Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival" 2013

Tokyo Dome show - Overview
The Tokyo Dome is really a baseball stadium most of the year. You enter from the upper gallery, walking down through the bleachers.

(And, at the end, walking back up all those stairs).

The quilts are displayed front and center, with the "quilt market surrounding on three sides.

Over the years I have discovered that the best viewing time is toward the end of the show and toward the end of the day.

Surrounding the display area are the group quilts. (called "Partnership Quilts").

These are made by different groups with a theme, each block by one quilter. The names of the contributors are posted on the wall next to each quilt.

Not sure what theme this was....

very coordinated...

And one more with a lot of detail applique.

The shops have plenty to tempt the quilters and to meet those friends you only see once or twice a year. 

Mary Cesar comes all the way from Hawaii and can be found at "B-30" every year.

This is the second year she is marketing her basting glue, perfect for holding Hawaiian applique in place with only a few touches, and washes out completely.

In the center behind the competition quilts, was an area occupied by about 8 well-known quilters.

This area had the work of Keiko Goke.

Some were manned by their "deshi" or disciples, and at some, the featured quilter was meeting with crowds of fans and engaged in demonstrations.

Kathy Nakajima is seldom in her display area but most often found in her shop, signing books for her loyal following.

She has her own line of fabrics. 

She has out many quilt magazines and videos demonstrating making bags and Hawaiian applique. 
I honestly don't know when she finds time to do all  the quilting.

Most of the areas allowed photographs.
(That is better than other years)

One area that did not, was the special exhibit,  
"Tales of Two Ladies", an exhibit of Tasha Tudor and Lucy Boston.

I have made two quilts inspired by a quilt made by Lucy Boston that I saw many years ago in a British Fair.

I was happy to see that quilt again. It as made up of elongated hexagons and I had drawn them in a sketch book years ago and drafted the pattern. I was interested to see after all the passing years, she had made her hexagons a much larger size. Maybe I need to re-visit my drawing with a larger scale in mind.  

 Yes, there is is, behind the ladies on the right.

Inspiration for "Star Crossed"  and "Double Crossed" and maybe another try???
It was nice to see in again!

Well, this was not taken in the exhibit but through the window with a zoom lens. Love it!

There was a lot to see here ... and if you are a shopper, a lot to buy.
Makers of machines had areas set up for demonstrating and trying.
Clover has tons of products, as do other manufacturers that cater to quilters. I took my karisma pencil that was having problems holding the white lead back to the booth and the gentleman kindly scouted out the cause of the problem and showed me how to fix it, should it occur again. (and I didn't have to buy anything)!

More to follow.... (Much more)!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Way too busy

It was a long weekend, beginning on Thursday morning. There were many things to get done before the Conference began.

I was not the brains of the committee but the person who helps with the tasks,driving, setting up the labyrinth, preparing the name tags, moving tables, hanging banners, setting up flowers and candles, etc. Thursday night I slept very well.

Friday, after lunch, the participants began to arrive and everything picked up steam. It was such fun to see old friends and make new ones.  The sign-up sheet for my workshop began to fill up and then overflow. I couldn't believe how many people wanted to try their hand at making that small quilted piece. All Friday night, my brain kept racing in circles as to how I could manage all those participants. I honestly wonder if I even slept at all.

The workshop went well enough. Many met with me in open time for extra help and a number actually finished. Very few had any sewing skills at all. Looking back, I wonder if I could have done something even more simple. I will have to study up on that. One hour is really short!

The conference itself was one of the best I have attended. The first timers mixed in well and many new friendships were formed. Sunday we reversed Thursday's activities, tying up loose ends, trying to fold up the labyrinth and get it back into the bags ... no easy task...taking down banners, loading up the car, and driving home in weekend rush-hour. We stopped to admire a beautiful view of Mt Fuji. I took my camera but not one picture!

Today's early rise into a freezing morning was for onigiri delivery. We returned home by 6:am and I went back up to my greenhouse to finish my sleep.

