Friday, June 29, 2012

Repairs are done!

Bringing out the box of batik fabric, I cut circles of different sizes and appliqued them over the places that were beginning to tear. In the end, there were over 60 spots that needed repair and when I looked again at where they fell, there seems to be a pattern. Some places were heavily damaged and some had no problem at all.

I began to think about the way this fabric is printed. A certain length is stenciled with paste and then folded back in an accordian fashion. If you look closely at a roll of yukata fabric, you can find these reversals in the design.

When all the stenciling is done, the whole folded pile is laid atop a vat and the dye comes from the top and is sucked through the stack. That is why the fabric, like batik, is usable from either side. (And also why sometimes words seem to be written in reverse. For tenugui, it doesn't matter because each towel is only the length of one stencil. It is those made for yukata where the writing is reversed in some places. Writing might be used for a Sumo wrestler's yukata  ... I have some of that ... or perhaps some artistic caligraphy... I have some of that too.

Looking at the damaged areas, they seem to fall within this pattern... at certain ends of the stencil area. Maybe the dye there had more of the mordants  that cause decay.

Still thinking about the + and x blocks, Janet suggested using all one color cornerstones to give the eye a place to rest. Now I am beginning to think how I liked the blocks all laid out with some of the white sheet showing between the blocks. It might be a good plan to use a white or light sashing... maybe even a fine print to sash all the blocks and use the cornerstones to balance the color.

I have cut many sashing pieces but those can always be used for another project. Another advantage to that is that I could put the blocks into rows and do a lot of the sashing while I travel. I could even take a baggy of colored 1-inch blocks along because many of my kids have enough space in their homes to spread the rows out and make decisions.

I love the input I get from my readers, especially when I am trying to come up with a plan.. Keep those ideas coming. A bit of a stir to the old brain is a big help.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

And now... the rest of the story...

The batik quilt is done ... kind of.

Yesterday morning, when I went to check my e-mails, there was a message from Cheryl, one of my blogging buddies, that my blog was GONE. Well, I went to check it out and, sure enough, Google had blocked it because of some activity that had taken place which had not been explained. I was asked to leave my "cell phone e-mail address" in order to get a code so I could get my blogs and dashboard and all the rest back. Yeah, right! They were going to send me this code within ten minutes. Now, I am sure everyone carries a cell phone and can use it to get text messages. I do have that app on my "smart phone" but had never used it. Husband Paul went to his computer and pulled up the forms and sent out the information. Well, at 11pm there was no code and it was already past my bed time so I fired off an e-mail to my fine guru of a son (the one who got me into this in the first place) and when I woke in the morning, there were his soothing words and everything was back to normal. I think he can talk googleese better than I.

Anyway, there was no way to waste time catching up on blog-reading, so I bit the bullet and finished the binding on the Batik quilt. Gosh, that was a LONG way around! 225  cm square. I will have to figure it out in inches later.

This quilt began  with a kit, given me by my good friend, Marion Fox, two years ago when I was visiting her while at my son's in D.C. after the Jamboree. I had just finished a project of a table cloth for my son and she said I would need something to do for the rest of the trip. The name of the kit called this "Round and round". It was meant to alternate one large block with four smaller ones but I have yet to use a pattern as intended. When I got back to Tokyo, I pulled out some of my own batik stash and made enough blocks for a double sized quilt. I intended this quilt to go to my #4 daughter, Kimie, as I had not yet made her a wedding quilt.

Last March, a few days after the quake, Kimie came with her daughter, Irene, for a week's visit. At that time, the kind rice-store lady offered me the use of her big tatami room floor to lay out the blocks. She even dug out some toys to keep Irene busy while we moved blocks around the room.

From then on, every time I passed the rice store, which is at the corner of my street, my friend would step out of the store to ask if I was finished yet. I promised her she would be the first to see it when I did, and today I could keep that promise. Of course, half the neighborhood of little shops ran out to share the good news and oogle the results and get a running description of my last 50 years ... kids... teaching ,,, scouts...the whole works. You do nothing in secret in this community!

