hard to resist.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One small finish

Well, it still is the dragon year so this table runner may be a bit tardy but won't look completely out of place. This was a good use for the printed panel and the border makes it big enough to cover a large part of the coffee table. The outer border is what was trimmed from the auction quilt backing.
I was a bit miffed when I went to buy bias for the edge. I took the piece with me to find the best color. The problem is, the fabric store has very poor lighting and no outside windows. I wanted the light blue to match the printed part but when I got home in the natural light, the match was not really as good as I thought. It would be nice if stores that sell fabric has something like an Ott light in a corner of the store where one could take fabric to make matches.
This project has been riding the trains and sitting in meetings for about six weeks. Soon I will begin another panel print runner to donate to my Granddaughter's School fund-raising effort.

The little orchid came down from the third floor to be enjoyed and is now sitting on the hanging tissue box.

Just one tiny flower but considering how cold the greenhouse has been this winter, I would say it is way better than I expected.

Today my quilt group met. I have been working hard on the auction quilt and three of the four rows are quilted. I thought of staying home and working . It was a very cold, rainy, dreary day and in the time it takes to travel there and back, a lot could be accomplished.

My second daughter called in the morning and in, our conversation, urged me to go. I'm glad I did because my very good friend was there. Just seeing her made up for the cold and rain and any time missed on work.

Our hostess for the day brought out this handy little gadget. Well, no moving parts so that might be the wrong term. She had picked it up at the Tokyo Dome show. It seemed like a handy little item and would probably not be difficult to make. The spindle holding the pin cushion is attached with a screw from the bottom.

I could use a handy stand like that but didn't swipe it as she has written her name around the bottom ... plus the date she bought it. It holds six spools of thread but I seldom need so many colors at once. I might add a scissors holder and something to put thread ends in.

And when might I find the time? Don't ask!

Back to the task at hand!!!!