What did I see out me windows, but snow! Already coating the neighbor's roof. I'm glad it waited until I was back home.

By 9:am, though, It had stopped and the sun was making its way out .

Good thing too!

One of my Scout parents came by bringing thousands of packaged sweets to donate to the homeless. I'm sure they will be welcome in this cold weather.
My husband took her to my car parking lot to load the boxes into my van.
(Paul is in charge of the homeless ministry and will make sure they are used)


My in-box contained a message from the school that the girls want to learn how to quilt too. I had to hustle to prepare something for the class.

My husband rose to the occasion and made up a vocabulary list with some explanations in Japanese, and I gathered together some ideas for them ... I didn't really think they would want to make pot holders.

Four days away ... class prep ... bird cage needing cleaning big time ... (Piper must be the world's most messy bird, tossing apple and carrot bits against the window and on to the bureau). (Only to be exceeded by four days of dog hair on the floor).

There on the outside was a Brown-eared Bulbul wondering if he was getting fed too. Sorry fella, that orange juice is a bit old and diluted with melting snow.

Fine, I'll make it do.

Those nails sticking up through the board beside him usually have some fruit ... apples or orange halves.

Maybe tomorrow I will have some time. The feeders are all empty too.

The sky was beautiful as I left the campus. The girls were excited. Next week will come all too soon.

Meanwhile I have tickets for the Tokyo Dome quilt show.

There are only two days left.

Tomorrow morning I have to face the carp. at least they are together and there will be hands to help.

I hope I can get in at least half a day to visit the show. Then I can see the rest on Wednesday. I wonder why I was expecting things to slow down a bit when I got older.

Where did that day go, anyway???

Monday, January 21, 2013

Wrestling with a giant fish

I think I know how Jonah felt after wrestling most of the day with this big carp.

The fins and tail will get embroidery or quilting in black. The eyes on both fish will be black with a white margin.

I brought home some fabric scraps for the eyes but forgot to pick up stabilizer.

Tomorrow our group meets again. The golden carp is left to be assembled.

My other project for the week has been preparing for a class at the Women's Conference this weekend.

My class is, "When life gives you scraps, make quilts".

The theme for this year's conference is "Treasuring Our Gifts".The aim is to enable each of us to recognize our God-given gifts and to identify how we can better use and expand those gifts to glorify God and increase our joy.

I have been thinking how I can teach something in a one hour workshop that will be a learning experience and leave the participants with a small reminder.

Well, I cut squares from solid color fabric and triangles from different prints, a nine inch piece of batting and a ten inch piece of backing. The plan is to teach the process of sewing (by hand) the four triangles to the square. Then marking the center with a quilt design, baste top to batting and backing, quilt in the ditch, then quilt the small center design and turn the backing to make a binding.

The result could be a mug-rug or hot pad.

I am not sure how much learners can do in the given time but I can leave the materials out for finishing later.

I prepared 20 kits but I don't think there will be that many people who want to try the class so there will be a choice of colors and fabrics. One of my quilting friends thought what I can do in half an hour will probably take a lot longer for someone new to do. I haven't had anyone to try this out on yet, so will just go as prepared as I can and then fly blind.

I marked and cut the pieces from my plentiful stash and hardly made a dent. I still have to print out a selection of simple quilt patterns for the members to trace. I am also toying with the idea of making up felt pieces with needle and pins for each kit.

I have bought my ticket for the Tokyo Dome quilt show which begins on Thursday this week. Since the first few days are always jam-packed, I don't mind that I will have to wait until next week to go. I am also looking forward to meeting a few quilting friends in the coming weeks.

Tomorrow's weather report is more snow. That should add to the fun!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Getting serious

This week the quilt group for the American School Auction quilt got serious.

The plan is three carp appliqued over a lovely background pieced of Kasuri.

The center has been figured out and mostly pieced for well over a month but the three carp have remained nothing more but drawings on a piece of paper, enlarged to scale.

The due date is looming and if we are to do this, the time is NOW.