I could not afford my prefered border material so I bought this Kathy Nakajima print and added the flower centers and colored thread to make this border work. The flower quilting is repeated in the blocks. I have decided to call this quilt "Round and round the garden"

This picture is not very clear, but since my daughter is a teacher of young children, I decided to back the quilt with tenugui of Japanese children's games. I had collected these a number of years ago and been saving them for a special quilt.

Here are stilts and hoops and kendama, a singing game, and some others you might be able to guess.

I could almost say I am completely happy with the way this quilt turned out BUT.....
You may not remember, that at the end of last summer, I made a hanging for out church. At that time, I took out some old bias tape I had been saving for making stained glass blocks, and to my dismay, every one of those packages of black tape had completely disintegrated. I was able to take them back to the store and have them replaced but I thought that was just a one-of-a-kind event.

Saddly, when I was turning the bias to the reverse side, I found that in several places, where the black dye was darkest on the bamboo yukata fabric, the same thing had happened.

Just below the v there is a one-inch split in the fabric. I began looking at other places where the dye is darkest and this is not the only place. I am NOT going to take out all this work, that is for sure. I thought of cutting green bamboo leaves and appliqueing them over the slits but one of my friends at camp suggested I repeat the colored dots I used for the flower centers. I think that would be a lot easier and tie the front and back together.

I had a whole roll of this bamboo print and have used it in other places, mostly backs of quilts. Those have been washed a few times and have no problems so I suppose the dye sitting un-washed on this vintage fabric was the problem. I think I will ever be suspicious of black fabric from now on.

This is a disappointing end to a two-year project and I wonder how my blogging friends would deal with the situation. In a week I leave for the states and this quilt is asking to go to Kimie. I sure don't want it to become her problem. As is, it will have to be washed right off. Dirt from camp... dog hair ... and a husband with allergies... and my washing machine is too small to do the job. This is one time I might say, "It isn't over 'till it's over"! If you don't hear from me, you will know what I am doing with my time.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In from the damp

My duties at Scout camp are over. I took my camera and there was much activity to photograph and many fine completions of leather working and woodcarving merit badges. As usual, I get very busy with the youth and the camera sits in my bag until camp is over.

I took advantage of the large, though quite dirty room to hang up my flannel sheet and lay out the + and x blocks. Even with several large windows, this room is very dark and difficult to get a good pictures. 15 rows of 15 five-inch blocks would make a good sized quilt.

Now looking closely at these blocks, I get nightmares about joining them with all those pieces meeting along the edges. Mostly it has to do with ironing the seam allowances. I began again to think that one-inch sashing and cornerstones would make putting this together a lot easier. That way I could also balance the color a bit better.

During one week+ of camp, we were hit with the edge of two typhoons. Usually this time of year they pass farther to the West but weather patterns play havoc with plans, and a Scout needs to be prepared for any old thing. We had a good turn-out with youth from Okinawa and Taiwan and Shanghai as well as Scouts from Iwakuni in the south and Misawa in the North. During the first typhoon, some of the Tokyo and more local Scouts went home and others moved into buildings.
My craft area took the gear...piles of it! and the only other female youth staff remaining.

The buildings were built during the war when Tama was an ammunition depot and are thus well-aged. The corregated metal roofs are leaky and loose and my "design wall" got sopping wet. I put it out to dry on some benches but the second typhoon came by and soaked the room again. The above is the best I could do leaning over to switch blocks and adjust colors.

I have lots of sashing pieces cut and laid a few out to see how it looks. It certainly would make stitching a lot easier. I wonder what wisdom my blogging friends can offer??

In the not-so-quiet rainy evening, I worked on the border of the batik quilt and have begun adding the binding. I hope to have pictures soon ... time and weather permitting.

The house survived my absence. My "son-on-loan" had arrived from the states and reclaimed the loft.
The lilies survived the storm with a bit of help from husband Paul, who tied the fallen victims back upright. I have yet to check the rest of the garden but plants on the third floor "balcony", outside of my greenhouse,  were in fairly good shape with only a few pots blown over.

That yellow lily bloomed a lot earlier than last summer and the gardenias in the blurry foreground are perfuming the air.

After three years of nothing but more branches from this hydrangea, I divided the bush and put this half in a pot, thinking it might do better to concentrate on blooming rather than territorial expansion. One flower isn't much of a showing but the plant seems to have gotten the hint.

