Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend challenges

If you are wondering what this thing is and what it is all about, I have put the story on my Scouting blog,
This is my medicine pouch, holding things special to me in my Scouting experience, and the beads are memory beads, each one representing some event in my Scout life. The small blue bead represents this past weekend where I was to teach the craft section.

 I will not repeat the story here but when I heard there were 200 walking sticks and six classes of 30 Cubs each, and the idea was to take magic markers and "decorate" those sticks in the appointed time (One hour and ten minutes) I knew there had to be a better plan or we would be facing a lot of weaponry. Even Nikko shuddered at the thought of those sticks in the hands of so many Cub-age kids.

What started out with rain on the windshield turned into a lovely night and sunny day. I was up past midnight prepping feathers  and returned home with not much voice left for Sunday's singing. (reciting the story and instructions to a large group ... and the attending parents... and leading the campfire singing kind of pushed the limit, as I was afraid it might)

A long meeting and an even longer ride home added to my + and x blocks ... now up to 193.
There was some kind of matsuri with slow-moving portable shrines that completely stopped all traffic for nearly an additional hour. I could have gotten off the bus and walked, had I known!

While I was at camp, I almost missed the flowers at home. Several cacti are putting on a show.

These flowers only last a day or two.

These too...

These form a halo around the top of the cactus for many days.

And the cymbidium on my roof has begun to bloom. I have four pots but the winter was very harsh and I didn't think I would see any flowers this year. Now, that is the kind of surprise I can deal with.
Boys with sticks? That takes a whole lot more doing!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

North Wind goes to Bloggers' Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side 

I have always loved piecing triangles and began making these North wind blocks in the winter of 1997. Once I had plenty of blocks, I thought all that wind needed something to do, so I added sailing boats  ... and a mariner's compass, so they wouldn't get lost.

Once the center was together, the project stalled for want of a border and ended up as a UFO in a box with other unfinished projects.

A  1999 issue of  "Quiltmaker" magazine printed designs using the block and requested pictures using the block be sent in. I sent the picture of the unfinished top which was printed in the May/June issue and along with the printed issue came a suggestion to use a cloud print for the border.

Then in the summer of 2001, on a trip to the States, I bought some cloud and water print but I still couldn't decide how to use it as the print ran the short way across the fabric.

Finally, I declared 2003 to be "the year of the unfinished project" and vowed not to start any new project until all my UFOs were done. This was the last project of the year and finished in April 2004. I pieced the water and clouds and placed gulls across the seams. The outer border used up triangles I had originally thought of using for the border in a different way.

I quilted a Japanese cloud design in the boat blocks.

Some gulls were white and some were gray and some were quilted along with more clouds.
I usually make scrappy quilts but this time I limited the colors to red, white, and blue, putting red and blue prints between the red and white and blue and white blocks.

Although this quilt took a long time to reach the finish point, I am happy with the final result and learned that sometimes a bit of waiting for the right idea to come along may work better than rushing ahead.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One more for the road

Maybe I should have said "plane" because this little doll quilt will be flying off tonight to my youngest granddaughter, Irene, for her birthday.

The little runner sent for her school's fund-raiser was just the right size for her doll bed ... and you all know that a doll needs a quilt, I'm sure. This was put together rather quickly and I forgot the whiskers. Well,there is probably enough dog hair to make up the difference!

Bus and train rides and some meetings have added eleven more + and X blocks. I've kind of lost count but I think that is about 191.  These are five inches finished so with a one-inch sashing and cornerstone, I probably have enough for a quilt already. The last few cat quilts have created scraps that are best used in this kind of project and my scrap bin is full again. These are not the neat cut strips that others use to make blocks out of, but odd - shaped bits and pieces. Maybe I should shove them in an old pillow case and make a dog bed ... but then, what would I do in meetings?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tessellating cats the finish line

After the cats were on the background and border(s) added, it was time for some quilting.
I looked around for something big enough to use for the backing and got out my roll of "Thinsulate". I know most quilters buy batting in quilt-sized packages and you seem to get what you like. Long ago, I did the same but I was often disappointed with what I ended up with. Sometimes the batting migrated to the top in little pills. Sometimes it pulled away from the edges. Sometimes it was hard to quilt through. And, often it was not the size I wanted and I was either piecing it or throwing away the left-overs. Now I have discovered thinsulate, made by 3M. I love it! I buy it on the bolt and can piece it to any size I want. It comes in assorted thicknesses so I have several bolts. They stand on end in the back of my closet corner until I need them. The texture has a tacky feel so once it is made into a sandwich, it doesn't shift. And, it is nice to hand quilt. I know it is made to use in clothing and it holds up well to washing. I have heard they make it in quilt sizes but here in Japan I have never seen it.

This is the quilt line for the cat after quilting all the cats in the ditch. I use the three-finger-rule.
In the old days the quilting had to be very close together to keep the batting from shifting but with this batting, about three fingers width left open is fine.

Here is the finished quilt. It is about 34" x 41", good for  table topper or the back of a sofa.