Today we met for adding borders to the background and putting together the carp. This silk fabric is very flimsy so we used an iron-on stabilizer. The orange carp will be coming down from the top. There will be a gold fish coming in from the left and a tri-color coming up from the bottom right.

Today I brought home the cut pieces, arranged and pinned in place on the drawing for two of the fish.
This evening I sewed the orange on together. This is made from five or six different pieces of cloth. We had to cut around patterns on the narrow kimono fabric.

Even with the stabilizer, the fabric is quite see-through. Since it will be put on top of dark blue fabric, we are thinking of what we can do to keep the dark color from showing through. One idea was to put a layer of batting between the fish and the background. It might add some depth to the carp which could be interesting.

It is a bit difficult hunting solutions when everything in the stores comes encased in plastic. There is no way to know what you are getting without paying for it first.
Has anyone ever used fabric for applique that needed some treatment first? I would certainly welcome any thoughts along these lines. Meanwhile... one more fish to go ... but not tonight!

Tomorrow is a nature hike with the Boy Scouts for identifying trees and animals (birds).  Then also with my Cub Scouts, a trip to watch Sumo in the late afternoon. Snow is still on the ground and it won't be melting tonight as temps are below freezing.  I am off to the nest to catch some zzzzzs!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Good day for quilting, but.....

Monday mornings we leave home at 4:am to deliver rice balls to the homeless. 

Today it was dark and raining lightly when we left the house with Nikko and walked to our car, parked under the railway at the end of  many short blocks.

Probably, because it was raining more heavily in town and quite cold, there was a larger gathering of homeless around the station where we deliver. We had just enough packs to go around.

It was around 6:am or so when we returned and I went back to my bed to warm up and catch a few more Zs.

When I got up again, the rain had turned to snow. I had an errand to run in town and my daughter was expected in the afternoon so I set out in the very wet and slippery snow. My footprints were the only ones going down our street as today is "Coming of Age Day" and a national holiday.

Upon returning to my end-of-the-line-station from my trip to town, the platform and gates were crammed with young girls, all dolled up in their finest Kimono, hair and make-up just so, on their way to some big event at the amusement park to celebrate their adulthood. Oh, there were young men too but they were in suits and wearing shoes. The kimono-clad girls were wearing Japanese tabi and fancy zori and were about to go through the train gates into what was then, ankle-deep wet snow!

Too bad I didn't have my camera. Those kimono are the finest and many are rented for the occasion. The weatherman certainly had not cooperated.

I grabbed my camera and Nikko and I stepped out to look at the wintery scene.  My first footprints were all filled in.

The persimmon tree in the park was decorated with snow.

There was one set of footprints going across the park path.

The Keyaki tree at the far end  was like lace and the broad-leaf evergreens were heavy with snow.

The Ginkgo trees are always well pruned so they can take the snow quite well.

 The Cryptomeria, however, was bowing low.

You can barely make out the apartment building through the falling snow.

Nikko loves the snow so I just dropped her leash and let her run.

She dashed in big figure eights and round and round the park until she had her fill.

What a pity that no dogs are allowed in the parks in our ward. She had a great time and no one was there to complain.

We went around and knocked the snow off of the Evergreen oaks, but were too late for a few.

The snow was just too heavy for this tree and several of the limbs had been torn off.

Tokyo doesn't get snow very often, perhaps only once or twice in a winter, and usually it is very wet and heavy. Often it is gone within a day or two.

(Not a whole lot like Cleveland, where I grew up) The public is not really prepared for snow here. Driving is soon a mess. Shovels for removal are not common and this is a bit heavy and wet for brooms.

A couple of kids down the block knew what to do with snow.

And Leia arrived in time to decorate the front of our gate with a snow-bunny.

We had a great visit and a yummy meal that Paul had prepared while I was out. 