Hundreds of e-mails and laundry and hauling craft supplies back to their quarters had to be interrupted for a blog up-date. At least boredom is not my problem! More later...I hope.

One more thing... Celebrate Hand Quilting is having a give-away so you should hop over there for details if you have not already done so.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Making the most of the "rainy season"

At last the blocks of the batik quilt are done and I have begun to work my way around the border. I really have enough of that quilted that I might just put on the binding before going to  camp on Saturday.

The + and x blocks are now up to 204. I am thinking of taking the flannel sheet my son sent me for Christmas with me to camp and tacking it up in the back of the craft area for a design wall. I still have around 20 more blocks to cut and sew but they would make fine take-along work if I could  get them organized. The biggest challenge is space to do it and camp might be the place.

This past week my daughter and her daughter came for a couple of days and we went to our local amusement park for their annual Hydrangea Festival or Ajisai Matsuri. This is the season for hydrangeas and that day the rides were closed and the price was reduced for those enjoying the festival.

You could never go here without a camera. Leia and Grandma

                                                                  Leia and Mama

                                                    The whole gang.

Probably my favorite is the deep blue one in the first picture but these framed ones came in so many varieties.

This week has been cool and wet so I am glad we went last week. From Saturday I will be in the woods with the boys. I will be teaching Woodcarving and Leatherworking merit badges.and the nature requirements. There will be no currant bushes to connect a computer to and no wireless, even if there were, so I will be on withdrawal from the blogging world. You may not miss me but I know I will be missing you all . I hope there will be a finished batik quilt to show upon my return and maybe a design wall plan too. So a happy rainy season to you all!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A few more days of work ... what happened to May?

I have made progress with the batik quilt and worked on the Women's Conference banner, but there is little to show in a picture because it is just quilting stitch after quilting stitch. One more border needs to be quilted in the banner and the sashiko stitching that I am trying to get up nerve to begin.

The batik quilt still has at least three large blocks to quilt. I can't figure how four smaller blocks took only about an hour or so each to quilt but those big ones, instead of taking four hours are taking days each. My goal is to finish all the big blocks before summer camp and work on the flower border during evenings at camp. I want that quilt to travel with me to its new home in July.

Travel and meeting time has finished more + and x blocks, now numbering 199. This is all I have cut and marked and I will have a lot of travel and meeting time to fill this week. I figure 225 will give me enough for a large quilt. Sooner or later, I will have to stop making these and begin sewing them together ... and that will also involve arranging them somehow and finding a system to keep them in order. A wedding quilt for my son will be next on the list so I hope these will not have to sit and wait too long. Once they are organized, they can become take-along work.

My flowering weeds are so pretty this year. The few inches of dirt along my front wall has already begun to bloom with knotweed, which will lay out a carpet of flowers over the summer and into the fall. These flowers were planted over the last three years from seeds I gathered in other people's borders. I do not know what they are. The blue-purple ones were coming up among the grass at out last house and I collected seed before we left. The pink ones were dropping their seeds on the sidewalk, just to be washed by the rain into the sewer so I gathered as many as I could and brought them home.

This is a variation of the same flower. They grow from a tiny bulb.

The hen and chicks are blooming by both the front and back gates. I love stuff that just comes up and blooms no matter what care they get.

This is that cactus that bloomed for the first time this year and though the flowers only last two days , you can see new buds that just keep coming between the fat spines.

This is the second year for the teacup cactus and the first for the one on the right...kind of a wispy stem but no actual flowers yet. These pink stars last for many days and are so pretty.

And last of all, the Easter cactus that sits on my dead air conditioner outside my greenhouse/bedroom has tossed flowers in all directions. These are all flowers that don't mind the freezing cold of winter or the horrible heat of summer and thrive on neglect. Though I miss my African violets, they couldn't take the punishment and these continue to flourish with gay abandon. I have a few that have been sitting silently in their pots for years and wonder what surprise awaits somewhere down the road.

There is work tomorrow for which I am glad even if it will make a long tiring day.
So... back to work! Shall I cut more block parts for the train ride or get back to quilting those big blocks? Maybe a tiny bit of both....