The cat patrol was from a fabric with cats in rows and "CoCoLand" written between the rows. The fabric on the backing has been sitting in the bottom of a box for about 30 years. Once, a friend long forgotten, was asked to make quilt blocks for some project ... maybe to send to an exchange ... and she asked me to make them for her. She selected a kimono block and brought me the fabric. With all the lovely Japanese prints available, I was surprised to see this red floral print. I don't remember what the obi and background was but there was lots of this red fabric left over and it never seemed to go with anything I was making. I dug it out and the size was enough. The green binding matches the leaves in the print and I did not need to go out and buy anything at all. I may add a wandering path in the floor area but I may just call this "done".

I hope anyone wanting to try this pattern can get enough information by going to the sidebar for the tessellating cat posts ... or drop me a line and I will try to answer any question that arises.

The Bible quilt class met again this week and here are the blocks that were finished. Jacob's ladder, David and Goliath, Joseph's coat, Children of Israel, and Garden of Eden.

Wither thou goest, is almost together.

The women are dividing up the Star of Bethlehem to take for homework. One more was cut out to be finished by two other members of the group.

Today is Mother's Day. Here is my mother's day shirt I wanted to wear. It has hand and foot-prints from all my kids and foster babies and even a cat and dog or two but... if you look a bit closer, you can see that Nikko has given this shirt a chewing. (her foot print was not on it)

Do you think she was jealous? No, this is a result of separation anxiety ... when I go out, it is always my stuff that gets chewed. She had to go all the way up to the third floor bedroom to get this one.

Here is what I wore instead. This was hand painted by a little old man in China while I watched. You can see my two boy chicks fighting over a worm. Two big sisters are trying to break up the fight and two other sisters are looking on from above. I have the world's greatest peeps and they always solve their own problems.

As I look back today, I am so pleased with my wonderful children and a bit sad that my own mother always found me such a disappointment. And while I was selecting and cutting fabric for the Bible quilt block, Whither thou goest, I thought about my dear mother-in-law and pulled out a heart print.
She did not feel responsible for my short-comings, of which there are many, but loved me just as I was and I think I know how Ruth felt.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tessellating cats, part 5

A few more additions, and this will be ready for quilting. Once all the cats have faces embroidered on, there is an opportunity to add a bit more color ... or to balance out the colors you have already used by adding balls or other objects. The balls added here are about an inch and a half across. They can be made rounder by cutting a round of batting the same size and making a sandwich when appliqueing them on. Since this is a table runner, I have left them flat.

Since the side margins of the cats move by the tails width, the background could be balanced by adding another ball or some other object in the wide spaces. On the larger quilt I moved the outside balls into a line and added a sideways cat at each end.  Here I am auditioning a butterfly.

Though the tweedy cat and the striped one do not seem to show up well next to each other in the photo, they do a bit better in real life. The hardest part of this cat pattern is selecting fabrics and placing the cats so each one shows up against its neighbor. Small prints that read as solids seem to work best. If I had made this quilt larger, I would have separated these two with a solid.

I have also added a night cat patrol around the border. Judging from the yowling we heard there must be at least this many. And, since I had gotten this fabric out too, I added a bit of the daisy field.

The hanging pot on our front gate has put on a show. It must have enjoyed the rain more than I did.

And one petunia in a pot hanging from the wall must have survived the winter and has begun to bloom. When I was a kid, my mother loved petunias but they had to have the finished flowers picked off each day in order to continue blooming. Since my mother could not get down that far, it became my task to tend the petunias and I never had a particular fondness for them. These days, there are new varieties that are perfect for hanging pots and never seem to need tending as they begin early and bloom all summer through.

When I get frustrated with new things (like blogspot "improvements") it is nice to see that a few improvements, especially when it comes to plants, are really for the better.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tessellating cats move on (part 4)

A long trip into town and a long District Committee meeting gave the cat gang a chance for progress.

After listening to serenading feral cats for the last few weeks, I decided those cats need to be kept inside and since Nikko pointed out SHE is not allowed on the beds, I picked the wood flooring for a background.. I pinned the cat group to the background with safety pins (to prevent fall-out while travelling) and changed those to short applique pins as I came to them. The meeting was long enough to add a border of the quilt pattern.

The next step is to cut away the background fabric from behind the cats. That is something to be done very carefully ... scissors with a rounded point will make it a bit easier.

The next step is to embroider faces on the cats. It helps to choose eye color that will show up  on the cat prints. I added eyes, nose, mouth and whiskers on the one below I think there is a sleeping cat or two and one winking. My #3 daughter made a tessellating cat quilt for her former roommate's baby living in New Orleans and it was a Mardi Gras quilt with very fancily adorned cats. I wish I had taken a picture of it to show.

Since this quilt was named "Pearl and friends" and the design was inspired by my cat, Pearl, you can see her here with her odd eyes and kink in her tail.

I used two strands of embroidery thread and satin stitch.

 Yesterday morning, I was surprised to see that one of my cactus plants was full of flowers. I have had this plant for over three years and this is the first time it bloomed. Last night I looked at it before going to bed and all the flowers were closed. Some of those plants only bloom one day and not knowing this plant's pattern, I had grabbed my camera to record the event. Well, this morning all the flowers had re-opened and I noticed flower buds developing on the smaller section.

Another of my cactuses has also bloomed. These blooms last quite a while. This is "golden week" here in Japan but the days have been very rainy. Those plants seem to be doing their best to provide a touch of gold.  Several more have flower spikes and I am so happy to have found a plant that can take the extremes of heat and cold my room offers and thrive on neglect when I go camping for a week.
Happy Golden Week to you too!