Now the house is quiet again. Nikko is curled up in a ball at the foot of the chair, Gloves and hats and jackets are hanging up to dry, I can hear the drip drip drip from the overflowing gutters so I suppose the snow has turned into rain, and another few blocks on my big quilt are about to get some stitches.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Side trips and progress report

Quiet quilting at home has brought me to the last two rows of the + and X blocks. The big hoop will center those bottom two rows so I am moving around the edge, four blocks at a time. The end is almost in sight. At least it should be ready for binding before the end of winter.

The blue runner is also enjoying a dark blue sashing. Thanks to all the advice from blogging friends. This is my take-along work and making some progress. I am still thinking about the binding and possibly using some dark blue yukata fabric  for that thin outer edge.

Meanwhile, I got together with another member of the auction quilt committee to plan the next move.

Well, this is a bit hard to figure out, but those are big carp. I enlarged the chosen sketches and we laid them out with thoughts of what needs to be done next. There will be a lighter blue inner border and a wider outer border... maybe a wave print in a dark blue. While that is put together, we will get the carp ready to applique over that beautiful kasuri.

At least that is the plan. Knowing how I hate last-minute tasks, I am beginning to feel better about this project.

Thursday afternoon, I had to take my car for its half-year check. The place I go is in my old neighborhood so Nikko comes with me and we walk down our old street, past our house to the park along the river.

Sometimes we meet old neighbors.
Always we notice changes in the area.

The first change was this big green item. It is something I had been advocating while living there.
This green screen opens up into a big square box in which to put trash on collection days.
The collection site was right in front of our old house. In those days, the trash was piled in plastic bags and covered with a large green net. The public was supposed to tuck the net under the trash bags and many living in the houses there did it correctly. The problem was the apartment dwellers who tended to have small bags often containing unwanted food. Those bags weren't heavy enough to anchor the net ... and usually were just tossed under with no thought. The problem was the Jungle crows. They knew where to hang out and they could easily pull out those light bags and rip them up all over the street. It was the home-dwellers that ended up having to pick up trash every collection day and I can say I certainly did a lot of cleaning up because others in the neighborhood were at work during the day or just too old to get out and clean the street.

I remember more than one person complaining that we had a "Crow problem". No... it was a "People problem". Crows were only taking advantage of the situation. I noticed the whole street had finally gotten these folding bins and the sound of crows was much reduced.

Nikko and I walked down to the park. When we lived there, we went to the park every morning where Nikko could run and play with other big dogs. The owners stood and talked and enjoyed the fellowship as much as the dogs.

Nikko had lots of smells to check out.

Right inside the entrance, hanging on this big Keyaki tree was a sign. It says "Beware of the CROWS"! Hmmm, maybe without garbage to attack, the crows are attacking people?

And here is another!  It even says "Caution" in English.

Well, when the young crows have fledged, you really need to be careful. You may not even realize they are baby crows because they are so big, but if you accidentally near one on the ground, you will be attacked by the parent that will follow you all the way home pecking you on the head! Not a fun experience.

Wadabori Park stretches along the bank of the Zempukuji River.

Like the majority of rivers in Japan, the Zempukuji
is encased in concrete. During heavy rains, this river can rise to over a meter  above it's banks, flooding roads, bridges, and near-by homes.

Over the years, as people move out, the city has bought up the properties and turned the acquired land into park space. Some will be evacuation areas in case of an earthquake. The city has put large tunnels under the baseball field to take in some of the river overflow during storms.  Though rather engineered, it is a nice big park with attractive wildlife.(mostly birds) This sign shows the birds that winter in the area. On weekends you can see scads of men with their telephoto lenses taking pictures of the Common Kingfisher, a flying jewel of a bird. In the early morning there was always a group doing Tai Chi. There are stocked fish ponds and a bicycle course park for kids. Joggers are found at all times of the day, trotting along the river bank trails.

Nikko and I walked along the bank and saw many more birds than on the poster, Too bad I do not possess my Daughter-in-law"s skill in bird photography. I did see plenty of moving targets to practice on.

Here is a Japanese Wagtail running along the river embankment.

And one of those huge Jungle Crows wondering if I will drop some trash.

A whole family of Rufous Turtle Doves was along the other side of the path turning over leaves and looking for goodies.

They hardly blinked or stopped their work when we walked past.

Pintails are regular winter visitors in Tokyo.

The female was not far behind.

The resident Spot-billed Ducks didn't mind sharing their pond with friends.

And a whole family of Gray Herons were busily grooming themselves in the trees on the small island.

Those weren't even on the poster.

An Azure-winged Magpie was dashing in and out of the branches below the herons.

In fact, I saw all the birds on the poster but the Daurian Redstart  and I know he hangs our along the back road so, if I had had more time, he would have been checked off the list as well.

I grew up on the edge of the Euclid Creek Reservation, East of Cleveland and nature was so much a part of my life. It is probably the thing I miss most where I live now.

Nikko and I walked back along the river and through our old neighborhood. We met and talked with two past neighbors.

The gate posts of one of the homes that were destroyed in the earthquake are slowly being repaired, The mailbox is hanging on the gate and the hole in the limestone block wall is where it used to be.

The house where we used to live is still enjoying the lovely winter sun that warms the whole downstairs. Oh, how I miss those sunny rooms and that spacious garden!

And, on the corner of our former street, the apartment building continues to rise where a parking lot once lived. Luckily, the tallest section is along the main road so the homes will not have their sun cut off as much as expected.

The neighbors are wondering how the area will change. Certainly the building of all these apartments will add to the crowding on the trains to downtown. This train line has been one model of politeness, with seats offered to elderly and handicapped passengers. The anonymity that apartment dwelling brings may bring changes to that line as it has to the one I live on now. Even with seats marked "Priority" and regular announcements on the train to that effect, it is almost impossible to get a seat ... unless you live in the terminal station and are willing to stand in line until the next train arrives.

The car was waiting, having passed it's check-up, when Nikko and I returned to the shop. The joy of driving is that Nikko can go with me and we both can sit. I can't piece or quilt when I am driving but I can sit!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Going round in circles

Do you ever feel like you are going in circles? Well, that is what I have been doing the last few weeks. The best part about this, is that it is something that will stay done ... which is more than I can say for the cleaning and dish-washing and laundry and food preparation!

Since I borrowed a neighbor's floor to put the sandwich together and ran short of time, I ended up pinning most of this rather than thread basting. Since I didn't want to end up with a mess on the back side, I tied a little blue ribbon to a pin in the middle block of the quilt and I have been slowly quilting around that block, using my big hoop and rotating the quilt as I go.

So far, it has been a working plan.

At this point I am working on the third row from the border and the back has no weird puckers.

The quilting is all in-the-ditch so not particularly exciting. The only real decisions I have to make is when I come to a place where the seam got flipped the wrong way.

Sometimes I can fix it by sweeping with my needle and getting that seam back where it belongs, but sometimes I have to just give in and quilt it as it lies.

I often wonder how other quilters manage to get all their seams going the right way. I spend so much time ironing but no matter, there are always places where those seams take on a life of their own.
Any ideas?

With the beginning of the new year, I selected a new focus word.... Encourage ... or could be encouragement.  At times I need to work on myself to move out of my comfort zone and step boldly in another direction. Then again, I need to change my approach toward the things that are driving me nuts right in my own home. Certainly, complaining about something for 49 years has not worked. I just might have bitten off more than I can chew, but the year is still in its first week so I am trying to get a bit more creative and less discouraged.

The most interesting thing, after I selected this word, was the very first of the year, before going off for serving the homeless meal, I opened my e-mail to find a note from a Scouter I had worked with back in 1987, thanking me for "inspiration, guidance,and example" that had made a difference in his life . I am still choking up at his kind words and example of what I have to look for in others.

I feel reassured that if I can get rid of the nagging negative aspects of every-day life, the better parts are there waiting to come out ... but's going to take a lot more than five days to meet with success.
(Or, as my mother used to say, "Rome in a day, was not built)!